Interview with Demoscener – Cryptic (Approximate)

Welcome to the Interview with Demosceners.
This time, we welcome Cryptic, a coder of Swedish demogroup Approximate!

In this interview, Cryptic reveals how their latest work was born, why he likes to make 64k demo and how to tackle the stress before deadline… and so much more!

Happy reading! :)


First of all, could you please introduce yourself briefly?

Photo by Cryptic

My name is Jonas Fredriksson, known as Cryptic in the demoscene. I'm a member of Approximate, a small demogroup currently consisting of me and our musician Velo. My main responsibilities are code, graphics and design.

I watched your latest release “Small matters of the heart” on Revision streaming last year (video is here). That was really beautiful! When did you start working on that demo? And how did it happen?

I’d worked on the technology on and off in my spare time without any clear direction since we finished “Gaia Machina” final version in the beginning of 2014. The actual start of this intro was probably after I talked to BoyC of Conspiracy about having a real 64k showdown at Revision. Basically it was to increase interest in PC 64k scene which had kind of lagged behind PC demo and PC 4k categories in recent years (with a few wonderful exceptions by demogroups such as Mercury, Brain Control to mention a few). So we decided to have something ready for Revision 2015.

And how did it go? Everything went smoothly?

In the end it turned out to be both good and bad thing. For the good parts, it gave us the deadline we needed to get something completed, and it was wonderful to see such a good 64k compo at Revision. But we would probably have needed another 1 month or so (with work, real life etc. getting in the way) to fix some technical issues and getting the design to the level that we were comfortable with.

So you had some different plan?

I had an idea of making something more plot-driven since I was hoping the graphics would match up. But in the end, we had to put together all the animations, stories etc. in a too short time span and had several bugs (mostly caused by me not being able to push all the shaders we wanted into 64k, combined with the graphics we wanted). This had a severe impact on the graphics quality as well as the time we needed for the story refinement.

So on the one hand I am glad that we released and that it was such a great compo, but on the other hand I felt that Gaia Machina was much more stable in terms of tech, story and design (even in its party version).

Oh really? Well, speaking of “Gaia Machina”, I’ve read that you started to work on that in 2009 and released in 2012. And its final version was released in 2014. It’s almost 5 years! And you didn’t release any other demos during this period… you never felt like “oh, I want to make something else!”? How could you keep your motivation for so long?

Mainly because it’s such an interesting hobby :) But as it is a hobby other things tends to get in the way, which means that I do not have as much time as I would like to spend on demo coding. And yeah, I do get that feeling to do other things as well, when it happens I go and do those and come back to demo coding a while later.

So it’s not that I have spent my whole time between 2009 and 2012 on demo coding, but it’s rather an on and off thing. One of the main reasons for the delay happening between Gaia Machina (party version) release in 2012 and its final version release in 2014 was because of the very sad passing away of our group member Meaty in 2012.

I’m sorry to hear that, yes I saw his name was credited at the beginning of the final version…
I felt that a story plays the key role in your demo, but you have whole story ready before you start coding? Do you keep your ideas in a notebook or something?

The development process has mainly been technology driven and the story has come along as I start creating graphics, and then we get fleshed out a bit more from that. I do write down/draw some of the stuff I come up with but not as much as I should. Instead I play around with my 64k tool. :-)

For Gaia Machina, the main story arc was really simple and clean so I could build the effects and mood out of that. In the case of Small matters of the heart, I was still not done with refining the story when we had to release, which to me is quite annoying since it turned into such a story driven intro.

Then what is Approximate’s general demomaking process? Music first? Title first? Could you explain to us a bit more?

In the past we started with the technology. I worked on 64k code and graphics and Meaty worked on the synth code. We have always tried but never succeeded in having an iterative process between music and graphics, even though we have planned to do that for quite some time. In the case of Gaia Machina, the music was completed at the party. So I spent a lot of time before the deadline to adapt the graphics to the music.

For Small matters of the heart, we had a bit more time before the party since Velo had a test version some weeks before the release. Although that time I was a bit caught up in trying to finish the code and story in time to actually sync the music properly. When it comes to the title, it has historically been decided a couple of hours before the deadline.

And where do you get the inspiration for the demos?

Most of ideas come when I’m biking, walking in nature or travelling to somewhere. The times when I get new impressions are when I am not actually using my computer but just let the mind wander.

Do you do anything particular while working on the demo? Listening music, drinking beers…

When it comes to actual coding and design process, I always listen to music while I’m working. I kind of need it. I feel I do the best coding late at night when you are all alone with some really good music and can just be completely “in the zone” without any risk of interruption. Beer is mostly used when we do brainstorming about new ideas or are stressed before demoparty deadlines :-)

Haha, so you start the party a bit earlier than everyone else :) What program do you use to make demo? Do you use your own tool?

For 64k development we are using a tool I have developed from the ground up based on C++ and OpenGL, that allows easy editing of contents such as textures, meshes, scenes, lighting, shaders etc. as well as optimising the data to please the packer. For music we have been using Meaty’s Mapprox synth that have a VST interface, which we usually use in combination with Renoise.

You’ve been releasing quite a many 64K demos. Why? What’s the appeal in 64k?

I love making 64k since they for me have the perfect tradeoff between size limits and design freedom. I can sit and do design quite freely in a tool and it’s easier to avoid that sterile math feeling that is so easy to get in with 4k. I also enjoy making the tools themselves, and 64k tools are pretty fun to make.

64k demo "ephemera" by Approximate (2009)

So you like 64k from making its tool… wow :) By the way, how do you get into the programming field?

I have always been interested in graphics and design. I found out quite early that it was more fun to create my own games than to play what others have made. And then I found out that the most fun part of the game programming was graphics programming and I have been stuck with it since then.

And when and how did you discover demoscene?

I was introduced to the demoscene in mid-90s. My first contact with the scene was through various cracktros that I watched, then being introduced to modules and Fast Tracker 2 and programming tutorials by sceners. I also read about the demoscene and demoparties in various computer magazines, especially the computer magazine “Tekno”. The first party I attended was Compusphere 1997 held in my hometown.

Ok, then shall we go on to this classic question? Your favorite demo, memorable demo, demo that changed your life… anything. Tell us a demo which is special to you.

The demo production that has affected me the most is probably “fr-08: .the .product” [video] by Farbrausch since that was what triggered my interest in 64k scene. I thought it was amazing when I first saw it and I got so inspired by reading the “making of” that I could not stop thinking about creating my own 64k. Other 64k that have also inspired me are “Project Genesis [video] by Conspiracy, “Paradise [video] by Rgba, “Zoom 3” [videoby AND, “Panic Room [video] by Fairlight and many others.

When it comes to demos, I love the flow in Andromeda Software Development’s demos where effects just blend together without any cuts, for example like in “Lifeforce [video]. Another demo that gave a great inspiration when creating Gaia Machina was “Sunflower [video] by Pulse. I really loved the atmosphere in that demo when it came out.

You know the scene back from cracktros, and I believe that’s quite a long time. Why do you like this culture? What is demo and demoscene to you?

For me it’s the combination of technology and art that fits me perfectly. I have always been interested in both so it’s the perfect subculture for me. You also get to hang out with a lot of really talented people and you feel like you are constantly pushing yourself forward and evolving.

What type of demo do you want to make in the future? Is there any dream or goal you want to achieve in the scene?

I would love to do something more abstract with great audio sync. I loved the demo “Artifacts” [video] by illogictree and I would love to do something like that. Other than that I guess I’ll just see when I get inspired by.

Currently I’m trying to teach myself sound and music programming since I would love to get a better understanding of that part of the scene. I will probably only understand the math part of it but it’s fun to explore and Velo can have a go at whatever comes out of that process in forms of synthesizers, audio experiments etc. and maybe have something ready when we visit Tokyo Demo Fest 2016. I have never been to Japan so I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m glad to know that you’ll be coming to Japan :) And, finally your message for demosceners and demo fans out there please.

Just keep making the stuff you love doing and socialize with other sceners. The demoscene is such a great place for musicians, graphic artists and coders to exchange ideas and understand each other's perspectives and work processes. I also hope to see a lot of you at Tokyo Demo Fest or Revision.

And finally I also have to mention to be on the lookout for updates on the demoparty Edison which Velo and friends organize, usually sometime in July. A relatively small but really nice demoparty in Stockholm, Sweden.


Thank you for answering the questions while you’re super busy, Cryptic!

If you want to see Approximate’s work, check out their website and Pouet page. And if you are on Facebook, you may want to like their FB page to receive updates :)

And, Cryptic and Velo have shared their Making-of “GaiaMachina” on Hugi (diskmag – demoscene magazine). In this article, they explain more insight around the demo in chronological order. Better check this if you love this demo :)

Thank you very much for reading this till the end! :)


- In case you’re wondering what “demo” or “demoscene” is, better check out the well-made documentary called Moleman2.  (and the director, M. Szilárd Matusik's interview can be read in here.)

  #1: Interview with Demoscener: q from nonoil/gorakubu is here.
  #2: Interview with Demoscener: Gargaj from Conspiracy, Ümlaüt Design is here.
  #3: Interview with Demoscener: Preacher from Brainstorm, Traction is here.
  #4: Interview with Demoscener: Zavie from Ctrl-Alt-Test is here.
  #5: Interview with Demoscener: Smash from Fairlight is here.
  #6: Interview with Demoscener: Gloom from Excess, Dead Roman is here.
  #7: Interview with Demoscener: kioku from System K is here.
  #8: Interview with Demoscener: kb from Farbrausch is here.
  #9: Interview with Demoscener: iq from RGBA is here.
#10: Interview with Demoscener: Navis from Andromeda Software Development is here.
#11: Interview with Demoscener: Pixtur from Still, LKCC is here.

For some of my posts related to “demo and “demoscene” culture is here.


今回は、大作『Gaia Machina』でも知られるスウェーデンのデモグループApproximate(アプロクシメイト)のコーダー、Cryptic(クリプティック)さんをゲストにお迎えしました。





Photo by Cryptic

Jonas Fredriksson(ヨナス・フレデリクソン)といいます。デモシーンではCrypticという名前で、Approximateというデモグループで活動しています。Approximateは、今は僕とミュージシャンのVelo2人のグループで、僕はコード、グラフィックス、デザインを主に担当しています。

昨年の春にRevisionでリリースされていた『Small matters of the heart』をストリーミングで見ていたのですが、美しい作品でしたね!(現在もビデオで視聴可能) あの作品はどのようにして生まれたのでしょうか?

2014年の頭に『Gaia Machina』のファイナルバージョンを完成させた後、特に何も決めずに、空いた時間に技術面の研究をしていたんです。でも、実際に作品を作り始めたのはConspiracyBoyCと「Revisionで真剣に64k対決をやろう」という話をしただったと思います。ここ数年、64kデモはPCデモや4kのカテゴリに遅れをとっているので(MercuryBrain Controlなどのデモグループが作る素晴らしい64kの作品はありますけどね)、64kにもっと興味を持ってもらいたいと思ったんですよ。それで、Revision 2015で何かリリースしようということになりました。





だから、あんなに素晴らしいコンポでリリースできたことを嬉しく思う反面、Gaia Machinaのパーティーバージョンのほうが、技術面でもストーリー面でもデザイン面でも、もっと安定してたなぁと考えてしまうんですよね。

なるほど。ところで、『Gaia Machina』の場合、2009年に作り始めて、最初にリリースしたのは2012年。そしてファイナルバージョンは2014年にリリースされています*。ほぼ5年にわたる製作期間で、この間に他の作品はリリースしていませんよね。かなり長い時間だと思うのですが、「あぁー!他のものが作りたい!」と思うことはなかったのですか?どうしてこれほど長い間、モチベーションを維持することができたのでしょう?

本当に楽しんでやっている趣味だから、というのが大きな理由でしょうね(笑) でも、趣味ってことは他にもやらなきゃならないことがあるってことなので、自分でやりたいと思っているほどはデモコーディングのための時間を確保できてはいないです。それに、もちろん他のことがしたくなる時もありますよ。そしたら、そっちをやってから、またしばらくしてデモコーディングに戻るんです。

だから、2009年から2012年の間、ずっとGaia Machinaのコーディングをやってたわけじゃなくて、休み休み続けてたってことです。それと、2012年のパーティーバージョンのリリースと2014年のファイナルバージョンのリリースの間があいているのは、グループのメンバーのMeaty2012年にこの世を去ってしまうという、とても悲しい出来事があったことも大きな理由です。




Gaia Machinaの場合、ストーリーの流れはとてもシンプルですっきりとしたものだったので、そこからエフェクトや雰囲気を作り出しました。Small matters of the heartの場合は、まだストーリーがよく練られていない段階でリリースしなければならなかったので、ストーリーばかりが目立った作品になってしまったのが、かなり腹立たしいですね。

そうなんですか! では、Approximateの一般的な制作プロセスを教えてください。音楽やタイトルを先に準備しておきますか?

いつも技術面からスタートしてきましたね。僕が64kのコードとグラフィックスを作り始めて、Meatyがシンセのコードに取り掛かります。音楽とグラフィックスの間でやり取りを繰り返す、反復型のプロセスを採り入れてみようって話にいつもなるんですけど、計画しても、今まで実現できたことはないんですよね。Gaia Machinaの場合は音楽がパーティー会場で完成したので、締め切りギリギリまでグラフィックスを音楽に合わせる作業に追われました。

Small matters of the heartの時は、Veloがパーティーの数週間前に音楽のテストバージョンを送ってくれたので少し時間はあったのですが、音楽と合わせる前に、僕のほうがコードとストーリーを仕上げるのに苦労していまして、、。それと、タイトルはもうずっと、締め切りの23時間前に決まるパターンですね。





はは、ひとあし早くパーティーを始めるわけですね(笑) では、どんなプログラムを使ってデモを作っていますか?自作ツールは使っていますか?




64k demo "ephemera" by Approximate (2009)

おお、ツール作りの段階から64kを愛しているわけですね、、!(笑) ところで、そもそも、みたいな話になりますが、プログラミングの世界にはどのようにして入ったのですか?



僕がデモシーンと出会ったのは、90年代の半ばです。初めて見たのはクラックトロ(注:ゲームのイントロ画面を改変したもの。デモの前身であり、デモシーンを生み出すきっかけになったもの)で、それからモジュールやFast Tracker 2のことを知り、デモシーナーが書いたプログラミングのチュートリアルを読むようになりました。それと、コンピュータ雑誌でもデモシーンやデモパーティーの記事を読んでいましたね。特にチェックしていたのは「Tekno」という雑誌(注:ノルウェーのコンピュータ雑誌です。初めて参加したデモパーティーは、地元で開催されていたCompusphere 1997です。

ではそろそろ定番の質問にいきましょう。好きなデモ、心に残るデモ、影響を受けたデモ、、または人生を変えたデモ あなたにとって特別なデモを教えてください。

個人的にいちばん大きな影響を受けたと思う作品は、たぶんFarbrauschの『fr-08: .the .product』 [videoだと思います。これがきっかけで64kに興味を持つようになりましたから。最初に見た時、これはすごいぞと思って、あとでメイキングの記事を読んだら、自分でも64kの作品が作ってみたいって気持ちが抑えられなくなっちゃったんですよね。64kで他にインスピレーションを受けた作品だと、Conspiracyの『Project Genesis』 [video]Rgbaの『Paradise [video]ANDの『Zoom 3 [video]Fairlightの『Panic Room [video]とかですね。他にもいろいろありますけど。

PCデモだと、Andromeda Software Developmentの作品の感じが大好きですね。『Lifeforce [video]とか、エフェクトが切れ目なくうまく調和しているのが好きなんです。それと、Gaia Machinaを作るに大きなヒントをもらったのは、Pulseの『Sunflower [video]です。あのデモの持つ雰囲気がすごく好きなんですよね。




音楽とぴたりと合った、もう少し抽象的な作品を作ってみたいですね。illogictreeの『Artifacts [video]という作品が大好きなので、ああいうのをやってみたいです。それ以外では、その時に興味を持ったものをやっていくんじゃないでしょうかね。

今はサウンドや音楽のプログラミングのことを学んでいて、デモシーンのこの分野について理解を深められたらいいなと思っています。たぶん数学的な部分しか理解できないと思いますけど、知らないことを学ぶのは楽しいですからね。それに、シンセやサウンドの実験ってかたちで、このプロセスから何か出てくればVeloにチャレンジしてもらうこともできますから。Tokyo Demo Fest 2016に行く時には、何か持っていけるかもしれないですね。まだ僕は日本に行ったことがないので、すごく楽しみにしているんです。


自分がすごく楽しめるものを作り続けて、他のシーナーと交流してください。デモシーンは、ミュージシャン、グラフィックアーティスト、コーダーがアイデアを交換したり、それぞれの視点や制作プロセスを理解し合うのに絶好の場所です。僕も、Tokyo Demo FestRevisionでたくさんのデモシーナーの皆さんに会えるのを楽しみにしています。





また、過去にはディスクマガジンの「Hugi」で、CrypticさんとミュージシャンのVeloさんが『Gaia Machina』のメイキングも公開しています。制作からリリースまで時系列で書かれていて、あの作品のファンならずとも裏話が聞けて面白いですよ。

それと、インタビュー中に何度も登場したRevision 201564kコンポは、会場からストリーミングで公開されたものが、こちらで見ることができます。ちなみに、、このときのCompo Studioのビデオでも話していましたが、この「春の64kまつり」は(笑)、MercuryConspiracy、そしてApproximate64kグループが、「おい作品持ってこいよ、勝負しようぜー」と事前に勝負をふっかけ合っていたそう。表彰式で、3グループのメンバーが嬉しそうに抱き合って泣いていた姿が印象的です。




  #1: 日本のデモシーナー、qさん(nonoilgorakubuのコーダー)にインタビューは、こちら
  #2: デモシーナー、Gargajさん(ConspiracyÜmlaüt Design)にインタビューは、こちら
  #3: デモシーナー、Preacherさん(Brainstorm、Traction)にインタビューは、こちら
  #4: デモシーナー、Zavieさん(Ctrl-Alt-Test)にインタビューは、こちら
  #5: デモシーナー、Smashさん(Fairlight)にインタビューは、こちら
  #6: デモシーナー、Gloomさん(Excess、Dead Roman)にインタビューは、こちら
  #7: 日本のデモシーナー、kiokuさん(System K)にインタビューは、こちら
  #8: デモシーナー、kbさん(Farbrausch)にインタビューは、こちら
  #9: デモシーナー、iqさん(RGBA)にインタビューは、こちら
#10: デモシーナー、Navisさん(Andromeda Software Development)にインタビューは、こちら
#11: デモシーナー、Pixturさん(Still, LKCC)にインタビューは、こちら

- その他、「デモ」と「デモシーン」に関連する投稿はこちら
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