Mad Wizards - Looking back
Written by Azzaro of Mad Wizards & Magic of Nah-Kolor
Photos by Azzaro
Almost 3 years have passed since the last release by Mad Wizards (Mawi) at Breakpoint 2007 called Senzala.
At Breakpoint 2008 two of the most important members of Mawi, Kiero and
Ubik, returned under the name of the group Elude. Does this mean that MaWi is a name for the demoscene history books? Hugi caught up with Azzaro of Mawi, the design and graphics mastermind behind many of the Mawi demos, for a look back and forward on Mawi.
Here is a short introduction
of Azzaro who nowadays is not living in Poland anymore but is residing in the beautiful surroundings of Scotland!
"Hi, my name is Tomasz aka Azzaro, 31 years old, on the demoscene since 1995, still condering myself active. Worked as
a head of graphics department in the international media agency and started my own career as a freelance graphics guerilla.
Dealing with computers since the early 1990s, proud owner of Amiga CDTV since 1994, then Amiga lover until its grave. For some
people - graphician, designer, demoscene producer. Former swapper, ascii maker, head editor of 'Excess', packmaker of
'Save Da Vinyl', 'Overview' and author of various
projects. For some others - drunk, party animal, part of the 'three amigos squad' banned for life from Breakpoint. For sure - something in between", Azzaro says and continues: "Yes, I have been living in Edinburgh since 2005, surrounded by few more Polish sceners (just to mention Dave of Freezers and Haujobb, Uhu/Freezers, Pesti/Nah-Kolor, 6a2a9/HD and others). Living a peaceful life in one of Europe's most desirable tourist destinations, having about 2300 pubs around, seaside with beach on one side of the city and hills with all year ski slope on the other makes your existence quite pleasant. The only disadvantage is the lack of proper continental four seasons, having just two instead. Also Edinburgh is the European capital of rain, officially having about 300 raining days per year :) Anyway, I am moving again soon, having a plan to turn-off the light in the UK asap."
As with many graphicians on the demoscene, Azzaro's hobby is also his work. "Graphics" is providing him withan income to make a living of out there. What has he done on a professional level next to the demoscene during the last years? Azzaro tell us: "At the media agency, we have been working on various architectural projects around the globe. That involves visualizations of new developments in the UK, India, Dubai, Brazil, France, Central America, the Caribbean Islands and many locations more. We won both the Best UK Development Website award in 2007 and the Best Worldwide Development Website award funded by CNBC on the gala in Las Vegas. It's like getting an Oscar, you get the same level of adrenaline as when you win a demo party, but it's for grown-ups. Apart from that, I was working and developing my skills as an on-site photographer and international team leader. Second to that is my freelance stuff which I am doing afterhours, just to relax. As the economic climate is quite unstable, I am getting closer to the idea of starting my own company. In short – as long as I love what I am doing and it gives me money – why change it?"
How, when, where and by whom was Madwizards founded and where does the name originate from, were the first questions which popped up in my mind to get some knowledge about this legendary Polish group. Azzaro tells us: "As I joined the group back in 1996, I can only spread the legend about the group's roots and its founders. Back in the dark year of 1995, a few friends from the small town of Czaplinek, Poland, wanted to enter the magic world of demoscene. Since the very beginning there was a fight between two divisions, and, finally, two separate groups were born – Mad Wizards and Mawi. As the founder of Mad Wizards disappeared in the ashes of history faster than the blink of an eye, the only force on the scene was Mawi. This group was founded by Seti (swapper and graphician) and Heron (coder) with Jacko (Seti's brother, graphician) and Komar (swapper). As all of us were friends, the guys asked me to join them in June 1996 and we decided to join two M-forces into one piece. The group was rebranded to Madwizards (Mawi or MWI in short – that's the only correct spelling) and Van Ghorne joined us as a musician. As I am not so familiar with the genesis of the group name, I can only blame Tolkien or some other fantasy writer, as all of the guys were reading a lot of books of that kind. Also the fascination of fantasy was reflected by the early names of the productions of Madwizards."
Mawi has released a lot of productions during the years of its excistence. Most for the Amiga platform, but some also for PC. What exactly were the highlights Mawi produced? Azzaro answers: "Lots of them. Working on a first production, improving skills and quality, having a bunch of well known and respected sceners as a group members, organizing our own party, winning the demo competition for the first time, working on co-operation productions with other respected coders (Zig, Maq, Bay-tek, Speedo, Mavey, Noe, Oczek, Bj.Sebo, Bonzaj - just to name a few of them) and finally – living the demoscene dream. The dream about small groups of friends growing to recognizable and respected brand names in the demoscene. In 2010 we'll celebrate our 15th birthday on the demoscene, so expect some nice and nasty events to happen :)"
The demos "Amsterdam Blessings", "New Dawn Fades" and "Heavy Traffic" were released at Mekka & Symposium 2001 and 2002, respectively. "Fate Fits Karma" was released at Breakpoint 2003, "Fluffy Digital Snowflakes" at Breakpoint 2004, "Glare" at Breakpoint 2005. 2006 saw no new Mawi production, but 2007 did, with "Senzala", which was finally released at Breakpoint 2007. However, Mawi never won the Amiga demo competition; The Black Lotus always beat Mawi.How would Azzaro describe the competition that existed back then? Azzaro: "That's why I love Moppi's credo – 'We're always second, so why try harder'. This sentence was a final argument which stopped Kiero and me from finalizing the whole vision of the project a few times. Having a good party outside the hall and getting the silver medal is far better than spending two or three days in front of the screen and being second as well!" On this occasion, Azzaro would like to say hello to all members of the Breakpoint staff: "You must seriously hate us for that. Cheer up, life's short!"
I wondered how Mawi members are actually making their demos: Handcrafted or with the usage of a tool? Azzaro tells us: "Usually that depended on the coder. As there were a lot of cool guys (members and hired guns) who coded Madwizards demos, I cannot precisely say how each demo was created. Practically every coder had some tools written that made his life easier during the development of the demo. Especially in the really hot time just before the party when you realize that the clock is ticking and you are far away even from a beta version of the production. Some of the tools were quite poor, some others, such as Kiero's, really advanced, giving us an opportunity to present new demos one after another without waiting for ages between the releases. On the other hand, I remember hard coding and sleepless nights during the work on our early productions like 'Kah835gb' and 'Datablade'."
Looking back, Mawi released a lot of productions during its lifetime. What is Azzaro's personal top five? About the making of which five releases and competing with them in competitions does he have the best memories of? Azzaro states: "My personal favourite is 'Fate Fits Karma' (released at Breakpoint '03). This was one of the highlights of Madwizards' productivity time and the first demo which was looking exactly like we wanted. The second place definitely goes to 'Cruel Karma Forms', which was a mile stone for the Polish demoscene. Unfortunately, it was not so popular outside Poland, which was probably caused by the lack of a quality video capture. The third one could be 'Heavy Traffic', which was unfortunately shown at Mekka & Symposium's bigscreen in the early morning (4:30 am). That pretty much axed our chance to win the competition. There are no other favourites - I like all of Mawi's releases equally. But, the best and most commemorable release is still going to come."
So I was wrong - Mawi is not history yet. However, as mentioned earlier in this article, two of the most important members, coder Kiero and 3d artist Ubik, left Mawi to form a new group called Elude. Hugi asked if Azzaro could describe the process that led to this situation. At what point did Mawi morph to Elude, so to speak? "To cut all the crap around - Mawi did not morph into Elude. Try to imagine Destiny's Child – the girls had a lot of good singles, but one day Beyonce Knowles decided to start a solo career. So, similarly, one day Kiero and Ubik decided to start their own label named Elude. As it is not nice to talk on someone's back, please ask the guys directly why that happened. But, to cut all the rumours as well, Mawi isn't as dead as it looks like. As we are all still friends and bloody drunkard, as Kiero is still officially a member of Mawi, maybe one day we will join forces again in the name of friendship and the demoscene. May I also take the opportunity to send congratulations to Kiero, Chaser and Ubik for the nice release of 'Lightshaft' at Breakpoint 2009? Same silver medal, just different year :)" Azzaro comments.
Azzaro, around on the scene since the mid 90s till today, saw the rise and fall of the Polish demo scene. But what are his thoughts on the Polish demoscene of today? "Honestly I wasn't witnessing the rise of the Polish demoscene as it was back in the early 1990s. I jumped into the train in 1995. Also I wasn't a witness of the complete fall of the demoscene in Poland. Face the truth – everybody grows up, concentrates on their careers and private life, but like everywhere – there are old legends waking up from a long sleep and coming back. We still have a nice party, Riverwash, which isn't so serious, but every year, a lot of nice productions are released there. This year, the party takes place in the very centre of Warsaw, so all of you can book cheapo flights and join the ride. Or just support the party by submitting some releases online. You, Magic, know the saying very well – people have been talking about the end of demoscene since 1988 but two decades later, dreams are still coming true", Azzaro says with confidence.
Some old Polish groups are still active, even today. Groups like Plastic, Anadune, Floppy or Nah-Kolor for example. What does Azzaro think about these groups? Azzaro: "Surprisingly they are still alive and able to produce quality releases. Like every scene around the world, our Polish family has lost a lot of active members during the last years. Talking about the reasons why people are becoming inactive is quite pointless as it's their own personal business. There are several more active group members in Poland, who, as long as I know, release productions under guest labels. Not to mention Elude, Addict, Floppy, releasing productions at various events. Having some conversations around I can reckon this year's Riverwash party as a meter of productivity of the Polish demoscene. There are two groups of active sceners gathered around two main portals (amiscena.org and scene.pl), so we can expect some quality releases, as rumours say."
Before we leave Azzaro on his own path in life, Hugi would like to know about a possible new Mad Wizards release in the future. As Azzaro talked about this earlier on in this article: How realistic is this thought? Would Azzaro take the initiative for this? And which members would take part? "Just let us surprise the audience. As the 'design department' of Mawi progressed and moved, which involves me and Rork again, we are considering to reactivate the magic demo creation process. To be honest, I cannot spread any more information at the present time", Azzaro comments.
I thanked Azzaro for his help with this article and asked him to finally describe what Mad Wizards is and what it means to him in his mind. Azzaro answered: "From the beginning on, Madwizards has been more than just a demoscene group. It's a collective of people who have become friends, grown up, but still keep in touch and party hard, every time they have an opportunity to do so. For ages, Madwizard's Hotel has beenthe term which indicated the epicenter of fun of each demo party. There are thousands of anecdotes about our group, but I prefer to share them with our readers in real life. The real party is outside - never forget that!"
All Mad Wizards releases on pouet.net
The official "we will be back" Mad Wizards website
Azzaro & Magic