Why would I do this?
As I wrote last year, I visited the Nordlicht demoparty 2017 in Bremen, Germany. I was welcomed there as a newbie who never attended any demoscene event before, and talked to a lot of people. I really enjoyed the experience.
Already back then, people asked me “so, are you going to come to Revision next year?”, which is a pretty large demoparty in Saabrücken, Germany. It’s the world’s greatest, actually. The location is a pain to reach for me by train though, and I wasn’t really determined to go there. But I kept the event in mind.
Then, at the SHA2017 camp, my tent was pretty close to the Bratzenamt crew, who are tied to several LAN- and demoparties in Germany. Jogi then gave me the last push and I promised him I would be at Revision 2018. The slushie cocktails might have done their part, too.
It turns out that things would be a little more complicated, since easter was just a few weeks after I moved into my new place, which left me with much less money than I hoped. But the event itself isn’t too expensive, plus the location has a designated a sleeping area, so I don’t necessarily need to get a place in a hotel. Then someone from my area offered to share a ride with me to the event and back, so the overall cost would be somewhat okay for my situation. Hell yeah.
As the event came closer, I was hyped like a small child that’s going to an amusement park for the first time. But that’s just me, I already know that from other events.
I began to watch last year’s compos on youtube so I would know what’s up. That’s actually a lot of work when people are like “Make sure to watch the 4k intros, too! Oh, and especially the 64k ones from 2016, you got to watch those!”—but okay. I already knew that those can be really exciting, even if pretty time consuming. These are some of my favourites.
I also learned something about evilbot and his evil deeds.
Getting to the venue in Saabrücken took pretty long. I went downtown in Oldenburg that morning to fetch my mail and to handle some other stuff before we were leaving. Heading back I realised the key to my bike lock was broken. So we were already off to a great (and somewhat delayed) start.
Also, everybody and their mom seems to be visiting their mom for easter, so the road trip took us pretty long due to frequent traffic jams. But we got there in the end.
The location, the E-Werk, looks pretty awesome. It seems to be an old factory building with a big main hall and some smaller rooms attached on the sides. At the end of the hall there is a big screen and a stage, which is where the compos will be held and the shader battles will be fought. The sleeping area, which is where I will be sleeping, is directly behind the stage on an elevated area. So I guess there will be no sleep while the party is still going ¯\(ツ)/¯
The small dancefloor is at the other end of the hall though, where also the infodesk and the entry are. So that’s good.
After arriving and unloading all the stuff (“Amiigaaa!”) we went for a quick and organised grocery shopping tour, since the stores near to the venue were still open. The demoscene was described to me as a big family, where everyone knows each other. This hypothesis was supported by the many friendly faces of fellow demosceners in the store who greeted us and each other. They also all seemed to criticise the grocery store’s assortment and its complete lack of “Club Mate” and similar beverages. Good thing I came prepared ;)
We also met LJ at the store, who was the acting champion of the Revision’s shader showdown battle for the last years.
What is a Shader Showdown?
This is a compo category that seems to be unique to Revision. It’s a tournament where multiple competitors battle each other one on one in a live shader coding contest. The two opponents sit on stage and each got a machine to code on. Each has an instance of Bonzomatic running the default animation. They then get a small set of textures to work with, as well as an audio input, which is also played from the stage (so this compo is totally dancable). They then have 25 minutes time to code on to the ongoing music mix. Bonzomatic makes it so that the audience can also see the code the entrants are typing, which makes this competition even more interesting.
If you have no idea what this could possibly look like, here’s the recording from last year’s finals.
A quick intro to shaders
I came to the party with absolutely no idea how to even start with coding a demo or learning how to do so. I still had time before going to sleep though, and wanted to leave with knowing at least a little about graphics coding, so I went for the obvious thing to look at: OpenGL. I found a wikibook for an older OpenGL version and started reading about triangles. As soon as LJ saw this, he was like “What are you doing? Start with shaders, you’re gonna neem them anyways and they are what makes a demo look cool!”. Alright then. I already heard about shadertoy but I didn’t check it out yet. So that was the first place for me to go. I checked out some of the popular shaders that didn’t seem to complicated to me, but I couldn’t make much sense of it. That’s when LJ told me about The book of Shaders.
This book is an online resource which has some embedded code examples, that you can modify and fiddle around with for a better learning experience. I had a quick look into it, but got quickly distracted by the test compo which the orga run to test the beamer and PA setup. Since I’m pretty new at this demoscene thing, I don’t know the popular compos yet, so I would probably see lots of new things there. I was then surprised that I already knew about a third of them :)
Anyways, it was getting late and I went to get some sleep while I still could.
I was sleeping fairly well, and there was still some time left before the event started, so I went back to the book of shaders and read some more about the basics.
At some point, I was thrown out, since the event was about to begin and only organisers and guests with tickets are allowed inside. The experience was horrific. It was so bright and cold outside and felt like an eternety until I could show them my ticket and get in again. But once that was done, they even handed me a little bag with some swag inside (as a reward, I think).
Everyone went inside and began setting up their hardware. This resulted in ongoing bustle until late in the evening.
The evening then was pretty chill. People were happy to see each other again, catching up and helping each other out to meet the deadlines for the competitions.
Later then, the organisers welcomed all guests in a little opening ceremony. Some time after that, the qualifying round for the shader showdown began. The show the participants put on was pretty amazing, although the results (vote by applause/cheer loudness) were…confusing.
After the showdown I was even more hyped for the things to come and couldn’t wait any longer to finally watch some new compos the next days. I had to compensate with old demos instead though.
Another pretty neat addition to the event is the outside area which has a little food court, as well as a campfire which was effectively a meeting point guests that want to take a breath in between the events. While talking to random people I encountered, I found a surprisingly large amount of first-timers, not all of which where placed at the newbie table. Connections to hackerspace members and Chaos Communication Congress visitors were particularly interesting.
The next day began with a shower for me. Yes, the organisers cared about us staying clean and non-smelly and provided a few camping showers.
At noon, a guy named Tronimal totally let the animal out by playing live music on some gameboys he brought. It was a good opportunity to talk to the guy afterwards, since we already exchanged a few words via Twitter beforehand. I also managed to snag a poster ;)
The rest of the day was dominated by compos and the shader showdown finale, which were extremely entertaining. All of those things were streamed live on Twitch, and recordings are available on Youtube.
Another interesting thing was the screening of the Meteoriks awards, which are an additional honour of noteworthy entries from the year before. Those don’t necessarily have to been winners in a category.
The day was pretty exhausting for me and I almost fell asleep already during the last bits of the compo block, which was kind of embarassing, but also no exception when having a look around. I went to bed almost immediately after the block.
This was the day the big compos everybody wanted to see were screened. A lot of them really were mind blowing, and especially entries to the paintover competition deeply impressed me. If you have machines capable to display the demos directly, I would highly recommend downloading the binaries from Pouet, since video compression takes away some quality, and also because demos are just meant to be executed live.
During the day, I talked to some swedish guy who was selling a book called The Masters of Pixel art, which contained pictures by and interviews with retro graphic artists from all over the world. The works he collected are all in their own way beautiful and impressive, plus pulling the book publishing off while maintaining a dayjob is an accomplishment by itself.
I let myself drift through the event that day more and tried to speak to many people I didn’t know yet, and I always learned about some new thing or at least had some fun. This is one of those places where chatting up strangers always can be an enrichment. <3
The evening was topped off though by two incredible live performances on the main stage, namely the audiovisual journey from Lesnik and Jacku, as well as a very danceable liveset by logicoma accompanied by some somewhat live visuals from Logicoma’s Ferris. For some bonus points, the live shaders were hooked up to a MIDI controller, which enabled Ferris to modify input values to better match the music, which looked really sick (more chromatic abberation! :D).
After the last, big compo block with all the “high end” demos, everyone was enjoying themself and having a good time. I tried to go dancing since the music was again pretty dope, but I quickly realised I was too exhausted to do anything. I decided to go on as long as I could and then go to bed, although it was pretty hard to avoid the consumption of pepper schnaps on the way to brushing my teeth.
After a long delay in the time schedule, which allowed me to already take a shower and pack my things together, the prize giving took place. People were happy, although pretty exhausted, and many already had to leave to catch their flights etc. People were using their last chance to talk to people they somehow managed to avoid for the rest of the event, and left the venue one by one.
The rest of the day consisted of loading the vehicles and a long, exhausted, and eventless ride home.
I slept through ten hours straight, although I already had some sleep in the car on the ride home. I also happened to be sick for the rest of the week, probably because of the lack of sleep, the mass of people attending, my somewhat drafty sleeping place, or a combination of all of those. Anyways, this allowed me to catch up with people’s work, and things I might have missed during the event. I added people I met on the social networks I still have an account in, and wrote this post. I yet have to write code though, which I aim to be doing soon. The Nordlicht Demoparty is coming soon, and should provide a good, small environment for a small first compo entry. I’ve waited long enough, and maybe the demoscene is something that will keep me going for a while.
Thanks to all the individuals that I talked to contributed to my visit to the Revision demoparty 2018. <3
Update: Logicoma Liveset
For those who like to listen to music mixes while doing something else, h0ffman has uploaded a recording (with crowd noises) to mixcloud: Logicoma - Live at Revision 2018