A Demoscene Refresher

So, it's been four years since the last volume of MindCandy, and you've already forgotten what the demo scene was? For shame.. but we'll help you out.

Since the dawn of home computers, there have been tinkerers. Users who aren't satisfied with just.. using them.. but hacking them, exploiting them - making them do things they weren't expected to do. Enter demo sceners, the bastard children of artists and hackers. A demo is, obviously, a demonstration.. a few minutes to present everything a group is capable of doing with a computer, while making it entertaining for an audience. How they entertain is up to them.. do they make a thematic, movie-like demo? A pure hardware-crunching gallery of objects? Or do they take what we consider "bugs" and mash them into a form of abstract art? There are no laws in demomaking, just freestyle code, music, and graphics.

Demo parties are events where these demo freaks go to meet and compete. Competitions lure entries with reputation, audience feedback, and of course, prizes.. growing bigger as commercial firms scout the parties for future talent. Yes, it's true.. this underground scene, which seems so anti-establishment and anti-LAN-gamer, indeed produces workers for the computer and video game industry. But better, they feel, to produce than to consume. And besides, aren't demo parties more fun than university theses?

And when we speak of the demoscene, we'd better not forget about the Amiga computer. Commodore's 16-bit multimedia wonder took all by surprise, putting the PC's sound and the Mac's display to shame. What made it kick, of course, were its special processing chips on its motherboard, to make color shifting, polygon filling, and multichannel sound playback faster than the competition. This is where the demoscene had its fun - digging into the chips, in Assembler language of course.. finding new tricks only an Amiga could do. The assortment of games were icing on the cake - something to outdo, or at least crack. When the PC demoscene grew in the early 90's, they were already years behind the Amiga in experience and design. Only through faster processors did the PC finally outdo Amiga - in 3D demo effects, at least. When some Amiga sceners abandoned their unique style to compete with 3D PC demos, they became irrelevant. But today, a new Amiga demo now and then comes out of nowhere to teach the PC scene a lesson in demomaking - it's not the number of polygons that counts, it's how you use them.

Is it all coming back now? Good :) Now it's time for some website links.

Demo Parties
The Gathering (Norway, Easter weekend)
Norway's biggest computer party since 1992. The demoscene element has made a comeback in recent years.
Breakpoint (Germany, Easter weekend)
Attracts demosceners from all countries and platforms to a peaceful riverside town, with a creative theme each year.
Blockparty (USA, April)
It may be unproven, but it's all we have here in the US, and Trixter will be speaking there. :) Teaming up with Notacon in Ohio for its first year.
Simulaatio (Finland, May)
Popular springtime party. They have 3D demo compos and give out glasses!
Solskogen (Norway, July)
When Norway warms up, the demoscenes head outside for some fun and relief from gamers.
Euskal (Spain, July)
This summer party has kept the Spanish scene alive for over a decade.
Assembly (Finland, July/August)
Probably the best known demo party, Assembly enters its 16th year in 2007 with top-notch events.
Buenzli (Switzerland, August)
The Swiss may not be party animals, but they know how to unite people. :) Always a friendly summer demo event.
Sundown (UK, October)
A new, informal gathering in England, where many Amiga legends once thrived.
The Ultimate Meeting (Germany, late December)
The demise of The Party in Demark wasn't about to stop demosceners from having post-Xmas winter holiday fun! tUM fills the role well to this date.
Related Websites
Demo Parties

The scoop on upcoming demo parties
A map of parties past and present
The ultimate repository for Amiga demo groups and party results
Specializing in demo party photos, especially embarrassing ones

Scene Portals

A very popular site for demo reviews, but beware of trolls and lamers with too much free time :)
A new hangout for scene veterans, please don't bother them too much :)
A great place to browse just Amiga demos, with screenshots and ratings
The biggest demoscene file archive around, with some mirrors and scene CDs
Where are all these guys coming from? Find them.

MOD Music

Top news site for MOD releases, trackers, and chiptunes
A site heavy on MOD info, plus musician interviews
The original demoscene net radio.. back in business!
An old archive and portal for MODs and tracking, still quite active
A collection of soundtracks from demos, ripped to their original module format
A new netradio station from BitFellas, mostly Amiga
It was only a matter of time before MODs and podcasts got together...
Itty-bitty MODs, now with a fun Workbench theme

Pixel Art

An amazing collection of graphics from the Amiga glory days and beyond
Let's be honest.. pixel artists weren't always original
Amiga Demo Files

Not much of a website but one hell of an FTP archive. 10 points if you know why there's an "e" missing.
The original file archive for Amiga demos, music, and utilities
Broadcasting demo videos and live party reports
A cute-looking site for Amiga demos, groups, parties, and hidden parts
Another all-inclusive site specializing in cracktros and intros
A collection of old, hard-to-find Amiga demos and packs
A collection of even older Amiga demos, going back to the mid 80s!
The name says it all

Crack Intros

A united news site for the underground/illegal computer arts - for those which HVAC *doesn't* mean heating, vents, and air-conditioning :)
Loved those little screens you saw before your pirated games? Here's your place
Crack intros ready to view in Flash

Amiga Community

Community is what Amiga is all about
Another Amiga community forum & news site
Amiga forums for games, demos, emulation and more

Other Products

All you need for Amiga emulation in one disc collection.. including LEGAL ROM files!
A very thorough set of video memoirs from the days of dial-up
A hardcover book documenting demo scene history - now accompanied by a book of the best pixel artwork
A cool, quality magazine on demos, VJ'ing, and all things retro-computer-art. Only one issue so far but more to come.
If you were waiting for a DVD for Commodore 64 demos.. someone beat us to it :)