Colour Space

Author: Geoff Bains
Publisher: Llamasoft
Machine: BBC Model B

Published in Beebug #42

Colour Space does for colour what a music synthesizer does for sound - transforms the everyday into something magical. Geoff Bains has been controlling the lights with dazzling success

Colour Space

Colour Space, the packaging proclaims, is a light synthesiser. Colour Space is not a game. It is not a utility. It most certainly isn't a language. I haven't really decided just how it can be categorized. Just file under 'F' for Fun.

Colour Space has to be experienced. The program starts in demo mode. The whole screen is filled with a mind-boggling dance of light and colour. Various sequences are played out on the screen until you retreat, when eyes still numb, to the instruction sheet to see what to do next.

Colour Space is all about playing with light and colour. A cursor is moved around under the control of the keyboard or joystick, and 'fire' will produce a pattern on the screen. This pattern will change with time in a kind of explosion of colour. Moving the cursor and pressing fire continuously causes a trail of blossoming light. To add to the effect there is a symmetrical repetition of your shape also moving around the screen.


This is impressive enough, but it's just the start. There are several 'presets' available, selected with the function keys, each with its own pattern and associated effects. However, you can design your own effects. This is not easy, as the parameters to change are very alien to any normal activity.

The pattern can be in explosion mode, which gives extra umph to its dynamic quality, or in stroboscopic mode, which flashes it on and off - at a variable rate, naturally. The dynamic qualities of the pattern can be changed too. The various complicated controls allow you to alter the length of the trails produced by moving patterns, the colours that it changes through, not to mention the cursor speed and smoothness of the plotting. The symmetry can be changed between X, Y or XY axis or quad reflection.

You can define your own patterns as well. Each stage of the changing pattern is drawn on the screen, pixel by pixel, with the joystick. You can even draw static graphics in the foreground of the screen and a very impressive pointed-eared gentleman's face is provided. The patterns and graphics can then be saved to disc or cassette for use at a later date. In fact sequences of movement can also be recorded in memory for effortless playback and saved to tape or disc too.

The instructions are as mind-blowing as the program. They are written by Jeff Minter, the flower power guru of Atari and Commodore software, and author of the original Colour Space. Although this version is not programmed by him, Minter's fondness for the hippy lifestyle makes the instructions strange reading. They are full of words like 'zowie', 'zarjaz' and 'froody' to express his obvious enthusiasm with this version.

This static textual review cannot do justice to this excellent package and it makes the program sound very clinical and technical, and so it can be if you're that way inclined. However, Colour Space is really just about kinetic art, impressing your friends with the power of computers, and having a great deal of fun.

Geoff Bains

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