Evoke 2008 report
Written by KeyJ/Kakiarts
Evoke is a very special party to me. The atmosphere and ambience is always excellent and we always have very much fun at the party. This year was no exception, but there were also some disappointing aspects about Evoke 2008.
I arrived at the partyplace at about 16:00, a time when usually all the good seats are already taken. However, this was not the case this time: There were a few people here and there, but overall it was empty like it used to be at 14:00 the last years. Thus, I had no problems with finding a decent place, particularly because some friends had already reserved a whole block for our group. I quickly set up my stuff and started coding: my 64k intro wasn't anywhere near finished then and didn't even have a name, so there was still quite a lot of stuff to do.
The only official event at Friday evening was the announcement of the winners and the prizegiving for the Intel Demo Competition 2008. To everybody's surprise, the winner of the compo was not the very stylish "Only One Wish" by Fairlight and The Black Lotus, but Still's "The Seeker". So Still surprisingly won two times in a row now, which is quite remarkable - some sceners are already developing conspiracy theories because of this.
Friday night, there was Evoke Tracks, a drum'n'bass party at a nearby club. I didn't attend it because I still had to add two scenes to my intro, but most of my groupmates did. One of them wasn't satisfied with the sound at the club, but all other people I asked were happy with it.
After a rather short night and a rather stressful few hours of coding, syncing and bugfixing, I finished my intro. I still didn't have a proper name for it, so I just made the internal development name the official one.
The competitions were all delayed and most of them had a relatively low number of entries, so there wasn't the usual notion of a "compo marathon". That's why the evening was quite easy - watching some compos, talking to some people, drinking some beverage ... nothing special. The same can be said for Sunday: After the usual one-hour delay, the prizegiving started at about 14:00 and ended, together with the party as a whole, one hour after that.
The one aspect that stood out for this party was the immense (or, as some would say, insane) amount of media coverage. I counted three TV teams from different public TV networks: ZDFdokukanal and arte are planning to do a documentary about the demoscene, and 3sat sent a team for their computer show "neues". Some said that there was also a fourth team, from a local station, but I didn't discover them myself. In addition to that, there was a radio crew doing interviews for DLF (Deutschlandfunk) and a few reporters from normal press. Unlike most other parties, some of the TV crews stayed at the party until the end, which meant that they actually got in the way a few times. Moreover, many sceners complained after the party that some the crews were unfriendly (which I didn't notice myself) and that they also filmed some passed-out or drunken Saturday morning. Despite being neither an attention whore nor a very famous scener, I also got interviewed a few times.
The overall quality of the releases at this year's Evoke was very different between the compos. The graphics compos (ANSI/ASCII, pixel graphics, raytraced graphics), for example, had many good entries. In the music compos (loop, tiny tracked music, streaming music) and the animation/video compo, the level was a little bit lower in my opinion, but the entries were still decent overall. This cannot be said for the demo compos, however, which were quite disappointing. Most of the 4k intros were decent, but that's it - there was nothing that made anybody's jaw drop the tiniest bit. The (deserved) winner was "Angelic" by Mad from Still with a graphics style that was very inspired by the voxels that can be seen in Loonies' Amiga 4k intros.
The 64k intros were very diverse: There was a very simple Linux intro made by some new sceners called Trolls in the Shadows, who also got the newcomer prize by the Evoke organizers. In the compo, though, they only got the last place. "Magical Doll" by TGGC, Turri, Xoor and Seb fared a little better: This intro had beautiful textures and decent models, but everything was just too static and long. The same is true for the third place, the Demozone Invitation by False Idols (a fake group whose name is obviously a reference to Fairlight's "Panic Room") that also had some nice graphics, but no real progression.
The first two places were fought out between Rebels' very nice multiplatform intro "L'invasion cubique" and Kakiarts' crude "Vortex 2". In the end, Kakiarts the compo as narrowly as possible with 342:341 points.
The alternative platform competition was very short with only four entries: A super-lame party coded C64 one-screen demo, a lengthy and not too much impressive Flash demo, a nice, but (IMHO) meaningless game that acts as this year's Buenzli invitation, and finally the BitJam Remix Competition musicdisk/votedisk. High-class C64, Amiga, PSP or Nintendo DS demos, as they were presented in the last years, were completely absent.
However, the greatest disappointment was the PC demo compo. After the extremely short demo compo at Assembly the weekend before, we didn't expect much, but still it was worse than we feared: There was not a single decent entry. None. At all. What we saw was an enervating stroboscope jokedemo with simplest graphics, a simple party-coded demo with little more to show than a nice chrome reflection shader, a boring and disturbing noise demo and finally the winner: Rob is Jarig! According to the ancient demoscene legend, the "Rob is Jarig" curse should have been broken by then, after it finally has won a demo compo. However, some pessimists already said that this might not be the case since the version that was actually played by the organizers was the 64k repack and not the original. They were right.
The reason for this shocking decrease in compo quality was quite obvious to me: August 25-28, there was the NVScene party in San Jose, CA, a nVidia-sponsored demoparty that is part of their in-house exhibition NVISION. nVidia did some great marketing to attract as much groups as possible for this event, like giving free hardware to anyone who wanted to participate in the compos. It was more than obvious that the really good groups save their efforts for NVScene, and the NVScene results make that line of thought really plausible. I personally think that it's a pity, but as long as this remains a one-year phenomenon, it's going to be OK.
As I said, Evoke was again a very nice party - in fact, for me, Evoke is the best and nicest demo party in Germany. It has the best ambience and party feeling and is held at the coolest location by far: the Vulkanhalle in Cologne just rocks, and it would be a pity to lose this location (which almost, but just almost, happened this year!). There were a few downsides this time, particularly the bad demo compos, but this won't stop me from coming again next year.
[Evoke 2008 Results]