Assembly '99 Party Report
Written by sind
Getting to the party place.
It was advertised that Assembly '99 would open its doors at 10:00 on Friday, August 6th. By knowing the crowd during the first hours after the opening in previous years we decided to arrive a few hours after the opening. But of course, the "doors open" event had been delayed by a couple of hours. So we still had to wait some time. The crowd was still incredibly dense, and the main reason to anger was that just one door was open. And those with prepaid tickets couldn't get in any faster than the ones that hadn't bought a ticket beforehand.
Later on it was said that another door was open, but I didn't see it open until some hours later.
But anyway, this was just the beginning. (And almost the most enjoyable event during the whole so-called party.)
And I don't complain about this by any means. It just happens every time everywhere. No party without an infernal crowd during the first hours of event.
General feeling of the party.
Ever since Assembly '94, which was the first Assembly I ever attended, there has been a lot of noise at the partyplace. And I really mean noise. I can't really say it was music or even sound. Noise. Several hundreds or even thousands of loudspeakers producing weird sounds, and everyone's trying to be the loudest in the party hall. This year the organizing had wisely thrown in a rule of maximum loudspeaker and amplifier size, and it was a relief. Although there were some pretty clear exceptions of this rule, the general aural scape of the party was much more silent than before. You could actually talk (without shouting) to the person next to you. And there was no need for earplugs (not that much as before at least).
When talking about the event itself, it has every year turned out to be more and more commercial. This year there were a lot of sponsors (which is understandable for an event of this size anyway). All the corridors surrounding the party hall itself were occupied by different kinds of commercial organizations. Anyway in my opinion this didn't affect much to the party itself, so you could attend the party without even knowning about the commercial activity around. With the only exception of (lame) commercial advertisements before and after some compos (e.g. Sonera Java compo; Sonera is a Finnish phone company just in case you didn't know). Sponsors bring capital to the event and take away some (if not all) of the initial underground feeling of the demo scene.
This year there were a few more compos: Amiga 4k intro compo, Tiny and MP3 music compos. Beforehand they felt to be very interesting. At least to me as a coder 4k compos are interesting, and as I don't know anything about Amiga coding, it could have been nice to see what can be done with Amiga in 4k.
First came the c64 compos, as usual. The c64 compos were quite about the same as we've seen before in assembly. So no Second Realities for c64 here. The c64 compos are still quite impressive when thinking about the capacity of the old war horse. And the age of the c64 scene. The c64 graphics competition had only four entries, and three of them got prizes. "Someone could get rich by buying a c64 and learning to make graphics with it."
The tiny music competition started the compo block of Saturday. No real surprises here either. It was followed by the traditional compos, graphics, raytrace, multichannel, mp3 music, the 4k and 64k intros for PC and Amiga. The mp3 music compo was a surprise to me. The quality of some of the entries was amazing. A couple of the songs in this compo were even better than the ones in the real world music compo (i.e. the Finnish single chart).
The 4k intro compos were a bit disappointing, the quality was lower than in the previous years. And the Amiga 4k didn't surprise either. The 64k compos weren't any better. Anyway at Assembly the 64k intro compos have never been "the main compo" as they have been in some other large parties.
Java compo, wild compo, and PC nonaccelerated demo compo were also held during the Saturday-Sunday night, but I wasn't able to watch them (for obvious reasons).
The Amiga demo compo, animation compo and PC accelerated demo compo were left on Sunday. The Amiga demo compo didn't give anything new, and it just seems that the Amiga scene is dying, at least at Assemblies. The animation compo had a few nice entries, very close to commercial quality.
The PC accelerated demo compo was a disappointment in some respects (and this really has nothing to do with the fact that they didn't show our entry, really). I was expecting to see a lot of entries, with something different than traditional 3d scenes and flying with spacecrafts or so. In the end there was only one entry that didn't have its idea based on 3d scenes, and that entry was really .. er .. lousy. Well, Futuremark (oops, i was supposed to say Maturefurk) won the compo. Pretty lame, I don't really like this... companies shouldn't win demoparty compos. It's really frustrating to work on an engine (or a production in general) when there are some people who'll get paid for the job anyway. OK, they don't necessarily get paid for doing the production, but they sure used a lot of routines for which they got paid. I should create some kind of public chatter about this aspect anyway.
In general, the compos didn't give anything new, and didn't even show any exceptional quality of technology or artistic impression.
Assembly has come a long way from a demoscene event. And the result is: "There were - during every compo - at least ten people playing Quake 3 or such." In general I did see just three or four people tracking (or using a tracker), some more people doing graphics and no one coding. Most people were just quake'ing (or playing) or leeching data (warez, possibly). Sad.
Some words to be said about the security team of the party. Their attitude really sucked.
"no questions may be asked, no apologies are accepted"
Of course someone must protect those cute 10 year old 5c3n3-313375 inside. Maybe it's the law. But, as I guess, due to the security team at Assembly, the Boozembly, held near the partly place, was a bit different than at TP7 (there, it took place, about ten meters away from the main entrance, and the security "disturbed" people with booze within 200 meters and more of the partyplace itself).
It was raining during Friday night, and that affected the feeling (and possibly the amount of people) at Boozembly. During Saturday night Boozembly was (or got) disbanded. Possibly by the law enforcement and the security team of the event. That's what they told me when I got back from the city around 4 am.
The trend with Assemblies seems to be that the party is getting more and more commercial. This trend has dual effect: it scares away the underground feeling of the demoscene, but on the other hand it brings in more people, thus increasing the prizes, which then might encourage competition and increase the quality of entries. Anyhow, in my opinion, it just doesn't seem to happen.
For any comments, flames etc. feel free to contact me.