The Complete TMDC ISO (Pouet)
- about 100 MB zipped ISO file
- ready to run all demos in win32 or win64
Text mode demo competition (or compo, or contest - same thing, really) was held
for the first time in 1996. Back then there were a few demos running in text
mode; some were 'pure' textmode demos such as what TMDC was after, and others
tweaked the text mode.
We wanted more textmode demos, and we saw two ways to go about it - make them
ourselves, or hold contests to get many more!
Grand total of 90 demos were produced in the 10 contests, including the
invitation demos and the couple of disqualified entries. A handy ISO has been
produced that includes all of the demos as well as Dosbox 0.72 plus batch files
to launch the DOS demos with it.
TMDC has had its supporters as well as its doubters. In the beginning, the
people against TMDC kept saying that you can't do anything in text mode, and
later on saying that "it's just a low-res framebuffer".
What these people never seem to grasp is how hard it actually is to make things
look nice in text mode. The resolution is low, true, but it's "tricky" - you
can use several different techniques to reach higher resoltions; antialiasing,
different charset tricks (such as the 50% high blocks used in many Alpha Design
demos), etc. There's much more to text mode than what TextFX, AA-Lib or LibCaCa
Even if you do pick up LibCaCA, like I did for the last two TMDC invitations
that I made (tmdc8 and tmdcx), your job isn't done. The ready libraries do not
help you with the very limited color space or contrast. Watching some of the
old entries now shocks me on how well picked colors they have. Others are a
The most argued aspect about TMDC was the 'no tweaked modes' rule.
One reason for why TMDC did not accept tweaked modes was that, well, after
Future Crew released a couple tweaked text mode demos, there wasn't much you
can do in that area =)
Okay, I'll admit that you can do cool stuff by tweaking text mode, but that's
a subject for a different kind of contest.
There's one thing in TMDC that worked very well that I'd love to see in other
contests out there: the commentary for each entry. It's one thing to receive a
standing, or a number or two on how you fared, and another completely to read
comments from the jury (or organizers, or voters, or whoever).
One of the side products of TMDC was the rather detailed ruleset. The ruleset
grew as we wanted to rule some things out (such as the 'must have digital
audio' rule) or loopholes were found. If someone wishes to hold a contest on
the net, feel free to read through the final rules and steal whatever ideas
The rules do include the clause "we'll change the rules if we want to", but we
never actually changed the rules during a contest.
Okay, sure, the ruleset was so long nobody really read it. The one rule many
people hit pretty hard was the size limitations. The idea behind the size
limitations originally was that since it's textmode, you don't need that much
space for content, and when textmode demos are small, they spread well. This
was back when there was practically no internet and everyone used modems. Slow
One recurring thing in TMDC, and, I believe, in just about any contest, is that
people tend to make their entries as late as possible. Some people even
complained when the deadline was on a work day. This, after they've had a whole
month to submit their entry, and they already knew that the compo was coming
few months earlier.. =)
I understand that it's just the nature for people to do that. On the very first
TMDC we moved the deadline when several people needed more time. And then we
moved the deadline again. And again. And again. Until we had moved a whole
month. It was a disaster, really.
Afterwards, if someone asked for more time, they were granted extensions
personally (and never more than a couple weeks max, a little at a time). In
many cases, most entries were submitted after the deadline.
Considering this, I always found it funny when people asked me, a couple weeks
before the deadline, how many entries there are. How could I know? Such a
situation is quite nerve-wrecking, when you sit around hoping that someone
would just upload that third demo so that you have people to give the prizes
As time went by, and DOS changed to windows console, the size limit slowly
started to grow. This was mostly because audio formats changed - the good old
mod/xm formats started to be hard to compose for, as the old tools did not
work under windows, and nobody bothered writing new ones as composers moved to
MIDI based equipment and started spewing out MP3s and oggs.
Lately we've started to see that, while the demo quality has kept rising, we
were getting fewer demos (even though the invitations were as popular as ever),
and in the end decided that it didn't make much sense to run a contest of this
magnitude for a handful of people.
We'd like to thank all our sponsors, past and present, as well as everyone who
entered the contest.
It's time to move on.
We have some ideas for other 'alternative' demo contests, so maybe you'll see
something.. different.. from us at some point =)
-- Jari Komppa