Interview with Tomcat
This interview was first published in the Polish diskmag Budyn #5, released in 2002.
"A Stupid Interview with a Stupid Man By A Stupid Interviewer (About Stupid Things, of course)" - Tomcat about what you are about to read.
Could you introduce yourself? Name, rank, age, etc... :)
Ladies, and gentlemen, I have the pleasure to introduce you me myself. Me am Tomcat of Greenroom, but if you take a look at my ID, there you can see a name like Tamas Polgar. They use it to identify me in official documents. I am around 25, and I can't remember exactly if less or more. They remind me at my birthday party anyway.
How long have you been in the Scene?
I first discovered the existence of crackers, intros and demos on the Commodore 64 around 1989 or so. I started my activity at the end of 1993, when I released a simple adventure game titled 'Revenge on School'. It was a lame Pascal game, with a lot of violence, splatter, sex and black humour. I never meant it seriously, but somehow it became very popular countrywide, and people still call me on the phone to ask for hints. I was to my first demoparty in 1995.
Is GreenRoom your first group? Are you its founder?
No, GRM is my second group. I am quite faithful to my labels, so it takes me long to leave a group and find or found a new one. GRM was founded in 1999 by Immortal Rat and me. Actually I had the idea of start a new group that can bring some life into the dying Hungarian scene, and IR came up with the name.
So what was the first one, and why did you decide to leave?
The first group was named Controlled Dreams, founded in 1995. It got disbanded in 1998 because I had to go to the army, and felt like quitting the scene.
I know that GRM is a small group. Could you tell us why, and how many are you in there?
Yes, GRM is a small group, that's right. It has 4 members at the moment, of which 2 are actually active. It is because we do it for fun, and not up to expectations. The two active members are Nagz and me, besides there is IR, who is officially a graphician, and my lady, Vickey, who is the official group mascot. [FYI: Nagz is a musician - IH]
People say that you are a complicated person and that you have strange points of view on everything. Is it right?
Either I am right and they're stupid, or vice versa. :) Well, actually I am a kind of person who takes a good look at everything, looking for the uncommon. This is particularly useful if you want to understand stuff you normally wouldn't. But it also has drawback, you can collect enemies fast. Usually those whose work you straightly criticize.
I know that lots of people in the (Hungarian) scene are attacking you, and you fight back. Do you like being different? Having a different point of view on everything?
Dunno... is there a Hungarian scene? :) Well... actually nowadays I wouldn't say there are any attacks or flamewars in the Hungarian scene, as it is virtually dead. But back some years ago, around 1996-97, we had a flourishing, huge national scene, and then we had some fights and wars, yes. And I was involved in some, that's true. But those who take scene wars seriously don't really understand the entire thing I'd say. Also those who have never been in any. :)
Someone told me that without you the Hungarian scene would be truly dead by now. What do you thing about the scene, and the Hungarian scene in particular? How do You see its future?
I wouldn't say it'd be entirely dead without me, but I'd be inmodest if I said I am not among the few who keep it alive. It's a matter of fact that without FLaG Party we would have much less scene life, as it's the last major Hungarian party (however, AntIQ is coming up again this year!). But FLaG is not the only thing that keeps us in the business. Today's Hungarian scene is just a shadow of the old one. I see the chance that it will raise again from the ashes of the old glory, but this needs some ppl who've seen the old times to stay and help a new generation grow. The most important thing for these beginners is to understand the scene spirit, mentality and unwritten laws. If they succeed - and seems they will - we'll see a new Hungarian scene someday. But currently our activity is some 5-10 percent compared to what was going on here in 1996.
What about your parties? How many have you attended so far? When did you decide to organize FLaG the first time?
The last Mekka & Symposium was my 35th party. This is certainly a huge number. Although there are some Hungarian sceners who can beat even this, like Reptile. Now you can imagine how many parties we had in Hungary during the past years.
Yes I can. Any Polish parties? ;)
No, unfortunately I've never been to Poland. And it seems like I won't be able to hit Symphony this year :(. So, about FLaG... FLaG was first held in 1996. I was the leader of Controlled Dreams back then, a new, quite ambitious group with no coders, so we couldn't release demos. But I came up with the idea of organizing a party. It was a true blind gamble, as I never knew how huge the task could be. Those days SCEneST was the largest Hungarian party, and a number of similarly ambitious organizer teams appeared, willing to create an even better party like: Rage, AntIQ and several more. Beating SCEneST was impossible that time, as the main organizer, Melan, had so many sponsor contacts and organizing experience, but some of us got very close. And despite of our complete inexperience, we somehow managed FLaG 96 to become a major success. We had around 1000 visitors. Officially we always stated 800, the rest were roleplayers, as it was also a roleplayer meeting. This is how we started. Then came FLaG 98, but that was a flop, unfortunately. In 2000, after visiting some Western parties, I thought about relaunching FLaG, following Western organizing methods and ways. This was actually an experiment. Until then, all Hungarian parties were following Melan's experiences and methods, and he took them from the Assembly, so our Hungarian parties were somewhat like cloned Finnish parties. German parties which I visited, like Mekka-Symposium or Dialogos, had quite different ways, which I found much more effective than the Finnish. So we made FLaG 2000, and it became a very successful international demoparty. Last year, FLaG 2001 was a repeated success. And now we're preparing FLaG 2002. We'll see if we can make it for the third time. :)
What can we expect from the next FLaG?
I am more bothered by the question of what I can expect :) Usually: no sleep for a week, chasing sponsors, rushing up and down to arrange small things, keeping the group moving, etc.
You know several Polish sceners. What do you think about the Polish Scene then?
I know two bunches from the Polish scene. The first is the 'old' elite, you know, Unreal, Camel, Akira, etc., and the current top bunch that contains Lettique, Neuroup, Payda, etc. I'd say the Polish scene is quite talented, but that's not big news for anyone who saw Polish demos. What is strange for me about the Polish scene is that there's always a very small group of truly active people, and the rest only booze. I mean, the top bunch is much smaller than it would be in other countries. But now, this is again a 'different view of certain things' so someone will surely bash me soon :)
I don't think so. ;)
Everyone is afraid of your fun compo-s. Last year the result was that the competitors vomited all around the place.
I wonder who told you this bullshit... gonna break his head or something... :) So... Yes, FLaG 2001's fun compo was a bit strong... But there's a true problem with people if they don't want to drink at a demoparty, isn't it? For those who don't catch it: We had a fun competition that included a boozing race. We had tons of different drinks, and the groups had 3 minutes to drink what they could. Well, they got drunk indeed. Then they had to perform various tasks. I think there's something wrong with someone who thinks that seeing drunken people on the stage during a demoparty is "frightening".
OK. You love military. you have a bunch of guns and all this stuff. you know every plane. Where did you get this interests from?
Military stuff... Yes, I am interested in military stuff. Just like many other people worldwide. Others dig cars. Or whatever. I have a "bunch of guns"??? No, I have one single gun. :) Where I got it from... Where have you got your interest in computers from?
I'm the one asking here ;)
I am into many things, but somehow when it comes to military stuff, everyone gets surprised about my interest. "Hey, this guy knows guns??" Well, it's quite boring that some people spread that I am a weapons freak and an armed madman just because I read about weapons and war history. And to be precise, I am not into "weapons" but into war history.
Ok, something different. ;) Your room is a real museum. Many oldschool machines...
Heh... you haven't seen Ratman / Crimson Jihad's room yet :D Or the room of a friend of mine, Hamster, a well known face of the Hungarian Internet scene, who is collecting old mainframe machines.
I haven't seen yours either.
Well, I just have some old computers. They're mainly for research for my book. If you're interested in a list: C-64C2, C64 Aldi, C-128DCR, Atari 600XL, Atari ST 520+, Amiga 1200, Atari 2600, Atari Portfolio. That's it at the moment... ain't much actually. Ah, and a Plus/4!
Yes, your book. I was going to that point. :) Can you tell us about it? I know, you can. :)
I am working on a large book about the history of the demoscene. It's titled 'Freax'. I've started it in 1996. Now you might wonder what takes so long. After six years of research - well, suspended for a year due to my army service - I start to realize how huge this thing we call demoscene is. I think there's perhaps just a dozen people on this planet who know what's this weird phenomena of the computer world. For this reason this will be a quite big book.
Well, my plans are about an 500-600 pages long, full color book, A4 sized. This is certainly huge. Just go to a bookstore and open some thick, nice publication, like books about nature or so. They're usually 300 pages long. But it just can't get smaller. It will include a narrative history of all times, beginning from the late 70's to our present days. I've already dig up some stuff that'd make your chins fall... this world hides a huge lot of surprises. The great story is divided to main parts: the C-64, the Amiga and the PC take the most space. There is another part for smaller scenes, like the Spectrum, the Atari, MSX, etc.
What about the 'Revenge Trilogy' game. I've tried to play it, but, uh... my Hungarian is... none.
Well, as I already mentioned in passing... there's an adventure game which I wrote as a lame teenager. It's actually a trilogy, as I wrote two sequels for it. Well, at secondary school I had the idea of writing an adventure game about my school, with my schoolmates and teachers in it. The original idea came from a C-64 game titled 'Skool Daze', a simple game in which you had to punch your way along in a school. With a classmate we designed an adventure game based on it. Your objective was to kill your school director in a very weird school. It was simply meant as a joke. I copied it to some classmates to have a laugh. Some weeks later my friend copied it to some of his classmates in his school. Some months later my friend was stopped by unknown schoolmates, asking him about the game. Some months later I was phoned by unknown people congratulating on the game... Some years later it became the most popular game in Hungary ever. And I am very proud of it. I sometimes found fansites on the Web, and people bug me for a fourth episode. I am quite sorry for those who can't understand Hungarian and can't play with it. :)
You are interested in Indian food and the Krishna religion. How so?
So... Well, it's a strange story. Back some years ago, we had nothing to do with my current gf during a weekend. She asked if I'd ever been to a church. I said yes, I had received some religious education back some years ago. Christian, of course. She asked if I've ever been to a Hare Krishna temple. Of course I haven't, and she told we should perhaps visit one, because she once did, and it was very interesting. I was kind of an atheist back then, just like most of us... laughing on all this God stuff and people carrying crosses. So let me quickly note that telling how I got into this religion is not meant to drive anyone the same way. :) So we visited a local Hare Krishna temple, which is actually a reconstructed former family house in a nice park area of Budapest. It was really very interesting. A bhakta - or "servant", as the Krishna monks call themselves - welcomed and invited us to receive the day's teaching. The teaching is a one-hour long lesson of the Bhagavad-Gita, India's Bible, as they say. The teaching bhakta told about God's, or as they call, Krishna's intentions and ways, and I found that the way I made Christian teachings ridiculous for myself just doesn't work here. You know, we all make fun of Christianity or what the Catholic church tries to call Christianity.
Yes, I know.
But what I heard there, and later at other events, confirmed me that this religion is different. And even though I was a strict atheist, the bhaktas just proved me the existence of God. Now I am trying to follow this religion's rules and living standards. I don't want to bore the readers with details, nor do I want to change their lives now... They'll someday find Krishna themselves, or maybe not. About Indian food... Besides of the truth I found in Vaishnavism (the Krishna religion), the bhaktas know some quite delicious vegetarian food recipes. They also run some restaurants in Budapest. After tasting it many times in the temple and their restaurant, I decided that I wanted to learn this stuff. And I now know quite a lot of Indian recipes. I think some sceners who already visited me in Budapest can tell about the excellence of this five-thousand-year-old kitchen. :)
Well, I think it will be all then. you can say hello to Vickey now.
Rather to the entire scene. :) Is that all? :)
Anything more you want to tell? Everyone I've asked was soooo scared to tell anything about you. ;)
Were they right about what they said?
I don't know. Were they? :) Well, I think yes. In some way... Anyway. Thank you for an interview. I hope there weren't much foul ups from my side. ;) Have fun writing your book. I hope it will be published soon. And... thanks again.
I thank you.
No, I thank you. ;)
Some portions were cut, because Tomcat considered them boring. Quote: "Do you think this excites your readers? :)"
In the end I would like to thank Tomcat for giving me permission tointeview him, and BoyC, BuXY, mrmaim, naGz, Noel and Lettique for information on TC, and you for reading this. :)
Oh! If you want to speak with Tomcat, he's quite often on #demoscene. If you want to meet him - take your stuff and come to FLaG this year! ;)