by tex

MantraMind, the man behind

This article is part of  the “mankind reloaded” initiative, whose aim is to re-publish old articles previously published on our former 90’s website.

m4nkind history through Life and History of MantraMind, the founder of the team.

The begining

MantraMind made his first cry the 28 November 1976 in Auch(32) France.

His father was a well known electronician in our country, he was one of the first man in the world to create an artisanal low-cost Canal+ (french crypted channel) decoder.

His mother was born in denmark and was working as designer for Renault , a french car industrial, she was the main designer of the famous R5.

As we can see, theses origins were probably very influent in the future of MantraMind and m4nkind…

as far as we knew (M4ntra’ didn’t like to talk about his childhood) , he almost didn’t quit his house until 8, because he was educated at home by his parents, who wanted him to be the clever possible. It seems that he didn’t like it at all, and started to fight with them in order to go to the public school. (He has a lot of personality.). He certainly wanted to live in community and to confront himself to the world. And sure it was a big shock for him, he always has terrible behaviours with teachers, his favourite game was to be noted 20/20, then 0/20 , then 20/20 again,…
he said about it: “what better way of being to be both at the middle and the extremii ?” We always thought mantra didn’t need any education. If something interested him, he just has to buy a book and then read it all night long.
he always wanted to control everything, most people were afraid of him,
while all he wanted was to play and have fun, even if he was a bit maniac.

And then we met

The first time we met was in 1987 at school, we were already computernerds at this time, but MantraMind was different, he was not only using traditional computers, he was using some weird machines that his father was working on as prototypes…he became like a kind of god for us…

At that times he took himself for “data”, a character in the goonie
movie,who always have gadgets everywhere.
He really built the core of the group, we were only a bunch of idles at
that times (backlash,tex, krabob , redshift and firehawk)

Quickly we were attracted below his influence in a rebels spirit, playing in cemetery at night, infiltrating old house and monument to climb at the top of them…and many mad things that you can’t only imagine, m4nkind was growing in our heads and the wish to communicate our spirit and way of thinking was nearer and nearer…
we started to make some code,artworks pieces, thinking that our destinies were linked as we discover some month ago that our respective fathers were friends ,in theyre youth, in a kind of electronic team, making some experiments, so we were prolonging this with computers…

One of our crazy adventure
One of our crazy adventure

Things became serious

The 3rd April 1988, MantraMind show us Digexp1 formerly known as “Digital Experience 1988” on amiga500, this piece of code without sound and artwork, had literaly made us falling on our asses, about 200 realtime dots on fullscreen with a bluring effect signed with a “god is a dog” sentence at the end, this sentence became our devise and m4nkind was born 1 month later with the Digexp2 which was a Digexp1 remix with sound and graphics signing our first digital cooperation…

krabob remember: “yes, all of us decided to buy an amiga and start doing
things seriously at that time. It was surprising to see how m4ntra could
progress. We choosed the name m4nkind because, as m4ntramind said: we will take the name that means apache in the apache language,and cherokee in the cherokee language , well we will just take our name. ”

During 4 years m4nkind became a figure of the underground french amiga scene, and with about 15 Digexp releases we were starting to touch the european underground scene…”god is a dog” was about to became a state of mind in the whole scene…

In the early 90’s we were in age of looking at girls and riding light-motorcycles, MantraMind was the best of us, as he was a kind of genius he managed to make the fastest light-motorcycle ever, quite an easy thing with such parents, its last machine was a 103XP 49.9cc motor customised at 51cc with a nitro-glycerin tank added to the carburettor with an electronic valve controled by the magnetic wheel of the cycle,he was calling it “Aerial” the March 25 of 1992, we decided to make Digexp16, we were using to work together at krabob place, so MantraMind took its Hard drive and managed to come on its AERIAL 103XP “51 NITRO-CUSTOM”, at 3.21 PM he died crashing himself against a plane tree…

Police said that he was riding too fast, but it was weel known that MantraMind was an elite rider and we strongly suppose that something or someone as sabotaged its nitro-injection system and that it as surely been launched in a turn…

Since this day our “god is a dog” devise became “we fuck dogs”

note from krabob: this is far more complicated, Auch is a small town, m4ntra was known to mock the police all the time with his engine and his crazy radio fakes, but most of all, his intelligence and inventions were kept secret by the few people who knew his real potential.
That’s one of the reason we then kept MKD project silent until 1995. Tex, don’t you think it’s strange that he has his accident just near leboulin ?

in this accident we lost The best of us and the whole of its digital work but we decided to keep the spirit going on and 3 years later we made our first demo, as an homage we called it “Aerial” …

Today we are still looking at the Digexp collection, if you are an happy owner of one or more of theses pieces of art, please contact us…

MantraMind you’ll always be in our hearts.

by krabob

Post Media and the end of Static Culture in Digital Short Films.

  Years ago I was frequently terrifying my rare friends in bars with completely improvised and bizarre artistic manifestos. Here is a brand new one:

Come as you are.

M4nkind.com is originally a group of science students, artists and enthusiasts,   that has been involved in real-time experimental short film on computers since the beginning of the nineties, at a time a lot of things were happening in the underground computer scene through Europe.

Capture d’écran 2016-01-31 à 17.36.10 Early before 1990, Hackers started to explore experimental real-time effects on computers, with graphics and musics. This movement, rapidly spread, involved a lot of research, both technical and artistic.

Later then, there was a paradox you could read between the lines of those productions in the nineties, about nothing but the aim of these numerous short films: Capture d’écran 2016-01-31 à 17.36.46
Was it Technical or Artistic ? Was it Technical demonstrations through Art or Art through
Technical demonstrations ? Or both ? Should Short computer experimental films be made for everyone, or for a finite number of amateurs ?

There were occasional discussions about it, that did not prevent the movement to evolve and follow technical advances. On the Art side, it is noticeable that a lot of different shapes, references to one or another culture, sequencCapture d’écran 2016-01-31 à 17.56.33e montage techniques, experimentations with sound and image symbiosis, exploded during the nineties in these movies, like nowhere else.

 

Then came the word.

Aside that, Industrial computer science, and marketing, were also going their own way during that period. The advent of the CD Rom, around 1994, was sold with a new Word, that would solely define the links to come between Art and Computer Science: Multimedia.multimerdia
Basically, your computer would be “Multimedia” because it was not anymore that sparkling grey brick lost in a corner of your room. You could have images and sounds now. It was officially allowed to do Art on Computers, thanks for that word.
The problem was, a lot of people were actually doing exactly that since 10 years, and yet that Art was not recognized as valuable, except rare exceptions. And the word didn’t help.

“Hello, I want to buy a Multimedia Computer.”

Capture d’écran 2016-01-31 à 17.37.45You could read the word “Multimedia” during years on ads and brochure, until the mid 2000’s: the fashion more or less lasted a decade. At that time, kids were already raised with internet, and the adults had more frequently computer knowledge and computer culture, not mentioning all media becoming digital.
This, with the advent of video servers being the final nail in the coffin, changed completely the way people used to see computer-for-computer Art, by flattening every symbols, every cultures, to the same level. Whatever you were doing, music with spoons, knitting bags, reviving forgotten musical genres, or Programming effects on a 30 year old 8 bit computers, all these suddenly became OK and could take recognitions.Capture d’écran 2016-01-31 à 17.40.23

The story of Pixel Art is very relevant of this:
Pixel artists used to live by their work in the eighties, drawing characters for video games. It was a difficult art, involving a large set of techniques, they had to be graphic designer, animators, and they had to deal with technical constraints in size, colors, and memory weight. The few people actually able to do that were then praised by their employers.
It all changed in the middle of the nineties. People wanted 3D games and Pixel Art became obsolete quite suddenly. For a long time. Until the Post-Media era.

Paradoxically, labelling a culture leads to restricting that culture. A dead culture is not the one you haven’t heard about, but more likely the one no-one practices, the one that does not take elements from other cultures.

“Hello, I want to buy a Post Media Computer”

Recently the Art world, Gallery Owners and Critics, for the first time in history, arrived at the sampostmediabooke analysis about culture and state of the Art as could do an independent underground demomaker, and even more, using the same words: Post Media. Signs of the time: pixel Artists like eBoy are nowadays praised in galleries. Displaying a background of underground computer geek and experimenter does not scare anymore, quite the reverse, it opens doors.
So what art can you do in an environment where everything is possible, where everything is open ? Isn’t it the time to deeply reshape the Frames of art, mix shapes, colors, sounds, in ways they were never shaped before ? Isn’t it the time to really flatten the field of possibilities before your eyes ?
I think so, and I invite you to do so.

  •  The old stuff from m4nkind is visible on this very site: http://www.m4nkind.com
  •   pouet.net references more than 62000 Computer Realtime Digital Short Films made between 1980 and today in the world.
  •  http://demoscene.tv permanently broadcasts democene videos since 2005.

 

 

 

by krabob

A First Person Shooter in Spherical Geometry

FPS (First Person Shooters) have become very popular and never ceased to improve since twenty years. They propose players to explore worlds in three dimensions, in a very simple and intuitive way. In this constantly renewed kind of game, using the same rules and codes, original variations sometimes appear:

sphericalgame

In “Earths Of Alioth”,  released in 2015, Space has become Spherical: the notion of high and low is completely gone: and for good reason, we are on satellites orbiting distant exoplanets in a fairly realistic space environment.

However, most FPS rules are present. Only the movement mode changes: You must jump from satellite to satellite, pursuing drones, also in orbit. The issue of space management, essential for the player, is thereby upset: How to move toward or away from another point of space? How to find the shortest path from one point to another by jumping on the satellites, themselves in movements? These issues are more likely common to a Space Agency, but they find immediate intuitive responses in the game.Capture d’écran du Simulateur iOS 22 avr. 2014 11.47.23

According to us, these intuitions are natural because there are links between two-dimensional geometry, three-dimensional, and spherical geometry, the latter sharing mathematical properties with the previous two.
Video games have experienced a two-dimensional era, then a three-dimensional, it makes sense that more “Spherical Games” make their appearances.  Today’s Haptic screens and tablets fit that perfectly.
“Earths Of Alioth” is available on iTunes App Store and Google Play.

The app was not found in the store. 🙁 #wpappbox

Links: → Visit Store → Search Google

The app was not found in the store. 🙁 #wpappbox

Links: → Visit Store → Search Google

by krabob

Why did I start MathTouchBook ?

I started Math Touch Book after I did my first video game on mobile, one year ago.
I was researching new kinds of interfaces on tablets, and also sometimes I needed to  do some maths on a rough book.
I slowly realized that the equations and functions you usually draw there could gain a lot if it was managed on a haptic screen:

mtbdoigt
When you do math on a paper, you often write the first shape of an expression, then you write a second modified shape, then a third,… you constantly invert, simplify, develop, factorise what you write. Consequently, you can hardly imagine how big the result will be on the page, and mathematicians spend their lives struggling with page layouts.
Fortunately, Equations can also be seen in “four dimensions”, transforming through time.
Clearly, a mobile application could manage that aspect.

I think I could be able to program an engine using graphical processing units (gpu) that would draw equations in a vectorial space, and would be able to do morphing between those shapes.

Doing my previous video game, I actually made a Glyph Engine flexible enough to do that. Then a bit of tricks into the graph theory paradigm would be enough to make it a useful living mathematical tool.
post1blog
A second important aspect of such a tool would be automatic alignment. One of the key for learning mathematics is to write clear, correctly aligned expressions. Automatizing this could help newcomers. Plus, every math tools force the users to type one line expressions with a lot of parentheses that are hardly understandable. A vectorial space could avoid that.

Another idea came while I was reading a book about the life of Richard Feynman. He told how he could see equations in colors when he was a young boy, and how it helped him to learn.  Synestesy, Something great and easy to implement.

At this point, I knew I could make a tool within a year of work, with a quite precise workflow. So the development began.

by tex

My experience with VR Headsets

Since Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign was launched, Virtual Reality became a growing trending topic. In the mid 2014 i decided to finally make a jump in it, but as i’m more interested in mobile development, i bought a Durovis Dive, an accessory that basically convert your smartphone in an Oculus like VR headset.

Durovis Dive

The Durovis Dive is more like a Google Cardboard in plastic with some straps to maintain it on your head (the Google Cardboard was not existing yet).

You launch your favorite VR app on your phone , put the phone in the Dive , put the whole thing on your head, and your are ready to go. No cables, it just work as well as the app is good at tracking your head movements.

It’s made with more or less cheap plastic, but it’s OK because it was just less than 70 euros. (latest version is now available for 50 euros)

The other minor cons of the Dive are :

  • the size of the lenses
  • the lens holder itself
  • the phone mount system

Despite this i was happy with the Dive and started to work on my own VR experiments and a brand new project (but it’s another story).

To make the Dive a little more immersive,  i purchased new lenses from magnifiers found on amazon : http://www.amazon.com/Ultra-SV-2LP-LED-Pocket-Lighted-Magnifier/dp/B000BQSWK8/

Magnifier

and downloaded a new lens holder to print it via shapeways : http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:277225

durovis eyepiece holder

It was better but some weeks later i found the crowdfunding campaign for the Homido headset. The final product seemed to be more qualitative for the same price, and it’s a detail, was built in my country. So i participated to the campaign and received mine some weeks later.

homido headset

The Homido headset is way more better than the Dive, good plastics, big lenses, comfortable and the lens holder is robust and fully adjustable.

Now that the Samsung Gear VR is available for some little more euros, i ‘m still using the Homido, because it’s a really good headset for my needs.

To fully complete my VR equipment i use a wireless PS3 compatible gamepad via the Sixaxis controller app

Sixaxis Controller
Price: €2.29

 

by tex

Redefining the colors

When i started my game Bubble Alkemist in 2013, when i was designing the bubbles , i used the same colors that i had used for the blocks in swipeblock. This can be seen in this video of one of the Bubble Alkemist early prototypes  :

But in the feedbacks i had from Swipeblocks, some were relating the fact that some colors were not enough differentiated and some others not enough eye candy , so i decided to set some more traditional colors for this kind of game:

Bubble Alkemist original colors

i was quite happy with this setting, but sometime after the release of the game i get some feedbacks again about these colors.

During the development i used a Galaxy Nexus, an LG L1 2 and a Nexus 7, on all this devices, the colors were OK, but it appears that it is not the case on some other screens.

Here is a simulation of the current colors as they are rendered on such screens:

Bubble Alkemist original colors with tint

As you can see, violet and blue are near.
Red and orange, green and yellow are not so far from each other, but violet and blue are the worst case.

So here comes a new photoshop round, and i finally get this :

Bubble Alkemist new colors

and its tinted counterpart :

Bubble Alkemist new colors tinted

Let’s compare the old and new colors, first without the screen tint:

 

Bubble Alkemist original colors

Bubble Alkemist new colors

And with the tint

Bubble Alkemist original colors with tint

Bubble Alkemist new colors tinted

Most of the work was done on the blue and the violet, to remove the red component in blue and the blue in violet. I also gave more power to the red, more luminosity and less blue in the yellow. Orange get a very subtle saturation boost and green was unchanged.

Now i have to test on real devices, i think the red and violet are too near on “normal” screens now, maybe i’ll have to bring back some blue in it.

 

Bubble Alkemist
Developer: tEXtOO.NEt
Price: Free+