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Demoscene, the youth & future - And outreaching

category: general [glöplog]
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Perhaps he didn;t see the pair together on ASM TV having fun

I think it was me and me only :), Ferris wasn't there unfortunately :/.
added on the 2009-08-14 07:24:29 by decipher decipher
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What I think we should do is make tools to ease the "code" vs. "art" transition.

I don't think that's the magic trick at all. See comments for all non-Farbrausch .werkkzeug-prods. Then see comments for "The Golden Path". Both were made with a demogroup-tool, but the difference is that the latter was made with an unreleased tool, with the coder of that tool on the credit list. One is not accepted, the other is. Why? Because, I think, many sceners do still appreciate the aspect of hard work involved in making a demo.

As someone already said, if creating "digital art" in the absolute easiest way is what people are after ---> Processing and Vimeo. Realtime isn't an important aspect for those people anyway, whereas it is for many sceners (yes, even though many watch videocaptures of demos, it's important that it CAN be run realtime).
added on the 2009-08-14 07:55:02 by gloom gloom
Hello everybody, I'd like to talk about the Swedish scene and what went wrong. And when I say "the Swedish scene" I mean "the Swedish PC scene".

When I finally became active in the scene in 2004, things were already slipping. There were still a few groups about, going to parties and releasing demos, but nowhere as many as in 2001. What followed up until today can be described as an epic story of drugs, booze and failure. Coders either became disinterested because of real life, or started going to parties without bringing any demos with them, instead bringing a crapton of intoxicants. The whole Speedfisters thing kept the flow of releases going for another year or so, fed by a stream of recycled code and hastily made music. The scene broke off completely from the remaining gamer parties due to severe cultural clashes, effectively isolating itself ensuring there'd be no outreach or renewal. Then people started dropping off en masse.

I don't know where we are standing today, really. There is still some enthusiasm lingering about, and there are some people like thec who really do a lot to keep the whole thing going. Perhaps there will be a revival of the Swedish PC scene just like there was with the Swedish C64 scene in 1998, with new names and faces stepping forward to claim the thrones.

In contrast, the C64 scene is thriving. LCP is the biggest Swedish demo party with well over a hundred visitors and a stuffed compo. I think that's the biggest difference between the two scenes: The C64 people never stopped making demos. That's probably what it's all about when push comes to shove. Having compos with only one (or even zero) proper demos kills the scene. Making good demos is both the remedy against party decay and the proper way of conducting outreach.

Sure, you won't attract as many people as the scene did in the 80's or 90's, but that's mainly because the Internet is here and there's no longer a natural place for an "elite" since nobody is impressed anymore, what with streaming HD video, global social networking and knowledge sharing, and all other kinds of sci-fi goodies. Still, there will be those who are attracted by the aesthetics and the whole undergroundness of the thing.
added on the 2009-08-14 08:17:46 by Radiant Radiant
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Sure, you won't attract as many people as the scene did in the 80's or 90's


Were things really bigger back then? (that's what she said..) I wonder. If anything I'd say that the scene is more accessible now than it ever was, at least for PC (that's the only era I can fairly judge). Even the entry level to get a few polygons on your screen is factually MUCH lower than it was when I first tried (1995-1996).

That said, the scene in NL doesn't seem to be thriving as much either. Sure we have a few groups left who do something every now and then and there's a party left and right, but the days of Takeover and Bizarre are gone. Most people seem to have moved on, or like me, have been mostly idle for the last 6 years at least.

I'm not entirely sure how and what -- I tend to think things are "less" now because at least locally it all feels totally different, but if I look at things beyond my own borders and what's being released at parties, things seem far from dead. Some old has just been replaced by some new. And in some countries (like mine) there isn't much "new" :)
added on the 2009-08-14 08:29:13 by superplek superplek
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Even the entry level to get a few polygons on your screen is factually MUCH lower than it was when I first tried (1995-1996).


No it's not. Sure, it might be easier to put a couple of polygons on the screen, but it's much harder to put ANYTHING on the screen. Back in the DOS age you could just rip the magical

asm mov ax, 13h
asm int 10h

bit from somewhere and then you could rip your putpixel from somewhere (probably the same place) and start doing stuff even if you didn't know what a pointer of a for-loop was. Most sample source code was in one file and you could rip that stuff easily without even understanding what it was, or learn by modifying the numbers and seeing what would happen.

Nowadays you have to mess around with compiler settings, get proper libraries to link with your code, create windows and devices, set up projection matrices, vertex buffers and all
that. For the latest APIs you even need to write a pair of shaders, because there is no more fixed pipeline functionality. If you're in an university and know what a matrix is and you've been programming before, that's not that big a deal. But if you're a fledgling junior high-school student who's never done any programming whatsoever but want to check out how these cool demo things are made, it's hopeless.

added on the 2009-08-14 09:21:45 by Preacher Preacher
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after asm on sunday we were discussing on irc with few people that it might be a good idea to get some junior-compos for asm, even maybe accompanied with some seminars/help sessions to get kids started on making demos. not sure if anyone really started to work on it yet, or even will, but i think something like that might be a good idea.
get people started perhaps with something like showing them how to do a demo with rotating cube, logo and a scroller text. or something. :)

All the patronized mouth-feeding and hand-holding will fail, if you can't even be bothered to find out the really simple things by yourself. If you are not interested enough to get the 2 lines of processing code running to do a spinning cube, you are not interested enough to do a proper production with 1000x times the effort involved. I'm all for _helping_ the interested and willing, but I don't see the point in patronizing the bored.

Also, I don't mind an "older" scene at all. It means fewer naked chicks, riding fire breathing dragons and more mature and time-proof aesthetics. People looking left and right, picking up cinematic skills (editing, directing, lights). Less pubertal banter and more meaningful cooperation, not constantly reinventing the wheel, sharing code (like we have seen in the case of 4k/64k sound and packing technology) etc. :)
added on the 2009-08-14 09:32:30 by tomaes tomaes
Preacher: That's why there is no actual reason to start democoding on NEW platforms and NEW hardware when there's still perfectly good and easily accessible older demo platforms around.
added on the 2009-08-14 09:34:35 by visy visy
visy: I beg to differ, the point of demoscene for me is to be at the bleeding-edge of the things and prove that impossible is in fact possible. If I am not playing with a bleeding-edge toy I seriously don't feel good.
added on the 2009-08-14 09:37:27 by decipher decipher
Do you claim that 100000 plots on MSX-1 is not impossible? And yet, seeing someone do something like that is STILL as awesome to me and many others and real-time raytracing is.

But I digress, as technical feats have always been but a minor source of delight for me. The presentation and the solid ideas are almost always much more important to me, so that's why demos like The Throckmorton Device and WeeD by Triebkraft are _better_ than any idea poor poly-wankery on the PC.
added on the 2009-08-14 09:40:55 by visy visy
yeah, tastes do differ :).
added on the 2009-08-14 09:50:52 by decipher decipher
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I'm all for _helping_ the interested and willing, but I don't see the point in patronizing the bored.

Extremely well said.
added on the 2009-08-14 10:04:24 by gloom gloom
being bored is known as a pre-requisite for creation, though
added on the 2009-08-14 10:09:55 by _-_-__ _-_-__
in that the constantly entertained has no motivation whatsoever to work on his own and create new things.
added on the 2009-08-14 10:12:58 by _-_-__ _-_-__
Knos: perhaps for some, but personally I don't get creative when I'm bored, and it's being entertained (by demos for example) that gives me motivation to create demos myself.
added on the 2009-08-14 10:24:34 by gloom gloom
Cross-posting (sorry) from here:

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[...] code sharing is not a big enough part of demoscene culture [...] Arguably it *should* be, but that's a whole other debate. The demoscene websites that do exist are only interested in finished releases (which, in the case of a demotool, probably means that its usefulness needs to be proven with a prod).


To me this is one of the biggest reasons for lack of newcomers (and to some extend progression in general) in the demoscene:
Back in the mid-90s for me and many friends the Hornet source code archive was one of the most inspirational things that teached us "how to do things" in demos. It's not about copy-and-pasting code, it's about getting an impression of the kind of techniques used in demo-effects in general. Back then, this were for example: interpolation, look-ip tables/pre-calc, asm tricks, texture gradients, innerloop layouts etc.

It was highly motivating to see some new upload on the archive that showed some impressive stuff to learn from.
Oftentimes there also was no source code but just executables of certain effects (e.g. fuzzel's shadow-mapping, etc.) that had a huge motivating effect.

I agree that tutorials are very helpful and not providing source code forces you to first find a solution yourself - but if results are far from what other sceners achieve and you don't have a source of information then this quickly leads to demotivation.

So point is: IMO we need such kind of archive/repository again!

added on the 2009-08-14 10:45:21 by spike spike
Well, sites such as IN4K go to rather in-depth about coding 4ks and the preferred techniqiues. However, I don't think anyone really knows that site who isn't already part of the scene.
added on the 2009-08-14 10:51:36 by tzaeru tzaeru
jar: these days there are a lot of sources for that info on the net tho. nvidia/dx/ati sdks, gamedev.net and a lot of web pages. not sure what a scene-specific repository would bring.
added on the 2009-08-14 10:59:37 by smash smash
Smash: it could bring a more relevant community, which is always a good thing.
added on the 2009-08-14 11:05:37 by gloom gloom
smash: ok, for the actual graphics stuff you are right, I agree. However, some examples of how to structure a demosystem/engine are not so easily found. Maybe some tutorials in that direction could help (timelines, plugins, syncing, shader mgmt, scripting, etc.)?
added on the 2009-08-14 11:11:54 by spike spike
i guess im in the minority these days but for me the scene is all about doing something technically impressive in an artistic and stylish way that makes the results look a lot "more" than they would otherwise. much like the scene has been since the beginning - it's just the "how" has changed from hw trickery to a more academic pursuit of algorithms+techniques, and that artistic/stylish side has amped up as the range of things we can do in realtime has increased.
realtime is a pain in the ass and limits your workflow and results. if you're simply after entertainment, skip realtime and you'll be in for a much easier ride. that's why i sometimes wonder about those that look for demos to just provide entertainment or narrative - wouldnt other media and scenes (flash anims, videos) do the job a lot better and cut out the irritation of realtime?

the thing i find interesting about outreach is that there are a lot of people out there coding or doing gfx-related (or audio-related) things - e.g. technical artists scripting fx in maya - who are vaguely aware of but not part of the demoscene, yet we seem unable to reach them and pull them in. we know they're aware because you can google any recent big demo and see all the blogs and sites it pops up on. those people seem largely interested in the technical aspects shown off in a stylish and artistic way.

current outreach efforts - showing demos in a bar and so on - seem largely to attract a new influx of demo watcher, not demo maker. outreach should first be about preaching to the almost-converted and showing them how they can get involved.
thats my two pence, anyway. :)
added on the 2009-08-14 11:20:40 by smash smash
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current outreach efforts - showing demos in a bar and so on - seem largely to attract a new influx of demo watcher, not demo maker. outreach should first be about preaching to the almost-converted and showing them how they can get involved.


exactly.

added on the 2009-08-14 11:51:05 by nosfe nosfe
I agree with you Smash (which is why the outreach tour of 2007 was planned such as it was), but there is still something to be said for attracting watchers as well. :)
added on the 2009-08-14 12:00:32 by gloom gloom
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the thing i find interesting about outreach is that there are a lot of people out there coding or doing gfx-related (or audio-related) things - e.g. technical artists scripting fx in maya - who are vaguely aware of but not part of the demoscene, yet we seem unable to reach them and pull them in.

yeah, that's really kind of interesting. I always have been wondering what tiny bit has to flip to make people actually join the scene, as I also met many people of the kind you described.
when I was at university I especially wondered about those, that are actually around in the realtime-part of graphics business (medical visualization and such). people not coming from that background seem to have problems getting that concept of "realtime" in their heads, but for the others it's unclear to me.
added on the 2009-08-14 12:10:20 by styx^hcr styx^hcr
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but there is still something to be said for attracting watchers as well.

Gloom, don't get me wrong but what's the point of starving for attention while you don't even have anybody to compete with? I think outreaching for watchers is unnecessary, we already have too many of them, but unfortunately we shall instead starve for makers :/.
added on the 2009-08-14 12:22:19 by decipher decipher
Outreach is per definition about letting more people know about what you are doing, and if someone wants to put up a giant videoscreen somewhere in Helsinki or host a local pubmeet to show demos to the general public, I don't think that classifies as "starving for attention".

I do however agree with you that we need more demomakers, especially ones that stick with the scene for some time, instead of just dropping in once and loosing interest. How to achieve that is a complex issue, but this thread is starting to voice a lot of smart opinions on the matter, so keep it up. :)
added on the 2009-08-14 12:25:51 by gloom gloom

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