It happened on csipd...
An Observing Prophet of Hugi
One of a diskmag writer's main sources of inspiration is the newsgroups. Especially comp.sys.ibm.pc.demos sometimes contains interesting debates or just little hints, like links, that seem to be ideal for being extended to a full article.
Some posts, on the other hand, do not really offer substance for long essays or reports, but still seem to be worth discussing in a diskmag, as they appear to be symptomatical for the whole scene.
Lack of graphicians
For instance, on July 20 Teemu Lahti aka TeeL posted a message with the subject "We need a graphician" to csipd. The message's contents:
"I have a demogroup called Kontio and we need a graphician, who can make 2D and 3D. Our website is not yet online, but it will be someday. Contact me, if you are interested!!"
A week later, not a single reply had shown up in the newsgroup, not even the occasional flames. Perhaps a graphician has contacted Teemu in another way, such as email. But this is rather unlikely in my opinion, too, unfortunately.
Almost everybody can make illustrations using programs like Photoshop nowadays. Yet good graphicians, who have original motifs in their head and know how to make them look good on the screen, are rare. Indeed they are the most wanted persons within the demo scene at the moment. I myself have lately got requests like "Do you know some 2d gfx man who can make some logo gfx 4 my demo" or "We're looking for a good 2d/3d artist for our new musicdisk project, could you include that in next HugiNews?" pretty often. It's no wonder that the rare talents, if they pay attention to these ads at all, are very choosy. Requests from groups that are totally unknown to the scene, have released nothing and do not even have a homepage or at least an info-file yet are, unfortunately, simply futile.
In this situation, good graphicians have the power to choose projects they will participate in themselves, based on any criteria they find important: their relationships to the other people involved, the estimated quality of the final product, how many people will be likely to get to see it and so on. Also, I suspect that most of the best graphicians don't even have a lot of time to devote to the scene, as there are plenty of paid jobs available for them as well.
What can groups do against this lack of graphicians? Simply said, they could try to make graphics themselves, perhaps they will be successful in creating something that fits their projects. Or they could try establishing personal contact to graphicians. As a matter of fact, you will always get better results when you ask someone directly if he could participate in your projects, provided that you already know each other pretty well. If your relationship could be called a friendship - even greater! This works with everything, not just graphics. It is a golden rule of life that if you want something, don't simply beg in the public, but ask someone directly if he could help you - and be ready to do a favour to him in return as well.
Another topic. Especially among younger sceners, expenses seems not to play a role in the scene. Okay, your computer equipment and your Internet connection are not free, but this is paid by mom and dad, so what? Money belongs to the commercial, the "real" world, not to the scene!
If you just release your prods on the Net and leech other people's stuff, you won't have to deal a lot with expenses indeed. If you attend a demoparty, however, you will probably have to pay an entry fee. As little as it may be, it's money, needed by the party organizers to cover their expenses, and you have to pay. Likewise, if you enter a production in a demo compo, you may be awarded a prize. This has cost the organizers money as well.
As idealistic as many sceners' motives may be, the scene is a part of the real world. Certain things cause expenses, for example hosting a server on the Internet.
Until today scene.org has provided free webspace and, most importantly, free FTP space. Almost all productions from all parties since 1998 have been made available for everyone soon after their release. This has been done without charging any fees. In late 1998, scene.org ran out of disk space. The staff bought a new harddisk and on it went. Now, one and a half year later, the masses of new productions have filled scene.org's harddisk again.
Esa Ruoho aka Distance/TPOLM, who is a member of the FTP team at scene.org, has been putting links in the topics of IRC channels to a page politely asking for support so that scene.org could upgrade its HD. A bank account number was included on this page.
Apparently this hasn't had much impact, while sceners kept asking why they couldn't upload their prods to scene.org. On Monday, the 17th of July, Esa wrote to csipd:
"fucking hell, i'm getting tired of this.
i am now deleting every wild demo from every party from scene.org, right fucking now.
if SOME OF YOU WANT THESE BACK, SUPPORT SCENE.ORG
IF SOME OF YOU WANT NEW PARTY-RELEASES AVAILABLE ON SCENE.ORG, SUPPORT SCENE.ORG
IF YOU PEOPLE HAVE *FULLY WORKING* <6GB IDE/SCSI DRIVES YOU WISH TO CONTRIBUTE FOR SCENE.ORG AND ULTIMATELY THE SCENE, GO
now STOP COMPLAINING.
HERE IS YOUR SPACE:
The reactions to this have partly contained slight criticism. MProfile/Rash wrote:
"excuse me ,but anyone putting this:
[scene.org] upload to scene.org and get a free beer!
in his info files, shouldn't be taken to serious at all IMHO."
Phoenix, former co-maintainer of the Hornet Archive, felt reminded of their own situation years ago:
"Wow, this is a lot different from Hornet's low-diskspace announcements in DemoNews, isn't it?
'If we do not receive our ransom payment by tomorrow at dawn, we will kill off one of our hostages*.. (click)'
* or uploads"
On the other hand, Thorsten of Purple argued:
"They are offering us a service. they have the right to demand pretty much anything if we want to continue using it. now obey."
In the end Nix and Otis announced on csipd to donate something. According to a posting from Redhound, they were joined by Gaffer and Firelight. Most of these sceners have commercial projects themselves. But also the company Twilight3D are among the generous sponsors.
"When you're downloading the upcoming new partyreleases please remember these kind people who made it possible for us to continue. The donations will soon be used to increase the capacity of the archive, and to improve the accessibility of the server(s)", concludes Redhound.
Demos as commercials
Finally, let me quote from a posting from July 25 by Stefan Ring. On the website of a software company, Shortcut Software Development, he found something that seemed just too familiar to him:
"How come there is a strange ixalance plugin for download. And what the hell does this strange modified stash demo mean? Obviously they did not have a hard time modifying it. A pity I was not able to view the heineken demo because I couldn't download it."
Ixalance, as most of you know, is a demosystem by The Black Lotus with multi-platform support. TBL re-released some of their older productions, such as the 64k intro Stash, for Ixalance a while ago. Has a company taken TBL's technology without their permission? No, says Sparcus of Nostalgia:
"The dutch TBL guys used to work for Shortcut, the company behind that site. Today it's mostly Aardbei members working for Shortcut as far as I know..."
All the same, this has caught my interest. How did Shortcut use Ixalance? What commercial use did it have? I checked out their website, where I found the following text:
"IxalanceTM is a new technology, making it possible to showcase a product or company in a way never seen before. An Interactive 'clip' or 'commercial' online (or offline, as a Screensaver) for you and your customer's viewing pleasure. This technology finally allows you to develop advertising and communication concepts using 3D animations and highest quality audios to effectively advertise through internet and PC desktops. Ixalance makes use of advanced compression technology, decreasing the size by such an amount that even lowbandwidth connections are sufficient."
So they use little demos and intros as advertisements for companies! Among their customers are Hewlett Packard and the beer brand Heineken. The Heineken Brewery had ordered a "PC Commercial" to attract more people to its website, of a size of just 370 kbytes.
The comments on the demos available at the Shortcut website, including Stash, are overwhelmingly positive. People who have probably never had anything to do with the demoscene were flabbergasted: "Excellent, even my husband and kids were impressed" is one of the comments. Another one: "I know, this one kicks @$$! Like, how could you fit all that into 400Kb?"
The demoscene certainly is rich of surprises for the outer world, and as often proven, its knowledge can be used very well for business. However, clever marketing of the scene's technologies is needed, according to Otis:
"Most companies just ask their add-agency to do 'a campaign' and 'come with some ideas'. the add-agencies have own employees to mess around with the tools YOU don't want to work with, and you have to be LUCKY some add-agencies will contact your company to create something for them. And an add-agency will only contact your company if your company has a good salesman that has firm contacts with add-agencies. A normal, average geek/scener doesn't have these contacts."
Yet it's another evidence that there are plenty of opportunities to make money using the experiences you gained in the demo programming field - not only in the world of computer games development.
Adok/Hugi - 26 Jul 2000