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Table Of Contents
Message From the Editor
Party Report -- Asm '03
Party Report -- Pilgrimage '03
Organizing a US Demo Party
In Tune -- Assembly and Pilgrimage Winners
On The Sideline -- "My Sweet Atlas" by Kaneel
The Lineup -- Monthly Music Listings
Screen Lit Vertigo --
"Legomania", "I Feel Like a Computer", "Schism", and "Ciasson"
Opinion / Commentary:
A New Perspective For A Tiny Scene
Coplan's Eyes -- A Snob of What?
Link List: Get Somewhere in the Scene
Closing: Staff and Contact Information
Message From the Editor
Welcome to this month's Static Line. Apologies for the slightly late
posting; we wanted to bring you party reports of Assembly and Pilgrimage,
which meant extending the deadline a bit. We have a great issue this
month folks.. no really, it's going to be great.
What a month! In this issue we have party reports for both parties, and
reviews for some of the winning demos and songs. We also have some
insightful commentary from Phoenix about the scene in the USA, and from
Legalize about what goes on behind the scene when organizing a party. We
finally catch up on the Lineup with one last double-month issue, and
Coplan wrote a commentary about platform elitism.
Without further ado, enjoy this issue.
Because the flight to Helsinki leaves early in the morning, I had two
options: get up in the middle of the night, and hurry like mad to get the
train to the airport, check in the luggage, and board the plane or (the
option I took): leave the evening before, sleep in the airport and take my
sweet time to board the plane. As a result I'm already suffering from a
lack of sleep before the party even has started, cause I slept only a few
hours on the cold hard airport floor. Let's hope I can catch up in the
-=- Thursday 7 August -=-
The plane flight went without a hitch, especially since I slept most of
the time. Within minutes I had found a taxi that could drive me to
Hartwall Arena, the huge hockey stadium in which Assembly takes place. I
arrived at noon, right when the doors should open, but that was delayed a
bit. Scanning the crowd for familiar faces, I notice Newt and
Dubwood/Razor1911 with a couple of Cryogenic guys. When the doors finally
open, the queue moves very very slowly to the entrance where you've to
open all your bags so the security people can confiscate all your alcohol,
drugs, weapons. After a final pat-down I'm deemed not a terrorist
(Whahahaa! Little do they know ;) ) and I proceed to the ticket booth.
The friendly lady finds my reservation right away, I pay the entrance fee
and get tagged with the prestigious red "vip-ticket" wristband which
allows me into the holy oldskool area.
Having arrived there, I notice there's no place marked on my ticket, so
it's back to the infodesk to find out where I should sit. The problem: I
seem to have bought an oldskool entry ticket, but that does not include a
computer place! I must have missed a check box on the reservation form :(
While I curse myself, they call up Abyss to know if there are any places
left I could take, and while the oldskool area is completely booked, there
are some places left in the main hall close to the oldskool entrance. I
gladly take one of those, relieved I can still use my laptop and walk
around in the oldskool hall. To further ease the pain, I grab the awesome
free Asm03 poster, and my preordered Asm02 compilation DVD.
After installing my stuff, I find out what's wrong with my camera (wrongly
formatted CF card, easily fixed) and take a peek at the DVD. Wheee! My
party report from last year is on it! I feel like a child who got a "well
done!" from the teacher :)
I've been looking around for people I know, but there aren't many yet.
The oldskool area is still largely empty, and Boozembly is deserted. In
the meantime, I've been snapping away with my now-functioning camera,
making souvenirs of the party place, its weird inhabitants and their
sometimes wacky computers.
Just like last year, there is a relay of the demoscene radio Nectarine at
the party place. The main sound system is playing it at the moment, time
to request some good songs :)
I've been watching some old C64 demos with Beyond Force, a really oldskool
group. When I mentioned the C64 version of "Second Reality" by Smash
Design, they said it proves that "Second Reality" on PC was actually a
lousy demo because it can be done equally well on a C64 :) I then made the
mistake of mentioning the long fractal zoom from "Crystal Dreams II",
thinking nothing like that could be done on a C64 but of course they
promptly dug up a production with a Mandelbrot zoom. And they had even
older equipment: TNT is the proud owner of a Z88 laptop with a screen of
maybe 4 LCD lines, upgraded to the max with 512 KB ram and several flash
cartridges. The little thingie can run a day on 4 AA batteries, compare
that to todays power guzzlers!
The opening ceremony hasn't started yet, I hope the orgos will follow the
schedule as well as they did last year. Bjorn Lynne is selling various
scene CDs again, last year I didn't have enough money but now I came
prepared. An instant later I've the Meregon, Audiophonic and Instant
Remedy CDs in my possession (about time for some of those :))
The lights go out and everyone applauds. The view of the thousands of
computers in the dark with their screens, LEDs, case-mod lights etc
glowing looks incredible!
The opening ceremony is pretty standard: first an animation with the
highlights of last year, then Abyss gives a pep talk about how much better
this Assembly will be. He sums up the new features (the outdoor concert,
the Robotosa demonstration,...) and ends with his "Sceners and gamers:
they CAN live together in peace"-speech. Cheezy, but essential if we
don't want this party to turn into a bloody carnage.
The Demo Top10, oldskool edition on Assembly TV just started, and it's
also shown on the big screen. It's an attempt to make a scene-version of
the usual music top10 on TV, but it has a few flaws IMHO. While the
choice of demos and their positions is OK (made with public voting), they
are announced from the first to the last place, which kills most of the
anticipation. Also, comments that the voters gave for each demo and which
the girl who announces the demos reads from paper, are all very similar
(think "This is probably one of the best demos ever, with great music and
good design. Enjoy!"). But those are minor bad points, it's great to
watch some old and newer classics from Byterapers, Bandwagon and PWP
The pizza is still expensive: 3.5 Euro for one slice :( Behind the various
food shops, which sell fast food 24 hours a day, are a number of sponsor
booths. Here you can buy overclocking hardware such as water coolers or
exotic fans, high-precision mouses and mouse pads for (supposedly)
superior gaming, network cards and cables for those who forgot them at
home, and fluorescent lights for all your case-modding needs.
AMD is showing off a PC running at 4055 Mhz (only a few tens of Mhz better
than last year), HP has a area with tens of comfortable sit bags, probably
meant to watch one of their presentations but which are quickly co-opted
as sleeping area, and Nokia is advertising their new phone-plus-game-
console the NGage. I talked a bit to one of the Nokia guys about their
business model for the NGage, they want to keep the platform open so
everybody can develop for it without paying huge license fees as with
Nintendo. You can pay to get libraries so you can develop your game
faster, but it's not obliged. So we'll probably see it in the mobile demo
compo next year :)
There'll be a "Dance Dance Revolution" contest in the official "Unofficial
compos" at midnight, but in the meantime the organizers allowed everyone
to try and make an idiot of theirselves, a chance I happily took :) In
case you don't know, DDR is one of those crazy Japanese games where you
have to jump on a controller mat with arrows on the buttons, with the aim
of duplicating the pattern of arrows that move on your screen in the
rhythm of the song you selected. It's rather difficult at first, but it
starts to be addicting after a while.
The design of the Assembly T-shirt is much better than last year, IMHO, so
I bought one before they are gone. There's the same cute animal on it as
on the poster, a mix of a dolphin, a tiger, an dragon and a kangaroo.
Assembly is full of custom made cases and crazy mods, but one of the best
has to be the PC-in-a-microwave I saw at the oldskool area. It has a TFT
screen in the door, the motherboard and hard drive on the inside and
there's a slot loaded DVD at the back, like a toaster. The control
buttons on the front are rewired to the power and reset buttons, the OSD
(On Screen Display) buttons and the sound volume.
It's actually made by a small company, Genesi, that makes PCs for
hobbyists or nostalgic people. The hardware is a custom PowerPC board
with a 600 Mhz G3 CPU, running the MorphOS. They've quite some software
for it, including an emulator for old Sierra games such as Leisure Suit
Larry. A mature platform indeed :)
The game development entries were distributed before the party, so there's
little surprise in this compo. Taat will probably win again with their
upgrade to "Stair dismount". In "Truck dismount", you must do as much
damage as possible to a little guy, using a wall, a truck and two ramps.
In the compos they made the truck hit the wall so it landed standing on
its cabin, and then it sloooowly toppled over on the puppets head, cruel
but funny to see. The weirdest game has to be "Bailer", a Linux simuation
of a leaky boat navigating towards an island. Your mission: to use a cup
to shovel enough water out your boat to reach the island. If you succeed,
you can buy bigger cups. Mindless and ugly drawn, but funny nonetheless.
More playable games include "Space Adventures of a Small Ship", a variant
of the old spacewar duels between 2 ships but with lots of different ships
and options, "Netpuck", a hockey simulation, and "Pekka Kanna 2", a very
well drawn platform game with a rooster. It suffered a bit of the fixed
640*400 resolution, it was shown rather small on the 800*600 big screen.
-=- Friday 8 August -=-
The DDR compo was fun to watch, but it took place beside the Counterstrike
compo so occasionally it was interrupted by loud cheers of the fans when
their favorite clan had made a frag. I've been making photos of the
compos and the party place, because everyone is still awake the first
night so you get much more impressive overview pics of the halls. Night
after night, more and more monitors are turned off when their owners
succumb to the temptation of sleep (which I'm feeling strongly as well
When I got to my table, there was a guy telling me I had a nice laptop,
and he asked whether it had a DVD or CDRW. At first I was puzzled why he
was asking this, then my paranoia woke up and I realized this was
interesting info for would-be thieves, so I drew his attention to the lock
connecting it to the table. He and his friend suddenly had to go, leaving
me feeling rather suspicious. After some doubt I packed my stuff and
checked it in at the info desk. They charge a Euro to keep an eye on it,
but at least I know my plane ticket, camera or wallet won't be missing
when I wake up.
Back awake, to an extend. I reinstalled my stuff, and went for some food.
Sandwiches are also expensive :/
Not much is happening. The big screen shows the AssemblyTV broadcasts,
but I prefer to listen to Nectarine. It's getting cold in the hall, and I
regret not bringing a sweater.
I started coding a little on my texture generator, an ongoing project to
be used in some hypothetical future production.
The Demo top10, PC edition is shown on the big screen. There's a nice mix
of old and new demos, but I have my doubts on the sanity of some voters.
Of course tastes differ, blablala :) I'll let you judge for yourself:
1: "Second Reality"/Future Crew
2: "FR-25 (The popular demo)"/Farbrausch
3: "Live Evil"/Mandula
6: "Project Plant"/EMF
8: "Nonstop Ibiza Experience"/Orange
9: "VIP2"/Popsy Team
10: "Haujobb: Liquid wen"
After each Top10 a random voter is picked who wins a T-shirt, and this
time Melwyn is the lucky winner.
Last year I was running into people I knew from other demo parties all the
time, but this year there seems to be few non-Finnish visitors, even in
the oldskool area and at Boozembly. I've seen Nosfe, who said Kewlers &
MFX are going to release a demo here, and Dixan and Melwyn should be here
too but I haven't seen them yet.
The ALT party orgos are organizing some small fun-compos, such as a
Nethack compo, a marathon (running around the building), and a poetry
recital compo which I just saw. Most poems were in Finnish, except one
ode to an Atari ST, and two "poems" based on a cooking receipt and the
usage instructions of a name tag. As you can guess, participating is more
important than winning :)
The fast graphics compo is about to begin. The participants had only 90
minutes to make a picture about a given subject.
The subject seems to have been ice cubes and summer. There were 8 pics,
with one very clear winner: "The Magic Ice cube of the Caribbean", it's
really a striking picture with amazing colors. The other entries aren't
half as good, but still well above joke-entry level.
The fast music compo is next, the second entry was my favorite, a really
energetic tune whose name I unfortunately don't remember because I was
paying too much attention to the giant sound meters on the stairs. Since
the arena is a hockey stadium, there are stairs all around the ground
level, leading to the chairs. On eight of those, the orgos put large
1-character LED displays on each step. They blink following the volume of
the music, so the whole arena looks like a giant sound meter, including
the green-yellow-red pattern. And before each compo, the LEDs display the
phrases "KILL ALL" "AUDIO & LIGHTS".
The hand drawn graphics compo is over: 20 pics in various styles, with
some very good ones. I really liked "Parallel Twirl" and "Find The Little
Green Men". For each picture, the title and entry number are shown first,
which leads to some artists messing with the audiences expectations: what
would you expect from a picture called "Female Melon Display
Extraordinaire?" All pictures are shown twice, but they don't zoom into
details so it's hard to judge techniques :(
There are two new animations that are shown on the big screen before a
compo to make the audience switch off all lights and sound: the first
features the same penguins as the original, but a cannon is used to make
the point instead of a hammer, and in the second one bad things happen in
a drive-in cinema to a car with booming music and flashing lights. I hope
we can download them from the FTP server... [ update after the party: I
noticed the ones with the penguins are on the Asm'02 DVDs, joy!]
After the count down to the instrumental music compo, the big screen says
"Our equipment needs a little bit of adjusting. Please hold on." I guess
nobody is perfect.
The problems were fixed soon, the 15 songs played ranged from so-so to
pretty good. I like the "Acula class" song the most, it's a symphonic
track suitable for a science fiction movie. A slower tune I liked was
Travelogue, although it is probably too calm to get much votes. With only
one chance to impress the audience, most musicians make remarkable songs
with lots of variation, or very fast or loud, so people will remember them
when it is time to vote, and simpler songs don't stand a chance.
The outdoor concert was really worth the time to attend! The location has
been changed from the largest corridor, which was overcrowded last year,
to the main loading place. So it's kind of outside, but we have still a
roof above our heads. Axess Denied opened the concert with a rock version
of the "Xenon 2" theme, then went through various other old game tunes
from Rob Hubbard and others, some famous demo tracks such as from
Dope/Complex, and ended with the "Bubble Bobble" theme. Next CNCD Outside
mixed real instruments such as a trumpet, a hobo and some yembes with
VIC-20 beeps and basses. Cool, but a bit too long at times. Purple
Motion was next, on the synthesizer but with the support of a guitarist,
drummer and percussionist. He played some fantastic non-scene songs, I
believe the announcer said several were even played public for the first
time at Assembly, and he ended with an incredible version of the "Second
Reality" score. You can imagine that the public went crazy :) Then there
was a surprise guest, a bass guitarist with some groupies that held up
jokes about bassists, unfortunately in Finnish only. The concert was
closed by the Stereo Gentlemen, and the free earplugs the orgos had handed
out at the start were put to use: it was LOUD! There was one long-haired
guy paying the electrical guitar, assisted by two young rappers and four
dancers in sexy leather outfits. The music was the kind you feel rather
than hear, which is not my favorite kind but it was OK.
-=- Saturday 9 August -=-
Talk about coincidence: the guy who organized the DDR compo is Bemmu, who
I was sitting next to last year in the oldskool area! We both didn't
recognize each other until now :) He has told me how to get "Stepmania",
the free PC clone of "Dance Dance Revolution". That's something I have to
check out. The winner of the compo, Stuf, and his girlfriend are still
playing, it's amazing how fast they move their feet.
Two more compos have passed: the oldskool graphics, and the oldskool
music. The graphics had one entry that stood out, Blackbeard, although I
also liked the 2nd Countess and the Yessagician pics. The music had lots
of cool tunes, I can't remember any specific names but it was nice to see
some XMs and S3Ms in there so I can listen to them on PC [Update after the
party: The orgos where thoughtful enough to make MP3s of the non-PC
entries so everyone can listen to them! Great!]
The oldskool demo compo had 5 entries, one down from last year, and the
quality seemed a bit less but still enjoyable. PWP, who won the compo
last year, made a funny cartoon-like entry called "Robotic Liberation", Da
Jormas had made a port of one of their philosophical demos, and Dekadence
had a good effect-based demo.
The last compo for today is one we can't vote for: the mobile game
development compo. It's jury-based, I assume with the sponsors of the
development kits (Nokia etc) as the judges. There were 6 games, but most
of them were unfinished or had flaws. The best-looking entry featured a
top-down view on a 3D environment, but no enemies at all. There was a
medieval strategy game that had to pause after every move to "merge
changes with the gameworld", I think that would quickly become annoying.
There was one game with hedgehogs or so throwing bombs to each others that
was actually playable, so that's a good candidate to win the compo :)
Back awake. I've been sleeping in the sleeping area, but it seems the
security people do not really enforce the rules: when walking back to my
table, I see plenty of people sleeping on chairs, under tables and in the
grand stand, all of which are forbidden due to fire regulations. My right
arm feels weirdly insensitive, I slept on it and the bloodstream must have
been cut off: when I make a fist, it feels as if my hand is still half-
open. But after a shower it slowly goes back to normal <phew!>. There
was no queue in the showers, and the number of black screens in the arena
shows I woke up early for Assembly standards.
The big screen is showing a wild demo similar to Real Reality/Never: demo
scene effects done with real life objects. There's a 3D duckie, clouds,
an asteroid, a donut, bubbles, balls, a 3D FPS scene etc. Simple, but
nice. At the end the title is shown: Get Real, by the Assembly 99
And today must be sales pitch day: the promotion teams have escaped from
their booths and are roaming in the arena. First there's some guy from
Validitas offering a free test of their CAIS system, apparently a service
that can simulate all kinds of mobile connections (GPRS, WAP, I-mode etc)
with various quality settings. This would be useful to make sure the
data-protocol of your mobile application works correctly both in big
cities, and small towns with few base stations. I've never made a Symbian
program in my life, but that doesn't stop the guy from explaining
everything in detail. Next there's a girl from Nokia demonstrating the
NGage to everyone whether they're interested or not, with a 3D game called
Pandemonium (a port from an old PC game) that looks quite good, but hey,
I'm just not a gamer!
And the last Demo Top10 is shown: the Amiga edition. There are the usual
classics like "Desert Dreams"/Kefrens and "State Of The Art & 9
Fingers"/Spaceballs, plus more recent releases such as
"Lapsuus"/Maturefurk and "Perfect Circle"/The Black Lotus. It's nice to
see them all again, especially on a big screen.
The Robotosa event was extremely popular: by the time I got to the parking
place, where it was held, people were standing 5 lines deep around the
battlefield, and only by standing on some stacked boxes could I see
anything. Robotosa is a small-scale robot wars variant, where two remote-
controlled cars try to defeat each other by immobilizing the enemy, or
pushing him out the battlefield. Most cars had some armor added, and some
a bladed weapon, but that didn't seem to have much influence. The most
effective strategies were to have better traction so you can push the
other car around, or to have a sloped edge close to the ground so the
enemy cannot have a good grip on you. After the duels, each car had to do
a dexterity test: tipping cans over, pressing a lever in a maze, opening a
"door" etc, all without falling from the platform. That last part was a
problem for most robots, it seems their brakes weren't the most reliable
part of them :)
This afternoon and evening, the majority of the compos will be held. The
vocal music compo had only 10 preselected entries, varying in style
between ambient, DnB, rap, rock,... I think the quality of the vocals is
less amateurish than last year, but I still prefer the instrumental music.
The "Never Had A Gun In My Hand" entry was quite good IMO.
The free style graphics compo allowed everything that isn't hand drawn, so
it's not just ray traced images anymore. There were 25 entries, with a
very high average quality, and the usual range of subjects:
fantasy(Sentinel, Mental Inferno), science fiction (My City), nature
scenes (1-800-xxx, Decommissioned II),... It will be difficult to choose
the best 3.
I quickly go eat another slice of pizza, before the browser demo starts,
and discuss various geeky subjects with Bemmu, such as what chances the
NGage has, or how evil Microsoft is :)
The browser demo had 1O entries, all using flash except one lonely demo
made with Director. Java entries have to take part in the normal demo
compo. Since flash is pretty much 2D-only, faked 3D effects are quite
popular. The best designed entry is without doubt "Super fantastic gay
disco all night long", which has also fitting dance music.
There were no less then 14 great 4K intros! I recognized the one Preacher
was working on last year (Another soul lost), seems he finally finished it
:) It has some simple DOS-era effects, but also contains a funny story
about gamers discussing the demo scene. Then there was a 4K with voice
synths, singing the old "99 bottles on the wall" song but with beer
instead of bottles, and no effects at all. There was another Humus entry
for the Amiga, number 4 in the series and still fantastic, there was a
Linux entry ("Topsy Turvy" I think) showing a complete amusement park,
with a roller coaster, swings, a merry-go-round, and of course fitting
music. I also liked Etherium, showing a cool landscape, also with music,
and the final Linux entry that has only a single effect, a white ever-
morphing flower with great techno-music.
I've been feeling sleepy during the compos, but now it's over so I decide
to go to the Farbrausch seminar after all. Chaos explains the history of
the tools they use to make their awesome productions. It turns out the
coders don't code demos anymore: they've made a very complex, ever-
evolving tool that allows a artist to design a whole demo , and a player
to show that design. So it's a bit like the Demopajaa tool on steroids.
Chaos gives lots of tips for people who'd like to make a similar tool:
make your own GUI, don't use overlapping windows, give real time feedback,
don't hide complexity, make everything from the sounds to the camera
movements an operator, etc etc. He also explains how to do the glow-
effect from "The Popular Demo": you've to post-process the entire image.
First you subtract a fixed amount so only the highlights of the image
remain. You blur them a lot ("you can do almost everything with blur!"),
increase the brightness again, and combine it with the original scene, and
voila: every highlight has an aura around it.
The first part of the prize ceremony is over. Just like last year, to
limit the length of the ceremony it's broken in two, which is a very good
thing. Most results were as expected, although the Blackbeard C64 graphic
is disqualified due to being a copy. There was also an Asus-sponsored
tattoo compo (which I hadn't heard about before), plus the outdoor compos
such as basketball, soccer, CD throwing etc. The winners get a chance to
say something to the audience, but alas I can't understand Finnish...
While we're waiting for the 64K compo, the big screen is showing the Demo
Quiz on AssemblyTV. I wouldn't be able to answer a lot of the questions:
how many times was Mekka/Symposium held? Who was the coder of <some
obscure demo>? At which party did this or that demo reached first place?
The 64K compo is over, with 12 entries. I first thought it would be an
average compo, with no really special entries, although I liked
"Oddjob"/Kewlers. Then ANDs new entry was shown, and everyone knew who
would be the winner. "Zoom 3" is everything Squish was, plus a good voice
synthesizer, an incredible model of a giant robot walking through a high-
tech environment, a long end scroller, etc etc. The music is from
Cybermage this time, so it's not a one-man production this time, but it's
still incredible how much AND has been able to improve in one year.
Due to the overwhelming success of last year, the mobile demo compo was
held again this year, for devices that weight less then 250 gram. At
first it looks as if all demos are comparable: using low-res color
screens, on the level of the early Pentium demos (1995). But the two last
productions run on the monochrome TI calculators, and it's nice to see
that the public likes these even more then the more advanced ones. Still,
I guess the Matrix spoof "Zion" will win the compo, the subject is just
too popular in the Assembly public.
I wanted to drop by Boozembly, but it's raining :( Dixan, Uncle X, Droid
and Energy are hiding from the rain, we talk about how Assembly has been
so far. Dixan is miffed only 10 vocal music where preselected out of over
40 entries, versus 15 in the oldskool and instrumental music compos. I
hadn't noticed it yet, but it's indeed a bit strange. On the other hand,
I believe last year the time limit was 3 minutes, versus 3m30 now...
The animation compo had only 5 entries, but the quality was OK. Most had
short stories, like the medieval tale of the sword of Nur, or the beer-
stealing rats from Dice Productions, but I also liked the pure art of
"Energy of The Atom".
The wild demo compo had the opposite problem: plenty of entries, but the
majority were boring home-videos, not even funny, and in Finnish only.
Newborn had at least a kind of story arc, "The Trip" was funny, although
the group name "Low Budget Movies" was not a joke. There was a spoof of a
Finnish children TV show with birds, which the audience found hilarious,
but I preferred the real-life "Grand Theft Auto" movie: funny, and with
some nice rendered elements in it. The only real wild demo according to
the old definition (a demo on a non-standard platform) was the LCD mega
demo, which ran on a 4*20-character LCD screen, build into someone's PC
Outside any competition, Yodel made good on their promise last year that
they would make a boys-band-clip as a successor to their "What's up (in
the Gangsta-hood)" clip. And indeed, their "2 Hard (2 Get)" could easily
rival the latest Take That or Boyzone in sheer quality :)
The compos are over for today, but the Tiny Music compo results are played
on the main sound system (as this is was an unofficial compo, the results
are already known). After that the disqualified demos are shown, some are
not bad at all. This gives me hope for the quality of the preselected
entries! After a problem with my FTP settings (thanks to the NetCrew for
fixing it!) I manage to download the releases from the first prize
ceremony. By this time people are sleeping everywhere and the security
guys don't seem to mind, so instead of giving my laptop to the info desk I
just sleep next to it on the table.
I'm awake again, luckily not due to the security crew. Nosfe is
collecting bottles for the return money, his wild demo was once again not
preselected, even though there were too many low-quality home videos. I
can only nod sadly.
All during the party, people have been playing this extremely annoying MP3
with a child singing very off-key "I'm an apple", but in Finnish, over and
over again. It's like a virus, everyone hates it but they still become
infected with it and play it themselves.
The demo compos is about to start, so the orgos play loud music in order
to wake everyone up.
This was hands down one of the best demo compos ever! In order of my
personal preferences: Doomsday is back, with probably the best demo of
2003: "Legomania". Remember the scene in Boost, where a giant lego man
walked around a planet? He's tired of walking, and goes on an adventure
with his brothers. Besides the funny lego-scenes in cartoon rendering,
this demo also has great normal effects, interesting transitions, splendid
design, and very cool music. My bet for the second place is "I Feel Like
A Computer", by Melon Design. Yes, they're back as well, and they bring
you an entertaining story with a drunken dog, John Travolta, Donky Kong,
aliens and cops. Everything is rendered with flat shaded cubes, but it
really fits the Melon style. Moppi Productions released something
completely different from their last demo, as usual :) "Ix" is an
innovative demo with a mix of 3D objects and 2D people, about the people
(and animals) taking the tram. Fairlight made "Digital Dynamix", with
excellent modeling and 3D effects, and I also liked "Feed Your
Machine"/Faktory, with a brand new 3D smoke effect and an amazing fur-
rendered dog. And then there were the demos from Complex (on the X-box!),
Farbrausch, Kewlers, MFX,... With this much choice, I'm glad the orgos
allow us to vote for 5 demos instead of the usual 3.
People are slowly starting to pack. I've had a discussion with Bjorn
Lynne about MP3s, he believes people have simply become accustomed to not
having to pay for MP3s, and thus never will. I think students will always
copy music for free, but that people with enough income are willing to
support the artists, which is not the same as supporting the recording
Aha! A quick look on the FTP server shows that the orgos are uploading the
remaining releases. Since the network was dismantled right after the
prize ceremony last year, I start leeching them ASAP.
The ceremony hasn't begun yet, I'm starting to get nervous about the train
and bus I have to take to get back to the airport...
And finally it begins! There's a collage of fragments of the best releases
shown on the big screen,after which Abyss starts to give away the prizes.
There are some sponsored compos, such as the fastest PC or coolest case
(photos at coolputer.fi), and the Altparty orgos have improvised a special
prize for the most original production, which goes to the Yellow Rose of
Texas 4K by Fit & bandwagon. That one also wins the 4K compo, with humus
4 placing 2nd. The makers of Topsy Turvy apologize for placing third and
pushing the other demos a place down (they deserve the 3th place IMHO).
Next are the game compos, "Unreal Tournament", "Counterstrike" etc... The
winners don't get much applause from the (largely gamers-)crowd, maybe
there's more rivalry between gamers than between sceners. I'm glad no
home videos got in the Wild demo top 3, instead "Grand Theft", that
children show and the LCD-demo place first to third.
Abyss announces the prize money for the 64K compo has been increased,
which is nice for AND and Cybermage, whose Zoom 3 has almost 3 times as
many votes as the entry from Cryonics. AND gives a little speech to thank
the voters in broken English, and people just keep applauding!
The demo compo starts with a big disappointment: Melon Designs demo is
disqualified because they used two minutes of copyrighted music without
permission. This sucks badly :( I know the rule is necessary, but it's
sad when good groups are hit by it... How could they forget about it?!
Abyss is obviously sad about it as well, and gives them a change to thank
the voters, who had wanted to see them take the 3th place... "Legomania"
wins the compo, of course, and Doomsday give Abyss some lego men as a
present. Moppi Productions place second place for the 3th time in a row
(Halla in 2002, and Gerbera in 2001). "Doomsday" by Complex is the new
number 3, I hope they release a PC port as well. The ambient "Dreamchild"
demo by ASD is 4th, and "Mental"/Push Entertainment shows there is still a
place (5th, to be exact) for Amiga demos in 2003.
After the usual thanks to the participants, sponsors, and crew, Abyss
invites us all to Assembly'04, and I hope I'll be able to attend.
Stuf/Xill and Janita are so kind to give me a lift to the airport, much
thanks to them! I fall asleep while the plane is still on the ground, and
the rest of the trip back home goes smoothly as well.
I don't think it needs to be said, but just in case: Assembly'03 rocked!
There were several big improvements over last year, and after the party
the orgos actively asked for feedback on the mailing list. I have no
doubt they'll listen to it carefully, to make Asm'04 even better.
Personally I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't sit in the oldskool
area (for which I have only myself to blame, I know), and I also expected
to see more people I knew. But these were minor points, and I'd like to
greet everyone I met there. See you again next year!
Let me preface this review by saying that I've never been to a demo party
before going to Pilgrimage 2003, and would not be considered a true demo
scenester by many of those who attended, considering I haven't paid
attention to demos since my dated computer stopped being able to run them
back in 1999. I was, however, amazed with demos ever since my brother
showed me Second Reality on a computer in a Radio Shack store back in
1994. From what I've heard that demo also got a lot of other people
interested in graphics programming, but I'm sure there are plenty of you
out there more l337 than I am so you'll have to bear with me on this one.
Organizers Adam Helps and Richard Thomson chose to host Pilgrimage 2003 in
Salt Lake City most likely because they're both from SLC, but as they
explained on the demo web site the city does have an impressive history of
research and innovation in computer graphics technologies. Besides, as a
major airport hub in a central position within the country, the city was a
jump, hop and a skip for most Americans (and even the obligatory Canadian
or two). More importantly, the actual space for the event, SLCC's Metro
Learning Center, worked out perfect for the party, with a convenient
downtown location, friendly staff, air conditioners pumping cold air a
plenty, and enough Internet hookups and desktop real estate for everyone's
The morning's speakers covered topics ranging from beginning to advanced
and some of these presentations were very good. In "Designing Your Own
Game Console" Russ Christensen discussed his own experiences designing a
simple 5MHz video game console, and the presentation attracted a large
audience, though his project was probably more suitable for the
engineering and electronics gurus in the audience than your average
Playstation 2 enthusiast. Adam Helps taught newbies how to track, and
Thant Tessman wowed audiences with his very fancy real-time 3D shading
demos, while Jason Ehrhart helped many early risers catch up on their
sleep with his 1fps rotating Java cubes. I didn't see David's, Rich's,
and Dan's presentations, so I can't say anything about theirs, but from
what I did see the presenters had quality, interesting information to
After the presentations the rest of the day was spent showing off previous
demos on projector screens while those competing rushed to finish up their
entries. This part of the day perhaps could have used more organization,
as there was really no order to what was happening. For instance, I heard
beforehand that there would be a live broadcast of Assembly '03, and I was
hoping there would be a specific room where I could go and check out what
was going on at Assembly, but the room that was broadcasting it was also
being used to show demos, to film video postcards, and to show off a
certain somebody's 5MHz game console. Now all these other things were
fine and dandy, but I wanted to see the Assembly telecast! They should
have had a separate room for coders, a room for watching the demo DVD, a
then a third room for the live Assembly broadcast. Hey, a room with a
couple X-box's and Halo would have been cool too, but I guess that's
asking for too much, isn't it!
The actual competition itself took place later in the evening, and ended a
little too quickly because of the limited number of participants. This,
too, was disappointing, since I saw so many people there during the day
and expected all of them to have something in the works for the
competition. While the votes were being tallied Jeremiah Johnson a.k.a.
Nullsleep put on a show of music composed using a couple Gameboys and an
NES. Depeche Mode on a Gameboy is quite a feat indeed, but Gameboy
arpeggios at 10 in the evening is quite another matter! Luckily I used to
listen to a lot of Piano Maker PC Speaker tunes, so I felt right at home.
Apart from one or two shining moments, most of the demos and music entries
were noticeably inferior to what you find at Assembly, which made the
whole event at Pilgrimage '03 seem like more of a tribute to or a fan club
of the vastly more popular European demo scene than an actual competition.
The nuts and bolts of an American demo scene are there--I can gripe about
the lack of a dedicated Assembly broadcast or a larger room for the
competition, but really Richard and Adam put a lot of work into organizing
the event, and we're lucky to have them there taking the initiative. They
laid the groundwork, but the problem is there aren't enough American
coders out there yet who either know about demos or have tried putting
their energy and talent into making good demos. All of us who want to see
a real American demo scene ultimately share the responsibility not only to
bite the bullet and show up the Europeans through our own hard work, but
also to spread the word to all the skilled coders and electronic musicians
out there that might not know about the demo scene so that we can increase
our ranks. University of Utah's own Phong Bui-Toung (Phong shading), Ed
Catmull (texture mapping, Z-buffer hidden surface removal), Jim Blinn
(environmental reflection mapping, bump mapping), and most all of the
great innovators of computer graphics techniques developed their skills on
this side of the Atlantic. Pilgrimage is just the place for that legacy
to be reclaimed, but it's going to take more than Pilgrimage '03 to do so.
Many thanks to Richard Thomson and Adam Helps for putting on the even this
year in Salt Lake City, and see you again next year!
Organizing a US Demo Party
By: Legalize / Polygony <email@example.com>
Pilgrimage 2003 is over and now that I've had time to get things back to
normal, I'm going to talk about Pilgrimage from the organizer's
perspective. I'm combining a recounting of my experiences with advice for
-=- Don't Know Nuthin' -=-
I've never been to a demo party before. I first heard about the demo
scene in August 2002 at SIGGRAPH in San Antonio, Texas. I have never
organized a demo party before, or anything as large as Pilgrimage. I've
seen pictures, read trip reports, browsed slengpung, talked to people on
IRC, browsed pouet and ojuice, downloaded the demoshow CDs and watched as
many demos as I could, downloaded Assembly 2002 results after SIGGRAPH
2002, browsed two headed squirrel, monostep.org and other personally
recommended demos lists. I can't really tell you if our demo party "felt"
like a European demo party or previous North American parties having
attended none of them.
In addition to my lack of experience, we have the current state of the
demo scene in the USA. Very few people know about demos at this point.
Those who do know about demos are not necessarily geographically
concentrated and don't have a well defined electronic community web
portal. The interests are currently splintered across the music,
graphics, and gaming communities.
-=- Demo Scene Cherry -=-
After seeing the demo scene panel at SIGGRAPH 2002, I wanted to do
something involving the demo scene. I went to the demoscene BOF and spent
time talking over the demo scene with Vince Scheib and Phil Taylor over
dinner at SIGGRAPH. I think this is where I first got the idea to
organize a demo party. I started putting together my plans for what I
wanted a demo party to contain besides the usual socializing and compos.
I wanted something to fall back on should there end up not being very many
The easiest backup plan was to show demos from the demoshow CD
compilations on scene.org. I could contact the people I know and ask them
to come talk on a subject at the event. I could try to organize a concert
finale. From what I could tell in the scene, your only currency is the
amount of respect you get for what you have done. I didn't want to
organize an event that sucked! I couldn't depend on compo entries to
float my event by itself, so it needed something extra.
To simplify the problem, I constrained the event to a single day. Being
only a single day was also likely to reduce participation from out of
town, but the logistics and expense of a multi-day event were just out of
our grasp the first time around. It would be better to run a great 1 day
event than a sucky 3 day event.
After being back from SIGGRAPH for a short while, I was contacted by Adam
Helps, a CS undergraduate student at Brigham Young University in Provo,
Utah, about a 45 minute drive south from Salt Lake City. Adam and I
exchanged phone numbers by email and talked at length on the phone
discussing our ideas for a demo party and how to raise interest in the
Both of us had very similar ideas for organizing a party, so it was a
great coming-together of like-minded sceners. Where each of us had
specific ideas on some aspect of the organizing, they were either
synergistic with or identical to the ideas of the other. Adam would be
able to reach people in Utah County while I could reach people in Salt
Lake County. Just as the USA is geographically large, Utah itself is a
large western state with most of its urban population along the western
edge of the mountains called the Wasatch front. The major cities of Utah
are Salt Lake City, Provo and Ogden. They all lie on the Wasatch front.
-=- Parties as Non-Profit Corporations -=-
While I didn't have any experience with demo parties, I do have planning
and organizing skills. My plan was to: form a non-profit Utah corporation
to handle the financial and legal details of running an event, hold a 1
day event, and file for IRS 501(c)3 status. My biggest single resource
for these tasks is "Non-Profits for Dummies" which, despite the title,
contains lots of good information for would-be US party organizers. A
non-profit corporation shares many of the same problems and attributes as
an organization that puts on a demo party. The book contains these
chapters in about 350 pages:
Part I: Getting Started with Nonprofits
Chapter 1: Tuning In to the World of Nonprofit Organizations
Chapter 2: Deciding to Start a Nonprofit
Chapter 3: Writing Your Mission Statement
Chapter 4: Incorporating and Applying for Tax Exemption
Chapter 5: Safeguarding Your Nonprofit Status
Part II: Managing a Nonprofit Organization
Chapter 6: Building Your Board of Directors
Chapter 7: Getting the Work Done with Paid Staff
Chapter 8: Getting the Work Done with Volunteers
Chapter 9: Planning: Why and How Nonprofits Make Plans
Chapter 10: Showing the Money: Budgets and Financial Reports
Chapter 11: Creating a Home for Your Nonprofit and Insuring It
Chapter 12: Finding Outside Help When You Need It
Part II: Raising Money and Visibility
Chapter 13: Crafting a Fundraising Plan
Chapter 14: Raising Money from Individuals
Chapter 15: Making the Most of Special Events
Chapter 16: Finding the Grant-Givers
Chapter 17: Writing a Grant Proposal
Chapter 18: Marketing: Spreading the Word about Your Good Work
Part IV: The Part of Tens
Chapter 20: Ten Myths about Nonprofit Organizations
Chapter 21: Ten Tips for Raising Money
As you can see from the chapter titles, many of the activities that
nonprofit corporations perform are the same things that demo party
organizers must go through in order to have a successful party.
If you're forming an event in the USA and want to organize a non-profit
corporation around the event, get things in motion about a year before
your event date. If you don't have that much time, start this process
first since it will take a while to complete in full. The book (and
others like it) has the full details on what you need. It is also
possible to operate underneath a sponsoring Nonprofit corporation, check
out the book for details on this option.
For Pilgrimage, it was pretty easy based on the advice given in the book
and the guidelines given by the State of Utah to construct the articles of
incorporation and the bylaws. A small filing fee of $20 and about 2
months of processing time and we had our Utah nonprofit corporation.
Showing proof of incorporation was required to open up a bank account at
the bank we used (University of Utah Credit Union). You will definitely
want a separate bank account through which you track your financial
Why go through all this? Because you won't ever get any sizable donations
or grants unless you have a 501(c)3 IRS designation. If you look at art
grant applications from local, state and federal sources you will see that
they all require applicants to be 501(c)3 organizations. The same is true
for philanthropy from private foundations. You don't want to be funding
demo parties out of your own pocket if you can help it.
-=- Web Site & Domain Name -=-
My ISP, XMission, offers pro bono accounts to nonprofit organizations in
the state of Utah, so that got us a web space once we had our
incorporation papers. A couple of email messages to scene.org and
XMission staff and we had a DNS entry for pilgrimage.scene.org resolving
to our web space on XMission. At the time we applied for scene.org DNS
hosting, they were on their old server and were temporarily holding all
applications for FTP or web space. We needed a consistent web site ASAP
to keep interest growing from one familiar place, rather than a string of
changed URLs. Have you ever noticed how many stale North American demo
scene links are out there on the web and in NFO files and such? I didn't
want to add to the pot!
While we got the whole nonprofit/webspace/domain thing sorted out, Mike No
Worth worked on a web design for the pages that we ultimately stole and
expanded for content into the pages we have today. A preliminary version
of this was placed on Adam's CS account at BYU and leaked to OJuice :-).
Shortly thereafter our real web site was available and running.
I thought that having a scene.org domain name would give us more cred, but
you can do any domain naming scheme you want for your party. As a first
time organizer, I was going to do everything within my reach to increase
the credibility and image of our party as a new birth for the demo scene
in the USA. I looked at a scene.org domain name as one that would be good
for our reputation. Once our web account was created on XMission, it was
a snap to have pilgrimage.scene.org resolve out to our virtual web server
We initially created our XMission account with the name 'demos', but this
resulted in us receiving large amounts of spam. Spammers now routinely do
"dictionary attacks" on email servers hoping to deliver as much spam as
possible to "john@<domain>" and apparently "demos" is a word that's often
used on these dictionary style attacks. So unless you're willing to deal
with the spam, I'd suggest using an account name or email alias that's
unique to your event and unlikely to be spammed with such an attack.
-=- Mailing Lists and Discussion Forums -=-
Hopefully you've got at least one other person working on organizing your
event! You will need a way to communicate what each of you is doing and
have a place to refer back to for a refreshening of details. A mailing
list is perfect for this and everyone's got email now, right? We formed
an internal mailing list for the Pilgrimage organizers. It was getting to
the point where mail sent back and forth between two people needed to be
sent to all three people so that we were all on the same page. It was
just easier to setup a mailing list and then we all send to the list to
keep everyone informed.
We probably would have started a mailing list for party goers but
SceneSpot stepped into action and provided us with a discussion forum area
on the web. Personally I prefer a mailing list or a newsgroup, but they
offered and we took it! This is an example of a good rule of thumb for
organizers: don't look gift horses in the mouth! Take everything you can
get and any opportunity that's offered to you even if you would prefer to
"implement" things differently. Now that Pilgrimage is over, we will
probably implement a pilgrims mailing list from our contact list at the
-=- Outreach -=-
Let's face it -- the scene in the USA is dispersed to the four corners of
the continent at this point. To get a successful event happening, you're
going to need to talk to people in your area as often as you can manage
it. This is a long-term strategy. Expect a few onesy twosy sort of
recruitment from this approach at first. Community involvement requires
persistence and patience from you as an organizer and outreach activist.
Each time you do it, it becomes easier and soon you'll be able to make an
outreach presentation on the demo scene in your sleep. You will also
learn that different audiences require different kinds of talks -- you'll
want to go into more details about code if you're talking to a programming
class, for instance.
A good goal would be to perform a demo scene outreach activity at least
once a month. "Activity" could be anything from introducing a single
individual to the demo scene (say, with the demoshow CDs), talking to a
class of programming students as a guest lecturer, giving a talk at the
local library (always showing demos, of course), or participating in a
community fair, county fair or state fair.
The best thing about demo outreach is that you basically just let the
demos sell themselves. All you need to do is shut up and play the demos!
A little introduction at the beginning helps, but I've done events where I
just dimmed the lights, put on the DemoDVD, cranked up the sound, and
propped open the doors with trash cans to encourage people to just get
into it without a lot of intellectual blather.
-=- Reaching Out -=-
You not only have to talk to audiences, you need to reach out to them to
get them involved in the demo scene. Ask them if they are coders?
musicians? graphic artists? If they are any of those, make a note of it
for when you talk to them later.
Have a contact sign up sheet so that people can provide you with
information that you can use to build a relationship with them over time.
Will they remember to phone/email you? (In my experience, they won't.)
Get their contact information so that you can initiate contact with them.
When you talk to people during your outreach and they make specific offers
or comments, write them down next to their name so that you can match that
up with the contact sheet later. Ask them to sign the contact sheet if
they haven't yet done so when you talk to them. Your contact sheet will
be your source of potential volunteers and attendees at your future
Besides getting people to work with you on your demo party, you're going
to need funds to pay for your event's expenses. Unless you can work
directly with another nonprofit that helps fund your event, you shouldn't
expect any financial assistance from grants or corporate foundations in
your first year. You're going to need to find sponsors and financial
support from yourself, people you know and any relationships with
corporations you personally have formed. One way to raise money is to
always have something that you provide as a gift for a donation of a
certain amount of money. My personal rule of thumb is that the gift
should not cost more than 10% of the donated amount -- remember that you
are doing this to raise money for your nonprofit/event, not to make a 10%
margin on retail goods. Now you know why you get a $1.95 coffee mug for
donating $50 to PBS! You can also sell items outright as a nonprofit
corporation. The details are in the nonprofit book mentioned above.
-=- Literature on the Demo Scene -=-
Beyond the immediate-gratification aspect of demos, you'll want to have
printed information ready to explain the details of demos. I didn't have
anything printed at my first outreach event. At my second outreach event
at the SynOrgy 2002 Decompression party, I had a printed one-sheet
pamphlet that gave some basic information about demos and the demo scene.
I refined this handout for the next outreach event I did for a programming
class. It was further refined into a three-panel foldout style pamphlet
to contain information about the demo scene as well as our upcoming event.
I would recommend having a "What is the demo scene?" style pamphlet ready
for use in all events. I'm preparing one right now and will make this
available for all to use and re-use when its finished. A generic pamphlet
gets the preliminaries out of the way for complete newbies and can be
reused year-in and year-out. You can make minor updates and
clarifications based on how well it works for your local audience.
Supplement the basic demo scene pamphlet with a pamphlet or flyer on your
event. You don't have to go into tons of detail if you want to do a
flyer-style promotion, just make sure you include a one line summary of
your event ("Chicago's First Demo Party!"), and contact information for
your event: phone number, email address and URL.
Make a flyer or pamphlet for each event that you do, big or small. It may
just announce a talk on the demo scene given at a particular place and
time, or it may be the time and place of your party. We are preparing a
pamphlet for First Night 2004, which we expect to be our next event.
-=- Finding a Space -=-
Finding a space for your event is your primary item of concern once you've
gotten certain that you want to hold a demo party. This was the stickiest
issue for Pilgrimage because spaces would appear and disappear and we were
getting closer to the party date and we needed to address this first.
Start at least one year in advance of your party date to start scouting
out a party space. There are several areas of concern when scouting a
space: availability, logistical, and legal. You want to make certain that
the space will be available when your event is taking place. This seems
pretty straightforward, but once you start talking to potential space you
find out they have constraints on operating hours, may be available only
on a first-come first serve basis, and so-on. I would recommend having at
least one backup space in case your first choice falls apart. Having two
backup spaces would be preferable.
The logistical aspects of a space cover the mundane aspects of what a demo
party requires: control of the lighting, adequate power for the number of
computers and additional equipment you expect, adequate HVAC
(cooling/heating) for the time of year and number of people, and so-on.
You'll have to figure in the amount of time it will take you to setup any
infrastructure you may need on top of renting the space itself: tables,
chairs, power supply, network cabling, projection screens, etc.
The legal aspects mostly have to deal with fire, safety and health
regulations. If you plan a multi-day event, you may wish to consider
using a local hotel as the venue, with rented rooms for sleeping.
Make sure that your event has a comfortable environment! I'm talking
creature comforts here -- ensure that there is adequate cooling in the
summer and adequate heating in the winter. Make sure that you have good,
clean toilet facilities at your event. People will go home remembering
how hot/cold they were at your event as their first memory if you don't
take care of this. Make sure that there are enough chairs for people to
sit down if they want. I would recommend having chairs for a event where
you will be showing demos. Even if it were just showing demos on the
street, I would have four chairs in front of the screen.
-=- Start Up Tasks -=-
Many of these things are tasks that you only have to do once when you are
starting up your event for the first time. Once you have a nonprofit
corporation and your tax status settled, they pretty much take care of
themselves from that point on. The same goes for getting a web space
setup, although the web content updating is a job that is ongoing in
Writing your compo rules is another area where the difficulty is getting
the first set written. We used a combination of specific recommendations
and rules from other parties to create the rules for Pilgrimage. Next
year, it will only require minor changes before we are ready to announce
-=- Last Minute Party Tasks -=-
As we got closer to the date of Pilgrimage, I had a list of outreach
activities designed to give a local last-minute pump to the attendance. I
wanted to draw some of the club crowd over with our free concert promotion
and also hit the clubs with small flyers to generate some interest in our
web site and to encourage the participation of more first timers to the
demo scene. I had also planned to practice creating video postcards so
that I was familiar with the software before the party date.
At the same time, I was unemployed and looking for work. About three
weeks before the party date, I interviewed for a job. They made me an
offer and I took it, starting the following Tuesday. Oops. Now I had
some major competition for my time working 40 hour weeks again and still
trying to do all my demo party tasks. Fortunately for my wallet, but
unfortunately for Pilgrimage, I placed work a higher priority than
Pilgrimage promotional tasks, so not much was done in the last few weeks
before the party date.
I did take off the Friday before Pilgrimage from work so that I could
finish off the last tasks that must be done before the party could start.
I had three people to pick up at the airport for Pilgrimage, two of whom
were going to be staying at my house. We got a press release faxed out to
a bunch of local news organizations the day before the party.
-=- The Day of Pilgrimage -=-
We officially let people start coming in to setup their computers at 8 AM.
Since we were the only event going on at the facility, they had setup our
tables and chairs weeks in advance. I had to get up at 5:30 am to start
getting all my equipment and all the Pilgrimage materials packed into my
Ford Explorer. We were ready to leave with a fully loaded truck around
7:30 AM. My truck was loaded to capacity -- if anything else needed to go
it would have to be strapped to the luggage rack on top!
Once we got down to the party place (just a 10-15 minute drive), we had to
unpack everything from my truck, up the elevator, and start setting it up.
Volunteers helped move the boxes and equipment up to the party place while
I parked my truck.
-=- Greets -=-
Once back to the party place, it was time to get the Greeting table set
up. You want your Greeting table to be the first thing people see when
they get to your event. Here you give them a name badge, ask them to sign
your contact list and ask them to make a donation. Remember to have
something in return for the donation, even if it is just a lollipop!
Follow my 10% rule above. That last bit is important, so I'm going to
repeat it again:
- ASK THEM TO SIGN YOUR CONTACT SHEET
- ASK THEM TO MAKE A DONATION
I'm sorry for the shouting, but its really important that you do this!
Most people will sign up or donate if you ask, but its up to you to do the
asking. If you don't ask for donations and participation, you will find
it much harder to get your event off the ground and prosper.
Your greeting table should also display your literature ("What is the Demo
Scene?" plus your event literature) and any giveaways you have from
corporate sponsors. We gave out ATI lollipops, keychains and temporary
tattoos on the main table and our greeter Fred asked everyone who came if
they were a coder and would like a copy of VS.NET. We didn't charge any
money for our first Pilgrimage, but if we did, it would be charged at the
-=- Event Setup -=-
We had three rooms available for Pilgrimage, so we used 3 easels to
display poster board showing the schedule for each room. We didn't have
time to get them printed up nicely so we just used magic marker to write
them out. It was OK, at least it was something better than nothing. The
IT staff at the facility had power and networking already setup in our
computer spaces room when we got there, so all we had to do was plug in
and go. There was a sticky point with sharing files later, which we
resolved by setting up an FTP server on a machine I had brought.
There was also a miscommunication about the availability of wireless
Internet access -- the marketing guys for the facility told us it was
available, but the IT guy said it was only for students at the facility.
Oh well, since I didn't have a wireless card, I didn't test this part of
their network before hand. If your facility is providing you with any IT
services, be sure to test all of the services in advance to find out
exactly what is available and working.
-=- Keeping the Schedule -=-
We had an aggressive schedule of up to three simultaneous speakers in our
morning session. I did this because I wanted to get all the "seminar"
type stuff out of the way in the morning. I gave myself the first talk
time slot in one of the rooms so that I could get it over with right in
the beginning. I didn't expect much of an audience at my talk unless
there were lots of newbie coders at the event. Most people there seemed
proficient in coding, so I only had a couple people just casually talking
about Direct3D with me in my talk. Thant's talk came right after mine and
his had more of an audience.
Dan Wright wanted to shift his talk to the afternoon, which was fine with
us since the rooms were not specifically scheduled for the afternoon.
Dan's talk was moved to 2 PM.
After the talks are done, we dispersed for lunch. I took a group of guys
down to the Crown Burger, a local burger chain whose specialty is a cheese
burger topped with pastrami -- The Crown Burger. We head back to the
party place with full bellies :).
Once I get back to the party place, I just hang around solving whatever
problems are coming up until Dan's talk starts up. I go in and notice
that there is a lot of drunk people at this party :-).
-=- Video Postcards -=-
The video postcards -- where each scener has an opportunity to make a
short video presentation to the scene -- were a novel aspect for our
party. I'm not aware of any other party specifically trying to create
video greetings of the guests. I hadn't had a chance to setup the machine
lent to us by Serious Magic to run their Visual Communicator product.
They had shipped us two big boxes and we started unpacking them and
setting up the equipment around 3 PM.
When we opened the boxes, which I expected to both contain bits of the
computer for some reason, one of them contained about 30 copies of Visual
Communicator. Bonus! I took the box out to a table near the center of
the action and called out to everyone that if they wanted a copy of Visual
Communicator, they should come over and get one. I think some people were
taking them at first not quite realizing what the software did :-). We
then went back to setting up the video camera and machine for making the
We got the machine all setup and did some practice runs and things seemed
to be working fine until we realized that there was no audio on the
published video file. After a little debugging, we concluded that we
needed a microphone on the PC in order to get audio working properly, so I
pulled a microphone out of my box of computer equipment and we used that.
We would have been set up much faster if I had the chance to use Visual
Communicator before the party date, but even with our audio bugs and late
setup we got 4 video postcards recorded, which I thought was a good
I would like to see more people making video postcards at their demo
parties. Next year I would like to have someone who is familiar with the
software "operating" it for the duration. Then we could have people walk
in, get interviewed by the operator who uses their responses to write the
script. The person rehearses their script and then the operator helps
them add any effects, transitions, video clips, backgrounds, etc., that
they want in their postcard. They record it, the operator publishes the
video file and the next person is ready to walk in and sit down.
For this year, the best we could do was setup the machine and leave people
to their own devices :-). Considering the situation, I think we did
pretty good with 4 postcards.
-=- Compo Server -=-
For the compo server, we couldn't seem to mount shares by either NetBUI
name or IP address. We never did get to the bottom of that one! Instead,
we decided to install an FTP server. I had never installed an FTP server
on this machine before, so we needed a Windows 2000 Professional
installation CD in order to get the server components installed.
Fortunately Adam had an image of one that he could burn to CD-R. So 15
minutes later, we were continuing with the FTP server installation. Once
the server was installed, we created a party account on the machine, gave
everyone the IP address and party account/password pair. We logged the
party user into the desktop so that people could make submissions by
floppy or by CD-ROM by dragging files onto a folder on the desktop.
In the future we would like to have a better system for submitting
results, but it was another one of those things where there just wasn't
time beforehand to setup anything sophisticated. We should have tested
the network facility for sharing a hard drive between two machines though.
That gets back to testing everything your facility says they are going to
provide in terms of IT services. Try everything first in a test run for
your party to avoid last minute surprises.
-=- Gathering Compo Results -=-
The music and graphics compo entries were done on time. We let the demo
compo deadline slip so that Tfinn could finish curses demo and Hurricane
could finish Charged. Unfortunately Charged didn't end up being quite as
finished as we would have liked :-(, but the advantage of stating that you
can change your rules at any time is so that you can be flexible enough to
adapt to the situation. We could have been hard-nosed about the demo
compo deadline, but that only would have resulted in two less demos to
show during voting.
Once we had all the compo entries gathered, we assembled our juries who
did the job of qualifying the entries. A qualified entry is one that is
judged to have been made in accordance with the compo rules. Judges are
also given the flexibility to adapt to the situation. We didn't want to
discourage people from participating. I believe we had only a single
disqualified entry from all the compos; a graphics entry was disqualified
because the final image was missing.
-=- Voting -=-
Once we had the entries qualified, we assembled everyone into the middle
Salon for the voting. Since we are a small party, we just manually
displayed each entry on the big screen and sound system, letting people
vote for the entries they liked. We had a voting system that gave
everyone the ability to specify preferences within each compo and gave
heavier weighting to the jury of the compo. The end result is that each
production had a number of points assigned to it and the top three point
getting entries won our 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes.
At one point during the music compo, I looked out towards the hallway and
saw some people dancing to the entries!
We had everyone write out their votes on a sheet of paper. In the future,
we will have a printed ballot with the production names already recorded
so that people could just cast their ballot without having to write any of
the other information down. It could have been better, but at least we
had some sort of system, even if it was very low tech.
-=- Concert -=-
I tried confirming our sound system guy the day before the event, but
being a Friday night, I was unable to reach him only his answering
machine. During the afternoon of the event I still hadn't heard back any
confirmation, so we started working on a backup plan for the concert
sound. The facility staff were very helpful in offering to let us use an
additional space as large as the one we rented for the concert performance
and they were going to provide sound through the overhead speakers. While
not great, this was at least something. Another backup plan was for me to
go back to my house and get my stereo!
However, just as we were putting contingencies in place, our sound man
Stephen called and confirmed he would be there to provide a proper sound
system for us. Yay! Stephen arrived while we were voting on the music
compo entries and started setting up Nullsleep's sound. By the time the
voting was over, we had everyone go over to listen to Nullsleep's
performance while we tallied the votes. This was a good distraction for
everyone, since they all wanted to know the results of the voting.
-=- Awarding the Prizes -=-
Adam hand tallied the results for each production. We then paired on
adding the entries up in sa a spread sheet: I would read out the points
for each vote while Adam typed them in. After the totals were counted up
for all the productions, we gathered them up along with the prizes and
went into the concert room. I got to groove out to a particularly cool
part of Nullsleep's performance until I interjected during a song break.
We had given out raffle tickets for the remaining ATI material that wasn't
awarded during our compos, including a chance to win a Radeon 9800 since
we had 5 cards and 3 compos. First we raffled off the last of the
remaining ATI promotional material: a bunch of calendars and some battery
operated fans. People were wanting to get to the Radeons, but you want to
give out the weakest items first. In the first place, people won't stick
around for the weaker items if you give out the best items first. In the
second place, you want to build from weakest to best items in your prize
presentations to end on a high note.
After the calendars and fans, I went to the compo winners. I announced in
the order of 3rd place, 2nd place and 1st place for each compo. I did the
compos in the order of weakest to strongest. Our weakest compo was the
graphics compo, followed by the music and demo compos. After giving out
the compo prizes, I raffled off the last two Radeon 9800 Pros.
-=- Nullsleep Encore -=-
Since I had interrupted Nullsleep in between songs, I asked him to keep
playing after I awarded all the prizes. Ending on a tune seemed like the
better thing to do! Besides, we still had some time left on the room.
Nullsleep played for another 15 or 20 minutes.
-=- Breakdown and Cleanup -=-
We started packing up the equipment around 11:30 PM. After getting it all
loaded into my truck and ready to head home, it was around 12:30 AM. The
next day, Mac mentioned that its amazing how fast things clean up when you
don't allow boozing and eating at the party place!
-=- Next Year -=-
If you're planning an ongoing event like Pilgrimage, there is always next
year. There is always something you could have done better and some
things you know you will do better the next year.
Mac commented that Pilgrimage had about the same showing in terms of
people and entries as BCN'01, a Spanish demo party. I personally felt
that it would be a success if we could get at least 50 people to show up
throughout the day. Our contact list shows about 65-75 people throughout
the day, so I achieved my attendance goal as an organizer. The number and
quality of entries in all compos made me proud to have organized
Pilgrimage. I was also proud that the graphics and music compos were both
won by Utahns.
Specific things we would like to do for next year are:
- compo submission / voting server. We need to have this worked out in
advance next time and we need to provide printed ballots for voting.
- grow to a traditional 3-day event
- printed party information handouts (schedule, compo rules, etc.)
- double our level of local participation
- get more high school participation
-=- Ongoing Efforts -=-
As demo party organizers in the USA we need to work more closely in
networking with local rave scenes, local gaming scenes, local music scenes
and local graphic artist scenes. Pilgrimage has been building contacts in
these areas but we also need to do more.
Sceners in the USA need to pool their resources to create a more closely
knit Internet portal (web, news, email and beyond) with low barriers for
participation. The geographic hugeness of the US needs to be addressed in
any Internet portal so that sceners can find others local to their area.
SceneSpot could evolve in this direction, but it currently lacks news or
email access and has no geographic oriented tools.
Assembly and Pilgrimage Winners
-=- Introduction -=-
The weekend of August 9th yielded two demo parties that were vastly
different from each other. First was Assembly. Assembly has been around
for years, and it can be argued as the most popular demo party still alive
today. This year, there were an estimated 4,000 people in attendance.
Pilgrimage, on the other hand, made its debut this year in Salt Lake City,
USA. It was a much smaller party pulling only around 50 or so people.
But whether a party is 50 people or 4,500 people, there are still music
competitions to be had, and we still have winners for each.
This month, I'm going to review some of the winning tunes for each of the
Unlike other times with In Tune, I am not going to break out each song's
information separately. Every single song that I review here this month
can be found on Scene.org (http://www.scene.org) in the respective party
-=- "Acula Class" by !Cube / Armada + SCS*TRC + Skalaria -=-
1st Place at Assembly: Instrumental Music competition
The thing I liked about this tune is that you had a mix of modern music
technology with a twist of the oldskool demo scene sound. This is a song
that you might see on the sound track for some dramatic action movie,
maybe even the title track. The quality of the tune can be left to none
other than the chord progression and the incredible work with the stringed
instruments. !Cube has done a wonderful job with his mixing. Unlike so
many other scene tunes out there, the strings don't hold a static volume.
The introduction is simple, but very characteristic of a dramatic song
such as this. You get a couple riffs from the high strings, and then it
fades momentarily before the percussion kicks in. If it were a title
track for a movie, this is where the main title would come up. But after
a short time with the dramatic percussion and background, you get a more
mellow stretch again. Mellow, but not any less dramatic. This song is
definitely worth a download.
-=- "Mist of Deceit" by Quasian -=-
2nd Place at Assembly: Instrumental Music Competition
If this were an oldskool scene competition, this song would've taken the
trophy. It has all the ingredients of a good demo scene production, the
complicated base lines, the catchy leads, the multiple moods and the high-
energy production. But there is no way you could ever get this kind of
sound out of the file size limitations of yesterday.
I like the way Quasian did the percussion in this song. It really sounds
like a real drummer is sitting there in the flesh. The samples are
incredible, and the riffs are clean, crisp and refreshing. I want to make
a big deal of the percussion because it truly makes the song. Don't get
me wrong, it would be an awesome song with a lesser quality percussion
track. But if you really want to feel the emotion portrayed by this song,
the percussion molds you into Quasian's mind-set. Even at the very mellow
parts of the song, you'll hear a couple of taps on the hi hats and the
ride cymbals. Very classy, very awesome.
In my own experiences, one of the instruments that is hardest to work with
in electronic music is the electric over-driven guitar. Quasian does
exceptionally well. From the lead to the second string guitar riffs, the
sound is almost as if it were a live recording. Writing a guitar song
like this requires some understanding of the instrument, and Quasian has
definitely demonstrated his wisdom. If I were a judge at Assembly, I
might even pick this song as the winner of the competition. I think it's
cleaner and shows more skill than "Acula Class". But again, that's just
my opinion, and I wasn't a judge there. It would be difficult to choose
between the two songs.
-=- "Awaken" by _pk_ -=-
3rd Place at Assembly: Instrumental Music Competition
If you ever want to please me with a tune, make sure you have a piano and
a violin playing off of each other. But I offer one caveat: If you're
going to do some sort of dramatic piece with these two instruments, leave
the electric guitar out of it. I have only ever heard a couple of songs
that managed the combination well. It's difficult, and often not done
The best part of this song is the piano riffs at the beginning and the
end. It's a very simple riff that lays out the chord progression for the
rest of the track. The piano itself sounds almost muffled and has the
sound as if it's being played in a glass room. It's a feeling that I
I said earlier that my favorite combination of instruments is the piano
and violin. I'll give _pk_ credit for the combination. But the violin
samples are lacking the quality I would've expected in a competition like
this. The background mid-strings are nice. But the lead strings are of
poor quality. I'm not even sure if its a Violin or a Viola. To me, it
sounds like a violin sample that has been taken out of its range. I'm
very disappointed in that fact. In a competition this large, one should
pay very close attention to such details. As a musician, you should
always be conscious of such things.
Now before you think I'm entirely discrediting the song, please realize
that I recognize the skill involved in writing a song like this. The
reality is that it's a great song. The choice of instrument samples,
however, has affected my judgment of the tune. I would like it a great
deal better if the samples were better. And that electric guitar riff
about two-thirds of the way through could've been done with nice brass
instrument or some sort of deep, powerful woodwind. I think the guitar is
a bit inappropriate and out of place. Regardless, this is a much better
song than average, and I suggest that you download the tune. The
technical aspects of the song are very nice and worth a good study. But
it won't be on my play list.
-=- "Ipanema Sands" by Mr. Moses -=-
1st at Pilgrimage
Beating out second place ("Her Lazer Light Eyes" by Nullsleep) by only
seven points was this tune by the talented Mr. Moses. I've never heard
anything by this individual before today, and I can say I'm quite
impressed. This is one of those tunes where you can't quite identify the
genre of the song. And like almost every case when I've discovered such a
situation, I'm not disappointed at all.
There was an old MOD that was popular when I first entered the scene many
years ago. The MOD was called "Cheerleader" and it toted a reputation for
some incredible percussion and some rather bizarre riffs on instruments
not intended for percussion. That old MOD is what this song reminds me
of. There is a great base line, and some really fun Calypso sounds
carried throughout the song. How often do you hear someone talk about
Calypso music in the demo scene?
I think the thing that won so many votes on this tune is the fact that is
was so much fun to listen to. It's the type of song you want to move to
when you hear it. It's fun, and for most people, that is why they like a
song. That is why I like it, and that is why many of you will like it.
If you want to prove me wrong, download the tune, and make sure you send
me a message. But you'll find some appreciation for the tune, regardless
of what type of genre you prefer.
-=- "Her Lazer Light Eyes" by Nullsleep -=-
2nd at Pilgrimage
When I first played this song, I wasn't exactly sure what to think. I
felt like I was taken back to the Atari age. But once I was able to
identify the tune as a classic chip tune, I found a new appreciation for
For those of you who aren't aware, a chip tune is something that uses VERY
small audio samples called "chips". The version of this song that I'm
listening to is an MP3. So, you can understand why I didn't think of it
as a chip tune at first. The file size isn't as small as a chip (chips
often full at a size less than 1k, rarely over). Unfortunately, the
drawback about listening to an MP3 version of a chip (other than file
size) is the fact that I can't see what wonderful effects Nullsleep was
able to use, or how many channels the fellow used. But true to form,
there is always something going on in a chip tune, and Nullsleep covered
I will admit that it takes a certain type of person to appreciate a chip
tune. There are a lot of people that think of them as a dying style. I,
on the other hand, have a great deal of appreciation for such things.
Knowing what Pilgrimage was, an introduction to many new sceners, this was
an appropriate tune, and I'm glad it placed as well as it did.
I wish I could say a whole lot about the tune. Unfortunately, I have
always found it difficult to describe chip tunes. They are definitely not
high quality, but that's not the intent. This tune, just like any good
chip tune, is definitely an art form. And it is one that is often
overlooked as a good song. This is an awesome example of a great work of
art, and I highly recommend it.
-=- "Embraced" by ChaoticOne and Troll -=-
I have two things to say before I review this. First is the fact that
I've known Troll for a long time. And this is the first tune I've heard
from him (granted the fact that this was a co-op) in well over three
years. He has come a long way, and I'm proud of his advancement in the
music world. Second is the fact that according to the Sample Message
data, this song was written in a matter of hours. So while I might be a
bit critical of this piece, keep this simple fact in mind: Refinement
does not come in a matter of minutes. It comes in a matter of days. And
days, they did not have.
That being said, I tend to put the negative thoughts first. I was not
happy with the piano. It was not natural, and the sample was clipped. I
would've expected this sort of work from an S3M module, but not with IT.
Impulse Tracker supports New Note Actions (NNAs), which should make the
sound of a piano sample such as this much cleaner, much more realistic.
Any IT artist should know this, and should write with this in mind. NNAs
and the instrument setting should be set before anything else. There
should still be some cleanup involved...but not nearly this much.
Aside from that simple fact, I am quite intrigued by the tune. There are
two things that I like most about the song. The percussion and the base
lines. The base lines are almost inaudible on my standard PC speakers.
But when you turn on the stereo with the sub-woofer, I'm quite happy with
the base progression. It's simple, but it does so much to add to the
depth of the song. The percussion, on the other hand, does not benefit
from the high quality samples that are so often heard in such
competitions. But the percussion is tight, and very justified. The
percussion is simple, but it's clean, and very precise. Simplicity, in
some cases, is a virtue. And the percussion in this song does not detract
from the quality of the song. It creates a very warm sound to the song,
and that is something that makes this song special.
There is a little spot where there is some sort of pan flute. I love pan
flute, but I think it should've been used more in this song. Regardless
of that fact, it was used in a rather sensual way. When that pan flute
struck my ear drums, I felt a sense of resolve. I was both happy and
satisfied. A great introduction of an instrument, even as late in the
song as this was. This song is definitely worth the download.
"In Tune" is a regular column dedicated to the review of original and
singular works by fellow trackers. It is to be used as a tool to expand
your listening and writing horizons, but should not be used as a general
rating system. Coplan's opinions are not the opinions of the Static Line
If you have heard a song you would like to recommend (either your own, or
another person's), We can be contacted through e-mail using the addresses
found in the closing notes. Please do not send files attached to e-mail
without first contacting us. Thank you!
On The Sideline
"My Sweet Atlas" by Kaneel
I found this in The Lineup for March, and at first I did not like the
repetitive theme and anxious atmosphere. But over time the song grew on
me, because a certain intelligence has been used in the composition, and
it succeeds in conveying an idea of boredom and longing.
"My Sweet Atlas" starts quietly with slow minor scales and subdued
percusion. The introduction sets a bleak backdrop for the wistful motif
to come. I like Kaneel's use of the portamento effect throughout the
song, it adds an expressiveness to the lead. The retrigger percussive
chirps and buzzes are also charming. I thought the arpeggio on the
delayed lead in patterns 49 and 50 was interesting, it made for more of a
There isn't much variation from the initial theme, it transitions smoothly
from minimalism to a louder and more crowded sound. In my opinion Kaneel
makes artful use of the instruments as a whole, and I could imagine lyrics
being made for this song. It is a good example of epic ambient music, and
Kaneel's other songs are similar in style.
Title: My Sweet Atlas
File Size: 1120k
Welcome to The Lineup! Every month, I scour through the hundreds of new
releases on the scene's major archive sites to find the best new music,
saving you the trouble of having to download 20 instant-delete songs to
find 1 that's worth keeping.
The Lineup is still playing catch-up, so here's the comeback plan: for
August's issue, the issue you're reading right now, you'll get the best
tracks of June and July, which means we're officially caught up now. Yay!
Next month's issue will feature the best tracks of August.
As always, you can add YOUR feedback, positive or negative by e-mailing me
In the meantime, you may consider the following 35 tunes to be the best
tracks of June and July 2003:
-=- THE BEST OF THE BEST: JUNE 2003 -=-
"Umber Dawn" - Quasian - progressive rock
-=- THE BEST OF THE BEST: JULY 2003 -=-
"Winter Night" - Butch - fantasy
-=- THE REST OF THE BEST -=-
"Alone In Infinity" - Butch - fantasy
"Blindmind" - Quasian - demostyle
"Blue Lotus" - Impulse - light rock
"Da Feelin'" - Josss - funk
"Damask Rose" - Quasian - progressive rock
"Elusive Images" - Quasian - pop/rock
"Feeling My Way" - Quasian - light rock
"For A Friend" - Xerxes - fantasy
"Fragging Arena" - Speci - trance
"Frozen" - Dr. Abez - ambient
"Gamejube" - Sebuko - demostyle
"Homeless" - Gargoyle - funk
"Horisont" - Xerxes - fantasy
"Improvise" - Wizard - acid jazz
"Injection" - Mempheria - pop
"Lost Cause" - Quasian - light rock
"Magenta Magnet" - Quasian - funk
"Meaning" - Quasian - pop/rock
"New Life" - Kricke - pop
"Night Of The Wolf" - SaxxonPike - trance
"OA Theme" - DJ Relax - orchestral
"Overdose" - Quasian - demostyle
"Parasite Blessing" - Quasian - demostyle
"Relix" - Pro-Xex - electronica
"Return To Nebula 9" - Gopher - demostyle
"Second Time" - Quasian - pop/rock
"Shades Of Futility" - Christofori - jazz
"Shadow Dancing" - Speci - trance
"Stream Of Lethe" - Quasian - rock
"System 51" - Quasian - rock
"Unreal Fantasy" - Prophecy - fantasy
"Ventil" - Xerxes - dance
"You Wanna Battle Me?" - Wizard - pop
Screen Lit Vertigo
"Legomania", "I Feel Like a Computer", "Schism", and "Ciasson"
-=- "Legomania" by Doomsday -=-
1st place at the Assembly 2003 demo compo
System requirements: 14 MB HD, OpenGL 3D card, Windows.
Test Machine: P4 2.6GHz 512MB DDR, Realtek AC'97, NVidia 488 GO 64MB, WinXP
(Did not run on P3 900 640MB, Gamesurround 3, Radeon 8500 LE 64MB,
Code: MRI, Memon/Moppi (for DemoPajaa)
3D & 2D: Dice, Wode
"Legomania" starts with a scene from Boost: the lego man walking on a
small planet. After 6 years walking, the planet has visibly eroded, and
the lego man is tired of it and jumps away. The flight with the Star Wars
X-wing that follows is only one of the scenes that gave this demo it's
name, other lego scenes include a medieval ship, a graveyard, a highway
and an apartment block. That last scene even has a subtle reference to
the Matrix, can you find it? The round lego blocks actually look round,
except the tops on the blocks that are hexagons. There's a subtle snow-
effect added on top of the 3D scenes, which makes them look less flat.
The only bad point to the Lego scenes are the poems that are displayed,
they're cheezy and don't make much sense.
The lego parts are pieced together with normal 3D and effects, and it's
obvious they put some thought in the transitions. The way we go from the
ship to the "Doomsday still rules!" coffee cup is surprising, and the
puzzle with the flashy 3D blob looks lovely. Some effects are almost
hidden, like the texture morphing on the cinema screen and the rubics
There are little winks to oldskool effects, such as the golden scroller on
top of the chessboard, and some not-so-subtle elite arrogance, such as the
coffee cup, or implying that Doomsday lives and the groups they greet are
The music really ties everything together. It's like a condensed movie
track, quickly changing emotions and styles: electronic, symphonic,
ambient,... It adapts to the scenes shown (f.e, trumpets are added in the
medieval part), and all changes in scenes are synchronized perfectly to
This is IMHO the best demo of 2003 so far. Doomsday show their skills
haven't deteriorated since Off. They know how to make a demo that grabs
your attention and doesn't let go for the whole 8 minutes. The whole
design and story are perfectly executed, it has the right mix between 3D
scenes and effects, between fast and slow parts, it even has imperfections
that add something (the missing puzzle piece, f.e.) The only bad points
are the poems, and the fact it loops automatically (make that an option,
boys). If your hardware can run this, you HAVE to check it out. It's a
really amazing demo! Now if only Doomsday had listed the minimum
requirements in their info file...
-=- "I FEEL Like A Computer" by Melon Dezign -=-
Found at the assembly FTP server, but should be at www.scene.org
Disqualified at the Assembly 2003 demo compo (would have been 3th)
System requirements: 15.5 MB HD, OpenGL 3D card, Windows.
Test Machine: P3 900 640MB, Gamesurround 3, Radeon 8500 LE 64MB, Win98 SE
Code: jumbo Borger, Toyos
Melon Dezigns demo is made almost entirely of flat-shaded cubes. A ship
in a waving sea, the clouds in the sky, rainbows, cars, a dog, a phone,
John Travolta: everything looks as if it escaped from a low-resolution
8-bit game. The best part of the demo is its story, and I don't want to
spoil it so you should really watch it for yourself. Suffice to say its
as bizarre as you would expect from Melon Dezign, and it includes some
references to popular movies and games.
There are some rubber vectors and square smoke from the ship, and
transitions between different parts are marked with rainbows sweeping over
the screen, but for the rest there are little to no effects, it's all pure
3D animation. The models are very simple and the animation of the
characters is choppy (think bitmap-animations of early games), but the
camera switches, the physics and the flow of the story are good enough to
keep your attention.
The music switches constantly with each part of the story, with sudden
breaks, and sometimes there's no music at all, only sound effects.
There's DnB, techno with computer vocals, ancient Gameboy music,... I
have no idea which fragment of the music was ripped without permission, or
even if this is the same version that played in the compo: it wasn't
available during the party, I got it the next day from the assembly
server, and it's possible they've already fixed the sound track as they
said they would.
I FEEL Like A Computer doesn't have spectacular effects or impressive 3D,
its main attractions are the bizarre but funny story, the simple rendering
and the smooth flow. Be patient when you load it, because unpacking takes
a while on a slow computer and there is no progress bar or any other
indication the demo is running. But it'll definitely be worth the wait!
-=- "Schism" by Noice -=-
Found at www.scene.org
1st place at the Remedy 2003 demo compo
System requirements: 19 MB HD, OpenGL 1.1 compatible 3D card (DX9 card
(Did not run on P3 900 640MB, Gamesurround 3, Radeon 8500 LE 64MB, Win98 SE)
Code: Mazy, Gnilk
Graphics: Twixy, Flood
Music: Evade, Erik Lyden
Noices latest production weights a whopping 19.6 MB, and they offer no
apology: "we dislike file size limitations in demo compos, this is the
21th century". Call me old fashioned, but I still think demos are about
breaking limits, and that goes out of the window if you allow file sizes
that approach those of their DivX equivalents. But to each his own :-/
Schism is a heavy 3D effects demo, and requires DirectX9 compatible
hardware (which has fragment shaders) for optimal viewing pleasure. But
even if you don't have a GeForce FX or ATI 9700, you can still enjoy it
because the demo sacrifices quality for frame rate. So the demo runs
smooth, but some surfaces have textures that aren't as fancy as they
should be. Still, on my inadequate GF 488 Go, there are some effects that
really impressed me: a very detailed human head with animated hair for
example, or the typical valley fly through with atmospheric perspective:
the horizon isn't hidden by mist, but instead hills further away look
fuzzy because of the air through which we are (supposedly) looking. Some
effects in the "done before but still nice" category include the texts
breaking in thousands of cubes, and the zooming into a picture where each
pixel becomes a new image itself.
Both those and the few background images are gray or amber-tinted faces of
gorgeous women, I recognize a few old Flood pics in there. Maybe it's
just to rake in the votes but who's complaining :) Several 3D objects have
a weird organic look, there's something that resembles an alien train
following a trail of lights, and a cave that looks like the inside of a
sponge with blue ribbons flying through it. The white greetings on top of
the 3 linked virus-like objects are difficult to read, a font with more
contrast would have been better.
The music is a typical good old demo tune, starting slowly and a bit
ambient with sweeping leads and little percussion but it quickly
transforms into a more electronic tune with a drum track that make you tap
the rhythm with your feet.
I don't really have the hardware to judge Schism fairly. The effects are
nice, although it's obvious there are textures missing in places. The
models are original and very detailed, and the music binds everything
together. But there isn't much coherent design, and the demo is quite
short for its size (only 3min30). OTOH, I guess that if you have the 3D
card to run this baby in it's full glory, you'll have the Internet
connection to match. For the people with GeForce 2's and dialup
connections, I suggest you wait getting this one until your next upgrade.
-=- "Caisson" by TBC -=-
Found at www.scene.org
1st place at the SceneEvent 2003 demo compo
System requirements: 8.8 MB HD, 800Mhz CPU, 256 MB RAM, GeForce2
Test Machine: P4 2.6GHz 512MB DDR, Realtek AC'97, NVidia 488 GO 64MB, WinXP
(crashed after 3th effect on a P3 900 640MB, Gamesurround 3, Radeon 8500
LE 64MB, Win98 SE)
"Caisson" is also a 3D effect demo, no story, no theme, and only a few
elaborate 3D objects. Some of the effects I like best are amazingly
simple, but they are effective due to the close syncing with the music:
the blue particles with gravity at the start for example, lighting up to
the beat, or the six glass plates in a circle that are each linked to a
different note. It has also a few over-used effects (how much more
variants on swirling octopi or TVs-on-a-stake do we need? None for the
next few years I say), but others look simply beautiful, like the swarm of
blue threads with flares at the top. In fact, it annoys me that TBC tries
to hide them behind layers of snow, or overlays of black smudges. Aren't
we supposed to admire them?
There's no 2D artwork, but all kinds of 3D ones. It looks like TBC tried
to cover every style under the sun, from half-smooth half-polygonal
morphing blobs to a human torso suspended by wires, and from a metallic
ring with hundreds of white words floating around it (a la Farbrausch) to
a very realistic prison block (someone in TBC must have seen one from the
inside recently :) ). There's no theme or link between scenes, each
stands on its own.
The best part of the demo IMHO is the music: it has a simple but
infectious happy lead melody that is repeated over and over again,
accompanied by heavy drums and little beeps. All effects are synced to
it, and unfortunately each and every camera change as well. This is a bit
overdone IMO. There's a break in the middle, and the torso-part which is
shown at that time is stretched too long match the break. More variation
One of the meanings of caisson is "a chest to hold ammunition". It looks
like TBC threw all their ammo in one program, added some funky music,
shaked the whole and released the explosive result at SceneEvent. It
looks good and it sounds great, even though the mood swings around between
happy (the music, the effects) and dark (the 3D parts, the overlays).
Recommended for everyone, although I hope the final fixes the crash on my
New Perspective For A Tiny Scene
What American Demosceners Can Learn From LAN Parties
Just recently, a small gathering called Pilgrimage took place in Salt Lake
City, Utah, attracting somewhere around 50 people. Their common interest:
Underground PC creativity, in the form of demos, music tracking, and pixel
painting. Seminars were held and there were three competitions for
This event was highly unusual. Those of you reading this may be puzzled
why. What made it unusual was that it was held in the United States. In
fact, it was the first "demo party" in the states in four years. The last
one also attracted just around 50 people. European demosceners have
always been puzzled by this phenomenon - how can a country chock full of
creative computer users find opportunities to gather so scarce?
I am not going to try to explain that in this article. I'm often asked
that question when I'm at parties in Europe, and try as I may, I can never
come up with definitive answers. You may have your own, and they may be
right or wrong. But naturally, actions speak louder than excuses.
What I will write about is something that has caught my interest. I often
check up on Tom's Hardware, a well-known computer news/review website.
Lately, they've published many gaming articles to appeal to the massive
computer gaming community. They include reports from LAN parties, which
are like demoparties without the demos, basically - just a bunch of PCs, a
LAN, and plenty of frag-hungry gamers. What interested me was that most
of these party reviews were in the United States. I couldn't help but
read deeper into how these LAN parties happened.
At this point, you may be thinking that good ol' demo-boy Phoenix has
finally lost it, and turned to the "dark side" of computing - a drooling,
joystick/mouse wiggling zombie That couldn't be further from the truth.
I am merely curious as to how LAN parties tick, and more importantly, WHY
they can be so seemingly easy to organize in the US while demoparties are
not. Let's look at a few that happened recently.
Lanaholics - Dekalb, IL - early August? - www.lanaholics.com
Reviewed at http://www.tomshardware.com/game/20030809
This party was held in a convention/sports arena at Northern Illinois
University. The venue is new and the entrance view almost reminds me
of the Hartwall Arena for Assembly (though this place was certainly
smaller). There were a large number of PC component sponsors. There
weren't so many attenders, but they plan a larger event next March.
PCA LAN - Zion, IL - July 18-20 - www.pcalan.com
Reviewed at http://www.tomshardware.com/game/20030727
This party was held in a more remote location. In fact, it was inside
a barn! But there was room for at least a couple hundred people. I
couldn't help but think of Breakpoint when looked through the pictures
and descriptions. It seemed just as casual an atmosphere.
Million Man LAN - Louisville, KY - June 26-29 - www.millionmanlan.com
Reviewed at http://www.tomshardware.com/game/20030628
The name for this LAN party is no doubt a bit ambitious... in reality,
only about 1000 people attended. For America, that seems really good,
but bear in mind that Assembly, The Party, and The Gathering all
attract at least 4000 gamers each. MML had a dream team of sponsors,
including Cisco, AMD, ATi, and NVidia. That should give some hope to
would-be American demo party organizers. These guys have no less than
20 parties under their belt.
Winter Fragnation - Buffalo, NY - January - www.fragnation.com
Reviewed at http://www.tomshardware.com/game/20030111
Trust me, winters in Buffalo are about on par with Scandinavian nations
- so events like this are no doubt welcomed. This one had a bit of a
military theme - which I suppose is just fine for people who like to
blow stuff up. Accomodations were provided by the Armed Forces Reserve
Unit - again, Breakpoint anyone?
You may notice that I said nothing about gaming activities, because like I
said, I couldn't care less about gaming. But I've certainly come to some
1. Demoscener culture and gamer culture have a lot more in common than
you would imagine. Sure, they do different things with their PCs, but
the parties they do them at are run basically the same way. Surely,
the above is proof that demo culture in the US may not be shunned as
much as you'd think.
2. The notion that multi-day events of this caliber are impossible in the
US is a bunch of bull. There's no doubt that fire and building codes
are stricter over here, but LAN party organizers seem to go the extra
mile to ensure their attenders have a place to crash.
3. You'd think that tech-savvy towns like San Francisco, Portland,
Austin, and Seattle would have all the parties. Well, it looks like
just the opposite is true, and that in fact the midwest is the hot
spot. This shows that parties aren't dependent on location - but
certainly being centralized is a plus.
4. Sponsors are no doubt attracted more by consumers than by producers.
They see LAN parties as a haven for kids demanding the latest
hardware, even if it means several upgrades a year. Demosceners are a
bit more frugal with their machines, but a bit wiser in how to use
them. The message American demo party organizers should convey to
sponsors is that these are great people to hire and to demonstrate the
power of their equipment.
So, in summary, you can still hate gamers, but I hope that reading about
the above parties inspire some potential American demo party organizers.
"Outreach" events held by DOG and the Pilgrimage organizers have done a
great job of presenting the world of demos to others. But at the same
time, remember that it's all about having a great time! And surely, we
Americans can figure out how do THAT, can't we?
A Snob of What?
There was a time when I would've never given any thought to the fact that
I was anti-anything-that-wasn't-IBM-Clone (They call it PC now, which is
silly). Yes, that was a time when BBS was king, and I was a guy who
logged on twice a day and added at least ten posts per visit. That was a
day when I was king. MS-DOS was the OS of choice, and Windows had yet to
reach the horizon.. A song any larger than 100k was considered large, and
anything faster than 2,400 BPS was fast. Broadband was the brand new
28.8k BPS modems. Up until that point, we waited all day to download the
latest tunes from Skaven and Purple Motion. Apple was something you
played "Oregon Trail" on at school, and even then, you thought it was a
simple game. Segregation was rampant then. I had a friend whose father
worked in Mainframe. He was learning about Unix, and I couldn't give it
two thoughts. I had another friend who was raving about this new computer
that Apple was bringing out called the Macintosh. The only thing I
thought was cool about the mighty Macintosh was the commercial on TV. I
can remember it now: Some guy (maybe it was a woman) was running with a
hammer. There were lines of people acting like androids. Perhaps they
were androids. But they were obviously not thinking on their own. They
were all piling into an auditorium, and this runner (with the hammer) was
running down the central aisle. Then the runner started swinging that
hammer much like the hammer throw in the olympics. There was a speaker on
stage shouting orders. It was either a scene from Orsen Well's "1984" or
something from the Third Reich. But everyone was listening to him. And
behind him was a large screen with him and a whole bunch of other
gibberish. But this hammer thrower, formerly the runner, was spinning
this damn hammer...and then let go. The hammer crashed into the screen.
Back then, I was a PC snob. I wouldn't admit it, but it was a good
commercial. It was classy. But it didn't give me the information I
needed. Would I be able to do what I wanted to do with this new computer
that was coming out? I didn't care. I had my good old 8088, which even
at that time was kinda old, and I was happy. I had my modem, I had my
piles of floppys. I even had an add-on 5MB hard drive, and a dot matrix
printer that had a "Near Letter Quality" setting. I was living the high
life. When it came to music, I was already on a 486dx-33mhz. Yes, that's
a 33mhz to you young-uns. That was all that I needed to run Scream
Tracker. Well, that and my good old SB-16. The 16 meant that I could
track a total of 16 channels, not 16-bit. That came later. But that was
what I needed to make music. Unix, on the other hand, was still very
business...very NASA. Macintosh toted it's cute little mouse and silly
sounds. That GUI got in the way of any real music genious. A true artist
didn't need a GUI. A true artist worked with what he had. If his vision
or his tune was clear in his head, he needed nothing else. Right?
How naive I was.
That was a long time ago. I wasn't releasing music for the 'scene yet. I
hadn't even really gotten on the Internet. Hell, the 'net wasn't even
available to most people yet. When I entered the scene, it was Amiga or
PC, and that was about it. Things came down to Gravis Ultrasound or Sound
Blaster. None of which even worked on a MAC. Unix didn't support either,
that wasn't their focus. And Linux hadn't yet been officially born
outside the mind of Linus himself. No one ever thought that any of these
alternative operating systems would ever catch on. Well, we all thought
OS2-warp would've caught on. But it didn't stand the test of time.
And now we sit in 2003. Mac OSX is almost as popular as Linux, which is
catching up to Windows more and more each day. I've seen demos for almost
any operating system you could think of. Some of the best musicians use
Mac, and you wouldn't know with an MP3. And some of the best artists use
Linux with Gimp, and you wouldn't know with a JPG. And just a few weeks
ago, I grabbed myself an iPod (an apple product) with some skepticism.
Yes, some of my PC snobbery still holds out. But anymore, it has to do
with the price. It's true that I'm not a huge fan of the interface, but
there are things that one can do about that. My friend Ranger Rick, and
avid supporter of both SceneSpot and Static Line (The hardware behind all
this is his), is working on the Fink Project to bring KDE (familiar to you
Linux guys) to OSX. Throw a Unix core under OSX, and you're bound to make
someone happy. I see Microsoft losing ground in the OS war every day.
And I see PC and MAC hardware blending more every day. Just look at the
'scene. I can think of three guys who use MAC exclusively for their
music. I can think of five that use it for their art. I can think of
many more who use Linux exclusively, even for their demo coding. And if
you threw it all up on the big screen with the computer hidden from a
watchful eye... you wouldn't know the difference.
So a guy comes to my forums today and asks about Mac as a usable medium
for the demo scene. I had to be honest with the guy, it's very usable.
But it'll be a bumpy road, 'cause there are still many PC snobs out there.
Then I scratch my head and wonder two things. First: I question whether
or not I've been reformed. I still use PC, and I still prefer it (That
includes my Linux machine, which runs on the same hardware). But I'm much
more accepting of MAC. I guess I'm not so much of a snob anymore. And
Second: What do the snobs know that I don't know? Is it really a war
worth fighting? The end product is just as enjoyable. So what does it
That's what I thought.
SceneSpot (Home of Static Line).......http://www.scenespot.org
ModPlug Central Resources..........http://www.castlex.com/mods
Scenergy on-line (8bit)............http://www.scenergy.natm.ru
Swiss Scene FTP...........................ftp://ftp.chscene.ch
The Black Lotus.............................http://www.tbl.org
The Digital Artists Wired Nation.http://digitalartists.cjb.net
The Lost Souls...............................http://www.tls.no
Music Labels, Music Sites:
Blacktron Music Production...........http://www.d-zign.com/bmp
Fusion Music Crew.................http://members.home.nl/cyrex
Kosmic Free Music Foundation.............http://www.kosmic.org
Maniacs of noise...............http://home.worldonline.nl/~mon
MAZ's sound homepage..................http://www.maz-sound.com
<*> Nectarine Demoscene Radio................http://scenemusic.net
One Touch Records......................http://otr.planet-d.net
Tokyo Dawn Records........................http://tokyodawn.org
Triad's C64 music archive.............http://www.triad.c64.org
Zen of Tracking.........................http://surf.to/the-imm
3D programming portal.................http://www.3dgamedev.com
File format collection...................http://www.wotsit.org
Game programming portal...............http://www.gamasutra.com
LCC (free C compiler).........http://www.remcomp.com/lcc-win32
NASM (free Assembly compiler)......http://www.cryogen.com/nasm
PTC video engine.........................http://www.gaffer.org
Ambience (The Netherlands)..............http://www.ambience.nl
<*> Pilgrimage (Utah, US)..............http://pilgrimage.scene.org
Takeover (The Netherlands).............,http://www.takeover.nl
The Party (Denmark).....................http://www.theparty.dk
Demo secret parts....http://www.inf.bme.hu/~mandula/secret.txt
Textmode Demo Archive.................http://tmda.planet-d.net
Csound-tekno e-mail list......................................
#trax e-mail list.............................................
Graphics (French)..............................ircnet #pixelfr
Programming (French)............................ircnet #codefr
Programming (German)........................ircnet #coders.ger
Programming (Hungarian)......................ircnet #coders.hu
Scene (French)..................................ircnet #demofr
Scene (Hungarian)............................ircnet #demoscene
Zx-spectrum scene..................................ircnet #z80
-=- Staff -=-
Editors: Ciaran / Ciaran Hamilton / firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben / Ben Collver / email@example.com
Staff Writers: Coplan / D. Travis North / firstname.lastname@example.org
Dilvie / Eric Hamilton / email@example.com
Novus / Vince Young / firstname.lastname@example.org
Psitron / Tim Soderstrom / email@example.com
Setec / Jesper Pederson / firstname.lastname@example.org
Seven / Stefaan VanNieuwenhuyze/ email@example.com
Tryhuk / Tryhuk Vojtech / firstname.lastname@example.org
Vill / Brian Frank / email@example.com
The Watcher / Paul-Jan Pauptit / firstname.lastname@example.org
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