When I told Adok some weeks ago that I could write him a Dreamhack
report, I thought that I would experience quite an adventure and because
of that I would be a suitable reporter. But mainly I needed a good
reason to leave for Arena Kupolen in Borlänge, because the party itself
seamed pretty disgusting in my opinion. 2500 visitors, probably about
70% gamers, almost none of my friends were going there and the whole
event seemed strange. The crew wasn't even sceners, they didn't have
either 4k intro or 4ch music compos, the prizemoney was very low and the
whole thing seemed arranged for one single reason, to make the
organizers money. I guess that was why the ticket fee was no less than
350 SEK (about 42$). I had never been to DH before, and I was very close
to continue that way.
But, unfortunately, I had already preordered and paid for two tickets (for me and my buddy Torturer), so I decided to go after all. Even if the party would be full of gamers and other negative things, Trinity and myself had a lot to release and we were also making a nice demo at the time. But the main reason that I finally left home was my 2d, a redraw of the girl in the movie Zorro that I was really happy with. And I thought that maybe the party could be pretty enjoyable with all our releases and with me writing a report and all.
Now, when the "party" is over, I know that I was completely wrong. It wasn't enjoyable at all, and believe me when I say it, it was even worse than I could possibly imagine. Continue reading and I'll hopefully answer your questions.
The party opened its doors at 08.00, Thursday 4/11. But as stated in the introduction, I wasn't really looking forward to the party so I arrived a bit later. If I had gone alone I would have waited until late Friday to arrive, some hours before the deadline of all the compos. Unfortunately, my friend badly wanted to be there as early as possible and we had to make a deal. We arrived late Thursday, and I skipped sleeping the night before so I would have something to do the first day of the party...
After some minor problems finding the entrance, we went into the party hall to find some seats. The hall was very dark, huge and looked really nice, music were played loud at every computer (as always) and the big screen was very impressive. I got a feeling that maybe this wouldn't be so bad. The thing left to see was what all the attendees were doing on their computers, so I walked closer to the row of computers closest to me. Quake, Half-life and Half-life were played on the three I saw first. The rest of the row followed in the same style, except that there were some Starcraft and some computers showing nothing but Windows wallpaper. The nice feeling disappeared quickly for sure. Dissatisfied I walked around in the big hall trying to find some computers showing something related to the scene, but I actually found none.
However, there were a lot of other things to take care of. We had to find ourselves two seats, a very difficult task, and we had to bring in all our stuff from the car. We searched a good spot close to the big screen and also close to people not gaming, which of course was impossible. I would guess that over 95% of all the attendees were gamers, so we had to sit surrounded by them. It may sound strange, but I think there were more 13-year-old gamers than there were sceners. Anyway, now we had to connect to the network, an impossible task at that moment, the network was down. "About what I expected, this is Dreamhack you know", I said sadly to my friend that had been looking forward to leeching some VCDs. It didn't bother me really, I just cared about the compos as you might know by now.
We decided to leave our computers for a while to get something to eat. The party's official homepage had been bragging about "real-pizzeria made pizzas for only 25 SEK" and we tried them out. Not even the pizzas could be good, extremely thin with something tasting like slime on top. The rest of the party we went to buy normal candy as food from a store outside the party hall.
Whenever Dreamhack felt nothing but shit, the big screen made me change my mind for a while. At first nothing was showm on it except some logos and small info bulletins, but just some minutes after we had sat down with our computers, they showed the great The Matrix. "It sure will be great to see our productions on that screen", I told my buddy and one of those moments when I didn't hate DH occurred.
As soon as the show ended, I went to a small tent supposed to be home of the compocrew to ask them some questions. "Why can't you show some nice old demos on the screen instead of just those monotone logos?" I politely asked some shy guy. "Demos? Oh, no we can't", he replied a bit weirdly. I tried to convince him what a good idea it was, what demos I would like to see and where he could get them if he didn't already have them. For example, I wanted to see the Sunflower ones that I surely couldn't watch on my own computer. "Well", the man continued after being quiet for a while, "we have no demos here and we don't have Internet either. And what is a sun-flower?" Suddenly I realized that he hadn't understood a single thing. "Some new group formed by members of for example Pulse, Bomb, TBL and some other big groups." The poor guy looked even more confused. "Have you ever watched a demo?" I rudely asked. "Yeah, some, a long time ago, I think". A bit irritated I walked away to my seat to fetch my Dreams 2 CD, and then walked my way back and gave it to him. He watched it closely, turned it over some times and then asked me if he could borrow it. "Of course, but how will you know what demos that are good or not? Let me show you", I said imagining myself as DH's new DJ (demo-jockey). "Well, thanks, but you can't, we don't have the compo computers here yet and the CD could contain a virus." I guessed that he wasn't very positive towards my idea of showing demos, and I left him.
Incredibly tired I made up a bed under our computers and tried to get some sleep, but it was totally impossible. Loud noises and some unfinished business made me return to my computer after maybe an hour. The thing that worried me the most was our intro (formerly demo) that wasn't finished yet. I got to know that it would be finished some hours after the deadline so I once again went to visit the tent. I explained everything and they said that it was OK to be a bit late, but that I should upload its infofile to the Zepo system as soon as the network was running. I thanked gratefully and walked back to give sleeping another try.
I got to lie there beneath my computer for maybe twenty seconds until my friend said that something was happening on the screen. I flew up hoping that they would show some demos after all, but no, they were about to show the brilliant Ghost in the Shell! I ran away, took the best seat of them all and enjoyed Dreamhack to the maximum.
Actually, day two had been going on for a while when they started to show Ghost, but for me day two started when the splendid movie ended. I had been awake for more than 40 hours at that time, and badly wanted some sleep.
Somewhere around four o'clock Friday night, the network got working and everyone went incredibly enthusiastic. After that moment, 95% of the hall was playing games towards each other. I was suddenly totally surrounded by ugly gamers, and it sure made me shiver. To show them how fun I thought they were, I took out my video camera and filmed them all while laughing widely.
To escape from the terrible environment, I decided to meet some fellow sceners that I finally had found on IRC and never had met in real life before. I found everyone except Droid, Melwyn and Whisker, but some rumors told me that they had been busted for "eating illegal stuff", so I gave up on finding them quite fast unfortunately.
Almost everyone I spent some time with thought the same thing about the party as I did. The only exceptions were the ones who were so drunk that they didn't care at all. Most of them said that they would never ever visit Dreamhack again and I agreed. One of them (yo Toodeloo) even abandoned all the compos because of their lameness and their stupid rules, and also told them that he'd never visit DH again and that it was the worst party he had ever been to among his over 30 party visits. Now looking back at everything, I wish I'd done like he did. But I sure didn't, I was looking forward to all the compos with big enthusiasm and after I'd spoken to all my friends I went back to upload everything.
After having uploaded two 2d's, two 3d's, two tracked music, two wild music infofiles (they were to be handed in on a CD), one cool useless utility, my wild compo movie "The Blair Bitch Project" and some other stuff, I went onto IRC to find out what was happening with our intro. Avalanche/Trinity was still there as he had been making our music releases for the party the last couple of hours, and he told me that it would arrive soon. To be sure to be able to compete with it when it arrived, I uploaded a small infofile describing it. But, of course, there were some problems with it and I never got it uploaded. So I went to the compocrew tent again, my home at DH of what it seemed. They said that it still would be okay to be late but that we had to hurry now, and that we had to get the infofile uploaded, which I later did. We also talked some about my other releases, for example one of them asked if my 2d girl wasn't Catherine Zeta Jones. I said yes and told him that it was a redraw of a photo of her, and he looked like understanding.
I was at that time a living zombie, the place had got a bit quieter and nothing interesting was happening until 08.00 the next morning when the compos started. And guess what, I finally could fall asleep and stayed in that condition for about 5-6 hours.
My third day started at the beginning of Saturday, the compo day. I was terribly tired but couldn't sleep any longer, mostly because of all the gamers around me playing while competing about what lamer who had the best speakers. I began yelling at a couple of them, they shut their sound off and I tried to sleep again, but unsuccessfully. Suddenly one of the gamers confronted me, and quietly asked, "What are you doing here if you ain't playing?" Two hours later that gamer had turned into a wannabe-scener. I showed him some demos, some intros, some 4k's, some graphics and finally I showed him how to pixel. He told all of his friends about the cool demoscene and now there were a lot of people interested in the upcoming compos, and I had at the same time secured getting some votes.
To be nice to others, and also to have something to do, I started an IRC channel named #dhreport. There I wrote down everything of value that happened on the party, every contribution with my personal ratings, description, anticipated winners and additional remarks. I've always missed that myself when I've been trying to get some information about a party in progress. Let's make that a new trend, shall we?
With just a minor delay, the first compo, Tracked Music, started. I heard that almost 90 modules were handed in, but only 16 were played. It started off good, actually so good that the first song that got played also got the first place. The compo as a whole was of average quality in my opinion. I contributed with two tunes. One non-serious by myself and a friend of mine and one by Avalanche/Trinity. Ava's tune got played somewhere in the middle and got good responses, so I was feeling good. My tune wasn't even played, but it was no big surprise. I enjoyed five tunes in the compo, the ones by Andromeda, Avalanche and Langley, and two by guys I don't remember the names of.
About the same time I, finally, received our intro while typing like a madman on #dhreport. Quickly I copied it into a floppy and ran towards the crowded compo-tent and jostled my way through. But guess what? "It is too late now, sorry." I got very angry and tried to persuade the bastards for over half an hour. Unfortunately my ideas such as "Can't you just take the whole Zepo system down, include our intro and then put it up again? We've been working our asses of with this you know!" and "Well then don't upload it to the Zepo then, but why not tell everyone that if they vote on nothing, they vote on us? Our intro can be that 'I vote on nothing option', okay?" didn't convince them. So I got hostile instead and said that Dreamhack should be a gamers party only and that they were so lame that the whole party would turn into a gaming event sooner or later, even if they didn't want it that way. I overreacted, yes, but hey, I was tired and my brain was shut off due to lack of sleep.
The time had come for Music Wild. Kind of the same thing as Tracked Music, the only difference was that the MW entries should be handed in on a CD, and that the quality of the compo was, surprisingly for me, lower than the TMs. There was only one tune I did enjoy, the one by Steffo, which also became the winner. This time none of my two contributions was played, both very nice remixes by Ava, so I once again ran away to my home. "We didn't see any difference between your tunes and the originals", they said. "You mean that we ripped them!?" "Well, I dunno, they seemed a bit fishy." That was a bit too much for me, and just as before, my mouth sounded like the winner of the speakers competition at my place for a couple of minutes. The tunes are very different from the originals, so I guess Ava is a great musician in their opinion.
Up next was the Raytrace compo. My stomach had started to ache as the time drew closer the Pixel compo, but fortunately I could enjoy the 3d compo anyway. They showed every picture for about twenty seconds so I really had a hard time writing down everything on #dhreport and give them fair ratings. The images I liked were especially the ones by Tudor (which I saw this February for the first time) and Neurodruid. Tudor won big, but I don't know anything about Neurodruid's ranking. I think the quality of the compo was very good, even though some pictures really sucked.
The time had come. I was extremely nervous about the reactions, and about my competitors. The only wellknown graphician I knew that was contributing was Java, and I was anxiously waiting for his image to be shown. Before I saw that one I was to experience quite bad stuff. One of the early pictures was even a 100% scanned rip-off, which made me quite irritated and also worried, maybe all the gamers would vote on it. Actually almost every gamer was watching now and everyone screamed "woooow" when they saw the rip-off. Some minute after, Java's picture was shown, and I must say that I loved it. An extremely nice picture, perfect lights and with a lot of feeling. In my opinion, that drawing was the best contribution of them all at Dreamhack, and a well worth winner.
What about my picture, then? Well, I asked myself the same question after the twenty images had been shown. I guess you can imagine what I did next, I head for the compotent. "I guess we forgot your picture, it has quality and the workings look fine, so we must have forgotten it." I was tired of being angry, and now got more like sad instead of mad. I felt like crying. Believe it or not, it helped. They changed the whole Zepo system, added my picture for voting and showed it about twenty minutes later. I was very frustrated and just wanted to go home to my mummy, but it got great reaction and I got a bit happier. But it didn't get much attention so my thoughts about ranking high were gone. Except Java's picture I was fond of Adam's, which deservedly got second, and some Damage guy's. Also the one by Neurodruid was nice. Guess who got the third place? The rip-off of course.
At this time I was indescribably tired, my brain was working on less than half the usual power (so at that time I had about the average IQ level, hehe) and I wanted to sleep, sleep and, ehrm, watch the starting intro compo. This compo had without doubt the highest quality of them all. Sitting surrounded by gamers was tough this time. At the same time I had to be active on #dhreport, I had to watch the nice intros and teach the gamers. Comments like "I think they make these things in Flash", "they're so small because they're zipped of course" and "they download the music from the Internet" were hard not to reply on. I mostly laughed, though, was too busy to sit there and comment everything.
Psikorp won the compo, a co-op by Noice & Cryonics got second and a trying-to-be-fun-intro by Woorlic got third. In my opinion, Aardbei's intro should be the winner, but Psikorp's one had a nice feeling and made all the gamers think they were cool with their Astral Projection inspired poetry. Other good intros belonged to Replay, Blocc and Tazadum, and I also liked Hirmu's fun-intro that didn't get shown, definitely funnier than Woorlic's. Also PS's intro (which I originally should make the gfx for, but was to busy/lazy) wasn't shown, but quite funny.
There was a small pause after the intro compo and I finally got a chance to go visit my new mates and take care of some other things. When I got back to my seat my buddy told me that some guys had been running around shouting my name for a while, and I figured it had to be the Lator-ass and his friends. So I spent some time with him and a girlfriend of his while watching some demos I'd never seen before. In the middle of it, the Dreamhack organizing started to shout my name, and I went to the compotent, again. Like it wasn't enough already, they now said that my 2d were to be disqualified. I of course didn't understand a thing at the beginning, but they told me that they had "received a picture looking very close to mine" and asked me if I did it straight from my mind. "It is a redraw of a photo, I even said that when I gave it to you." Their facial expressions told me that they didn't believe me. "Don't tell me you're going to disqualify me again, this is absurd. How can I prove it to you that I drew it, myself?" I went into the tent and tried to show them how I draw it as well as my tired mind allowed me to. "Well, it seems like you're telling the truth, but it's not my decision." What should I expect from an organizing that let a scanned rip-off get the third place in the compo? However, that was faaar too much for me, "then just disqualify me, I'm tired of this shit." There are no words to describe how terribly furious I got. I began screaming at them things I can't even remember, tried to tell them how extremely lame and stupid they were, that Dreamhack was the worst crap I'd ever been to and things like that. And of course I withdrew from every single compo, which felt quite shitty as I had, as one example, been looking forward to see my "The Blair Bitch Project" on the screen and hear the reactions. One thing is certain though; I will never enter a pixel compo with a redraw again, ever.
What usually comes after the intro compo? The final of the Quake 3 tournament had already been shown on the big screen so even Dreamhack had the demo compo after the intro. At #dhreport all the guys were now anxious about how well it would go for Razor 1911. Seven of the nine people at that time wanted RZR's demo to completely fail. The two other guys were Graffik and Smash, both RZR members and involved with the project, so they didn't quite feel the same. Unfortunately for the seven other people, "Mindstammer" was the best demo and it won huge. Maybe not because the demo was great, but because every single gamer seemed to worship Razor 1911. Every gamer around me started speaking about things like "They gave us Quake!" and "I didn't know they were like us." The last comment made me laugh a lot I must admit, yes, Razor is a bunch of gamers. The quality of the demo compo wasn't as expected when just having experienced the great intro compo, but it had a couple of good productions. Acid Rain's demo was original and nice, and Steffo, "the musician", had made quite a cool demo as well.
After the demo compo was over I was not only tired, but also very angry at everything concerning Dreamhack. So I left my friends at #dhreport alone, said goodnight to my buddy and directly fell asleep.
The last day
I woke up in the middle of the prize ceremony. My buddy told me that the night had been great, the 3d accelerated demos and one of the Java demos had been very impressive, and the Wild Compo had been cool and funny. After some hours we left the building, with a very big probability never to ever come back again.
Photos by KOWBOY/NEXTEMPIRE