Hugi Magazine #33: MP3 Power

Hugi #33 header graphic

Breakpoint 2007 Party Report (By KeyJ / kakiarts)

The traditional German easter party was in a bit of trouble this year: After the merger with AMD, long-time sponsor ATI wasn't available any longer. All the attempts to get a new, equally heavyweight sponsor failed, so the organizers couldn't help but increase the entrance fee by as much as 50%. Also the "girls get in for free" rule was canceled this time, but not only due to the lack of sponsors: According to the main organizer, scamp/vacuum, a lot of girls complained that they felt like second-class sceners by getting in for free the years before. For all those who couldn't afford the 60 Euro fee, there were so-called "social tickets" for which a registration was required. I don't have any numbers on how much this was actually used, though.

The location was still the so-called "Rundsporthalle", where Breakpoint took place the third year now. It's basically a sports hall, but darkened and equipped with carpet (said to be "fluffy" in 2005, but it lost its fluffiness over time), a decent sound system and a formidable big screen. Smoking wasn't allowed in the main hall, but on the grandstands, which used to be the ideal place for watching compos. Outside, there were the usual tents with a second (not-so-)big screen and a dance floor where DJ sets were played in the evenings. Around the meadow in front of the hall, there were six food stands -- enough for every taste. The price and quality levels were OK; of course, ALDI food is cheaper, but the stands were much nearer and open all the time, so many sceners used these as their primary source of nutrition during the partytime.

This year, the organizers claimed to have nearly 1000 seats, but my impression was that not all of them were used. On the other hand, we had a hard time finding decent seats when we arrived, just half an hour after the official opening ;) As expected, having girls pay the entrance fee decreased the girls' quota a bit, but I think it was still well above 5%.

The weather was very good this time. It was always warm and the sun shone all day. Only on Saturday there were some clouds and it briefly rained overnight. But at temperatures of almost 20 degrees, it was quite appropriate to celebrate the party outside, which a lot of people did.

Those who decided to stay inside didn't suffer from boredom either. The timetable was tightly packed -- you could ultimately choose between a compo marathon, a seminar marathon, or a mixture of both. We decided to watch the compos, because like last year, the organizers recorded all the seminars and encoded them into 4 gigabytes of high-quality DivX movies, so they can be watched at home without missing a bit. (Thanks to the recording team at this point!) The compos didn't work out all flawlessly: There have been the occasional delays (up to 2 hours), some have been canceled, some technological fuckups occurred ... the usual stuff, but nothing really serious or worth complaining about.


The opening ceremony, which took place at 21:00 on Friday, explained what the slogan "demoscene through time and space" was all about: A mad scientist constructed a time machine and Jeenio couldn't resist trying it. He traveled back to the beginning of the demoscene and talked to the author of the first demo to give him the diskette with the historically important work. However, the coder is reluctant until Jeenio offers him his portable DVD player, loaded with a collection of finest porn movies. Upon return, everything's fucked up and Jeenio finds himself not at "Breakpoint 07", but at "Great Porn 07". The usual perils of time travel, y'know ...

(Interesting side note: The "Great Porn" T-Shirts were so popular that Topy44's shirt-on-demand stand offered them as part of the regular stock :)

Later this evening, there was the BASS live act. Actually, there's not much to say about this: It was loud, long, and good -- as usual :) The same goes for the "Press Play on Tape" live act the next day. I was surprised to hear not only the usual game music interpretations, but also fr-08's loader and main tune. The guys figured that if they're going to play on a demoscene party, they could play some demoscene music as well ...

Saturday afternoon, the first funcompo took place: Speech Coding. This means typing a simple hello-world C++ program using Windows Vista's speech recognition, live on the bigscreen. The contestants (or the speech recognition software, if you put it that way) failed more or less miserably, to the great amusement of everyone watching. For this reason, the words heard most often were "delete that". In the end, the task was solved by copying the reference code and pasting it.

Another fun compo was called the "bandwidth compo", which involved transmitting data packets from one host to another. But in this special case, the packets were physical ones -- sleeping bags, to be precise -- and transport was physical, too. I can't go into more detail here though, because I didn't watch the compo myself ... shame on me :) The other not-so-serious competitions were a "photo love story" compo and the usual fast demo. Both had just two entries, but great ones.

Another important event was the annual awards show which took place Saturday evening. I'm afraid I can't say anything about that, because our crew decided to do a barbecue at the parking lot at that time.


The unofficial Tracked Music compo was organized by BeRo of 0ok and Farbrausch, partly as a kind of advertising for his own tracker, it seems. The winner was dq of kakiarts, followed by Curt Cool of Depth.

The Photo compo was held for the second time and since this is a very "easy" category to compete in, there were numerous entries of good quality. Finally, it was won by Max Power of Limp Ninja with a great snapshot of a flying pigeon. The second place went to bearb of kakiarts, fashion of vacuum got the third prize.

Three entries dominated the Theme Graphics compo: In his typical super-detailed style, prince of the Obsessed Maniacs derived a very special version of Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper". The second prize went to cp of Farbrausch for his "prophet of glenz". On the third place, baerb of kakiarts composited a nice surrealistic image from various fractals.

In the Freestyle Graphics category, we saw the usual showdown between Helge of Haujobb and prince of the Obsessed Maniacs, who submitted a 200-megapixel comic-style image that took eleven weeks to complete, and it shows. Too bad that the compo rules had him scale the whole image down to poor 1024x768 pixels ... Anyway, the first prize was won by Helge's equally cool "SMD 3" picture.

The C64 Graphics compo ended in a very close call between Archmage's "Lick it Oldschool" and Leon's "Wind Swing".

A lot of preselection took place again in the Streaming Music compo. The 12 tracks that were played fitted at least my taste much better than last year's selection. The two top placed entries from dq/kakiarts and Puryx/TBC+Scarab were both formidable drum'n'bass tracks. "Retrorespect" from Sonsbeek, again a nice rap song with scene-oriented lyrics (just like last year), came in third. The strangest song of the compo was JCO's "popular love song", released under the alias "Jason Cane". It was a cheesy 80s synth-pop song, so incredibly crappy that it was good again, but in its very own kind of way :)

I'm sorry to say that I missed the Executable Music (oldschool) compo, so I can only say that "atomic pretzel" from Dalezy won it. The third place, "8580 in confusion" by Sonic of Smash Designs, was disqualified after the party because it turned out to be a re-release of a six-year-old tune.

The entries of the Executable Music (newschool) were mostly of high quality, so the results were quite close together. In the end, Fanta's tune "Time and Space" won.

The two best 96k Games were both fighting games, but special ones: They both came with a more-or-less sophisticated physics engine. The second-placed "Teenage Mutant Ninja Puppets" by Hikey was a classical 2D beat'em'up with stick figure graphics and lots of options. The first place was captured by the Archee's 3D "Sumotori Dreams" -- a sumo game, as the name suggests. However, it was so much fun to see the clumsy figures try to stand up again that the whole hall was filled with laughter for full ten minutes. As one pouë comment says, "it is not physically possible to fit more laughs into 96k." I tend to agree.

The compo that surprised me the most was the Console / Real Wild one. It had a hell of a lot of entries, and a fine selection of different platforms, too. There were demos for Sharp pocket computers, TI-83 calculators, Java mobile phones, Atari 2600, Atari XL/XE, ZX Spectrum, MSX, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS, XBox360 (using XNA though) as well as Playstation 1, 2 and Portable. I initially feared that the 8-bit entries would get lost somewhere between all the nice high-end console demos, but to my great surprise, "Your Song Is Quiet" for the ZX Spectrum by Inward and C.P.U. managed to get the third place. Shitfaced Clowns redefined attitude by calling their excellent GBA demo "Matt Current". However, the compo was won by The Black Lotus with their controversial PSP demo "Suicide Barbie".

The Animation / Video compo was a bit disappointing, especially when compared to last year. It had only seven entries, and only two good (but again, not great) ones. "Breakpoint Party Bear" by "the red scarves" was a stop-motion video clip of a teddy bear travelling to Breakpoint. Not a new idea exactly, and also technically average, it still managed to please the crowd with the sheer sweetness of the cuddly protagonist :) The compo was won by JCO's alter ego Jakob Bienenhalm: "LOL, Internet" was a (again 80s-inspired) video clip about how online dating could go all wrong. (No, I'm not going to tell the whole story here.)

There were only two entries in the Amiga 4k Intro compo, but both of them were great, so there were only 3 points difference between "swex" by [S]carab and "Rapo Diablo" by Loonies and Ephidrena.

The PC 4k Intro compo lacked any real jaw-droppers, but nevertheless, there were lots of nice stuff in there. "kinderplomber" by RGBA was an example of how to do nice lighting, but there was only one model shown, so they only got the fourth place. In my opinion, Metalvotze's "USBIPR" had the greatest overall visuals, but it only came in third. "Galiwm" by Ümlaüt Design (second place) managed to show some impressive scenes with only one basic shape. The compo winner, "sprite-o-mat" by Gopher of Alcatraz had an equally simple idea, but it was longer, had more different scenes and slightly better visuals.

Five AGA and one ECS intro competed in the Amiga 64k Intro category, and all of them were decent productions. "Leon" by Elcrew won the compo, but my favorite was (and still is) Moodsplateau's "All City", which only got the third place.

I had mixed feelings about the PC 64k Intro competition. There were some some intros which I really liked, but on the other hand, the total number of entries was very low (6) and the only entry I found really annoying ("Phantom Eye Syndrome" by Brain Control) won. But I have to admit that this might be a matter of personal taste, so don't count on my verdict :)

The C64 demo compo started with 3 rather lame demos, followed by the nice, but a little bit boring "Industrial Revolution" by Smash Designs, containing references to some classic Amiga demos (I spotted "State of the Art" by Spaceballs and "Perfect Circle" by TBL). The next entry, "Natural Wonders" by Oxyron, was a solid and original demo that got the second place. After that, "Desert Dream" by Chorus and Resource came on. The name already suggested that this was going to be another Amiga demo reference -- and in fact, it turned out to be an exact remake of the legendary Kefrens demo! Every scene was copied as carefully as possible, except that it run on hardware one eighth as fast as that it used to run on. I was completely awestruck and couldn't help but watch the original again, right after the compo, to double-check. In fact, Chorus and Resource didn't leave out a single detail, only very minor changes (except the obvious ones, e.g. lack of colors) had been made. There's been a lot of controversy on pouë about whether remakes of classic demos are the right thing to do, but in my personal opinion, "Desert Dream" is the most impressive demo from Breakpoint 2007.

Many important groups were lacking from the Amiga Demo compo this year. There was no TBL, no IRIS, no Ephidrena ... but Drifters, Haujobb and Toulou, and even Madwizards, who celebrated their 68k comeback with "Senzala".

Last year, I was quite disappointed by the PC Demo compo. This year, the entries were much better and, most importantly, there was a much greater variety of different styles. Besides tons of standard "flashy animation to boring techno soundtrack" demos, there were two rather calm ones: "Angelic Forum" by Anadune and ALLien Senses and the clearly "Iconoclast"-inspired "Fairytale" by Traction and Brainstorm. MFX competed with "Aithein", and Synesthetics remixed their last year's entry in "Lucy in the Skies with Deities". LKCC & Bauknecht continued their own, unique style in "Above", which interestingly was the only top-notch demo that didn't require shaders. Finally, there were two surprises: The first was the comeback of the ex-Amiga group Andromeda. Their last release was "Nexus 7", thirteen years ago -- and now, they are back with "Noumenon" on the PC. The other surprise also involved some kind of a comeback: For three years, the German section of Farbrausch didn't make any really serious demos, but now they released fiver2's new masterpiece. "fr-041: debris." is just 177 kilobytes small (that's what you get if you do a demo with technology that's originally been made for 64k intros), but it smashed everything else -- quite literally: The demo is about a city that gets infected, transformed and finally destroyed by thousands of mysterious cubes. All this is done with spectacular graphics, in just the right pace, with perfect direction and excellent camerawork. (In fact, it's believed to be the first scene production that actually contains any serious camerawork :) It is also a perfect example of an "instant classic" -- it not only won the compo with flying colors, it also generated a true hype on pouët, climbing to 4th place of the all-time top list in less than a week. This is a demo to remember, for sure. And so is Breakpoint 2007 as a whole: a great party worth keeping in mind, be it for its milestone releases, its nice atmosphere -- or the great weather, if you like :)

-- KeyJ / kakiarts