Breakpoint 2005 party report
Breakpoint 2005 was held in Bingen, Germany, on March 25th to March 28th, 2005.
On 24 March 2005, at about 7:45 pm, Paralax of Speckdrumm, his younger brother Blockbuster and I met up at the Vienna-Westbahnhof train station in order to travel to Breakpoint. We planned to go to Mainz and then change trains to proceed to Bingen. However, we missed the exit at Mainz since the train stayed there only a very short time (maybe in order to compensate for the fifteen-minute delay) and therefore had to stay inside the train until the next exit, which was at Koblenz. Actually we passed by Bingen's main train station on our route from Mainz to Koblenz, but the train didn't stop. Anyway, we finally arrived at Bingen's main train station at about 9:00 am and thence walked to the party place. After about 75% of our way an organizer, Gizmo of Farbrausch, accidentially passed by with a car, noticed us and picked us up, so we saved at least a bit of our energies.
The party place was a big sports hall which from the outside looked a bit UFO-shaped, so that's probably why the party was subtitled "aliens ate my demomaker". The energy supply for a whole part of
the town had been changed in order to supply the party place with energy; indeed power outages never occurred. Apart from that, the party was extremely well-organized, there had been no trouble whatsoever. This is a big plus, most of the visitors appreciated it; it may be part of the reason why so many think that Breakpoint 2005 was the best party they ever visited.
We first met Sobec and some Metalvotze members at the parking desk, then we entered the party place for free - all of us would be thrown out some hours later in order to pay the entrance fee (EUR 45). You had to enter the hall by a tent that was placed just in front of it. The tent contained the info-desk which always appeared to be crowded with organizers in their characteristic red t-shirts. It was actually quite interesting to see what personalities were organizers of Breakpoint: Apart from Scamp of Vacuum, the main organizer, and his girlfriend Fashion of Smash Designs people from Farbrausch (such as kb, ryg, Chaos, paniq), former organizers of Mekka & Symposium, organizers of Evoke, The Ultimate Meeting (e.g. BenJam of TUM) and 0a000h (Styx of HeadcrasH) participated. So Breakpoint may deserve being called an überparty or the king of German demo parties. MadenMann was also one of the organizers.
The tent had two exits, one being the main hall, the other leading to the garden. The garden was quite big and it was surrounded by a fence so that only party visitors could enter it. There were three stands selling food (candy, tortellini, spaghetti, baguette, pizza, fries and sausages). Drinks could be bought inside at the info-desk. Moreover, several tables and a bon-fire place were located in the garden. This was a nice location for real partying (you know, since the first Boozembly, the real party has always been outside). As a matter of fact hard alcohol and drunken sceners were not allowed inside the main hall. The same also applied to smoking. Well, these have probably been rules imposed by the owners of the sports hall.
The info-desk contained a short note explaining in German what Breakpoint was and emphasizing that it was not a public event. As no day-tickets were sold, the number of local non-sceners at the party was probably very low, at least I didn't notice many people that seemed to belong to this category. Girls got in for free, following an old tradition of the scene. To me it seemed that there were quite a lot of girls at the party place. Some even participated in the compos. According to Scamp, some "high-rank politicians" also dropped by to see what was going on - I didn't notice them though. What I noticed was the saleswomen from the food-stands outside taking a peek at what was happening inside; at the last day of the party I also talked with the woman of the candy-stand myself and learned about her impressions. She said she wouldn't be surprised if some of us became deaf in some years because they spent so much time very close to the enormous loudspeakers.
The main hall was large and had a grandstand in the rear which allowed great sight to the giant big-screen. There were three columns and about seven rows of long tables, which was enough space for everybody. Most of the people who hadn't reserved a hotel slept under the tables (me too). Thanks to the "fluffy" (TM) carpet that had been put up specifically for Breakpoint and the good heating, it was possible to sleep on ground without covering oneself up in a sleeping bag; I used my sleeping bag as a pillow for my head.
The toilets were okay, the janitors regularly saw to it that there was enough toilet paper etc. But three toilets for men scattered over the party place might have been a bit few; usually people had to wait several minutes until the toilet was free. I didn't try the showers. The seminar room was not physically separated from the main hall: it was actually located behind the big-screen. You just had to take a stair up to get there. So the organizers asked the visitors to tune down the music when a seminar was going on. As a matter of fact one guy whose seat was located close to my sleeping place, Sobec, was playing music and sounds so loud all the time that you could hear them all over the party place, even outside. (But some of it was good!) At the same level as the seminar room, there was the organizers' area where they tested incoming compo contributions.
Visitors came from most of Central Europe. Many of them were Germans, but more than 50% were coming from Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greece, Poland, Turkey and maybe some other countries I either didn't notice or don't remember. The Hungarians had their places in the central front. The Finns slept in an area close to the stairs from which you got up to the grandstand.
The first person I met inside the main hall was Peci of Scoopex, who was sitting in the fourth row (from rear to front) of the right column (from the front). He was coding a Tcl script that helped him code an Assembler intro. Parts of the script were itself generated by another Tcl script. Peci was one of the guys who held a seminar at Breakpoint. Seminars were short lectures of about 45 minutes focusing on practical-technical issues; they were certainly interesting for people who are working (or playing around) in the related fields. Paralax commented that the seminars were not expert-level, but they were good introductions. IMHO it's a good idea to have seminars at demo parties as they encourage learning and thus make the demo party more intellectually stimulating.
Nuance (Raven, Pro and the others) were sitting at the leftmost part of the place. They had a poster advertising for them, saying that "Gott ist hier" (God is here) and encouraging people to find out if it's true. Drifters (Clary, Fury and others) also caught my attention early; they were in the central rear. Outside in the garden I also met some Swedish people early, including friendly Thec of Outbreak, former maintainer of the Swedish demoscene portal planetzeus.net, and Theodore, a talented graphician with interesting looks. After being thrown out later than originally announced (at about 1:00 pm), I got to know Gargaj in person. I also talked with TS.
Tomcat had his t-shirt selling stand close to the entrance of the hall. Most of the t-shirts had nerd-related motifs (C64, Amiga, Sega, joysticks). The party organizers were also selling their own t-shirts for EUR 15 each; that's why Tomcat wasn't allowed to demand less money for his t-shirts.
The official opening ceremony was in Friday evening. The organizers performed a show that reminded not only me of Star Trek. It was supported by VJing.
I experienced three live music performances at Breakpoint 2005. The first was from Finnish sceners (including Melwyn and Little Bitchard) who called themselves David Hasselhoff Big Band (DHBB). They played some tunes mostly from TV series, including "Ein Fall für zwei" and of course "Knight Rider". The second was from a band named BASS: Sir Garbagetruck, Maali, Jeenio and Gargaj. Third and last a German band named pornophonique played some of their songs. Except the second performance, all of them were accompanied by VJing (in case of DHBB, Droid of Haujobb served as the videojockey). There was also a liveact by Ultrasound, which I missed.
Later on, I met Melwyn, Dipswitch, Unlock, Vickey, Leia, Skrebbel, Volvox, Plek, Poti, Athina, Ziona, Fashion, Pest, Steeler, Paniq, Scamp, XXX, Kojote, LordGraga, Jeenio, Preacher, Smash, Amusic, kb, Peitschi, Stonda, eye, Dominei, ps, Nightbeat, Charlie, doh, abductee, a_lee_n, elend, and others. Margarete from konsum.net, who is currently working at the University of Zurich, showed up, too. Previously she had been at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, doing some projects closely resembling demos.
Paralax coded a shouter for Sobec which enabled him to play various voice-samples by just clicking them. He got on some people's nerves by continuously repeating the samples "hallo!" and "was?". This annoying joke became a never-ending running gag among the party visitors which was even taken up by some of the organizers. Fortunately, free ear-plugs were available for everyone at the info-desk.
Metalvotze had a rather big blinking screen showing their group name. It was probably impossible to overlook it.
Another notable thing: Somebody programmed a "Crest partyreport generator" which, as the name said, generated party reports in the style Crest writes them. Thus it was possible to read a party report about Breakpoint 2005 looking as if it had been written by Crest even though Crest was not physically present at the party.
The Scene.org Awards 2004 were also presented at Breakpoint and simultaneously broadcast to The Gathering, which was held at the same time in Norway. Three members of the Finnish demogroup Jumalauta also had a kind of live performance: They undressed and wrestled naked on stage. Perhaps some of the girls liked it.
There were a lot of compos. For the first time there were two Executable Music categories, newskool and oldskool. The music had to be an executable file of a certain maximum size. The difference between newskool and oldskool concerned the platforms. Apart from that, there were all the traditional compos you would find at any demo party. The game compo had 96k as a size limit, which is certainly more reasonable than the 32k limit that could be found at previous parties. (I wonder whether that new limit had been originally introduced to enable Farbrausch's kkrieger to participate in the compo...)
There were great releases in the 96k game, freestyle gfx, video, console, PC 4k intro, C64 demo, Amiga demo, PC 64k intro and PC demo categories. The most notable releases are (IMHO): the size-optimized Lotus remake for Amiga (96k game), several freestyle graphics (including a great picture with Disney characters which was, however, beaten by a sex-themed image), the video "Memorize your future" by JCO and Faith, some console entries including the Pokemon Mini demo "Shizzle" by Pokeme (the scenes from Second Reality it contains especially appealed to the crowd and made them clap their hands immediately), the top three PC 4k intros (some of them reminded me of 64k intros by Farbrausch and Conspiracy), the winning C64 demo with its funny tune and the song text display that stimulated live-support, the winning Amiga demo "Ocean Machine" by The Black Lotus, the "Bugtro" by Mostly Harmless which placed 3rd in the PC 64k intro competition, and the top 8 PC demos - all of them could have been winners.
According to Scamp, there was a total of about 700 visitors.
So all in all, Breakpoint 2005 was a nice experience. Paralax, Warhead and I went back home with Ayatollah, who had a car - thanks a lot to him and also to Warhead who drove some of the time! Thanks to the organizers of Breakpoint 2005 for this fine event. Maybe we will meet again next year.
Adok/Hugi (31 March 2005)