Realtime Generation

By Adok/Hugi

Realtime Generation was a public demoscene festival with an exhibition, panel discussions, demoshows and even a full-scale demoparty with a competition. It took place in Vienna, Austria, in July 2008 (4th - 20th). The event was organized by [d]vision, an Austrian association that deals with digital culture. I reported about their "electronic kindergarten" party, which was held in the year 2001, in Hugi #23. The team of [d]vision has changed in the course of the years, and now Regina "Gina" Webhofer is the project leader. The new [d]vision focuses on increasing public awareness about the demoscene. Since fall 2007, they have been organizing the monthly "Demoscene Meetings" in Vienna where people gather in the bar "werkzeugH" to watch the presentation of a well-known scener. Past guests include Navis, Gargaj, BoyC, Archmage, Dipswitch, Chaos, KB and XXX.

The "Realtime Generation" festival has been the current peak of [d]visions' activities. It mostly took place at a well-renowned site in the center of Vienna, the Museumsquartier. There, in a large room called "Freiraum", [d]vision presented their exhibition. When you entered the room, the first thing you would encounter were screens lined up showing demos from PC, Amiga, Atari, C64 and ZX Spectrum, and in addition there was a screen shwoing cracktros. Next to these screens, there were some of old machines for free use, such as a Commodore 64, an Atari Falcon 030, an Amiga 500, a Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and a modern PC ("demo station"). Moreover, there were a lot of terminals in the rooms where you could read some diskmags (including Hugi #34), listen to music, play with a tracker, look at graphics or play with a nice "plane generator" coded by iq of RGBA (you entered formulas, and it generated effects). Additionally there were a big screen on which some demos were running, and some portable DVD players showing a Blender tutorial and other things.

July 4th, 2008

On July 4th, 5:30 pm, still before the official opening, Bonzaj of Plastic from Poland delivered a presentation about his famous PlayStation 3 demo "Linger in the Shadow". He showed how it is possible to influence the demo by pressing buttons on the PS3 controllers. The presentation took place in another room of Museumsquartier, the Room D. About 30 people watched this presentation and several ones posed questions afterwards, such as if Plastic got paid for this demo and if other demo groups are encouraged to develop demos for PS3.

The actual opening was in the Freiraum at 7:00 pm, with the leading members of [d]vision and with Gargaj. There were quite a lot of people at the opening, probably more than 50. There were also some sceners. Apart from the ones already mentioned, there were Kinga, iq, Paralax, Snowkrash and Warhead.

Since the entrance was free, a lot of people dropped by. On the second day of the exhibition, it happened that a demonstration was going on in the street next to the Museumsquartier. Mostly young people demonstrated for things such as free drugs and against globalization. Some of the demonstrants visited the exhibition afterwards and enjoyed it.

July 5th, 2008

The second day also featured a panel discussion about the demoscene in Room D. The invited guests were two sceners (Antibyte and Gargaj) and two university professors, Michael Wagner and Frank Hartmann. First everybody delivered a presentation, then they answered questions from the audience. Antibyte talked about the "evolution of the demoscene", from C64 over Amiga to PC, how the newschool scene is different from the oldskool scene (no more elite vs. lamer, but many styles, content now more important than code, realtime because we can, not because there is no other way, and scene being no longer underground, but getting mainstream attention), and why he thinks the decay of the demoscene has begun. Gargaj was the only one not to have a Powerpoint presentation with him, so he delivered a speech. One of the university professors, who knew the scene because he worked together with the student Hannes Kaufmann (Mercator of Ooze Labs), presented his idea that the demoscene is a "gated knowledge community". This means that the demoscene is not easily accessible (gated), but shares its knowledge within itself, and he thinks that this is an institution that is in parallel with academia and partly even superior to academia. Interestingly he used the title picture of Hugi #28 as the cover picture for his presentation. The other university professor talked about media philosophy.

July 18th, 2008

For almost two weeks there was the exhibition without any special events. A lot of people (about 2700 according to official statements) showed up, only one DVD player was stolen, the Amiga and Atari disks didn't get lost. A lot of T-shirts with the "Realtime Generation" logo were sold (the price was 15 EUR). Moreover, Mindcandy DVDs and Hackerland books were available at the desk.

Then, on July 18th, the demoparty started. It was possible to register from 2:00 pm on, but most people came much later. You got an info-package and a [d]vision button at the infodesk. The actual party place was the Metalab in the center of Vienna near the city hall, a cozy place where computer geeks meet to exchange their experiences. But most of the action took place at Museumsquartier. At 8:00 pm there was the official opening of the demoparty. Caesar of TPOLM presented his and iq's installation "the deeper meaning of a tunnel 2" in Room D. He showed some tunnel effects on the bigscreen the parameters of which could be changed by pressing keys. After this, there was the second (the first was on July 4th, the third on July 19th) open-air demoshow in the inner yard of Museumsquartier. At 9:00 pm, half an hour before it started, the demo party guests gathered at a desk where headphones were distributed. You had to leave your passport or 30 EUR at the desk in exchange for the headphone. A lot of cool demos were shown, including the invitation to this event, "Realtime Generation" by ASD, Fairlight and Alcatraz, "Poison Ivy" by Exceed, "Deus ex Machina" by Crest and Oxyron, "Chaos Theory" by Conspiracy and "fr-025: the popular demo" by Farbrausch.

People showing up at the demoparty included Unlock, tmb, Peci, Blockbuster, muhmac, some other Speckdrumm members, some sceners from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Ghandy and his girlfriend, Poti, Dixan and some other Spinning Kids members and Fiver2.

July 19th, 2008

The first event on June 19th (apart from breakfast and a sightseeing tour) was the surprise competition, in which the participants had to build a computer with closed eyes. At 3:00 pm, there was a panel discussion about the demoscene with Skaven and KB. Skaven started with showing a presentation about the history of Future Crew. We learned that Second Reality was created in just a week's time. It was the only time that the Future Crew met up at one of their members' places and spent a week working together. But some routines had already been created before that. KB showed the first demo of his first group, The Obsessed Maniac. It was called F.A.K.E and was on C64. It showed no effects, instead it displayed "the smallest scroller of the world" (3x1 pixels), "full screen shadebobs" (the screen in one colour, changing colour all the time) etc. He wanted to demonstrate with it that even if you have little knowledge of demo programming, you can create something if you have a good idea. Skaven and KB discussed why so few young people get into the demoscene these days. KB said it's because in the past, you had to use Basic commands on your C64 in order to run programs, and so it followed naturally that you got into programming, while these days, there's not such a clear path to programming.

At 7:00 pm, there was the main competition. It was a mixed music and demo compo. Two tunes and one demo were shown. The demo ("Flowertower") was by Speckdrumm, it was an old but unreleased demo from 2003. After that there was the voting. Every visitor got a blue LED and there was a camera recording the positions of the LEDs in the room. The room was divided into three areas for the three compo entries, and you had to move your LED into the area of the entry you wanted to vote for. In the end, the demo won. The winners got free tickets for Evoke and other demo parties.

Finally there was the "Celebrate the scene party" at 10:00 pm at a place called Wirr. Jesse "ior" Rothenberg, dot.matrix and DJ paul raal made some liveacts. This was the last climax of Realtime Generation. On the next day the party and the exhibition ended.


It was a well-organized event with an interesting program that didn't become boring. The idea to do the exhibition came from one of the managers of Museumsquartier, who proposed it to Gina after the demoscene presentation at Resfest, a festival that took place in the Freiraum in fall 2006. The event was funded by a lot of partners, including the city of Vienna. There are plans to organize Realtime Generation again next year.

Text & all photos by Adok/Hugi

Mixed Compo Results:
1) Flowertower by Speckdrumm (demo, Win32)
2) knarf by cyanid (mp3)
3) SynthEthical by raster/c.p.u. (mp3)