The ZX Spectrum version of Psychedelia
|Original author(s)||Jeff Minter, Simon Freeman|
|Platform||Commodore 64, Vic 20, Commodore 16, ZX Spectrum, MSX and Amstrad CPC 464|
Psychedelia allowed a user to generate a light show on the screen grid, using the joystick to send pulses or bursts of coloured squares. There are various preset settings, or the user can manually set the variables controlling the pulses. Patterns can be recorded to memory or tape for later playback.
Minter had been considering "dynamic interactive pattern generators" but hadn't coded any previously. An idea for an algorithm came to him, in which patterns would be seeded along a path, which would then expand and change shape and colour over time. He coded it in 6502 assembler language, fitting into about 1 kilobyte. Running the code for the first time had a profound effect on Minter: "It just felt wonderfully new, and somehow primal... it was like the patterns and mandalas that have fascinated humans for millennia, but come to life, under your control..."
Originally, Minter intended the algorithm to be public domain and contributed an early version in listing form to a computer magazine. After encouragement from his parents, Minter eventually released an expanded version commercially as Pyschedelia. He continued to develop the light synthesizer concept, designing Colourspace (1985), Trip-a-Tron (1987), Virtual Light Machine (1990, 1994, 2000 and an unreleased version in 2003) and Neon (2004).
On its release Psychedelia received mixed reviews. Your Spectrum criticized the concept of a light synthesizer, describing Psychedelia as boring and awarding an average of 2/5.Sinclair User also only awarded 2 out of 5, finding the concept interesting but concluding that the games-buying public was the wrong demographic for this kind of software. In contrast, CRASH found the package great fun to play around with, describing the effects as fantastic, but criticizing the retail price and narrow appeal. The magazine featured Psychadelia on their October 1991 covertape.
[Psychadelia] is pretty expensive and the less imaginative among us may not be prepared to spend the time and extract all that this program has to offer
Llamasoft - Jeff Minter: "These game images may be distributed free of charge to anyone who wants to use them on emulators. Please feel free to carry them on emulator sites or whatever. Llamasoft feels that software old enough to be running on emulators is not going to be exactly generating a huge amount of revenue, and as such the images are considered by Llamasoft to be in the public domain, and there will be *no* legal hassles if your site carries the images."