Who Killed the American Demoscene?

category: general [glöplog]
The c in Vice stands for clickbait.
added on the 2019-05-24 03:31:48 by wertstahl wertstahl
1) For some reason it sounds like in the 90s school computer clubs were not a source for demoscene material in the way they were in Europe. The US people whose "how-I-got-into-the-demoscene" stories I have heard generally found out about it through BBSes. This seems to be a big issue, because lots of folks didn't have access to BBSes or had very limited access, due to the cost.

2) IBM, Microsoft, and other early behemoths with (at the time) large US work forces seem to have sucked up a lot of coders, and as far as I can tell university programs mostly focused on developing the kinds of coders these kinds of organizations wanted.

Well, here are some things that I wonder about.
Firstly, the high school vs university thing.
I mean, I'm kind of an oldbie, who more or less grew up with the demoscene. I got a Commodore 64 when I was about 7 years old, and I was exposed to cracktros and later demos by swapping games with friends, neighbours, classmates etc.
When I was in high school, I got an Amiga, and it was still mostly the same: swapping games and demos with friends, neighbours, classmates etc.
By that time I was already actively trying to code graphics routines of my own, and as far as I could tell from scrolltexts and nfo files, many early demosceners started in high school as well.

When I went to university, I didn't find too many people interested in the demoscene, or even knowing what it was. There were a few people who knew about it, and many of them were also active in the scene in some way or another.

Anyway, I suppose what I'm saying is that in my experience, the demoscene wasn't really 'a thing' at European universities either.
And I wonder how many demosceners were drawn into the scene at a much earlier age than that.

Other than that, BBSes didn't seem to be such a big thing in Europe, it was mainly about disk swapping in my experience. Was there not a lot of swapping going on in the US?
added on the 2019-05-24 13:53:37 by Scali Scali
...and they realized it was actually cultural appropriation

*checks the Post-Colonial Demo-Studies syllabus*

It says here that you need a certificate of under-privileged / non-hegemonic status in order to use the term "cultural appropriation", otherwise the usage itself constitutes cultural appropriation. Someone tried to make a demo about it, but the endless recursion ate up all the stack.
added on the 2019-05-24 14:13:48 by VileR VileR
what Scali said, "i picture that" computer clubs and copying games among high school friends with the occasional 'check this out, it's not a game but it's damn cool' is more what happened in Europe. that's also how i saw some Assembly demos as a kid without really knowing what they were. Perhaps modules copying too? Me and some of my high school buddies were quite interested in that, more than demos and well, that was much more tied to ours back then than when it became a trackerscene on its own when the intarwebs appeared.
I don't know that I've ever posted here before -- from Canada and just thought I would chime in.

Born 1982, I had a C64 as a kid, later a PC, no nintendo or anything. My brother and I ran a BBS (on pc) and eventually saw demos and software like Scream Tracker get uploaded. I really wanted to learn how to make demos, but didn't have the foggiest idea how to code. It wasn't taught at my school (just 2 classes in high school). No internet until a teenager and even then information was pretty sparse. By the time I had the resources I was in University (for computer science), was way too busy, and really was just starting to learn.

I swear no one around me was coding, despite many of my friends having seen demos. My brother (born 1978) tried to pick up some books on how to code on c64 from the library but ultimately only got so far on his own. He also eventually went to uni for CS, so it's not like the interest wasn't there.

I think the community surrounding it just wasn't present, there was no one older who knew how to code who might be inclined to show us the ropes, and so it just never emerged.

Conversely tracking was something I could pick up on my own, I would spend endless amount of time dissecting other mod files, learning how to create samples and such. I wanted to participate in the scene but I felt awfully isolated, often feeling like I was the only person in 200km radius that ever attempted this sort of thing. Once internet came around I would try to hang around in scene related IRC and enter into music competitions like MC6 for instance (and even ran some online music competitions of my own) but I still felt pretty alone.

I'm curious for people in Europe how your experience differed, how did you learn to code? Was the proximity to other parties and potential mentors helpful?
added on the 2019-05-24 16:49:19 by Narfy Narfy
@Narfy : Code learning Situation in northwestern Germany 1984-... when i was 9, my dad bought a ZX81. But he disliked videogames and bought no software for it, so if i wanted it to do something with it, i had to learn to "code" (in Basic ofcourse). First typed in some examples from the book and then started to experiment. Later, on the C64, schoolmates and me hit some brickwalls trying to copy original games. Then a buddy emerged, who showed us how to remove the protections. We had actually 0 connection to anything scene-like until 1988 (very small City). When the intros of warez we slowly obtained, got more and more intense, aforementioned buddy was like "we can do that, too". Actually our school library had books on Assembler coding. It was sort of in tune with the general school/learning/teenager thing. Ofcourse not officially. I think my school picked up computer courses in the mid 90s or so. Useless MS-DOS stuff, ofcourse.
added on the 2019-05-24 17:08:59 by wertstahl wertstahl
I'm curious for people in Europe how your experience differed, how did you learn to code?

In the early days I just learnt from the BASIC tutorial in the manuals of my ZX81 and C64.
From then on, I learnt mostly from magazines, who generally included listings in various languages, and would also include articles on C, Pascal and other environments.
On the Amiga, there were also tutorials on languages like AMOS and Blitz Basic in magazines (and cover disks including the required tools), so that was also a way to get started.

Once you have a decent foundation, you can just grab the machine documentation, and experiment by yourself.
In the early 90s, there were also various tutorials and unofficial documentation and example code floating around on BBSes and the internet.

Was the proximity to other parties and potential mentors helpful?

In my personal case, not so much, I guess. I had a few local friends who were into coding in general, only one was really interested in games/demos specifically.
I didn't really get into touch with established coders/mentors until I got access to internet and IRC, at which point I suppose the proximity was mostly moot.

Getting back to what Maali said, I do think there was some sort of a 'boost' in demoscene activity/popularity when sound cards for PCs arrived. There's a natural connection between sound cards and the demoscene I suppose. Tracker music was very popular, and trackers/players and example mods were often included on the installation disks with new sound cards. The Gravis UltraSound was the best example, they even had Triton make a demo specifically for them, and Gravis also gave away cards to sceners.
added on the 2019-05-24 17:14:55 by Scali Scali
My first programming attempts were on my father's XT with some BASIC (ebasic?), then later on his 386 with QBasic, both by typing off examples from a book he bought me. Lost interest in that, much later when I was a teen he bought a GUS which came with a CD full of shareware games and demos. That's how I learnt about the demo scene. As bad as it is, the book PC Underground got me off the ground, along with a book on Turbo Pascal 7, and some book about the VGA/SVGA from Franzis (which is a publisher known for lousy books, but hey). The aforementioned PC Underground mentioned some thing called assembler, so I bought a book about that too (a pretty decent one, I think). While I had quite some fun I never produced anything significant. Shrug, I guess.
added on the 2019-05-24 17:18:56 by Moerder Moerder
I just remembered: and then suddenly, there was this PLK thing in the intros. We were like huh? You could put your actual mail-swapping adress into the intro and use a Postlager-Karte (a pink card with a number that represented a totally anonymous post-box-like mail depot). Actually *that* was the moment when we got in contact with really hard-core people and felt that we could take part in some bigger thing. Coding efforts peaked from there. And in 1990 an older buddy of mine and i coded and released our first own C64 game to make a few bucks.
added on the 2019-05-24 17:21:46 by wertstahl wertstahl
Due to the fact that I've been doing demoscene stuff at MAGFest in DC for 4 years now (which, in fact, has been a demoparty now for 2 years), I've had many chances to talk to US sceners about the perspective, differences and reality of being a scener there. What struck me a lot the first time I was there was how positive and welcoming everyone was to the idea. When I had toured a demoshow to some Polish conventions in the past, almost all participants were sceners who came to see what they had already known with just a few outsiders caring to see what it was about. At MAG we immediately got a hundred, then three times more people who came to watch demos, came again (so they liked them), participated, talked to us and voted.

Lots of people mentioned distances in the US as a big showstopper for socializing. The like probably heard the most often was "I've always been keen on demoscene but never had a chance to go to a party because it was too far and I didn't personally know anyone."
For us Europeans it's difficult to image demoscene as 3-4 meetings of 20-30 people a year which happen somewhere in, say, north Finland where you have to take 2 separate flights to spend one or two evenings with people you haven't met. There are many other reasons but many people above already mentioned them. We even had a 1.5 hour comparative presentation on that topic with Inverse this year at MAG (it's in SceneSat archives, if you care).

Legal and logistic reasons are also very important. With MAGFest taking care of most of those issues, we have a lot of freedom to do what we want. One (of many) reasons why I quit organizing parties in Poland was due to hitting the glass ceiling in terms of growth and expansion. But the eagerness of both participants and people I cooperate now in the US (be it my co-orgas, Demosplash orgas who help us with hardware, SceneSat staff, etc.) changed my mind about "not doing that EVER AGAIN". With so much potential and opportunity, I simply couldn't say no (and nobody wanted to take over). I hope more European sceners would be able to come and feel it for themselves. I also hope that more US sceners will be able to come to DC next year.

I know the above may sound like some brochure marketing pasta but I won't rephrase it just for that sake ;) US demoscene is far from dead and I have a feeling that it has a lot of room for development, which sadly cannot be said about Europe. Unless we think about all those other countries where demoscene is virtually non-existent. Most south-east of Europe, for example?
added on the 2020-02-09 17:52:07 by Fei Fei
Once, we were special.
Although hackathons and game jams can have a competative e-sports-like attitude, I tend to think these are still completly different beasts. They all have their own merits. But yeah, these didn't exist in the early days.

Having them around indeed makes us less special, although I think still rather unique. You have hackathons, game jams, shadier showdowns, galleries, algoraves, hacker- and makerspaces and *cons on one side and the demoscene on another.

I'm happy so many other digital subcultures emerged. Some draw in a lot of people like the *cons. Still none of the beforementioned events come even close to the demoscene. To each his own, right?

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added on the 2020-02-10 11:23:33 by numtek numtek
facebook killed it
added on the 2020-02-10 18:55:35 by leGend leGend
Time is a rare luxury at some places.

While I do love this subculture, and recognize a lot of special talents here, I am also equally impressed by how much time and effort you guys manage to spend making demos, just for the fun of it.

I, myself, just can't. Time is rare and not cheap for me. Ok, I'm not from the USA, but I guess that similar rules apply.
added on the 2020-02-11 04:28:27 by imerso imerso
If you work three jobs in the US, you dont have time for demos. ;o)
added on the 2020-02-11 04:45:49 by Salinga Salinga
Some partial answers: NTSC vs. PAL woes, Amiga 500 less popular than in Europe, long-standing hacker culture that would suck in demoscene-minded people.
added on the 2020-02-11 07:35:27 by Marq Marq
added on the 2020-02-11 08:48:04 by Oseias Oseias
Colonel Mustard (in the library with a candlestick)
added on the 2020-02-11 12:02:24 by havoc havoc
Ok , mystery has been solved.
It was Colonel Sanders.

Also that clown of McDonalds.
So basically:
Fast food industry=Lazy
added on the 2020-02-11 13:05:05 by Oseias Oseias
yes and Facebook too because Faces are not books!
Books are!
added on the 2020-02-11 13:19:53 by Oseias Oseias
Ah yes, this article. As Gargaj mentioned, we were contacted and provided information and feedback, but none of that made it into the piece. As for "who killed.." - nobody "killed" anything: killing something implies intent.
added on the 2020-02-11 20:31:24 by gloom gloom
Oh yeah, but then there is also this thing that apparently europeans are afraid of external competition. Most of the parties / competitions won't accept remote entries, so spending precious time making demos becomes less interesting for those outside.

And finally, there are all these pricks amongst you who think they are so superior, lol. Open the submissions to the entire world, then let's see if you can really keep the "supremacy" for long.

Although I suspect that name/region voting would take place, then.

Anyway, I am now triggered and willing to demo in your face, you bitches! With love.
added on the 2020-02-12 10:48:06 by imerso imerso
Oh yeah, but then there is also this thing that apparently europeans are afraid of external competition. Most of the parties / competitions won't accept remote entries

That's an interesting theory but from my experience that is not the case. Most smaller parties gladly accept remote entries, it's mostly the larger ones that don't and that's because they already get enough local entries and already have to apply pre-selection to those. People are already complaining that the demo compo at Revision is too long as there are too many prods, remote entries won't make this any better because clearly everyone wants their stuff to be seen at the biggest demoparty. It's simply a matter of feasibility, not the fear of competition.
euh yeah, everybody is accepting remote entries accept revision lol
added on the 2020-02-12 11:15:40 by okkie okkie
added on the 2020-02-12 11:15:50 by okkie okkie
While its certainly true that accepting remotes is the rule and not accepting them is the exception, its also interesting that (some) people from outside europe seem to think its the other way around.
Maybe this is because the big parties shine brighter so the first comporules they come across are usually assembly, revision and maybe evoke (although im not sure if and how evoke handles remote entries these days) and so people get the impression that this is a standard rule (which it isnt, its merely there because nobody likes preselection and/or endless compos as saga already mentioned).

One question remains, tho: do non-europeans not enter compos with remote entries because they simply dont know about them or because they see smaller parties mostly as a "local thing" and therefore of no big interest?
added on the 2020-02-12 12:32:22 by wysiwtf wysiwtf