The Polish Demoscene Quo Vadis?

Hugi explains what happened to the Polish demoscene and takes a look on what is left of one of the most active scene countries in demoscene history.

Written by Fei & Voyager & Magic


The Polish Demo Scene was once the source of an amazing amount of productions on multiple platforms. On an individual level there were so many active Polish sceners around that I remember that the rise and later the domination of the Polish demoscene was a hot topic in the western demoscene community. Though Poland was still an eastern country back then not connected to the European Union and divided from the west nobody could go around all their releases. But these days the Polish demoscene has shrunk immensely. Unfortunately there are hardly any productions released. What happened? Hugi takes a look on this and on the Polish demoscene of today together with Fei and Voyager. These two nice Polish sceners play a huge role in today's Polish demoscene and are also the organizers of the only Polish demoparty left called Riverwash. Because they are the main organizers of this party we pointed our arrows also on this subject.

Please give yourself a small introduction for the readers who don't know you.

Fei: My handle is Fei. I've been with a group called Brygada RR for over 10 years now. I used to be the main editor of a scene zine called "Strefa Mroku", several Amiga portals, two Amiga paper magazines and now I'm an admin of Amiscene Community Portal - I also took part in the organization of many scene meetings and now a party called Riverwash.

Voyager: My real name is Bartek Dramczyk and on the demoscene I am called V0yager/Nah-Kolor^Tropyx(C-64) ^PicSaintLoup^DarkLight, demoscene musican since 1992 :) I was also an organiser of Intel Outside 4 (1997), Xenium (1999) and Symphony 2001-2006 and now the Riverwash party (2007).

The Polish demoscene was one of the biggest around in the past. Especially looking on the amount of active demosceners and productions released. Please give us your view on how the Polish demoscene has grown so small.

Fei: The polish sceners who were active back then stopped coming to parties as they started working and having families. They simply have no time for an old hobby called demoscene and if they had time maybe they wouldn't want to come anyway... Less than 100 sceners out of several thousands are still willing to gather for partying. The rest sits at home and only visit scene portals, full of nostalgia of the old times.

Voyager: The strongest part of the Polish demoscene in the mid 90's was Atari XL/XE, C-64 and Amiga sections. Then... in 1995 things changed, Atari bankruptcy, Commodore bankruptcy... and so on. Poles, as scene educated on 8-bit platforms and Amiga (you know, we are Amiga addicted people) tried to do something on 060- and PPC-equiped Amigas, the PC section wasn't as strong as in other countries. Maybe we are still trying to find the right platform for demos.

This probably explains why there are almost no Polish demoscene parties around?

Fei: It's quite difficult to make a party if less than 50 people are willing to come. Costs go up while expenses remain there. Also very few Polish companies and organisations are interested in supporting scene events, which is quite strange as gamers' events have many sponsors. We're trying to change that state of things. The first Riverwash party did not pay for itself but we think next time it will be better.

Voyager: Last Symphony (well... latest, not last) was a very small... meeting-like party. At last Abstract there were only 10 sceners. So... in the year 2006 I've seen that the apocalyptic vision of a "dying demoscene" has become a reality. A year later something has changed - about 70 people who supported Riverwash 2007 with many good productions. I hope that you now understand why we called Riverwash the 'Life After Death Edition'.

Talking about Riverwash, why did you guys organize this party?

Fei: Because the organizers of the only multiplatform scene event left in Poland called 'Symphony' decided not to organize a party this year. We thought it would be a disaster for the Polish scene and also had some ideas on how to make a party bigger as Symphony was getting smaller and smaller each year. In 2006 only about 40 people visited it. We thought something should be done about this and, well, we made it.

Voyager: There were no plans for any multiplatform party in Poland. So we decided in May 2007, during the Boruta meeting, to organize not just another meeting (a good example of a meeting is the R/R Meetings) but a real party, for the people who really want competitions.

Some people complained about the massive boozing at Polish parties in the past. More than at any other parties on the whole demoscene. Please comment.

Fei: Isn't the whole demoscene partly about boozing? I saw many drunk sceners from different countries at Breakpoint. I think the Scandinavian people are bigger boozers than us. ;-) Well, maybe we're a bit more noisy. You could call it 'a Slavic soul'. ;-) I heard an opinion that the Polish scene is very different from, let's say, the Finnish demoscene. We have many demosceners' meetings during the year, virtually every month somebody invites other sceners to come and have fun together. A big family, we could say. We know each other quite well and not only from parties. That's also why we think one big party a year is reasonably enough.

Voyager: The Polish demoscene is boozing, the same as in other scene countries. Nothing more, nothing less.

As stated before, the number of Polish sceners has decreased dramatically. Could you try to be more specific about the reasons for this?

Fei: As I said before, people lost contact with the scene when they started working. Also many previous sceners went abroad. There are very few newcomers now. The Polish scene is getting old and if we don't do something about it, one day there will be no one left there.

Voyager: The Polish sceners got married or migrated to Great Britain for work. But... we are not dead yet. We still have great coders, the best graphicians, most impressive musicians, outstanding ascii-makers and the strongest crazy scene ever!

How do you look back on Riverwash 2007?

Fei: We think it was a big success in terms of gathering Polish sceners together. Over 70 sceners showed up and had good fun, which is the most important thing for us. We prepared an automatic voting and results presentation system, which convinced many sceners to vote and worked out really fine. Of course, there were some glitches and shortcomings but we hope to get rid of them in 2008. We had some problems with the owners of the party place at first but luckily everything turned out well.

Voyager: We did it! :) I hope it made hungry for more new demos. A BIG THANX to all contributors!

What do you guys think of the quality and quantity of the Riverwash 2007 competitions?

Fei: We are a bit disappointed with the number of executable entries but that's what we could expect from the Polish scene. Yet, very few foreigners visited the party and also few supported us with their entries. Anyway, it's understandable as that was our first party under the Riverwash name. We hope to have more feedback and support in 2008.

Voyager: As musician I've heard many good tunes, especialy chip- and soundtracker ones. Some 2D gfx (look at 1st places in new- and oldschool graphics compo) are amazing. Demos and intros: well - both Mr.Acryl's and Kiero+Ubik's demos were good enough to visit Riverwash, not to mention the very good Digimind's 256b intro and the nice 4k Quantum Chaos intro. In sum: the Riverwash party was worth organising.

Judging on what you guys say it looks like Riverwash 2008 will be held for sure?

Fei: We're definitely willing to organize it. A question is what the Symphony party organizers are planning as there is no need for two big parties during summer in Poland and we have only time to organize Riverwash in the summer. We'll see. Why? Because somebody has to do it! :-)

Voyager: Yes. For the Polish sceners. For the demoscene. And only for the demoscene. 2008 will hopefully be a rich year looking at parties :) Symphony, Riverwash, Silesia... And maybe one more!

In your opinion, what will be the future of the Polish demoscene and Polish parties?

Fei: Who knows for sure? It may end as I described above. Or it may prevail if we are successful making good parties. If it doesn't make it we'll have loads of good memories afterwards anyway. :-)

Voyager: I don't know. Really. Maybe there will be no polish scene anymore but something like an euroscene? But... it still will be THE Demoscene.

Thank you very much sharing your words on Poland and its demoscene. Please take this opportunity to give a good ending to this article.

Fei: I'd like to greet all my friends from and particulary the other Riverwash organizers: Voyager, Tygrys, Bonzaj, Ubik and my wife, Margo. I'd also like to greet all foreigners. Come to Poland and party with us! Our parties are a bit different from what you see in Germany or Sweden. We don't sit in front of computers but have fun instead. If you think: 'the scene is not only about computers', as we say, then see you at the next Polish party!

Voyager: Personally, I believe that the subculture called the Demoscene had the most important influence on my life, it changed my perception. I've met many great people visiting Polish parties, I've seen many, many good demos, intros, spent time watching demos etc. That's why I want to thank every demoscener for a great time! As for some greetings, greetings to every Demoscener ever born! :)

Links related to this article: