Breakpoint 2005 party report

By T$ / Scoopex

Breakpoint 2005 was held in Bingen, Germany, on March 25th to March 28th, 2005.

It was friday morning, the clock displayed 6:somethingmuchtooearly, time to get up, eat something for breakfast and leave for Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof. In the left hand: the good old party PC, in the right hand: the good old rulemonitor and necessary accessoires (coffee cup, cables, tools and the usual stuff people put into their suitcases). As you can see, everything was there - including a copy of my not-yet-finished 4k and several backups. About an hour later, I arrived at the train station where Cthulhu and some of Styx's comrades were already waiting for my arrival and the train to depart. Guess that the other passengers realized pretty soon that there were some geeks next to them as the most important issue while looking for a seat was the power supply next to the window. Unfortunately, we had to change trains twice, once into a crappy train where one could really realize that "DB" is an acronym for "Dirt Box" with hippies on the left and skins on the right or something like that. The last train was better, but you could really improve your size-optimizing skills while trying to store the luggage in it.

Anyway, we arrived at Bingen without delay, soon to be picked up by the Breakpoint bus. Yes, it was the same micro bus which had been used in the years before as well, and the busdriver even happily greeted me with: "Dich kenne ich, du bist deutsch!" Guess the good guy had never seen that many people from abroad until Breakpoint took place for the first time ;)

After having reached the party place, I was pretty relieved by seeing that the party place did not show a heavy sportshall-like atmosphere as I first had imagined. This was mostly due to the fact that the whole floor was covered by some kind of carpet while large parts of the walls were covered as well (in order to keep the noise in and light out). I dropped my stuff next to my Scoopex groupmates Peitschi, Peci and Kojote who had already arrived the day before. After getting rid of all my carriage, it was time to check the partyplace and look for everyone who was also already there as well. Of course, Scythoior was there (since he was part of the orga team). I also found Skyrunner, and - guess what - Adok, whom I hadn't met since Dialogos several years ago. Since the 4k deadline would be soon, I decided to finish my entry prior to chatting around. Thus, my machine got plugged in and the entry completed just before everyone was thrown out in order to pay their entry fees.

BTW, have I already mentioned that the two entrances had nice deco creating an atmosphere somewhere between cyberpunk and plastic sci-fi? Especially the one with the strange humming machine was great - guess everyone who stayed there for longer than one minute got brainwashed pretty soon. Maybe that's why they even left a

bench in front of it ;^]

After submitting my entry and paying the entrance fee in exchange for a cheap wristband given to me by Madenmann as a reward for participating in the long waiting queue contest, Kojote and I decided to get into Bingen city in order to eat mafia pancakes, erm, pizza. On the way to Bingen, we also found out that the local government seemed to have too much money since they had put up traffic signs informing you that you were leaving and reentering Bingen on a part of the main road just 10 metres long... o_0

There wasn't much going on on Friday evening apart from more sceners arriving. Suddenly I had the idea that I could make a game out of my 4k and submit it for the 96k game compo. After spending some time coding, heavily interrupted by various smalltalk and "hello"s, it was already in the middle of the night and I went to sleep. Like at previous Breakpoints, I decided to get a hotel room, which not only gave you a proper shower but also a nice time having breakfast with other sceners without the need to get out in order to find a suitable and cozy cafe or bakery first. As usual, the Swiss guys as well as several BP and TUM organizers had had the same idea. Since it was still in the morning, I decided to walk around a bit, visiting the Burg Klopp (which seems to be closed all the time) and the Rochusberg prior to contributing to the supermarket raid, which can be seen at every easter in the local Minimal and Aldi markets. Well, that was one of the good changes the new location had brought with: Both the city, the hotels and the supermarkets were just a couple of minutes away, no need to wait for the bus or take care not to miss the last one ;)

This year's seminars also started to take place, and I decided to visit some of them. In general, I did not learn anything new in any of the seminars, but at least the ones I attended did a good job in providing a good overview for beginners in their respective fields. And some of the discussions followed later on (in case time allowed it) were quite interesting. You wouldn't have noticed that the seminars were taking place for the first time since they seemed to be organized in a pretty professional way. Some people complained about the Intel and Ati seminars lacking scene relevance and being all the same, but I do not think that this was really a problem: There still seemed to be enough visitors who gained useful information, and a standard seminar is still the better alternative to a poor attempt at trying to appeal to the audience like last year's shader show.

The rest of the day was spent with the same mixture of chatting with other 4k coders like Muhmac, Peci, Frenetic as well as with Topy (who later started to make a soundtrack for my game) and companions, coding and tech discussions as before, interrupted by several competitions. The first great competition was the 4k one, which showed that the overall 4k quality had really reached a level which could kick many 64ks' asses. To my surprise, the freshly enforced rule which banned incompatible version-specific optimizations worked fine, this was the first time all 4ks worked well on other machines again for years!

DXM also brought new ideas by submitting a technically simple but original 4k in a style only be seen in 64ks before. Unfortunately, the idea had been copied from a comercial advert - but it was still fun to watch and made the crowd cheer loudly in the compo.

As expected, the grandstand was the best place to watch the compo, providing the ability to talk, drink and watch the compo simultaneously without being interrupted by bypassers and opaque heads in front of you. Some sceners also used it as some sort of sleeping place, which seemed to work fine, although the organizers weren't that happy when they realized that the same had happened to some of their noise reduction materials as well...

None of the wild competition entries really touched me - even the Concept musicvideo lacked fresh feelings, despite its really well directed camera motions and timeline. Maybe some additional Polish presence might haved helped... or not.

I missed last year's outdoor environment a bit - not only because it rained several times this year, but also because everything seemed to be a lot smaller, including the tent and the bonfire. Apart from that, last year's bushes had just looked cozier than a construction fence covered with plastic sheets (which were said to be necessary as a noise barreer, but I guess they did a better job in keeping the views of confused locals out). Food support was OK, and I wonder why so many sceners complained about the "Bruchwurst" being that bad - there might be better ones, but this one was edible as well. Interestingly, the smallest hut drawed most attention by serving pasta for a fair price, providing a grateful change to the usual fast food stuff.

On Sunday morning, Gizmo picked me up and brought me to the party place, arriving just in time for seeing the fog machine running at its max for no reason. Guess someone wanted to break the "no smoking"-rule silently by hiding his fumes within the fog... Anyway, the remaining seminars started, including Peci, who succesfully presented today's normal mapping techniques, proving that Austria isn't "behind the mountains" at all. Prerecording sessions of the game compo finally took place afterwards, nearly one day later than the originally planned competition time ;) Unfortunately, the intended soundtrack for my game wasn't finished due to module format conversion problems, and thus the audience had the joy to suffer from the original noise track again. At least the explosions still succeeded in giving the visitors a feeling close to a heart attack, let's see if my soundtracks can get worse than Nosfe's wild entries ;) I was pretty surprised when I realized that the audience liked my "Tomatolings" idea, although it was a fastmade one mostly consisting of low-quality copypaste code and was just submitted because there was no time to create the 4k I had originally had in mind. Other game entries seemed to be heavily influenced by retro - shit, no need to comment the hilarious Metalvotze Presswurst with authentic audio experience.

Later on, one compo followed another, and I won't say much about them since you can also check them out at pouet or My special favourites were the Bauknecht demo and Modus Exodus, followed by KP's Electronic Warfare, the KakiArts 64k and SquoQuo's demo. Pretty high quality turned the demo compo into a long two-hour entertainment session, which reminded me of the legendary Mekka 2002 competition. Get a beer, as the organizers proposed, and enjoy ;) Graphicians seemed to be less active this time since there were far fewer entries in the two graphic competitions, but most entries were still eye candy. Can't say the same about the music competitions, though: In past years, many entries I liked had not survived the preselection but the tracks could still be obtained and voted for. However, this was changed into releasing only the tracks played in the competition, thus making the whole music section more or less uninteresting for me. Introducing the executable music compo was a great thing for old hardware based releases since it proved that there is much more than just SID and AdLib. Adding a softsynth competition is a bit senseless, though - don't we have the same thing in the intro competitions already?

A couple of live acts picking up 80 TVs and scene tunes in an entertaining way could also be seen on stage during the evenings. However, I would have liked it better if not all of them had been rockband-style ones. Last year's mixture including different synth acts as well as on-stage entertainment had been a more appropriate mixture for a scene party. No, I don't regard the Jumalauta dream geeks as entertainment. Hallo! Was?

This evening Anti also asked me to make some alien noise for his fast compo intro just a couple of minutes prior to the deadline, but unfortunately I missed it when the entry was played on stage. In fact, I missed half of the fast compo as well as the prizegiving due to preferring to get up late prior to realizing that the morning was already almost over and the need to reach the train with complete equipment in time. At least the journey back home went fast and flawlessly, leaving the feeling that I will be there next year as well for sure!