Saturday, 10 April 2010

Breakpoint 2010 releases

I watched part of the BP competitions from the stream. I wish I could be there this year but I was in Greece for the eastern holidays. The ambiance was great, the feeling rocked, there were music, people dancing :)

I totally loved several of the releases both from PC, Amiga and C64. I might want to write something about few of them. I really don't know where to start from. Maybe I should start from the demo whose music I am just listening right now repeatedly.

No time to grab a new screenshot and this one from Pouet (which is four pics), I don't like much. But I will stay with it. This is Rove by Farbrausch and it got the 2nd place in the PC demo compo.

I am not sure why I like this demo so much. It has the elements that can make you easily to get bored. It is actually a so called flybye, a long one, with the same scenes after a while. The visuals are so beautiful, it's like 'elevated' but in an alien world with totally strange creatures. One thing that makes it so nice is probably the music which I am listening for hours and I am totally in love with it. And so am I with the visuals and those strange worlds. No matter if it's a long boring flybye, I can totally watch this till the end without getting bored. Possibly not the demo you would watch with friends but a favorite one to me.

A demo that you can actually watch with friends and have fun is Wir Sind Einstein by United Force and Digital Dynamite and this came 4th in the same compo. It actually looks a lot like their previous masterpiece, The Golden Path but I like their new one three times more because it has a more consistent and funny theme and is not just going straight through a single path. Maybe it's the lyrics that are making this hilarious and when we watched the words "RESEARCH IS LUST" appearing we had a great laugh. The same fun we had discovering the rest of the lyrics. It's like a funny song about science being cool or something. It also follows the same happy colorful design as in their previous demo. No matter if some people might think it's recycling, I did liked this a lot. But mostly when watching with friends who adore it :)

Those might be my two favorites. Of course there is the winner of this compo, Agenda Circling Forth by Fairlight and CNCD which although I can't enjoy because it's unacceptably slow in my machine but I like the concept. This demo is build only by shitload of dots and some great fluid dynamics effects are applied upon them. In the meantime you can stare an animal or two runners build exclusively by dots on which various physical forces are applied. Personally I am not that fan of this demo even after I watched the video. But thumbs up for the originality. This will definitely get a nomination for best effects.

The 3rd place is a demo I could enjoy better because it definitely runs on my machine and this is one of the few moments I am happy I have Vista here. It is Partycle by Pandacube. In the last Breakpoint Pandacube also came 3rd with their first attempt at making a demo, even though I was surprised for this place. Here they do much better than their last time and there are actually some nice times in this demo. Apart from the Doom3-ish looks (shadows, bump mapping, etc) and the good music, I also liked the final scene with the particle and the 3d girl (probably some model from Poser, oh what a nice way to attract scener votes :).

Another demo that made me happy but only got the 14th place is Ibis by Cubicle. It needs some sort of thing called XNA which I don't know what it is about (some M$ thing) but I am going to download now to watch this again. I love this demo because of the crystal clear visuals (something usual in Cubicle demos) and it's lovely electronic sound.

I will only refer to the remaining PC demos that are maybe worth to watch but don't have so much to say. The 5th place is zkareplace mk 5 by Nuance which most of the time is not very interesting or good looking except from two scenes, a short scene with some water ripple effects in 3D and the surprising greeting part with the talking heads. Vokawordai by Satori (6th place) is a strange noizy software demo which I am not much fan of it but many people seemed to like it and you will do too if you like Satori demos. Lucifer by Brainstorm (7th place) has such a scary atmosphere and some nice visuals at times. Another interpretation for Lucifer is that of a dark planet or comet that produced floods or another destruction on earth tens of thousands of years ago according to some books by people into conspiracy theories or paranormal and maybe such stories have inspired the concept of this demo because there is a scene of such dark firey planetoid before the end. The artway invitation has a great 3D rendering of an Amiga computer both inside and outside (the best I have seen so far). And Byterapers are back with a demo that didn't seem to attract my attention the last time I have seen it on the streamer and now it just doesn't run here.

Concerning the intros on PC, there seems to be a trend. 64k is dying, 4k is growing. The only worth watching 64k I remember is Imagine by TGGC, Copycat and Blueflame. It starts with a grey city full of focal blur and then rainbow and plasma with rainbow colors appear everywhere. I liked it but I expected more from the 64k category. I haven't watched most of the other entries (some didn't simple ran in my PC and I have lost the 64k streaming).

The 4k were much better. My favorite must be Retrospection by Frequency and Trolls in the Shadows (5th place). It's another one of those 4k raytracing intros among with ergon by Frequency (3rd place), Fan_tastic by Rebels and Alcatraz and maybe others I am missing too. From all of them I love retrospection because of the music. And it's almost the only one that manages to run smooth enough here. The 2nd place is taken by Mistrace from TBC which I like because of putting those beautiful shapes (hexagon, pentagon?) in just 1k.

But the real winner of this compo is Darwinism by Archee. In a time when 4k raytracing intros are so common and expected, people seem to expect something different. And that different is Darwinism. When I first saw it, my first thought were that this was inspired by Karl Sims evolutionary creatures. Although I am not sure what is evolving in Archee's demo because not much is changing in the geometry. Maybe just the different ways the creature tries to jump in order to catch the butterfly? While it's a good surprise this 4k won the compo it's not my favorite. In my system it simply crashes. It was fun to watch it on the streamer and see sometimes the creature failing and sometimes succeeding. The concept is great. Good to see someone tried something different than what you expect in 4k. But it's not an intro I would watch many times. Retrospection is still my favorite.

Going back to Amiga concerning intros. There is a single one that I truly loved much more than any PC 4k. It is Ikadalawampu by Loonies which got the 1st place in the Amiga 4k compo of course. I am wondering what it's position would be if it took place in the PC compos. This intro just by using glowing lines and great music synchronization with the visuals it creates such an atmosphere and is so enjoyful to watch that it beats 4ks with better visuals easily. I totally love this! I only want to mention that a similar effect is achieved by the winner of the C64 4k compo, Dramatic Pixels by PwP which by just animating three(!) char blocks perfectly synced to the music and telling a story it manages to entertain so much that it makes you wonder. Three little chars are enough to say a story and keep your attention. Amazing!

Can't say the same about Amiga 64ks. The 64k scene is truly dying, just try to imagine if there was a really good 64k in the scene awards. There were some that I like but not the masterpiece we were used in the past. The 4k scene is ever evolving. It's logical. It's easier to make a small 4k that people might like than a full blown 64k. Less space but you can get away by having crappy sound and much fewer visuals. Size is your excuse. In 64ks you have to make a lot more content to make it worth. Btw, there must be quite more good stuff in the PC 4k that I didn't mention because there were so many entries that I forgot what most are about. Just check it for yourself.

Going back to the Amiga and C64 demo competitions. I am personally very satisfied by the quality of the entries. There are at least three demos I liked in each category.

What can I say about the 1st place of the C64 demo competition? Snapshot by Glance totally kicked my ass with it's originality of effects and great presentation. And when I am totally in awe and I hope this will not end yet, a great pic asking for the 2nd disk appears. And a lot more stuff to see here. What can I say? Should I speak about there being a concept in this demo? (films, cameras, etc) Should I write about several impressive effects (vertical wolfenstein (or so I call it), highres big full frame flat 3d (best of it's kind for sure), TBL tunnel effect and whatever I forget) or original use of effects (pseudo-focal blur with target on words, filming instanbul effect or the great mechanical greetings device build of polygons and sprites) or how about the spirit. The final message almost made me cry:


It's one of those times that I feel that the scene is alive and kicking! Btw the first three places were above average. Also notice that none of them where from the famous elite groups of C64. I will mention the 2nd and 3rd places in short here. Black Spark by Black Sun (Some nice effects and few original too, like the flat shaded objects as vector balls, never seen and in such quality before on C64) and Agiel by Inversion for 3rd place, a demo from a new group and quite nice for start with good design and some effects that are not bad. One killer demo that might go for best oldschool 8bit demo and probably breakthrough performance (some people didn't know Glance before that, although they did a promising demo in the past) and the 2nd and 3rd positions that are above average and have some good effects to watch.

How about Amiga demos? I like at least the six first places. No killer demos from the usual suspects but quite good stuff from smaller groups. I was personally satisfied by this Amiga demo competition a lot. You don't have to always expect the same killer TBL demo. It's getting boring :)

The screenshots on Pouet are not good and so I will only show one from the 6th position somewhere later during my reviews.

My favorite demo was actually the 2nd place, Metropolice by RNO and Ghostown. It's a regular RNO demo with 2D or 3D stuff, but has such a beautiful theme and presentation among with music, that somehow manages to speak to my feelings. I can't be sure why I love this sooo much! It also seems to have some kind of a concept. The second time I watched it in an emulator I still fell in love with this. I might watch it once more tonight.

The 1st place is the demo We come in Peace by Elude. I was very happy that Elude finally got the 1st place they deserved. Last year they lost the place over Jesus Christ Motocross which is actually a good reason to not get 1st :). But their debut demo in Breakpoint 2008 missed the 1st place over a Drifters demo celebrating their 20th years which was definitely a bad surprise (what are those voters in Breakpoint drinking anyways ;). They deserve this place because what these people are doing in the Amiga is unbelievable. Crazy 3d engine with great post processing effects, glow, blur, ribbons and 3d metaballs and lot's of other stuff. Elude is for Amiga what Plastic is for PC. Both three releases of them in the last Breakpoints are amazing! Not just technically but also concerning the music and graphics. Although I still like Metropolice more :)

We also have the return of Haujobb on the Amiga with their demo Prototype 1 that got the 3rd place, which I remember to have liked on the stream and just downloaded the video to watch because I couldn't run this in WinUAE. I remember some pleasing stuff mostly and the usual Haujobb style. 4th place is Garden variety autobulk by Traktor and Nature which follows a similar pattern as their Jesus Christ Motocross but somehow it didn't managed to entertain me this time (neither on the stream nor when I tried to watch this again in WinUAE). But I still love their cartoonish rendering. Another one of the surprises is the return of the spanish group Ozone on the Amiga after 11(!) years of absence. Their demo Fetish 2 got the 5th place and the style kinda reminds me of their older stuff (although I didn't manage to watch Fetish 1 in WinUAE yet). I still prefer their Smokebomb masterpiece of the past though.

The screenshot is from the 6th place, The ventures of Prince Dakkar and his pilgrimage to the abyss by Tulou (what a strange name :). I really liked this one. Vivid colours, sea concept, some nice 3d (fish that seems to be made of voxels in a sphere, submarine with point sprites :) and great oldschool effects (wavy stuff at the beginning, particles completing the logo at the end, crosszooming). Quick mention of the 7th position, Ontoclasia by Software Failure another spanish group whose coder Ham did also some nice stuff on GP2X and is a great guy so I wanted to write something about his demo :). It follows the same style of Amiga Ham demos but with ever improved design, better colours and the same 3d :)

I will make a short mention on the wild/console competition which also had some nice stuff but I lost half of it on the stream unfortunately. The highlight was definitely BluREU by Crest which with the help of some REU hardware (for more additional memory, 16MB here) and some fast animation player it manages to show some great animations running on a stock C64 in a 320*200 with 16 colors and fullscreen. Going smooth! I couldn't believe this is a commodore doing this. The last animation video I have seen on the C64 doesn't reach this quality at all. We have seen classics from Amiga TBL demo, Popular demo or ASD's Lifeforce rendered as animations with such glorious colours and smoothly! Oh,. have you been Rick Rolled by a C64 before? You should try this, it's even possible to run this in WinVICE.

Honorable mentions are the attempts to make new demos with microcontrolers by the usual suspects or Z80 based computers build by sceners and running new demos with Amiga like gfx and sound. Fun to watch was also a 4x4 led demo, a Vectrex demo and a Calculator demo with funny message at the end. I was also happy to see a new Dreamcast demo, Wobble by CRTC. And a lot of others I might have missed on the streamer.

A nice thing for the CPC scene is that this year the demo From Scratch by Vanity was nominated for Public Choice Awards, something unexpected for me because the CPC scene is sooo small and the other nominees were PC and Amiga masterpieces. This has resulted in a group of French CPC sceners travelling to Breakpoint and even taking part in the graphics and music compo with CPC stuff. A report from Hicks/Vanity is written here.

Parties may go but Demos stay.
See you next year in a Breakpoint replacing demoparty :)