I have been a member of many demogroups in the past. Though, I can rarely remember working together as a real group in most of them. Sometimes we were planning a new demo but when the deadline came and I met my teammates at a demoparty I was the only one having brought some pieces of code that could make it into a demo. Of course, the opposite would happen too, my teammates being more active than me. I am saying this also to not discredit other teammates who came with some nice stuff from time to time when I was inactive.
I was wondering recently, what is the thing that motivates us? Some sceners might have noticed that visiting demoparties can be very motivating but motivation fades away fast in later days. Just before leaving the partyplace to go home, you are making plans of start working on a new kick ass demo or anything, but then what happens? The passion fades away.
What is the thing that motivates you to be active in the scene after visiting demoparties? It is that you suddenly find several people like you, who love to talk about demos, coding techniques, old hardware, the community, etc. You realize again that you are not alone, you see other people working on stuff, everyone is "wasting" his time on making demos, you feel that you are a part of this big community. What happens when you go back home? You are alone again. Real life steals some time from you. You are resistant to give some of your time to demomaking all alone when nobody can understand what you are doing. You might not even have a single person around you with whom you can discuss demos and not bore them. That's so demotivating.
That's my situation. While I have some programmer friends with whom we can discuss about coding in general and then watch some recently released demos, they are not much involved in the demoscene and definitelly not as obsessed as I am. Needless to say, even if my demo passion has deteriorated a bit from my side too, I am still feeling more into it than any of my close friends. Sometimes it's hard to even find a single person with whom I can talk democoding specific things, especially when it has to do with retro machines. This is only possible with email contacts from around the globe and yet they are counted in the fingers of my left hand.
I had been reading some stories (or maybe interviews) concerning some classic demogroups, how they were working together and the regular meetings they had. Well, it's always better if your groupmates are living close together, preferably in the same city. So, these people were like a family and they held regular meetings ((bi)weekly maybe) where they would work together or just go for a beer and watch some classic or recent demos. It didn't matter if many meetings didn't result into planning or working on stuff. Even a meeting resulting in jerking around would still be enough to spark motivation.
You wouldn't have to push things, just gather together people enthousiastic about demos so that you don't forget there are other people like you who love these stuff. Remember demoparties? Motivation is inversely proportional to the time passed since the last day of the event. Let's boost motivation another time by visiting another event after two or three weeks. But who has the ability to visit demoparties so frequently? (maybe people more obsessed with the scene than me :) So what was the alternative for the successful groups of the past. Private group meetings.
Another thing that is missing is the key members. I think there have to be at least two very enthousiastic people inside the group. It's understandable that people have real lives too and some might not be hooked enough to the demoscene or the group they belong and just be around for company. People also change, one might loose interest for what he used to love. It's quite important that there is at least one person who can keep the spark and preferably being accompanied by a second person who is also enthousiastic so that he doesn't feel alone in this. Imagine that all members of the group are lost into real-life matters or they lost interest in demoscene afairs. They would even forget setting up these private group meetings!
This has happened a lot of times. The alternative to group meetings when the distances are vast is usually to set up a private demogroup mailinglist, irc channel or similar. It's not nearly as good as meeting these people in real life but it's better than nothing. Guess what happened? When I finished a demo we were planning together with a group from a set up mailinglist, I focused on another project and forgot to even post something in the list. A month has past and the mailinglist service had closed our group. In an older list we have created for a PC demo we never finished, the same had happened after two weeks of speaking about our great plans. Suddenly a silence. There is a missing link here, it's normal of course, when people have other real life work and they are not as obsessed, imagine that even myself as the most passionate scener then, forgot to keep the spirit up. Initiative was missing.
For me, a great group does not need to be an elite group, but it has to be a fun group of a bunch of people where there are many people who love demos and would be willing to meet with each other or love demomaking. It's understandable that people have real lives too or have their minds in other things too, but there has to be a way of frequent communication just to keep the spirit up. It's not even necessary to push things, just give people a meeting place of inspiration. I think that would be enough to keep some creative flow in the group without making things hard for the individuals.
From all the groups I was into, only Dirty Minds was close (but still not enough) to the optimal. The reasons being that there was at least another one really enthusiastic scener, Voxfreax. There was a period when we had set up a mailing list (or maybe it was just sending group mails), it was me, Voxfreax and Rex. We have been working slowly on the sequel to ASB then. I was working in a real life job too, yet I would come back late in the evening to continue coding and communicate at night about my progress. Our work suddenly paused when I lost my job, strange as it is. Meeting Voxfreax at Amstrad Expo recently sparked the motivation and we were planning working on our demos when going back at home but of course real life took this away. We talk about this from day to day but communication is rare. I am thinking about setting up a new mailing list. I don't know if it will work.
You see, it's even hard to do it correctly even if I get the concept of frequent communication. Things fail. I was speaking about the problem of not being at the same place with your groupmates, but in at least one of the groups I belong there is another coder in the same town. Do we need an organizer? One that can bring the group together? Or one doesn't have to push things? Sometimes I wait for graphics or music from some team members and I am planning to finish some code so that I can send motivating previews but it doesn't happen. There are times where I helped a group member to finish his first demo and another time where we were in neighbour PCs and each of them coded his own demo separately. Am I bad at cooperating with people? Why all of my demos are entirely my own creation with just an additional track from a musician?
So, my first question is how to find a good motivating group with enthousiastic freaks just like the old times. My second question is whether I am making something wrong or I don't take the initiative to connect with people and motivate them in the proper way. I think though that most groups and most people are lacking the same spirit. Being part of a great group in the demoscene with enthousiastic people that spark motivation is the exception. I think..