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Header art by
Jonas Ström

Thomas Says....

Hi!

This is the first, and probably the last, Woodworks column being written on an Atari ST, a computer from the late 80's. (It's wonderfully silent by the way, without any buzzing hard disc or fan)

This weekend, I'm at my parents' home and I dug up this old machine along with some magazines from 12-13 years ago: "ACE, Advanced computer entertainment, with an additional tag line 'magazine of the year' written on the front page". Let's see what we can find in them...

There is a column about the wait for the exciting new release of Might and Magic 2, which will include the new cool concept of character skills! I quote, "Skills can add to strategic and tactical interest, and can also contribute something to the feeling that your characters have an existence all of their own". WOW!!!

On another page there's an article about the new upcoming CD-ROM computers, "CD is the way to go, people in the video world are working more and more in the digital world. One day EVERYTHING will be digital and the CD computer game will be able to manipulate all the media resources you can care to throw at it". Geez - sounds amazing?! That one day in the future is already here! :-)

Back then, the PC wasn't the cool high performance gaming machine it is today, in a review of car racing games it's concluded that "PC owners are going to have to put up with their games sounding like glorified microwave ovens". The graphical abilities wasn't too impressive either; "If you're one of the lucky many who has to make do with CGA <graphics> then you have to watch the <traffic lights> change from magenta to ... magenta!". A CGA graphic card only had four colors...

The Atari, of course, was way better than a PC in these days, with its 16 colors (Up to 512 for a handy machine code hacker) and three channel beepy sound. Despite this, I still have a lot of feelings for this old but limited computer (that I am using right now). I know it inside and out, I know every detail and every bug in the graphic chip, I can handle the machine code with ease, I know nearly every important processor interrupt... and so on...

Isn't this what nostalgia is all about? You go back to something simple, that you KNOW. Nowadays, with the ever increasing amount of advanced technology and information sources around us, isn't it just very satisfying to lean back and feel at home and in control again?

I think this is very much why the fantasy genre has grown so popular in late years, especially among the younger generations. In a fantasy world, everything is much simpler (Well, at least technology-wise, don't worry too much about dark lord Kazuuuk who's plotting his sinister master plan to enslave all the worlds population using ancient black magic and his enormous army of spawned undead).

In a fantasy world, there is usually a clear line between good and evil. People live in simple houses, they use horses (and an occasional red dragon) for transport, and they fight with swords instead of computer aided stealth airplanes. I personally don't think there is anything bad or dangerous in escaping with nostalgia. If you find comfort in these imaginary worlds and universes and can relax for a while from reality - take the chance (And Elfwood is one hell of a good place to this), because before you know it, the world will throw new technical wonders upon us. Remember, it was just a few years ago the PC's sounded like a glorified microwave oven and could only display four well chosen colors (Of which magenta was one). Let Elfwood be your escapist haven! (Amen?)

Thomas Abrahamsson,
Elfwood Founder

PS - greetings to the atari demo crews TCB, SYNC, OMEGA and the UNION.

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