Interview with Popsy Team
A Popeyed Prophet of Hugi
The winning demo of Takeover 2000, Popsy Team's invitation to the VIP2 demoparty, was the cause of a scenewide controversy about using commercial music in demos. Seven excellently summarized the various opinions and analyzed their arguments in Static Line #23, so continue reading there if you're interested.
Though it has certainly been an important discussion, I feel it has overshadowed the actual demo, which, after all, Nix of The Black Lotus called "the best demo ever produced". Also Baloo found it one of the best, and even the leading scene critic on csipd, Otis, remarked it contained "great visuals" and "tough code". Interested in the making and the makers of VIP2, I asked the people from Popsy Team for an interview.
"As we presented the VIP (an invitation to the Very Important Party 1999) at the ARF Party 99", G-Hell began, "we planned to present the VIP2 invitation at the ARF Party 2000, however, due to our lack of free time we had no time to make a demo for April. Moreover, the ARF Party 2000 was canceled. But we had to release the invitation before the Very Important Party 2 (held in France on 7-8-9 july 2000), so the only party where we could release it was TakeOver 2000, the nearest party for us who live in Lyon (France)."
How long did they work on it, and who did what? "It took us about 2 months and a half to create the demo, but U2 had been working on the OpenGL engine since august 1999. U2 (PoPsY TeAm) made the 3D engine and the main code of the demo plus some 3d gfx. Madman (calodox) helped us by making complex 3D scenes (we hate doing that :o)). TuO (PoPsY TeAm) made the mp3 player (all in asm :o)). G-Hell (PoPsY TeAm) made 2d gfx and additional code for the launcher. The music was taken (or ripped) from a song by Fear Factory (Resurection from the album Obsolete) - thanks", said G-Hell with a grin.
According to U2, one of the hardest tasks he had to do was "to synchronise the visual effects and the music. The mp3 format, which is some kind of big wav, isn't as appropriate for synchronisation as XMs or MODs, which are composed of instruments organized on paterns and rows... Another hard thing was to manage the free space in ram and vram during the demo. This demo can currently run on a PC with only 64 M of ram. The rest of the making of this demo was pure pleasure and fun. ;o)"
It's pretty uncommon for an invitation demo to win the demo competition at a pretty large party. Then again, most invitation demos aren't as fancy as the VIP2 invitation. Hence, I was curious to know whether Popsy Team had expected to win the democompo at Takeover 2000 with it. "No", said G-Hell, "we really didn't hope this due to the prods from Takeover 1999. Moreover, we expected a lot of great groups to present some huge prods at TO2k... Anyway, a lot of invitation demos are more invitations than demos, we tried to make it 50/50... Moreover, we are demomakers, we prefer making a demo to making invitations. :o)"
What, in the eyes of the makers, makes VIP2 so special that some of the most popular coders in the PC demoscene expressed their deep affection? "First of all the music plays a big part, it really kicks ass. We made all of our works on the demo using this tune for synchronisations, fx ideas, gfx inspiration... etc. A little bit as Skal/Bomb did for 'State Of Mind'. I think it's this osmosis between music and visuals that makes this demo so appreciated. Moreover, the use of 3D hardware allows us to obtain some great visual quality. By making this demo we did what we wanted to do, not what we could do."
So the music, which has led to so much controversy, is an important element of the demo, or at least has been a source of inspiration. I knew they used the soundtrack without the band's permission, for which they've been reproached a lot by other sceners. Yet I was wondering if they ever had ever had contact with a member of this band or an affiliated person. G-Hell told me that he "saw them in a concert in Lyon, but that's about all. :o) Anyway we haven't been in contact with them neither before and after the release of this demo." "Moreover I don't think they would have accepted to let us use this song without buying this and paying royalties", added U2.
Did the demo fulfil the typical task of an invitation demo, namely attract more visitors to the party? "As the invitation was released in middle june and the VIP2 held in early july we don't think it attracted a lot of new people, however it as certainly attracted a few. But one thing is clear: this invitation has made the party known among a lot of people around the world."
"In total 250 peoples attended VIP2", G-Hell told me about the actual party, "and we had just space for these 250 so we had to reject some people at the party place. Some well known sceners were here such as Made/Bomb, Calodox, Condense, Orion... etc... We had some little power problems due to some people who didn't know how to plug their computers together correctly (seems to be hard for them ;)) but nothing alarmous. We are satisfied both by the quality and the quantity of the prods: about 21 2D Gfx, 19 3D Gfx, 15 Demos, 15 MP3 tunes... Last year we had gathered about 130 people and had about 6 demos, so it's good progress in our opinion, but we don't want to grow much more, we want to keep a small party spirit."
The group Popsy Team was created in 1996, U2 joined them in 1997. Originally it was an Atari group but it seems they are no longer active on this platform: "Well my ST is sleeping in my parent's garage at this time", says G-Hell, "and I directly moved from ST to PC so I have no Falcon... Anyway I don't know if I still remember 68000 asm. :o)" In their real lives U2, G-Hell and TuO work as game developers for GameSquad and Lankhor, and "that's why we hadn't a lot of time to make this demo". Madman is still a student.
Finally I asked U2 and G-Hell what they would recommend people new to the scene who want to create their own demos. They gave three concrete advice: "Work daily. :o) Don't forget that with a computer you'll be able to do whatever you want so don't give up! Don't let you discouraged by the latest huge demos or ass-whipping new effects, you can do the same and even much better maybe (look at our old demos and have fun :o))."
Adok/Hugi - 04 Aug 2000