Telecommuted yesterday. Some slack, some hardcore work, a good mix. More importantly, while poking around, I decided to hit Pouet and see how things were going in the Demo Scene.
What’s a Demo? Well, shortform and probably incorrect definition: a sound and light show designed to showcase a demo group’s programming talent, graphical prowess and musical ability.
The Demo Scene is an ongoing fascination of mine since the early nineties, when the likes of Future Crew (who more recently developed Max Payne) and Rennaisance ruled the roost. They’ve come a long way since early works like the original megademo, Unreal (not to be confused with the game of the same name, or my story). Nowadays it’s less about what sort of technical feat you can accomplish and more about your presentation — is your work synced well with your music? Is it varied and interesting? Does it have a strong visual design? Does it have something to say? There are some out there which are more visual poems than trick and technique shows, really spectacular stuff.
If anything has remained consistent in the scene, it’s how demos are promoted and distributed. Demo Parties are still frequent, even if they’re only in Europe (the scene has few American members since Rennaisance dropped out to do video games). Assembly, one of the first and best parties, recently completed Assembly ’02 marking more than ten years of legacy, and I’ll cite the winner below so you can see the best of the best.
Another consistent feature which might confuse you at first are the ‘greetz’. It’s obligatory to include a long string of names of other demo groups in your production as a way of giving props to ’em. Since this doesn’t always fit in with the artistic design of a prod it can feel awkward, but some groups have found really interesting ways of working it in.
And that’s a Demo Primer 101. On with the show…
Anyway, I downloaded every notable production from now back to april ’02, which was the last time I did a Pouet run. 85% of it was ‘ehh’. Nothing special, technically sound but nothing that struck my fancy. But I did uncover some true gems…
Critical Mass, “Open Your Eyes.” It uses ripped music (IE, they didn’t compose it, it’s from a commercial album) which is usually sneered at, but frankly they did a really good presentation to the song. It’s a basic 3-D flythrough and animation rather than a mathematical stuntwork show but it fits the music.
the|neonray, “Metropol (Unfinished).” Again with the ripped music, and the producition isn’t finished (some glitches and it’s very short)… but it has a nice gritty feel, some interesting transitions, and a killer sequence flying by a busy street filled with headlights. I can’t wait to see the final, hopefully they’ll actually finish it.
And presenting the winner at the Assembly ’02 competition, and justifiably so…
haujobb, “liquid wen.” Haujobb’s productions have consistently floored me; at worst they’re visually interesting, at best they’re an engrossing experience akin to a really good Pink Floyd album. This is possibly their masterwork; a two-part demo, the first a depressing study in black and white, the second an uplifting and colorful journey. The downside? GeForce 3 minimum since they haven’t finished optimizing the code. Dammit. But! If you have the hardware I HIGHLY recommend.
And heck, here are some past productions to get you started… these were released in years previous but are still quite nice.
exceed, “heaven seven.” Wise man once say, “A true scener has this in his AUTOEXEC.BAT file,” and they’re good words to live by. If you only download one, get this — it’s small, it’s software rendering based so it needs no video card (and my jaw dropped when I saw what they did with SOFTWARE RENDERING alone!) and it’s really quite beautiful. A good intro.
haujobb, “art.” Likewise, here’s a good intro to Haujobb which doesn’t need an excessively powered video card; any GeForce level should probably handle it. It’s the same modus as their other work, abstract shapes floating in colorful places with ambient music. Nice stuff.
popsy team, “vip 2 invtro.” This one’s a curious artifact — it’s a demo, but it’s a demo inviting people TO a demo party. Invtros are common ways to promote your party, and this one’s one of the best since it stands alone as a good demo too. Uses ripped music by Fear Factory, but is excellently timed and paced to the music.
If anybody actually makes use of these links and wants to know of more good prods, let me know. w00t!