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34 In Focus: Biter / Futuris
In Focus: Biter / Futuris

Interview conducted by Magic of Nah-Kolor
Biter's anwers in Polish were translated into English by Grabek of Futuris


Biter is the main editor of Savage and Savage Charts.


Introducing Biter


Magic:

Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?


Biter:

My name is Bartosz Rakowski, for relatives, friends, acquaintances, and on the demoscene my handle is "Biter". I live in the not-ugly city of Poznan, Poland. I am not the youngest anymore (especially if I were to be compared to the average demoscene age), but I do not feel old. I do not know the origin of my pseudo. Sometimes people ask me about it. It originates way back from my childhood, and its true meaning is caught only in Polish – so, there is no sense in trying to find the greater meaning of it. I used to love my "name" and so it remains. (Pronunciation: beet-err)


Magic:

How did you get into the demoscene? When did you start being active in the demoscene?


Biter:

My first encounter with the demoscene took place at a "trade" (trades were places in Poland where you could trade equipment and software back in the day when it was dificult to get those things). I was about 14. I was a regular at the "trade". And so were many demosceners. I got hooked! I began to read tons of zines, watched tons of productions – which was not so easy, there was no Internet and it was then that the "trade" was (next to swapping) the main way of obtaining new releases.

I wanted to shine, so, after long, exhausting trials, a friendly coder gave me some literarure. And so a few months later my first c64 demo was completed (composed mainly of many types of scrolls). It was no masterpiece, but I was extremely proud, and it was enough to get me into my first group (too bad I can not remember its name). I began to code an engine for a zine, thus announcing the end of my demoscening... school started, the playground called, and my c64 was feeling lonely

For the next years I was only an observer. I was up to date with all productions, but I was not creating anything myself. Finally, after years of idleness I decided to try again, this time as a PC graphics artist. I went to a party where I had my small breakthrough (I passed the selection and I did not finish last). There it began, what I am today. In the mean time I was a soldier in many groups, of which it is worth naming "The Grid" and "Scoopex".

A few years ago many meaningful demosceners from Poznan got together and established "Marsmellow", a group formed on the general idea of "friendship". We became parents to several productions, we published a zine "the Voice" and we tried to stick together untill today (many have retired from the demoscene).

At one point in time, I decided I needed something else, something more personal and non-democratic... Futuris was formed, and we are still on the demoscene today, and we are not thinking of quitting.


Magic:

What's your favourite:


Biter:

Drink: nicely cooled beer

Brand: I have no favorite brand, I put my money on good products – and they stink at times.

Game: Baldur's Gate, Blade Runner, Civilization, Deus Ex, Fallout, Myst, Red Alert, Syberia

Movie: Too many to list, so only a few creators: Akira Kurosawa, George Lucas, Jim Jarmusch, John Carpenter, Luc Besson, Ridley Scott, Stanislaw Bareja, Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino, Yimou Zhang

Television series: Firefly, X-Files

Coder: Bonzaj, Chaos, Curly Brace, Galon, Navis, Smash

Graphician: Tough choice, I know too many great graphic artist, the list would be super long, however strictly demoscene graphic artists: Bridgeclaw, Made, Maxon, Mime, Xentusion

Musician: aMusic, Blz, kb, Little bitchard, Radix, Trybeo, Traymuss, Lamb, Xerxex all Aural Planet. And if we are talking about music outside the demo scene, I like all that is good, it is worth naming Archive, Eric Serra, Faithless, Global Communication, Guano Apes, Hans Zimmer, James Horner, Juno Reactor, Kenji Kawai, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Linkin Park, LTJ Bukem, Patchwork, Skalpel, St. Germain, Sting, Massive Attack, Morcheeba, Tab Two, U2, Vangelis etc.

Writer: Alexandre Dumas, Andrzej Sapkowski, Arthur C. Clarke, Emilio Salgari, Frank Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jack London, Jules Verne, Karol May, Philip K. Dick, Stanislaw Lem, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, William Gibson and many other

Alltime Diskmags: Hugi and Pain because of their perseverance and presence on the scene after all so many years.

Scene country: We are a global village

Car: I prefer bicycles, but stince I have to choose, I choose the "Batmobile"

Holiday: Any time I can do some r&r around friends and family far away from the telephone

Scene party: Breakpoint for the productions and all parties I went to


Biter anno domini 2008


Magic:

What are you doing for a living today?


Biter:

I earn my bread as graphics artist in an advertising agency. I also work on many projects for interactive agencies and game development companies.


Magic:

Can you tell us something about your other hobbies besides the demoscene?





Biter:

Vast, what may seem strange in my lack-o-timeness. Without going into much detail: graphics, animation, the movies (cinema) history, literature, photography, computerization history, martial art (I do BJJ), lately I was drawn to journey/travel into places not seen with tourist eyes.


Magic:

In which ways did your demoscene-background help you getting into the work you do today?


Biter:

For sure it helped me to define who I am. I do what I do thanks to the demoscene. Many times my portfolio included demoscene productions. At the moment, the demoscene is a rocket fuel and a bypass for comercialization, to which I need to devote the majority of my time.


Demoscene Questions.


Magic:

What do you think is the main difference between the oldskool and the newskool scene? Do you like that progression?


Biter:

In the past, the technology was being created. Today the technology is widely available but it is very advanced and it is difficult to keep up with it. Great credit and respect is due to the pioneers, but that does not mean the newskool creators are any worse. Today to be, for example, a good coder, going through tutorials and coming up with a few fun effects is not enough. One needs to be a great mathematician (at at least academic level), backed by lots of experience. Moreover, the time devoted to and "funds" needed for a good demo is much, much greater. Today's productions are of much larger size than the old ones. In the time of rat-races (today's fast life), lack of free time (for learning and making) makes it all a greater challenge than before.

Many people from the old scene have become inactive, and I think they are the ones who complain the most, saying "it was better back then". And the truth is – it was different. Those who fanatically extall the old times, would not make a mark today. I would even go so far as to say, they would be just average, even suck (as I see it on c64 graphics that used to rule). Those people would have to learn a ton of new things.

I find my place in the today very well, therefore I see no problem. Moreover, I see only advantages. Also, today you can make a mark in history thanks to the scene on a little greater scale (great interest of the commercial world). The demoscene is still a great target practice that helps later with more serious projects.


Magic:

What are your favourite demos and why?


Biter:

I like many productions, great demos come out all the time. I come back to those many times. If I were to generalize, I admire productions of groups such as ASD, Conspiracy, Farbrausch, Kewlers, Mfx, Plastic, The Black Lotus and many other.

Thinking sentimentally "Enigma", "Hardwired", "State Of the Art", "Technological Death" (these were the demos that made me stick with Amiga for a loooong time), "Heaven 7" (great example proving you can make a great intro under DOS), "Kasparov" (it drew me, with its mood, to the 3d demos and Windows as a demo platform, and greatly inspiring music), "Fr-08: the product" (as the first, on such a scale, has shown a direction and posibilities of 64k intros). These are the most prominent and symbolic productions. I have dozens of favorites (if not hundreads), therefore it is hard to name them all here.


Magic:

Please describe your thoughts on Zine#12 and Hugi#33, both released in 2007.


Biter:

Zine#12 – a loud return, very effective magazine. Good code, great graphics, it is almost a demo. Unfortunately as for the functionality – a little overrated, a little disappointing is also the small number of texts – for such a great return.

Hugi#33 – keeps with its standards, graphics and music is better with each release. Many texts, that is what draws and gives joy the most. Special applause for the release of issue 33!

Both diskmags are good and needed, I can hardly wait until the next issue.


Magic:

What was your best moment in the scene so far? And what was your worst?


Biter:

I am still active, and I am not planning to change that, thus, it is not the time for conclusions. The best moment is each moment when the bigscreen shows my work, or a production I was a part of. It is worth to put much work into a production, cause even if the public does not like it, that short moment on the big screen is reward enough.

The worst moment is that, when I can not finish a project in time and it needs to be put aside for later. I hope there are very few of such moments.


Magic:

What would be your advice for a scener who just started writing articles for a diskmag?





Biter:

This question seems mis-asked, I write relatively little for the demoscene. My advice is: write personally, do not try to suck up to anyone. You need to voice your opinion and be as objective as possible. That is very hard to do at times. The writer should present facts and issues, and the reader should draw conclusions. It is, of course, a very flexible rule, therefore, it may be bent every now and then. And skill comes from practice, just like with everything, so write, write, write...


Magic:

Please tell us about your group Futuris. Past, present and future.


Biter:

It is a young group with great potential. I was lucky enough to get a few skilled people into it. I think there is a lot we will do together. What has been stopping our rapid evolvement was just personal lack of time, especially since aside of being the main organizer I took it upon myself to be the main graphic artist and often tmes a coordinator. We are all busy... job, family, sometimes education – the scene is our way of wasting free time, and it is the free time that we lack.

This year will be a breakthrough. Our main goal is to compete started productions. We have dozens of such projects, and they are all much advanced. Those productions are done well enough not to be ashamed of them. You will see the effects at this years' Breakpoint. We will show you!


Magic:

What do you think of the size and state of the Polish demoscene?


Biter:

It is good and it seems not to fall far from the rest of the world. We have 95% of sceners, who are in some groups but limit their activity to whining and commenting, and we have the 5% who create their own productions – it is not a great number, but the potential fixes that gap. There are a few groups here, that are known around the world. Addict, Anadune, Madwizards, Plastic or the young ALLien Senses and a few other that create something. Some retire, new come to fill their spots, and one day we will hear of them. 'Tis good!


Magic:

Tell us about your visit to Riverwash 2007.


Biter:

A great visit. You may read more in my report I posted in "SavageCharts 3".


Savage Questions


Magic:

Where does the name Savage come from for your diskmag? Why was it chosen?


Biter:

Quite incidental. A name was needed. Needed quick! (The first issue was done in one week.) I had a few ideas, but none were good. I looked around my room, and I spotted a box for my good old graphics card: Savage, since it is sentimental, and I also liked a game for c64 named Savage, and it sounds well – so I hesitated no more. I asked around, everyone liked it, and so it was done - "Savage".

It is a good name, as good as any other, but if needed – a legend is ready


Magic:

Describe the process of making an issue of Savage in the early days and now, what's the difference?



Biter:

Not much has changed. I still need to ask for everything and I still need to keep my eye on everything. What has changed for the better, is I have much more experience now, and I have come up with procedures that make work easier. Many people showed up, whom I can count on (it is extremely important), I give my thanks to them.


Magic:

What do you like the most, editing articles or writing them? Why?


Biter:

The moment when all is done and I can move on to another, I do not suffer from lack of ideas.


Magic:

It seems the engine of Savage will be quite advanced as you have written. What will be new in it?


Biter:

Yes, I decided to give up the old, traditional engine (SavageCharts will still run on it) because it lacks a lot and does not keep up with the needs of today. To not over complicate and to not be reliant on a coder, I moved to what I know and to what I can modify to fit my needs (flash+flex). Only advantages stem from it. To name a few – multi platform, unlimited media presentation possibilities, interactive (article comments visible to everyone who has an Internet connection), flexibility and ease of expansion. All that plus relatively fast and flasless working. I think it is a good direction.


Magic:

Where do you get your inspiration / ideas from? Ever had a writers block'?


Biter:

I do not need any special inspirations. It goes for writing and graphics. I have enough ideas to last a dozen years. If I start to work on something, I always produce, no drafts. I do not devote much thinking to any of that, it all just somehow comes out. The only stopping thing is the lack of time, it hurts.


Magic:

Can you tell us some nice anecdotes in making Savage?



Biter:

Hmmm, Savage has transformed into an 80% educational mag (it is being attached to many popular Polish computer magazines), the majority of readers come from there. I get a lot of messages, personal praise, criticism, new ideas, and many e-mails asking for help and judgement. Many times my readers think of me "Google" - they ask me the most bizarre questions, so I respond in a comic way. Think before you ask. There was a time, when Savage had a "letters" column where I tried to answer some questions (we are going back to it. It will start with the new page – I hope soon).

Two funny incidents are worth mentioning. The first is a proposal of putting an advertisement for printer equipment (right after the title screen). Oh, I can see the reaction of the scene . And another one was a serious offer from a faithful reader to pay for a quicker release of the next issue of Savage. On both occasions I said no


Magic:

Savage is now released approximately once a year. So is Savage charts. How do you see the future of Savage?


Biter:

The first issues of Savage were coming out one after another (at one point in time, two issues came out in one month). Later, unfortuately, as the size was growing, the interval had to be made longer. Finally my personal life got in the way and today Savage comes out, when it is done.

As for the future – I see the future, that is something I do not know exactly where the mag will go. I will endeavor to make it more professional, targeting a more professional reader (mainly graphic artists, they are the closest to me), and I will continue to pass some demoscene content. Who knows, maybe we will acquire a few valuble people that way. I managed to get many people interested already (as I read about it on many web portals). I will not be able to have a zine exclusively for the demosceners (few writers, many "specialists"). It is a small group, extremely "ungrateful". I want to go BIG.

SavageCharts will continue to exist as it is. I may expand it by "additional" content.

Any real demoscene topics, reviews, raports, interviews and general articles will end up in Savage (bilingual, Polish and English).


Epilogue


Magic:

What are your future plans on a personal basis and scenewise?


Biter:

Live long enough to retire. Then I will play console games and pick up 18 year - old chicks

The more tangible plans: get hitched, switch jobs to a less time demanding one, finalize a few big projects that have been on my mind for a long time, learn a few new things, and most of all, to organize my life, so I could sleep longer than 5-6h a night


Magic:

Any last words or greetings? Be my guest!


Biter:

Greetings to all readers, friends and acquaintances. Thank you for puting so much of your heart, time and work into creating the New and Better demoscene productions – it is thanks to you that it still goes on. And to all the criticism spreading "know-it-alls" I say: SHUT UP & GET TO WORK!

Scene rulez


Biter / Futuris ^ Marsmellow
-email-

http://bartoszrakowski.com
http://futuris-art.com
http://savage.scene.pl
http://savagecharts.futuris-art.com


Magic & Biter
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