Italo challenge - extended extended deadline

by snout on 01-01-2007, 12:54
Topic: MRC
Tags: Challenges
Languages:

With the MSXdev'06 competition taking all our attention, and all Wolf's time for creating a nice Italo sample kit, we have decided to extend the deadline to the Italo Challenge one more time. In the near future MRC will release a set of Italo-oriented samples which could be used with Moonsound and MSX-Audio. These size-optimized samples could provide extra motivation and inspiration for those who need it.

The goal of the Italo challenge is to compose a song on MSX using any sound chip of your choice, with the 'Italo' sound. In the 1990s, the Dutch MSX scene group Impact was the first to bring this genre, on which you can find more information over here, to the MSX computer. Since then, many composers joined and brought a large variety of Italo-ish (MSX-Italo, if you like) songs to the MSX computer. With its 16-step tracker and recognizable FM/AM synthesis sounds, the MSX(Audio) and Italo looked like they were made for each other.

For your inspiration, you might want to listen to some genuine Italo acts such as Koto and Laserdance, or at some classic impact music disks and demos which you can find in our MSX downloads database.

The rules of this challenge:

  • Any MSX soundchip may be used. In the past, the MSX-Audio has proven to be a great Italo soundchip, the Moonsound should make a composer's life easy as well
  • Only original compositions are allowed
  • A maximum of 640KB SRAM may be used for the Moonsound
  • A maximum of 32KB sampleram may be used for MSX-Audio/Music Module
  • You may present your song as part of a trackmo/demo, only the song will be judged however
  • You can use any public music software or supply your song with its own player. If the used software doesn't do VDP equalizing while it uses the VDP for its tempo, then state for which frequency your song was made (50hz/60hz). MBWave uses the Moonsound for its tempo, so it always sounds the way it should
  • MRC will create MP3's from all the entries for the jury and all of you, which will be recorded from genuine hardware. If you make your song using an emulator where for instance the Moonsound envelopes lack accuracy, then there's nothing we can do about that.

The jury consists out of poke -1,170 and wolf_. Poke being the one to bring his Italo enthusiasm to us and wolf_ being the challenge initiator. Of course there's no challenge without an award, just like poke's earlier Airwaves challenge the top 3 will be featured on Enschede FM where he is a DJ. In addition, the 1st prize will be awarded with an MSX T-shirt!

So, MSX composers, don't hesitate any longer and get your favorite tracker started again. The deadline now is February 28th, 23:59 CET. You can send your entries to italo@msx.org. Happy composing!

Comments (46)

By RobertVroemisse

Paragon (1235)

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02-01-2007, 08:54

-sigh-

By poke-1,170

Paragon (1756)

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03-01-2007, 00:00

hmm ?

By Edwin

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03-01-2007, 01:09

You'll be happy to know that I temporarily relieved Wolf_ of his duties so he can finally make the wavekit! Tongue

By Manuel

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01-03-2007, 11:30

ANy results?

By wolf_

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01-03-2007, 11:45

A large number of things depend on snout, and as you know, his presence is a bit unpredictable these days.

By RobertVroemisse

Paragon (1235)

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01-03-2007, 16:46

How many songs?

By wolf_

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01-03-2007, 17:16

Not very many I'm afraid. Following the rpg/gfx-challenge from last year (one entry!), the individual challenges will probably end here, back to the classic and progressive (we've seen a lot of new concepts over the years) theme-challenges, such as our current megachallenge.

By dvik

Prophet (2200)

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01-03-2007, 23:10

Well, this was an extremely niched competition. I don't think more than 1% of the population even herad of italo so I'm not surprised that there were few entries. Makes it easy for the judges at least Wink

Any chance to see a list of all entries so we can take a listen?

By wolf_

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01-03-2007, 23:44

Well, niche.. dunno, a lot of ppl in the 90's were just doing this on their MSX. That's the whole joke about it, try some Koto or Laserdance album, if you wouldn't know better you'd swear you'd be listening to some typical Moonblaster music disk. You can even almost 'see' those patterns at your nose, and you can hear that those artists copied their note data the same way. So, niche, I dunno, I don't think so. Impact introduced this style to MSX, and other ppl were then cloning Impact, so basically the style is actually very well known.

I think it's more of an ongoing trend of less activity from artists. Programming and soldering seem to go on nonetheless.

By dvik

Prophet (2200)

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02-03-2007, 01:36

I think it's more of an ongoing trend of less activity from artists. Programming and soldering seem to go on nonetheless.
Its a bit unfortunate if this is true and your other example seems to indicate that. Do you know why? Maybe its not the same kind of challenge to do gfx or music on an old system that it is to program or improve hw.

I was talking to Vincent today about old samplers from the 90s and many of them are really nothing to have. No characteristics, no effects, proprietary diskette format, .... So I understand if no one is interesting in using those, but music on an MSX, or any FM synth for that matter, is at least to me a lot more interesting. They even bring something fresh although retro to a modern arrangement.

Maybe old composers have done their fair share of composing and there are no new composers the same way there are new MSX programmers?

By RobertVroemisse

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06-03-2007, 16:46

I think that lack of time is the main reason. Back in the 90's I composed almost every night and my productivity was very high. But as people grow older, priorities change. The active composers from the 90's now have a family of their own and that demands a lot of time. I, for example, am very glad if I can make one or two hours free a week for composing or making graphics. This is one of the reasons why Bombaman took me 5 years to draw.oO Another reason is the software. Why would you use an old program like Moonblaster for composing, when you can use Cubase or Reason to mention some programs... I rather spend my little free time composing with Reason than with Moonblaster. That doesn't mean that my MSX-composing days are over. I really liked the Italo challenge and Team Bomba is working on some new game so the only thing I need is more free time...

By wolf_

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06-03-2007, 18:02

It's an artist thing I think, for artists the result comes first, then the means to make it. First they always want to secure the quality. If an artist sees what he makes as generic art, rather than MSX-art, then this artist will prolly loose interests in MSX. Coders otoh see hacking the most insane thing from the MSX as art. Therefore there are atm way more coders than artists (gfx & sound).

If this theory is correct then it only means we'll end up with NO artists at all.

And I don't think it's easy to gain artists.. BA-team

By dvik

Prophet (2200)

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06-03-2007, 23:21

I think the problem for artists is the lack of tools actually. Tools for pogrammers are sooo much better now than 20 years ago. We have cross compilers, we can use advanced PC editors, emulators with debuggers, we can write our own helper tools in C++, ....
An artist, especially music artists really doesn't have much tools at all. With a few, not so good exceptions, they are stuck with the same old tools as 20 years ago. There are some trackers and drawing programs on PC but really not that much. Programming for MSX nowdays is as easy as any embedded development but I doubt doing gfx is as easy as using photoshop or songs as easy as using cubase.

The lack of tools simply means that artists have to put almost the same effort and time into creating a piece as it was 20 years ago. A programmer can do the same work now at least 10 times as fast if not more. This makes it quite easy and fun to do MSX development because you can get a very good result in a short time, that sometimes is as good or even better than what the big studios did 20 years ago.

By wolf_

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06-03-2007, 23:55

In the ideal case an artist makes his own tools, then he's sure it works in way he can unleash his creative ideas, non-creative programmers are usually far from ideal for this. When it comes to graphics-tools: in today's PC's any BASIC language can be capable for that already.

By RobertVroemisse

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09-03-2007, 15:39

Wolf is right when it comes to "generic art" but I think that making graphics or music with the limited resources that our beloved MSX has to offer is also a true art. In screen 5 you can only use 16 colors. Try to draw a decent 16x16 block including highlights and shading with only 3 available colors. That's true art I think.
Same goes for composing on MSX. Try to compose a great song on SCC. Wanky sounds, only 5 channels to work with, really bad drums, mono... That's a real challenge, that's a true art! And that's the reason why I'm still mad enough to create things on my MSX. oO

By wolf_

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09-03-2007, 16:02

Could be, but I doubt everyone sees it like that. *If* the tools and the MSX itself are not highly interesting anymore for those few composers left, perhaps future music-only challenges (if any) should be like the scene-remake challenge? MSX-related tunes, made with any equipment?

By RobertVroemisse

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09-03-2007, 16:48

Yes, that would be a nice idea. Especially the "any" in any equipment will attract a lot of composers. Count me in! LOL!

By wolf_

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09-03-2007, 20:03

I somewhat expected this.. Wink

It's still odd tho (apart from the theme from a scenetune, demo or game, it has nothing to do with MSX!), but if this is the only way to get more entries for a solo-challenge, then maybe we should discuss it internally..

By RobertVroemisse

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12-03-2007, 21:03

Expected this? What gave you THAT idea? Wink

By wolf_

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12-03-2007, 21:42

The complaining about MSX trackers compared to generic PC audio tools.., and in a way, the succes of that scene remake challenge and the steady flow of game rearranges.

By dvik

Prophet (2200)

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12-03-2007, 21:56

I guess another problem for music makers is that even if they really need real MSXes to get the good authentic sound. Emus doesn't do the original sound that much justice. So even if the music is composed on an emu, a real MSX equipped with MSXAUDIO or Moonsound, Scc or whatever the composer is using is sortof needed to replay it.

By Meits

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13-03-2007, 17:19

it doesn't necessarily need to be a scene tune imho... Why not whatever you ever heard on MSX? This'd include japanese game arrangements as well...

Never the less, a wider genre to chose from wouldn't do any harm... I'd go for it...

By Samor

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14-03-2007, 15:50

What's a good program to use for MSX Music when you've worked on the PC with things like Modplug tracker and Fasttracker 2? Would Moonblaster be the closest to that?

By wolf_

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14-03-2007, 15:59

Oracle, but it's keys/interface is somewhat hi-tech for a beginner, and there's no seperate player yet, afaik.
Pro-Tracker, as it has 64step high patterns, but lacks functionality in many areas.
Moonblaster, max 16step patterns -compared to PC trackers-, but generally a lot of features.

Note that the ideal application isn't listed because it hasn't been made yet. There are some alternative tools for FM-Pac but they've never become popular for simple a reason: ppl didn't like them.

By dvik

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14-03-2007, 18:04

What tools are you using wolf_?

By wolf_

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14-03-2007, 18:11

for what? music on msx? music on pc? (this thread got a bit mixed-up 'n such Tongue)

By Huey

Prophet (2644)

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15-03-2007, 09:45

I feel a new compo comming up : "Create a 'tool' for MSX developers". Hannibal

This could be anything from a tile-editor, music tracker, replayer+sfx library, etc....... Just anything that will contribute (be a good addition) to the MSX scene.

Some 'tool' that could have been a good entry are:
- Polka!
- Screen conversor
- Bitbuster/pletter
- PT3 replayer

Some possible entries:
- Cross development Music tracker (any chip will do)
- PT3 replayer with sfx routine (would be sooo great)
- C library/stub (for megaRom development)
- Tools to 'RIP' things like sprites and tiles from games (very good for inspiration and techniques)
- etc.

Perhaps this could be a good idea as there seem to be more coders then musicians and pixelers. And this might help to get less experienced developers (like me Wink) motivated to develop new stuff.

Anyway.... guess I'm a bit offtopic.

By Samor

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15-03-2007, 09:59

Well, Krazilec... ehrm, I mean, Lemonize, is working on a tracker for MSX that supports SCC, PSG and FM-Pac.

By wolf_

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15-03-2007, 11:16

Huey: I've dabbled with this idea for a while myself. But there are quite some things about this one to discuss.
- In case of xdev: what platforms are allowed? If multi-platform can't be realized, is Win32 more valuable than *nux or MacOS because it has more users? How does a very good *nux tool compare to a medicore Win32 tool?
- How does a tool that's half done (e.g. very skinny on features, but a huge potential) compare in rank to a finished tool which lacks functionality/interface-comfort etc.? Remember that a tool, unlike a game or demo, is never done, so a deadline for a tool is weird anyway.
- How does an excellent tool for something hardly anyone uses compare to a medicore tool for something everyone uses? (e.g. a good texteditor on MSX isn't on many people's prioritylist due xdev, but a medicore yet useful sprite editor probably is)

etc.

MSX-games and -demos are easy, but a development tool is as random as written above.. that's why a challenge is so vague .. Tongue ..but we could discuss it internally of course..

By Huey

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15-03-2007, 12:39

Wolf: Well. I understand the vague-ness but for me this has really has potential. I believe, compared to other 8-bit scenes, MSX lacks good xdev tools and therefore less accessable.

The OS issue is a pain indeed but userbase would be a criteria. And as Unix has wine I'd say set windows as the main platform. I know there are others that will disagree. And that discussion will never come to a compromise. It's something like the everyday discussion about smokers and dog-owners for example.

Another criteria would be the restriction to not allow tools that only run on a real MSX (like a sprite editor or music tracker). Not appropriate for pt3+sfx replayers and librarys etc. of course.

A whell. We will see. (please discuss it internally)

By dvik

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15-03-2007, 16:01

What about plugins or scripts for emulators. I'm sure its possible to do quite useful tools that integrate into openMSX or blueMSX. In fact, both emulators already have useful tools, like debuggers, video capturing, cheat finders, ...

@wolf_: I was wondering about tools you use to do music that is played back on MSX (not sure if you use pc or msx tools), e.g. the music for Wings or UU.

By wolf_

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15-03-2007, 16:40

Moonsound music is made in MBWave. PSG music for UU was made in MBWave (technically it could've been made in Moonblaster, but MBWave has 4 more patterns, and iirc the UU intro uses them all Tongue) RNFF was also made in MBWave.
Forthcoming games will be made using Impulse Tracker on PC (psg/scc) and MBWave (whenever it uses Moonsound). Perhaps I might stretch the Impulse Tracker working method so I can also do FM-Pac, having PSG and FM-Pac then gives me somewhat of a Microcabin sound, which I consider impossible with Moonblaster. But this addition will prolly not be included in Edwin's converter for the next year orso ..

The nice bit from working with Impulse Tracker is that I have note, instrument, volume, effect, effect-parameter per step, and segment-based volume- and pitch-envelopes. In addition, the actual editor feels 1000x more smooth than MBWave will ever be.

By Samor

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15-03-2007, 19:26

the "Microcabin sound" - I've heard that before. What particular Microcabin tune illustrates this sound best? Tongue ...just being curious, y'know Wink

By wolf_

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15-03-2007, 20:57

'the' Microcabin sound is mainly

  • FM with a strong role for PSG
  • PSG noise to complement FM drums
  • several standard software voices they always use in their games
  • strong vibratos
  • in some cases: a few musical lines, where the rest of the channels is used for detunes. Compare: a lot of scene FM-Pac music was really 5 or 6-channel music, whereas MC music is often more like 3-channel music. The rest is for detune, giving the famous 'big' MC sound. Take the first action music from Fray for instance.. this tune: "C-G-C-G--FGAB-G-C-G---" It's really not much more than 3 musical channels you hear, the rest is detune, or perhaps echo. From working with Impulse Tracker on some PSG+SCC tracks I can already say that with a good tracker, and good sound options, -and admittedly, also some increased composition experience- the number of channels one needs actually decreases. With that last addition I meant that I also made those 5-6-channel FM-Pac tunes in my years of course, I would do things differently these days.., but when did I last touch an FM-Pac... pfew... over 10 years ago? Tongue

That's it sound-wise.
Practically speaking: there's often some fast musical lines meandering in the background, in a tracker one would set the speed very high for those and thus the other musical data is very 'wide', if you get my point. Wide data is often inconvenient to work with, + it consumes all Moonblaster's patterns that way. I guess it's safe to assume that Microcabin used some MML'ish language, like Musica (something snout's a master in, .. not me Tongue). Since I'm not going to use Musica and still use a tracker I'll have to deal with those high speeds in Impulse Tracker. Fortunately the patterns can have lengths from 32 to 200 (200! oO), the viewport shows 32 rows, so even at high speeds one still has a good overview. In addition: in Moonblaster higher speednumbers mean higher speed, in Impulse Tracker one can define the number of ints or ticks per step, so it's perfectly possible to mimic our VDP int system used in music, only this time smaller numbers mean higher speeds, so it makes a bit more sense.

Which tune defines the MC sound best? Dunno, I'd say all of 'em .. Tongue

By dvik

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15-03-2007, 22:56

When it comes to FM+PSG songs I really like some of Anmas songs, like the one in the width 80 scroller in Relax.

By AuroraMSX

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17-03-2007, 22:37

When it comes to FM+PSG songs I really like some of Anmas songs, like the one in the width 80 scroller in Relax.
oO Really? I think most of them are random notes thrown together, mangled through MoonBlaster and flavoured with a couple of haphazard control thingies, like pitch bend, note off, modulation etc. My 1 year old nephew could do better, if I had a 1-year old nephew....
A well, just my 2 cents. Running Naked in a Field of Flowers

By Manuel

Ascended (15621)

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18-03-2007, 01:02

Except that they didn't have Moonblaster Smile They had their own tools. Most of their soft is pre-Moonblaster anyway.

By dvik

Prophet (2200)

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18-03-2007, 02:20

I don't know, but I really like ANMAs music, when I first heard it I listened to the same song for hours because it was so good. Think it was that song from Relax. The PSG mixes soo well into the FM sounds.

By Unicorn

Master (138)

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19-03-2007, 21:22

Well, here’s a little diddle to cheer you all up! It's a 100% MSX FAC Soundtracker 2.0 file. Oldskool!

By Manuel

Ascended (15621)

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21-03-2007, 12:44

dvik: anyway, interesting. AFAIK most people found their music kind of horrible compared to other FM music. (But yes, their music also made much use of PSG, which has its influence. The biggest advantage is that the same music was also used on PSG only.)

By wolf_

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21-03-2007, 13:18

Well, ANMA-music (at least those tune made by Knightram) has always been a bt loud and harsh, I guess that's what people mean.. note-wise it's just a bit unusual, but there also was some weird kinda potential in it, a bit hard to describe. It was this weird x-factor that made me remake those two tunes for the scene remake challenge..

By RobertVroemisse

Paragon (1235)

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03-04-2007, 15:04

But when will the songs be judged?

Let's rephrase that... WILL the songs ever be judged?

By snout

Ascended (15187)

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03-04-2007, 15:06

if all goes well, I'll upload and publish them on MRC today. After that, it's up to Wolf and Pokester.

By Low_Profile

Champion (425)

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06-04-2007, 10:48

"Which tune defines the MC sound best? Dunno, I'd say all of 'em .."

the first battle tune from Xak1... that was an instant classic. I was so amazed by that tune i literally avoided attacking slimies in the first 25 minutes of the game because i didn't want sound effects to interrupt this masterpiece Smile

Rich sounds... smart detunes/echo's... clever compositions (especially the 3/4 songs... i like those waltzing tunes, which Xak1 had quite a lot)

and the amazing ownvoices ('THE' microcabin synth trumpet... and the saxophone thingy Smile )

By RobertVroemisse

Paragon (1235)

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27-04-2007, 16:49

I think the Italo challenge is dead. Me dissapointed Sad

By wolf_

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27-04-2007, 17:30

Not dead, but due previously mentioned circumstances snout is less active than we'd like to. Patience... patience..