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The Atari ST Demo-Crew X-Troll (Hidden Page)

Maybe you have seen the little X-Troll logo somewhere near the end of level two. Many people might have asked themselves what or who the hell is X-Troll? Well X-Troll had been a demo-crew on the ST that coded a lot, but never released anything. Sounds strange? We coded only for fun, mainly to research some technology which was later used in commercial products. For that reason we wanted to protect the code from being ripped and used elsewhere. 

Commercial Products

The commercial products that were coded by X-Troll members were: 

  • Music Editor (MeDi), an editor for very CPU-time friendly Atari ST chiptunes
  • Music Editor (MV2000), an editor for chip music with buzzer bass and digidrums.
  • The Turbobooster, the fastest disk-copier for the ST(E) ever. It had only 5 registered users.
  • Amiga on a Wire Tools, a hardware and software solution to code Amiga programs from the ST.
  • Block Editor 3.99, a professional editor for blockbased 2D games like Lethal Xcess.
  • Lethal Xcess, the technically best shoot'em up for the ST(E) ever.
  • MegaSend and SMDsend, two tools to communicate with a Super Magic Drive copy-station from the ST(E).
  • Genesis on a Wire Tools, a hardware and software solution to code Sega Genesis (aka Mega-Drive) programs from the ST.
  • An MC68K-Assembler, which had been never really finished, a pity because it had been faster than TurboAss and supported makros.
  • Hex Editor, an editor for hexagonal blockmaps, which were widely used in strategic games.

Our non commercial products, which had been mainly used by ourselves and some friends were:

  • TOS 1.07+, a slightly modified version of the original Atari TOS to suit our personal needs.
  • CFHD, a modified Harddisk-Driver, that allowed to choose the boot-partition freely and some other useful stuff.

In 1988 two guys from Hattingen in Germany formed a Crew named Troll. Their nicknames were Sunnyboy aka Claus Frein and Nexus 6 aka Mirko Mönninghoff. They did some nice MC68000 assembler coding, and created some very useful tools for the ST.

1989 a third member joined Troll, it was the Cyclone aka Heinz Rudolf (yes that's me). All three members were MC68000 assembly coders, and a strange kind of competition took place. Sometimes it seemed they were working for different teams, because three guys were coding some demo shit, but everybody on his own.

We produced several Demos this way, but we never released them. I went through some of my old disks and found several demos, but it seems a lot of stuff can't be read from these old disks.

However, I will try to convert them anyway and every time I succeed, I will release the disk on this site with a little description.


Sprite Magic
The final Swobbler 
The Cyclones New Year Demo 
The Audiopac Demo 

Press Releases

UCM #23 



This one is really bad. It's a 1989 remake of my very 1st assembler program. The original source was written in 1988 and so I put this demo here, even when it had been released one year later as a joke.

One of the worst screens ever, the Acid-Intro

Nothing is awkward enough for us :-) This has to be the worst intro ever.




In spring of 1989, we visited the "Hobbytronic", a computer fair in Dortmund (Germany). The Hobbytronic had it's best times in those years. We always bought computers and electronic-stuff directly on that fair and it had been the best place for having a glance at new hardware. It was the time after the 8 bit age, 16 bit computers and consoles arose everywhere with new and advanced features. For example the NEC PCengine was presented on that fair, and I was amazed by the games Dynatex showed on that tiny console. While walking around the fairgrounds, we accidentally met Marc Rosocha and Klaus-Peter Plog (Plogi / Blue Devil) from the Gigabyte Crew. As I realized that they were talking about an Atari demo, which was displayed on a monitor. I addressed them and asked some silly questions. (I had not done a real program on the ST at this time.) Everything was rather new and interesting to me, and as I figured out that these guys were coders from the Bladerunners, I was really amazed.

While we talked, Sunnyboy and Nexus 6 joined us. They watched the demo Marc had coded and decided to do this little demo right after the fair. 

The Titlescreen of SpriteMagic

It had been inspired the demo Marc showed us, he displayed something about 60 sprites in one VBL. Sunnyboy and Nexus 6 wanted to beat that record, but it wasn't that easy, because Marc's routines were already optimized very well and nobody thought about generated code at this time.

120 Moving Sprites in two VBLs :-)

Finally they had done one or two sprites more than Marc, which was not very impressive. To make it look more, they coded a demo that showed 120 sprites in two VBLs. Not one of our brightest ideas. Marc recognized the cheating immediately despite we had used slow movement for the sprites to cover this fact. 

This is one of our first screens, a scroller

Anyway the SpriteMagic demo was saved to disk together with a new version of our scroller, which had been done before the fair, we only changed the scrolltext.

If you want to see this demo make sure you use TOS 1.0 and exactly 1 MB of RAM, otherwise you will see nothing, because of some "optimizations" in screen flipping which only work on a one meg machine ;-)



The final Swobbler

The final swobbler, which is a horizontal picture distorter, had been the result of a Troll internal competition. In the end Sunnyboy and Nexus 6 had the better code.

Screenshot from the Final Swobbler - Credits

Their routines were fast enough to draw 200 lines (with music), while mine could only render 197 lines (without music) in one vbl. As some kind of punishment, I had to draw the graphics. Because I never painted anything on the ST before, I used an ASM Cover for "inspiration" and converted it to the ST pixel by pixel. This robot was one of my very first computer graphics, and I think it's not very well done but we used it anyway.

Screenshot of the Final Swobbler - Click to download the disk!

We don't cheat in any way in this demo and with generated code or a specially designed picture (the picture can be replaced by any other 4 bitplane 320*200 pixel graphic) we could have drawn more lines, but we needed only 200 lines to fill an Atari lo-res screen. 

As usual everything had been done quick and dirty and so it runs on Saint 0.99 if you switch to 1 MB only (you have to because it only works with exactly 1 MB). If you want to look at it, just download this disk-image with the complete Source (GFA-Assembler) and the executable program. If you want to replace the disted picture, just copy another "BLOBL.PI1" to the root directory.



The Cyclone's New Year Demo

Since Sunnyboy and Nexus 6 did all the coding and left the graphics part to me. I felt the need to code something for myself. So I decided to do a project on my own. The whole demo is not exactly what you would call stunning, but the process of coding this demo improved my coding skills a lot. Since I had problems with my electrical equipment on new years eve, the demo had been finished on Jan. 2nd 1990. You can read the details in the scrollers.

I hadn't intended to release it to the public, but I gave it to some friends and so it happened that this little demo had been spreaded. It had been included in some compilation disks like POV (Persistance of Vision) disk 99. The demo is called "Trolls New Year" there, you can download the POV disk 99 from PaciDemo.

The Welcome screen, a little bit of everything

The demo consisted of 6 screens which had been done in a hurry. Above you see the welcome screen. The lower border had been removed. There was palette animation (wow), a horizontal distorted Troll logo (that looked like hell). Besides there had been a XY-distorted Cyclone logo and some sprites.

The Main Menu looks rather nice, I still like it today

This is the main menu, I think it's the best screen of the whole demo. There is a lot of movement on the screen and I still got all the blue rastertime left. I simply didn't know what to add because I had been satisfied with the result.

The Greetings, hacking for the logos had been the hardest work

The picture above shows the greetings-screen. Instead of naming all the crews in the scroller I cracked their demos and ripped the needed logos to send the greetings in a different way. The lower border had been removed. There is a scroller, a disting text, some sprites and a synchronized Troll-logo that fakes an overscan in the upper screen.

The Hall of Shame :-) the lamest demo ever...

The hall of fame should be called the hall of shame. It's a lame screen with some nice looking rasters and sprites. I had some serious problems with movem and timer B at that time. It's a very old screen which should have been the hiscore-list for our abandoned jump and run game.

The lovely demo is dedicated to my girlfriend

Well what should I say, Sunnyboy and Nexus 6 nearly killed me when they saw that screen :-) but, the girl mentioned in that screen is still my girlfriend (since 1987) and we have two very nice children today. There is a reset Demo hidden behind this screen, which reveals some interesting but maybe dangerous effects. To force the anxious guys to switch off their computers the scrolltext in that reset demo isn't very nice. The effects are activated by pressing some keys at the end of the scrolltext. I guess you have never seen your drivelight illuminated to this brightness before. Unfortunately you won't see that on any emulator. Don't use the screen killer, it's really dangerous on real hardware.

The Reset Demo with a picture ripped from Teenage Queen

The picture in the reset demo was ripped from the game "Teenage Queen" and it was "improved" a bit :) by me. The joke on that thing is. I wanted that picture from the TCB loading screen when I saw it. And because I didn't own that game, I began to hack into the Cuddly demo when one day later some pal from the university dropped a pile of disks on my desk. Guess, which game was on one of those disks. It would have saved me some work if he came up with it one day earlier.

The Multiscroller a cover from the Union Demo

The Multiscroll is a cover of one of the Union Demo-screens, but this one comes with 6 bit samples generated by the crappiest hardware ever (sounds like hell). It had been my 1st and last attempt to produce sound on the ST. When I coded this screen I thought I had beaten the Union, but that's certainly not the case. Yes I play a crappy sample yes I have two more scrollers, but I can't change the speed of the scrolltexts. (You can change the speed and direction of the three background layers with Numpad 1-3 to select the layer and cursor left/right to increase/decrease the speed afterwards) It would be not problem on a ST with one megabyte to include the variable scrollspeeds, but it is a problem on a half meg machine.

If you want to take a look at my very first demo, just download the Cyclones New Year Demo 89/90.



The AudioPac Demo

The Audio Pac Demo had been done by Sunnyboy and Nexus 6 on their own. They managed it to hide the whole project until it had been finished. Maybe they wanted to decrease the damage which my New Year Demo had inflicted as it slipped through my fingers and reached the outside world.

Screenshot of the AudioPac Demo - Click to download the disk.

The Audio Pac Demo is mainly a music demo with some nice side effects. You can play Pacman while listening to all the tunes. There are rasters all over the screen as well as some nice sprites. Besides some borders (left & right, bottom) are removed in the lower part of the screen.

After cracking and ripping all our games, there were still some bytes left and Sunnyboy decided to hack the union demo. Encouraged by the easy progress, He attempted to crack the cuddly demo once again and succeeded. Every bit of chipmusic was ripped and packed into this demo. If you want to look at it, just download this disk-image it runs perfectly on Steem 2.2 or Saint 0.99.

As a side effect of this demo we learned how to code "real" joystick and keyboard routines and simple game logics. That had been a important step towards a real game. 




Another Demo I wrote was the Neoshow, it's just a picture slideshow with a top and bottom overscan, and a scroller in the upper border, where the left and right borders were removed too.

It starts with some partitial overscan, stars and a big X-Troll logo which looks absolutely terrible.

The Cyclones Neoshow

The Neoshow shows some of the pictures Nexus 6 and I had painted. It's nothing special and there are only very few pictures on that disk, but maybe you like it anyway. The Neoshow runs on STEEM 2.3b, it won't work on an earlier version.




In spring of 1991 Nexus 6 was also involved in the development of Lethal Xcess, he coded his own digi-drum routines and editors for the ST and put some stuff together in a small music demo.

This is the menu of the Digi-Drum-Demo

The tunes at the top of the screen are the original Lethal Xcess tunes. The other ones haven't yet been used anywhere except for "Cyclones-Memory" which was composed for a memory game I wrote.

This picture is shown while the music is playing

After selecting a tune, the demo will automatically switch to this screen with three loudness indicators, and some kind of pixelart. I think this demo will run fine on all machines with any TOS.



Press Releases

It seems X-Troll guys will get famous finally, after being greeted by D-Bug and mentioned in the great UMD 8730 by Grazey the X-Troll website was mentioned in an Atari Diskmag called Undercover Magascene.

UCM #23 The (former) German Atari Scene on the Net

Since there is some false information spread within UCM #23 we decided to bring you the real facts about it. For that reason we cite an excerpt of that review and write something below each paragraph. The credit for the original review belongs to moondog.



URL  http://xtroll.ubuxe.de 
maintained  Cyclone of XTroll
status of the band  dead since 1o years now
last update of the site  dunno

There are some errors included in that header. The site mentioned above is actually maintained by Nexus 6 of X-Troll and it's still updated when necessary, e.g. when we find another ancient demo on our dusty disks :)
Cyclone maintains the site http://lethalxcess.atari.org/ including the page you are currently reading.

XTROLL? Who the fuck is or was XTROLL? I wondered by myself as I first stumbled over this band and their site on the net. In fact even if I was a hard demo collector I can't remember one of their demos.

Despite the few stuff we actually released some of the finest members of the late 80s / early 90s Atari scene had the pleasure to meet us (maybe it was vice versa :). The stuff we coded was often some kind of technology study for later commercial usage. So sadly most of our demos were never really finished and could be hardly called demos at all, because they were single FX screens which needed a debugger environment to run. I think our only real release was the Audiopac demo. The other stuff was never officially spread.

XTROLL itself claims that they didn't released their demos because they don't wanted that someone ripped their code... huuh.

Well that credit belongs to Sunnyboy who was really paranoid about his source codes and coding tricks. As a matter of fact the other members of X-Troll hardly had the chance to look at his stuff in the early days. The situation went better when we started Lethal Xcess, but it was too late to release anything then. There are still lots of source codes on Sunnyboys harddisk, but I doubt anybody but him will understand how to get 'em to work because he always included some nasty stuff into the source to prevent it from being assembled by other people.

And so they lived from the late eighties until the beginning nineties, releasing a bunch of hardly mediocre demos and... LETHAL XCESS, or at least their member CYCLONE, who was responsible for the graphics and stuff...

Well X-Troll still exists since the crew never disbanded. However we are no longer full time sceners. For sure I won't comment the "hardly mediocre" research for this UCM-Article :) but it's true, that I did nearly all graphics for Lethal Xcess as well as some coding. The real credit for coding Lethal Xcess belongs to Sunnyboy, a foundation member of X-Troll. Beside Sunnyboy and myself, Nexus 6 was involved in LX when we started the project. He did all the music and SFX 1st, but left the project soon, so we had to look for another musician. I would advise anyone interested in that who-did-what-stuff to view the credits for a complete list of all people involved in the creation of what became the very best shoot'em up on the Atari ST(E) platform.

Today there aren't actions as XTROLL anymore,...

It actually looks like that because X-Troll doesn't show much activities to the outside world, the truth is: All X-Trolls are still active on Atari but with very low priority. We all have children and other family business as well, as very time consuming jobs. We get active whenever possible, but we hardly have time left for that passion. Currently we mainly try to preserve our work from the 90s, but I am confident there will be some new stuff in the future.

... just CYCLONE is around to create some LETHAL XCESS 2oo2 thing but ATM, I doubt that we will see it this year...

I am still working on an enhanced version of LX. Furthermore its true that this enhanced LX version will be delayed. That's the reason why it isn't called LX 2002 anymore, the name changed to Lethal Xcess XL. How could that happen? Well, there is a life beyond Atari and I won't neglect my children or girlfriend for working on a game. The current project status can be viewed at our projects department and the latest graphics can be found at the level zero gallery.

The page is very clean designed, showing a lot of screenshots, bringing a lot of informations about the band and their "non" releases, offering demos for to download and links to check out. The page isn't a blaster at all but if you have not visited it so far, just do it... demo collectors should find the one or other rare software antics there as well.

You actually can find all X-Troll related stuff on the page you are currently reading. This page is not related to the Nexus 6 site but Nexus 6 and myself are slowly scanning through our old disks and if one of us finds anything of public interest, we will release it on both sites. The reason for the creation of my own X-Troll page should be obvious if you hit Nexus 6 page with activated JavaScript. His site is hardly readable because of these scripts :).

Styling  Clean, easy to navigate and understand, but no burner 
Features   downloads, a bunch of informations about past and present
Atari?  completely Atari related 
Surf On  if you miss something of the XTROLL releases



Lethal Xcess aka Wings of Death II a classic shoot'em up for Atari ST(E) and Amiga computers was developed by Claus Frein and Heinz Rudolf, Music by Jochen Hippel, Producer Marc Rosocha.


While using this website you agree to our terms of use.
All files on the Lethal Xcess Website copyright © 2001 Heinz Rudolf
Lethal Xcess copyright © 1991 Eclipse Software Design.
Wings of Death copyright © 1990 Thalion Software.
ST/Amiga Soundtracks copyright © 1990/1991 Jochen Hippel.
Cybernetics Font copyright © 1991 Jérôme Hubert.
C64 Graphics © 1992 Oliver Lindau
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This page has been updated 10.01.2005