Sunday, 2 November 2008

Something about Alternative Party 2008

It has now been a week since this year's Alternative Party, so I'm using it as an excuse for writing another journal entry.

[the title from the seminar flyer]

For me, the party started with a participation in the demoscene seminar, an external event held at the premises of the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts.

The seminar was not exactly a crowd-gatherer. Most of the audience consisted of fellow sceners, a considerable percentage of which also had presentations of their own. So, instead of delivering our presentations to "art people" and having a healthy little clash of cultures, we mostly ended up giving speeches to our friends.

I held my presentation with Visy (of Trilobit, Wamma, PWP etc.), with whom I happen to share quite some similar ideas and visions about demomaking as well as some common history in working on some productions.

In this 90-minute presentation, titled "Retro is a swearword" (yes, the same title as in one of my older blog entries), we mostly talked about 8-bit demomaking from the viewpoints of esthetics, technical challenges, motivation, ways of self-expression, etc. and of course we also showed quite many 8-bit demos -- both ours and others'.

The presentations were videotaped by Kari Yli-Annala, a video artist and researcher who has shown some interest in the demoscene in recent years. I'm not sure if I really want people to see the video of our presentation as I somewhat struggled with picking up the right words and expressing myself coherently, but I guess it was still a very good idea to document it. And besides, I may want to participate in a similar presentation at some later opportunity as well, so consider youselves prepared.



[overall picture of the party]

As for the party itself, I have somewhat mixed feelings. It seems that the organizing team tried too hard to add all kinds of fancy features to the event so that it was eventually too difficult for them to keep all the strings in their hands. This eventually lead to some major blunders in some of the most important issues, i.e. the demo competitions, voting and results. As for today, a week after the prize-giving ceremony, the final results are still "coming soon".

Also, as the partyplace was so full of different booths and special areas as well as people I wasn't personally familiar with, the whole event started to feel like a "mini-assembly" of sorts. However, I don't necessarily consider this a bad thing, as I did enjoy things like the art gallery quite a lot. Besides, in my opinion, cross-subcultural events and bold outreach efforts are something we all need, and it is always a thousand times better idea to market a demoparty to a bunch of creative people and other "freaks" than to masses of consumer whores and generic mainstream teenager nerds.

[doctor screenshot]

I had personally participated in two demo competition entries. One of them was "Doctor", an Atari VCS/2600 demo by Trilobit. I think this demo is really worth watching especially because of some never-seen-before effects it presents.

I personally contributed a cube effect I had actually already "finished" a year ago. One of the Trilobit guys, Ilmarque, even managed to improve the cube by fixing some rendering glitches and adding a simple checkerboard-like texture.

As far as I know, "Doctor" got the highest votecount in the "alternative demo competition", but, for some reason, the organizers had completely forgotten it during the prizegiving ceremony. The Atari STe demo by DHS (which was also technically very good) was awarded in the ceremony despite having lower points. Despite some good entries, I was also somewhat disappointed by the low level of the competition.

[future 1999 screenshot]

The PWP contribution I had been working on was a VIC-20 demo called "Future 1999". I couldn't finish it in time, but I still wanted to show the unfinished version at this very event. The content in this demo was a little bit hurried and I actually had needed to cut my original design plans to some extent, as I had only five days for creating the actual graphics and other content. The only piece of new code was the audio streamer, and all the rest was pure Brickshop32 animation played back with the routines familiar from "The Next Level".

An unfortunate fact was that the fully-linked version had too tight loading schedules for real disk drives, so it really couldn't be run with the real thing; some debugging and improvement is still needed on the linker side. For this reason, the demo had to be shown with an emulator. However, the compo machine didn't have a version of VICE containing my recent sound patch, so I had to deny the presentation altogether.

Anyway, you'll see the final version (hopefully with much more content and perhaps even some effects) at some party in the year 2009. The party calendar for the beginning of the year seems to be quite open, however, so I'll probably have quite some time for other creative activity besides that. I may even have some time for writing down some coherent thoughts in this journal, so you may look forward to that one as well.

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