Behind the group and person: Cocoon & Guille
Hugi went backstage to learn about the demogroup Cocoon and its lead coder Guille. Written by Magic of Nah-Kolor.
The History of Cocoon
Cocoon is a French demogroup making demos on PC since 1997. Its members are Nytrik (Guillaume Nichols) for the visuals. Then there is Willbe (William Lamy) for the music. Also responsible for the visuals are Tenshu (Christophe Romagnoli) and Ntsc (Adrien Ravelli). Last but not least there is the coder of the group Guille. (Real name: Guillaume Werle) Hugi got into a conversation with Guille about himself and Cocoon. Guille has been working in the games industry for about 13 years now and got his first job through demomaking. He has also spent a lot of time in research and developement of 3D engines for different platforms like Playstation 3, PC and XBOX.
Since 1997 Cocoon has released the following demos:
Coredump (1997), Area (with Ribbon 1997), Shad (with Syndrome in 1998), Shad 2 and Synaps 012 (1999), Rapsody (2000), raw confessions teaser and Glon 243 (2001), raw confessions and last poet (2002), coma on the dancefloor and scene.org awards 2003 opening video (2004), Sweet home under synthetic clouds, sandbox punks (2007), Shad 3, Nazca and Retrofitting (2008), Numerica Artparty #2 invitation (2009) and finally a 4k intro called Whispers together with TPOLM (for Revision 2011).
Guille in retrospective
Hugi went all the way to France to meet up with the lead coder Guille of Cocoon. Guille introduces himself: "Hi, my real name is Guillaume Werle, I have been interested in the demo scene since the early 90s and I released my first demo way later on Amiga in 1996. Back in those days I was reading quite a lot of diskmags like Hugi, doing this interview reminds me of all those nice oldschool feelings. Thanks Magic!"
Having started on the Amiga, Guille delivered some top notch demos on the PC as written above. But what
demos did Guille release on the Amiga? Guille comments: "2nd world, released at the Saturne party 1996,
got a 3rd place. My very first demo, it also was my first time at a demo party with more than 50 pepople in
the room and I was very happy to get there with something to show on the bigscreen. The demo was synced with
the music by Maf, the demo system was driven by some special hex code he could put into the .mod. Then there
was Fashion, 1st place at the 3s party 1997. Finished in a hurry at nasty boy's house near the party place and
edited again and again during the party until the deadline. Last but not least there was Subzero, released at
The Party 1996. Got 6th place. A very quick
one-week production, done mostly because I didn't want to go there with empty hands. This one was really hacked together in haste, I even had to borrow the accelerator 68030 from Revolution/Analog because I didn't have the time to make the demo fit in 4mb at the party place. Altough all those demos were written 100% in assembly they were quite 'newschool' for the time, they required an HDD and a 68020 4MB accelerator."
Guille has a long history on the demoscene. In real life he works in the games industry. At present time where does
he work? What are the most known games he worked on so far? "I have been working as a graphic programmer in the game
industry since 1999. At the moment, I am the PS3 guy in a newly opened game studio called Spiders Games in Paris.
I am spending most of my time writing rendering related code and optimizing the codebase", Guille explains and
continues: "Ronaldo v-football on PSX was my very first game project. During the 2 years of development I worked
on many different modules of the game, camera, ingame user interface, replay
system, net physics, particles, audio system and the commentary state machine. Then there is Tintin, Objectif Aventure on PSX. I was in charge of the PC version, special FX and the camera system. The PC version got cancelled shortly after the beginning due to budget restriction but the rest of the production went smoothly. I was initially hired to work with Leonard/Oxygen on an XBox title but this project was cancelled even before my first day at the studio. I also worked at Montecristo Games. The studio was starting a new 3D engine from scratch. I coded most of the rendering technology and graphic tools used in all 3D title releases between 2001 and 2009. The most well known were Fire Departement, Silverfall, City Life and Cities XL. Altough the budget didn't allow for much polishing the work was quite enjoyable. At the Darkworks company I worked back again with leonard/oxygen on some PS3 part of the PlayAll engine. Some titles based on the technology are in production but none has hit the retail market at this time. And finally in January 2009 I joined Spiders Games as main graphic programmer. All the core team comes from Montecristo, we all were working on the Silverfall series for several years. We are now working on a unannounced crossplatform title.
How Cocoon was founded
Cocoon has been around on the demoscene for quite some time. In this period Cocoon has released quite a few demos. You probably know and have seen some of them. But when and how was Cocoon founded? Guille tells the story: "It was in 1997, at this time all Cocoon members were part of Syndrome and there was quite a fierce competition inside the group between us and the other members. At some day we decided to leave to create Cocoon, a bit later we managed to release our first PC production called 'Coredump' in the summer of 1997 at the Wired demo party and in 1998 some Syndrome members helped us to put another demo called 'Shad' out of the door."
Cocoon's members mostly came from the group Syndrome. But why the name Cocoon? Why was this name chosen for the group? Were perhaps other names considered back then? Guille: "Nytrik came with this name, I think that he selected it because it gave him inspiration for making cool looking logos. I can't remember any other name we had in mind."
Following Cocoon and its releases in the last 12 years I noticed a break between the stream of Cocoon releases. Between the release of 'Coma' and the 'Scene.org awards 2003 opening video' and Cocoon's next demo 'Sweet Home Under synthetic clouds' there was a gap of 3.5 years. Why was that? What did Cocoon do in between ? "Well, for all of us our familly situation changed drasticaly around this time, we got married, had kids, bought houses. Those kinds of activity don't leave you with that much energy and free time", Guille comments and continues: "To make things even more interesting I decided to rewrite a good part of our demo engine during this period."
Anno domini 2012 when finalising this article I noticed another period without Cocoon productions. Cocoon's last demo called 'Retrofitting' was released in October 2008 and the 'Numerica artparty#2 invitation' in February 2009. Three years have passed. Cocoon took another break? What do the other members do during this timeframe? And finally what can we expect from Cocoon in 2012 or beyond? "Like back in 2003 our technology is getting rusty. Nytrik worked with Pantaloon/Fairlight but the demo development is stopped at this time. Our other members, they are working in their spare time on some other projects, but they are not demo related as far as I know", Guille explains and concludes: "I have decided to build a new multithreaded/DX11 targeted rendering architecture from scratch, so everyone in the team is stuck until I'm done. I am working on it only 2-3 hours a week, so yes, this might take a while..."
Links related to this article
Cocoon productions at Pouet.net