Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Satisfactions and dissapointments in my democoding activities

4k is almost ready to ship! As a remote entry for Numerica demoparty.

87 bytes to wipe out. It's one of the few projects I enjoyed a bit. Maybe because it was easy to code in OpenGL and produce something that looks neat. Or because I enjoyed generating 3 textures and few polygons and have a final result that is satisfying to myself (concerning the effort and result). Maybe it's mediocre compared to the good ones (fewer parts that I wanted, shitty music, few ugly artifacts) but I don't bother about that. It's only important I am satisfied from what I do (and there are many factors that play a role in that) in the scene and this one is of the few times.

And now I am saying that, I think I'd like to make a list and consider which of my creations satisfied me or disappointed me during their creation and why? There was that incident some days ago at pouet where I expressed the usual stuff and wondered if I should be making demos or not. Then few days later I get good feelings by working on this 4k and even think it's gonna get fun to compete with the other entries and watch it realtime from the streaming. What's the fuck with me and my shifting moods anyways? Maybe I should just stop if I don't feel very well with a particular demo project and work on the ones that offers some satisfaction. There are times I get positive feelings from demoscene activities even if quite less than the negative ones. Maybe I should just regulate my emotions or shift activities when it doesn't go very well. Let's examine which where the ones with negative or positive feelings and why.

Let's see some demos from my Demology list at Pouet, starting from the past till today.

  • The Poor Freak (July 1999): It's too far back in time to think about. In away I have positive feelings but that's because it's my first. I remember I had a great lust then to release my first demo ever and the time was a bit hard though, I was small, I needed a time space when my parents wouldn't be at home to annoy me why I spent so much time on the computer, so that I feel free enough and not anxious to code this one. I got this space, it was summer and I was just returning on holidays (I had all time in my mind when to finish the holidays and go back to code this one and finally release it). I wouldn't say anxiety makes democoding satisfactory, but I don't remember. It was the start of all evil though, being anxious to finish the demo with the pressure against it from my parents and being sad for not being able to work freely on my coding dreams (I had that passion from that very first time). However I don't remember sadness or dissatisfaction from finishing that very first thing in struggle. Maybe I was too young and the negative feelings were not inside me yet. Also notice, even the title and the scrolltexts express that whole anguish I got for years from wishing to code something good and having my parents not letting me freely. Scrolltexts in some of my early demos are landmarks of my psyche at that time and shadows of my current psychology. (Also, I got some positive reviews in quickbasic sites, which made me even more happy)

  • Into The Fight (April 2001): Ugh! Even the title is something I hate. This is a good example of a good demo as a result (for quickbasic scene standards of course) with more negative feelings though. Remember, it's not the result but the equation of result and struggle to finish it that gives the final mark on the scale of how happy or unhappy I am with making demos. I can see that by remembering the times I did those demos and how I felt after. I was struggling trying to finish this with the same anxious thought, my parents arguing with me to stop doing this. And it was only my second big demo. How would I make really good ones after if that attitude went on? A lot of struggle went on to finish this one in time too. My first deadline. There was a competition called Qlympics 2000 in some website. There was a demo category. I wanted to do this. I really won the time race but with a lot of struggle and oppresion from my side. To discover that the site was a farce or something, or there was never a qlympics competition and no replies from the site admin or something (I wasn't the only one to fall into this trap though). The irony! (I just sent it to another compo later). I also made another mistake. I liked the C64 demos with noters explaining the effects and giving messages and so I spent most of the demo time (20-25 days) to write the noter text and only 5 days in a haste to connect the effects into the actual demo! Why the fuck did I do that??? (I even painted 88 fonts with my sprite editor quickbasic programm :). When I started it, I couldn't stop. I said I had to have a noter. I had seen I am loosing the race but I couldn't stop. I insisted. The text is around 250kb!!!!!!! (And don't speak about the lousy elastic boring to read writer). I realized it later and froze. I did won the deadline race, people liked my demo, but too much sorrow, too much oppresion with this one. And even the texts explain a lot of my sorrow (and my affection for demoscene girls at that time :). A great example of one of my most oppresive, sad works on the demoscene. Regardless the result, it didn't deserve that struggle. My psyche was at worse.

  • Atsou by Nasty Bugs (September 2001): The texts are growing big after each list item, I didn't expected it and don't want too much text but there are big stories to say. This one is the first time I get the satisfaction of watching my entry in the big screen at a demoparty. Mostly negative than positive feelings though. The same anxiety, not so much struggle, I was just learning C and a whole month was spent to finish this shit. Bad Sector helped me to connect the parts into an actual demo (but no music unfortunately) in a haste (he even had a headache after that :P) and we just had the nice opportunity to watch it in the big screen. Some struggle for lame result. Also disappointments..

  • Kefrens256 (January 2002): A good experience. For an online 256b compo. When the effort required is small (tiny intros coded in 1-2 evenings) then it's easier to enjoy it. And it was even my first, I had that idea of VGA hardware trickery and translucent bars (how have I chosen this for my first, in some aspects tricky hardware trick concept instead of a regular pixel effect for starters?) and succeeded making it work while at first I thought I would fail. My very first try at X86 assembly and ended up good. I have possible feelings from most of my tiny intro attempts because of little effort and nice results.

  • My two wilds at React 2002: My most disappointing time at a party ever. It was just right the moment something started going really wrong inside me, concerning my passion to make something good, my struggle, the obstacles, my anxiety and all. A landmark in time where my negativity really started growing on me. The first time I have those deep thoughts and sorrow about what the hell I am doing in the demoscene and why things don't work well. This is the very first time. I planned to do something good in the compo, brought nothing (I even was trying to partycode and finish my first CPC demo but of course that would be a bit impossible at few evenings under the noise). But instead I couldn't finish anything. And only released those lame demos that didn't make it to the demo compo but the wild compo (and finished last). I was also sad about other things, maybe didn't felt very well or confident with people there. I don't want to blame anyone, just trying to explain my psyche there. My worst party experience ever (not because of the party but because of my total disappointment with the scene and everything at that time)

  • Deedlines Sax (June 2002): A nice example of a creation with mostly positive feelings. Good for the quickbasic standards, ended 2nd(iirc?) in a nice quickbasic compo, not considering the quality of nice effects and my first 3d code, it also took me two good weeks of pure fun and no struggling. Did I have a clearer mind at that time? Did I not encounter negative attitude from my parents? A little period of positive energy? (I'll start to believe in astrology or other new age crap now :PPP). For some reasons I could not explain this one had a really really good flow of creativity (and I even still enjoy watching it :)

  • A Step Beyond (April 2003): The biggest milestone considering my dreams and my psyche. My first CPC demo. A lot lot struggle. Writing Z80 assembly for like 12 hours per day in a period of almost a month. Having unrealistic big dreams of a good demo in something like a trackmo style (not menus and separate scroller parts like most CPC demos) and I fuckin did it, and it was very very very unrealistic to bet on such a project at that time. I can't believe that my very fuckin first CPC demo (and a very first time I write something big in assembly, not just tiny intros) was that huge (for my newbie experience) thing. It hurted watching myself burning in front of my computer trying to finish this one while my parents worrying. I said to my mother to understand me and that I know now that this demo passion kills me, but I want to make a really good demo in order to persuade myself that I have reached my milestone in the scene and take a break. I would make this demo and then stop. Did I really? (Of course I didn't thought about ending forever but for a while) My mother would say no. I even organized a CPC demo compo at ReAct2003 where this demo was going to be showed (but since it was the only entry, it competed at the wild compo). And I had to show some CPC graphics and music entries too. I even got anxious about the entries. Organizers didn't left me a time window at first or we were bad at communication. It was done harshly with my angry, anxious, disappointed. And I'll tell you the secret after so many years I didn't ever told to the participants till today. There was never real voting. There was no time, I hadn't communicated well with organizers to make the net vote for the CPC entries too (and they didn't bother asking me or I didn't bother telling them, also I didn't planned well or knew) so after showing the entries, in my anger I shouted: "Who liked the banana graphic the most?", counted harshly the cheers and thought ah ok, what the fuck? "Who liked the first music?" People shouted me, me, the moody music, the happy music, the banana picture, no the alien picture. And I just made an estimation. That's how lamely I have gathered the votes. But I should have known it's for fun (although don't bother asking me for organizing, I suck at this :P). But then I think back on A Step Beyond. Biggest milestone on my whole psyche and mood shifting in the scene. However the result is good (and I can just think of it as feat) and I got very positive responds from the CPC scene. Imagine a new guy, his first CPC demo, and not be a lame scroller but this. Others release fifteen lame CPC demos before doing a milestone half of this. How have I allowed myself with my inexperience and early struggle at home to produce something like this? But I tell you, in overall value concerning sadness and joy, it's a bit more at joy (because of the feat) but around the middle. More positive points with deedlines sax or even a simple 256b intro than this. Good example of how one of my best demos doesn't give me much positive feelings regardless the result. Also, notice the electronic notes (with a noter C64 alike, coded by another scener) and the same passionate, desperate big texts that revealed my psyche around that time (how many times did I say the word psyche?))

  • My 0a000h 2004 releases: Tiny intros, easy joy. Also, the first time I release so many different things in a demoparty, the first foreign demoparty outside greece where I release something and have the fun to watch it on big screen, the first time to get a 1st place even with such a tiny intro and few contestants. The funniest thing is that while my joy was very positive with these releases, I was the opposite at the demoparty. I didn't even had a mood for drinking (which I always do at demoparties) and I just sat there with my computer playing quickbasic games! How crazy is that? Even the demoparty has stories of fun for me (like trying to carry alone a whole computer AND monitor from Karlsruhe to the party place). First time I bring my computer on a demoparty. And I met some nice people there too. Good response for my intros from Pouet reviews too (not that it matters much if I have purely enjoyed it and there was no struggle)

  • O.T.I.N.A.N.E. (May 2004): No fear of sorrow here. It was the first time I watched someone else being anxious for releasing his first demo the same way as I was at my very first demoparty with Atsou. Now, I was the helper so I had no sorrow just pure fun. The demo was so lame but it wasn't me to blame. I didn't even had the slightest anxiety. But I was happy that mentor released his first demo ever and I was there to help. Notice that the title reminds of my recent Otinanum farce. The root is OTI NANE, OTI NA EINAI, it could be translated to "Whatever it is" or something I like to call whateverism. How it doesn't affect you when you are just an external beholder of someone else's struggle to finish his first work..

  • Livetro (August 2004): My first C64 demo. Not a very important creation to analyze concerning the level of sorrow/joy. But there might be just some points here. First time to work with a team outside Greece. I remember some struggle with a lame bug (which was just a tiny jump of my DYCP scroll, only important to fix because of my perfection). Mediocre production, people being used to my pixel manipulation effects from CPC and expecting more. It was just a first release to show that Anubis is alive (but only then :). Nothing interesting. Good experience with C64 coding. Different kind of assembly programming than what I am used to on CPC and Z80. I think the joy/sorrow levels are at best mediocre. Neither too much negative or positive feelings. Not needed to be listed here but maybe a little milestone in my scene life.

  • My Pixelshow 2005 entries (A demo, a 256b intro and a wild): Mostly positive feelings. First time I release so many things at a demoparty and all are quite nice in terms of quality (and what I can do at the time). My first OpenGL demo even connected all together very nicely at the demoparty. Good successful partycoding even if under pressure (but like the one at home but that of time). Crazy wild people loved. Feels like a comeback of myself and a time of love for the scene. Good feelings.

  • Keftedes (October 2005): Mostly positive even if under a bit of anxiety. I think I had a fight with my parents at that time and I couldn't even bother sitting at home coding and them watching me without switching the power off and making a big mess. I wanted to finish this demo so this bad situation nerved me a bit. I did finished it at Antitec's house (all night coding in a laptop with shitty keys, great fun :). Production reminds me of the nice flow similar to Deedlines Sax in this one (although with a bit more nerve). I also finished part of it and an SDL port at a netcafe :). Keftedes is for the Keftales effect at the end. I always found the Keftales name strange and Keftedes means meatball in greek :). Also, the only entry at AAPs Freebasic demo compo, strange feeling, nobody bothered really to finish his demo, just me sitting alone in front of my computer and spending my time for something vain. But good times! (expect the bad atmosphere at home right that time)

  • X-Kore (March 2006): An example of a demo without much struggle (I think there was some frustration though) but giving me a feeling of dissatisfaction because of result. It's just the opposite example. Good code, lame design and converted gfx. I was very dissatisfied by some lame 1kb entry and unfinished gfx for the demoparty in the same DSK archive though. At least after so many years I felt I have released something on the CPC scene. Never do the same mistake with hasted releases though except if I won't care. But here I did. No other entry at the Forever CPC compo, so I felt the same way as the Keftedes demo, being alone struggling to code for vanity when noone else cares, although now the big fun was missing.

  • Led Blur (July 2006): A demo with good fun, a long but balanced effort (and no sorrow), that ended so well. From all my creations, my favorite demo, it's really the kind of flow of parts and oldschool flavor I really had in mind, one that I even enjoy to watch again and again. So many experience I got with that too (first 3d engine with polygons, first time to code in gcc, to have a makefile, first time to code for a handheld (GP32), to have to optimize my code like I was in a 486 with slow floating point, a lot of ports (by my friend Nuclear), etc). And then, at the worst time in the greek army, I get quite happy by learning this even have been nominated for a scene award. Me? Scene award? Impossible. It's when you make a demo and you just think it's mediocre (it was in terms of design) but you can't appreciate it as clearly as all the other people who watch it for the first time. The making of this took a very nice path and even the result was satisfactory. I should be aiming for more positive demomaking experiences like this with good results in the future. A positive milestone, just few weeks before I have to leave for the greek army and all hell breaks loose :P

  • Creep Tea (August 2006)
  • : A GP2X demo for an online competition. Easy to make, no much struggle, and ok looking for the short time it took. Not as good as Led Blur in terms of completeness but ok flow without disappointments. Just the last demo before leaving for the army. It's even the first time I win any kind of money (300$) from demomaking. Which I received in paypal and lost by something strange with my account for reasons I don't know yet and won't bother to learn (ouch).

  • 3 hours demo (December 2006) I did this demo while at the army. People thought it's funny that I am so obsessed with demomaking that I even find time inside the oppresive environment at the army (I did it in an office instead of working. In a haste. Now that's a feat :). No good feelings though. Lame demo but maybe my mood was down because of the army environment.

  • re-re-recycle (May 2007): Good flow, good feelings. Also, another time I have the good rare luck to have a demo already finished at home, not having to struggle with partycoding or anything but enjoying my time at the partyplace. (Good memories from that party too. Some nice people I met). The flow was good too. Newschool effects, GP2X experience (using the second CPU for an OGG replayer, mmuhack, etc), kinda slow for GP2X though. But finished and nicely combined with the music my brother wrote. Btw, that was between my army time, almost. I took 6 months release from my army duty for personal reasons. Like it was time to get back to democoding, in the positive way even.

  • Primary Star 2007 invitation (August 2007): First time I code an invitation for a demoparty. I almost forgot this because it wasn't on my Pouet list I am just looking (I will add now). It means something to me because of another (3rd? 4th? nth?) bad dissatisfaction from my side. Since my last C64 demo, I wanted to code something more than scrollers and sprites and char effects. I wanted to show I am capable to produced something a bit more interesting on this machine. Maybe just a tiny more interesting. I wasn't thinking of a huge think, just one nice effect for the invitation that is nothing of the usual. I was thinking of a little rubber bar with plasma (imagine the animated plasma on the surface of 3d bars from Krill but not on X-rotator but on rubber bars). Nice idea, doable, I was thinking this effect would go left right and reveal the invitation texts. Then I changed my mind, thought of something else, because I was struggling with something. Then back again. A month have past with nothing in my hands. It would be lame to not finish the invitation for the party and expose the organizers. So I finished this lame thing. I don't even remember how it took so long to finally reach this one (and being in a struggle). At least there was a positive response from C64 sceners at Pouet and elsewhere. Like they understood my sorrow then and told me to not worry. Notice also which of my productions in technical terms match which sorrow/joy levels. It's an important statistic to understand a problem and maybe at which side of demomaking I need to focus most to have joy. 8bit productions in assembly language usually get me the negative feeling. Assembly is fun and I like the feeling of writting some lines that work. But the effort! The hard effort needed most of the times lead me into finishing bad things under great pressure. But I love the idea of coding assembly for 8bits, although the struggle and dedication needed kills me. My least bad experience was maybe with a step beyond, which was still a very hard pressured experience I would never do that way again, but at least I produced a feat, something to think in awe and be fulfilled I achieved that at that time! Quickbasic was ok (not much people to appreciate your demo but pure fun), X86 tiny assembly coding was fine (VGA is easy, messed up nonlinear videorams on 8bits or even 16bits are cumbersome), even software rendering (something I am very well used to and doesn't look so hard or frightening to me as it would look to others) was fine and especially enjoyful in hardware that are neither too slow nor too fast and people can appreciate (GP32, GP2X, I can now consider NDS and maybe GBA in my future coding plans). Fun software rendering demos, with what I call midschool effects (something between oldschool and newschool, go figure :). OpenGL is cool too. Tiny 4k intros in C are a nice way to easily release something too. I don't know about assembly in 4k. I think it's the right way with modern 4k intros but maybe a bit harder for me. I might try once. Handheld demos with midschool software rendering effects was the most joyful level for me. I'd only wish I could also code an 8bit demo (CPC preferably) one day without that struggle and sorrow. All these comparisons though is a nice view of where I should move for less struggle and more fun in democoding though. Would that mean I would never code for 8bit again? No, I wouldn't like that. But I would do only if I resolve my bad psyche against that first..

  • Voxreen (July 2008): Last one for today? Too much text in the previous entry also. Good work, one week of code, initially wanted to code another demo but the time was not enough. I didn't even thought I would change my plans and succeed to release this. My first 64k too. What I like in tiny size intros or 64k intros most and what I find interesting is the algorithms to generate texture, 3d data, etc. I like the whole idea that everything is described by mathematics and not as raw data (well, in 64k a lot of things can still be in raw or compressed data though and it's nice to see a well painted logo for once in 64ks) I would be looking more into intro coding in the future, especially 4k and 64k. First time to participate in a big demoparty with 5000 viewers and to win a nice 3rd place with good prize money (I lost my plane to Spain before and I had to pay additional money to buy one, so this prize saved my ass :P). It was the time I stared (for the nth time of course :) with the mood shifting and thought I loved the scene so much (I should seriously stop doing this, I mean not the love but the mood changes :). I like the colorful nature of the demo and the (low quality :) voxel routine, even though for some strange reasons, I do not enjoy watching this demo of mine. Not much variation of effects that I can enjoy I guess? Even with the nice (ugly?) colors and music tune I love, I can't enjoy watching this demo as much as most of my demos. I don't know why. It would be sounding too lame if I told you that I did it for the money (and maybe I feel so, indifferent for the demo itself), so I won't tell you that (oops :)

  • Otinanum productions (beginning of 2009): Shame on me. And no comments.

Phew, that was big! It's a nice timeline of some of my most important releases and my thoughts on how they affected me and how I felt at that time. Good for a comparison of which elements, which tech, which times brought me joy or sorrow and know at which direction to head on if I want to receive more happiness than sorrow from my demoscene activities. And I must say that I should stop the mood swings because it makes me feel so ridiculous but all I say is a joke because I know that the cycle never ends.

Next time I should do a list of all the demoparties I visited and the joy/sorrow levels and reasons. Another insight, not on demomaking but how I felt at times with the demoscene community itself.

1 comment:

  1. Flashback... For some reason, all this brought back in memory my old graphics experiments, and when we first met after c.s.i.p.d and used to talk endlessly about demo effects, making demos, etc.

    I remember my first gouraud red-ish gradient on my excruciatingly slow triangle rasterizer, the 100 blobs effect, the old demo-gr site and the "thelab" interview at amoivikos' place, and the nextempire jokes.

    Good times. Somehow nowadays I don't seem to feel the same way about the demoscene. That nostalgic struggle for the demo-ideal got lost along the way. But hey, I still enjoy coding graphics as much as always and even more, and I think I should write a demo again before too long :) Maybe a good one this time, just for a change :)