This program is certainly very different not only because of the instruction manual which contains such passages as 'Psychedelia was the realisation of that dream ... many evenings were spent freaking out to music and just doing it' or 'Demos were given, minds were blown and a good time had by all'. Of course to the modern computer generation, the drugged dreams of the flower power, drop out hippy era probably seem as archaic as the Second World War.
'Psychedelia is a completely new way of enjoying your micro. If you love music, if you love graphics, if you are creative. . . .' he even goes on to admit that Psychedelia is the high point of my designing career'. The hairy one certainly seems to have given it his all'. The results can be spectacular, the opening screen gives a demonstration of what you might produce. Imagine, if you can, hundreds of tiny coloured squares dashing all over the screen, some run together, others collide, some move up while others move down or across this way and the other. Each square is one of a seven different colours, but it can change from one colour to the next while hurtling across the screen. Of course the you don't have to have coloured squares you can design shapes of your own by altering the pixels that make up a shape. Some of the easiest patterns to create would be star bursts or multi coloured spirals. The nearest visual analogy would be a highly coloured firework display, but of course Psychedelia is on a much smaller scale.
The purpose of the program is for you to design your own light displays and it provides some quite powerful routines to help you do just that. Initially the program is set up with some basic parameters for creating built in effects, these are activated via the cursor keys and keys O-R - press different combinations of these keys and that should show you enough to make you curious.
The more advanced commands are divided into two parts, variables and others. In all there are nine variable commands. Cursor speed simply alters the speed at which the squares move about the screen. Pulse width alters the speed with which burst of squares are sent across the screen. Line width sets the width of pulse lines. The other commands perform much more complex tasks, far too complicated to describe here. When the user selects a variable to alter a little graduated bar appears at the bottom of the screen showing the value of the relevant variable. These values can be changed to suit your requirements, essentially finding the desired effects requires a great deal of trial and error but this is by far the most enjoyable method because one of the clever features of the package is the ability to alter the variable while the display is in full swing; better still by using the other commands you are able to 'record' the patterns to memory as you alter the various parameters and eventually save the whole show to tape. About half an hour's worth of display can be saved for playback later, and that should be enough to blow anyone 's mind!
Finally the writer offers some good advice, he admits that the package sounds complicated to use but suggests that '...the best way to learn is by experimentation, play with the values to see what happens just like you would tinker with a synthesiser... freak out with it... Blow minds with it, freak out your granny. Be creative.'