Weeee go mad in Devon, yet again..
We’re at Sundown, it’s the 3rd September 2010, and we’re not a bit late. In fact, we were about six days early, at least for the ‘Devon’ part of the experience. For some reason lost in the mists of last February, it was decided that the female contingent should come along in some sort of ‘holiday’ capacity or outrage as well. The Felicing one has a usefully placed relative in the northern outpost of Devon known as ‘Ilfracombe’, so we were able to spend the previous days before the party there. In some conditions of considerable comfort and enhanced viewing pleasure, I might add. Here, I’ll share some photographic evidence with you.
An anguished pause follows to reflect on many days of driving, walking, driving, stumbling, drooling and stalking, all over the twisty turny up along and down along pathways and byways of Devon. All in glorious unbroken (unborked?) sunshine and blue sky-o-vision. This has been totally untypical of the damp sad summer so far. We had many adventures, all with a happy ending, perhaps worthy of a separate article on its own, but this might end up sounding something suspiciously like the “what I did on my holidays” report that we did at school on the first day back there.
“We went to the seaside and saw the sea, the sand, some seagulls, and got some icecream and candyfloss and got sick all over daddy who was very cross….”
So I won’t.
So I will say nowt about the exciting game of fuel gauge roulette that I played on the way down here to this very party place, between Ilfracombe and Barnstaple, due to a breezy overconfidence in the amount of fossilized dinosaur juice left in my fuel tank. (We got there, otherwise my start time for the realtime part of this report would be a lot lot later and the tone of it a lot less euphoric!) I won’t mention the road trip for a visit to the Eden Project last Wednesday, a major undertaking on roads seemingly designed and built by a drunk unicorn on LSD. I guess Devon and Cornwall didn’t get many Roman beating up tribespeople and highway design consultants in to sort the ‘getting from A to B in a straight line’ aspect out?
But we had a good time, saw and did a lot of stuff, but all good things have to come to an end and the Sundown Party takes over. A quick afternoon trip attempting to maintain a folllowing convoy speed at warp factor Felice gets us to our new temporary centre of operations at the Hansard House Hotel, what you mean *hotel*!? with no dossing down in the hall, hardcore, you know the score style?
The female contingent had something to do with that, needing comfortable places to sleep and all. So they have been left there, the losers. We still have the heartbreaking decision at some point late at night to come back to soft pillows, quiet rooms, hot showers and a cooked breakfast the following morning. The hotel is up a bit of a hill, which is a theme that I’ve been tediously familiar with for the previous days. I’ll no doubt have some more to say on that topic after we’ve been back tonight.
The party is, variously, semi-dark, still fairly quiet with around twenty to thirty guests arrived and in arriving states. Some Commodore 64 SID tunes play through the big sound system, whilst the big screen displays some functional ‘welcome to the party’ information. Ooh look, we early arrivers have been name-checked. That’s nice.
In a welcome break from recent parties, I’m typing this on a real Atari spongy keyboard as we managed to avoid the STE turned paperweight conundrum unfondly remembered from earlier this year’s Outline party. Felice fortunately remembered to bring his super Sony flatscreen this time. An initial period of doubt and concern was thrown up when my battered old scart lead refused to put a picture into it. Fortunately an appeal for help reached the ears of Heavy Stylus, who is going to provide some ‘tunage with his funky shit’ later this evening. A much better lead, made by Techy Alison of Atari Forum fame actually did the business, so I’m typing this realtime on my pimped up STE with UltraSatan. So a big thanks has to go to Felice and Heavy Stylus respectively.
Okay, now we’re in a euphoric and slightly tingly excited state, I’ll sign off for now and take a look around for a while.
We’ve been Gasman spotting. He’s hoping to get something done in time for the competitions with a java flavour, but he only has it going beep thus far. Rumour has it, that the thing he’s working on isn’t even feeling up to “hello world” just yet? On a more positive note, he’s brought along the latest port to his ZX Spectrum video player, namely the entire first Star Wars movie (The sublime Episode IV, a new hope and not the atrocity with Jar Jar Binks in it!) This uses up CF-Card space at an extravagant 10 megabytes per minute, so a total movie length of around 1 gigabyte was advised. It’s showing right now! I managed to get in a counter-showing of Tobe’s STE chunky 80×50 video player, which is a fair bit more economical, and looks pretty decent from a middling distance.
Things to say:- “Is that really the Popular Demo on the ST?”
Things NOT to say:- “Where’s the good old colour attribute clash gone?!”
Other names to check include Ne7, mOd, and the nice people from Neurotypical, complete with a vintage BBC Master micro.
The real party is outside and taking a cigarette break…
Gasman’s Speccy Starwars showing is in the Death Star garbage compactor right now. Hundreds of colour attribute clashes are getting slowly pulverised deep in the bowels of ultimate evilness! In other news the status of the notoriously paranoid chinese restaurant of old Budleigh Salterton is in some doubt. One version of events proclaims that they are
completely out of business. Another version says that they open as and when they choose to.
An incoming text warns of a double female presence nearby. Felice wanders off to answer the summons.
The double female presence has been and expressed delight at the party so far, but has taken umbrage at the early closure (compared with any other UK population centre) of most of the hot food outlets and buggered off back to the hotel. A quick peek in the window of paranoid Chinese restaurant confirms that the wall decorations of enhanced libellousness which we enjoyed reading and taking pictures of last year have all been removed. We’re still trying to work out whether this was due to to legal or psychiatric advice?
We’ve thrown a little bit of a showreel for Heavy Stylus and a couple of unnamed (so far) people who expressed an interest in the ST from a time long ago and were latterly interested in some of the things it was doing now. So I hit them with a couple of the Dead Hackers later releases for the STE, and the ultimate show-stopper for 2010, the TalkTalk 2 demo. Jaws were heard to hit floors in a suitably loud fashion. That is, loud enough to hear, but not loud enough to obscure the soundtrack. A few of the super high colour targa pictures got in there and I convinced Heavy Stylus of the goodness of viewing some of these for himself.
Heavy Stylus is due to play at 23.00, so we’ll get down to the big beats around then.
We’ve been quiet for the last hour, but Heavy Stylus hasn’t.
To fit the following, we’ve been playing various games, both Pipemania and Obsession semi-successfully. The drink we’ve taken including certain things of a nightcap nature working to loosen the reflexes, but not fatally so. I’ve spotted the Neurotypical BBC Master box ‘doing’ something which may well be demo competition related?!
The overall atmosphere is quieter than I remember from last year, or more focused. The majority of screens appear to be doing something creatively orientated. There is less of the overt booziness of the first night from the last time. I’m feeling more tired than I ought to, maybe that is the ‘holiday’ part of the week catching up. I think more people have opted for off-site accommodation and may have gone away to locate that. On the other hand, Gasman is being hardcore and pretend sleeping in the hall!
00.28 of the Saturday.
The last saved version of this text file came to 6800 bytes exactly, spooky?
This will be my last despatch before I’ve had a chance to insert some sleep in the following space.
Some not at all realtime hiking notes:-
A world away, a world up a hill and up again. The Hansard House hotel is located a few minutes convenient walk away from the party, that is, going *to* the party. The struggle back up the slope feels longer, with an extra steep bit just before you get there. Maybe the secret is to get properly drunk beforehand. so you don’t feel the pain from your legs and feet, not until it is too late anyway.
After that, I slept in a civilized bed, had a long hot shower, and ate a civilized breakfast, cooked for me by someone else. We then had a civilized planning session with the female party members in the hotel lounge, decorated in a style, c.1910 Edwardian country house. This being particularly important to prevent a fresh outbreak of catering outage stuff-ups which made last night so memorable.
10.03 of the Saturday.
We and a small number of the recently awake are back at the party place. The conditions resemble half-past hangover. A few people are up and about, some of them to sample the Budleigh seaside misty coast? The weather is grey and overcast, which is the first less than perfect weather that we’ve experienced all week. Still we’re at the party so as long as it doesn’t rain indoors, me and the bouncy STE keyboard will cope just perfectly.
Reviewing, reading and “enhancing” this text gets this nicely up to now.
I’ve been out to sample the delights of the Budleigh Salterton street and beach scene, which resembles what other places were like around 1960 or thereabouts.
The beach was a vivid picture of grey mistiness, a strong sea breeze and crashing surf on the foot-catching shingle beach. It was also very quiet, apart from the (very) odd hardcore swimmer and kayaker, the latter getting very close to the shoreline to potentially recreate an old-fashioned shipwreck of the sort that used to be very popular back in the day when such events were the main source of exotic ‘free gifts’ for the poor people on this coastline!
Fortunately, the strength in his paddling arms was more than up to the challenge posed by the surf, so he got away safely into open water.
Nativ of Atari Forum lurkingess has introduced himself to us. He’s brought a Falcon 030 to enter some Flextracker music into the competition. Maybe when a memory upgrade permits, he’ll move onto some Ace Tracker stuff, which would be worth waiting for.
Back on topic, the local store for local people is due to close in four minutes, so I got in there earlier. I won’t say that Budleigh Salterton is an elderly colony, but the shop windows are all bifocal! The local store features such wonderment as junk-food and a massive queue waiting for a lovely slow-moving silver haired old gentleman to pay the cashier before he dies. Anyway, I’ve now got food waiting and some lovely chilled orange juice to fit in with the chilled out party mood swing.
Lunch has been despatched with the usual unseemly haste, I’ve spent a little time viewing demos in company with Nativ. One possibly interesting or useful factoid that we discovered was that Felice’s Sony Bravia LCD screen can provide “free” motion blur on some parts of the ancient Techno Drugs demo, no doubt due to the longer persistence of the image compared with CRT screens. I personally think that this adds nicely to the demo.
There is some scheduled party happenings starting in an hour with the quiz of Meaty, where it has been promised that a contestant WILL die!
The weather broke down for a short time after the last log entry as we encountered drops of random rain for a short while. This came and went a short time later, so almost a perfect week there, almost.
I spent a bit of time viewing several demos running from Nativ’s floppy only Falcon. He’s been having a similar trouble getting a hard disk reliable enough to work with his Falcon as I am with my problem child CT60. This stretched his ingenuity in the right directions, for as well as viewing obvious candidates such as Sonoluminescenz and the Dream Dimension demos, we also got to see Checkpoint’s ‘Morphonic’ demo, generally thought of as a strictly ST-only production floppy, booting on Nativ’s Falcon.
There were around forty minutes devoted to the party highlight otherwise known as Meaty’s quiz. Much random picture taking and video footage of this was taken by the assembled party masses, but most of it was safely outside of the bland blanket zone known as ‘family viewing’. I’m sure a photo of some *theoretically* grown men hitting each other with rubber mallets will find a home around here.
(* Theoretical, not actual!)
Mellow summer enchanted afternoon. The quiet bit before the competitions start, which is at 19.00, according to the flexible time table.
Chatted a while with Heavy Stylus who was showing some preview routines of the ‘rOx’ game sequel. Progress is slow, mainly due to the usual time lack issues, although the main game engine is near completion. This will then require finessing and finishing, which is generally the other fifty percent of the hassle, ah well, maybe next year’s Outline then?
Things to do sometime in the next hour, another look at the beach now its sunny, and a trip to the chippy for supper from there.
Combined trip back to beach and chippy got reduced to trip to chippy as I met mOd and a food gathering party on the way. This outlet happens to be the *only* fast food place in town, apart from an Indian restaurant and of course the sadly madly defunct chinese takeaway which became so famous on our last visit to Sundown, namely for being able to combine a profound mental collapse with a first class retail operation selling hot food.
This singular lack is reflected in the queue at the chippy which goes right around the shop and out of the door again. Still, good things come to those prepared to stick around and memorise details of the assorted sea fish species poster on the wall there, as we rush back home clutching our purchases.
Demoparty fish and chips, eaten in a strange blue light in a far corner of the party hall, tastes delicious!
The first wave of competitions are getting nearer.
And still getting nearer….
Felice is on a mission to food purchasing land so he’s not missing much. This party is being officially rickrolled with Rick Astley on the big screen! I found out that there was some alcoholic fruity substance mixed up by the Germans promoting TUM 2010. We all enjoyed a glass of it earlier but there was still some left, so I’ve been over there and refilled my glass. Felice has now returned from his food purchasing mission and added a can of coke to my stock of drinkables. This has proven very amenable to having whisky added to it, so I am ever so slowly getting in a party mood (hic!)
This message is showing on the main screen, the original caps lock is included for no extra charge.
“DON’T TALK TO ANDY PLEASE HE’S A NICE GUY BUT EVERY TIME YOU TALK TO HIM THE COMPETITIONS RUN LATER!”
From the mouth of rc55 himself, he says that everything is now ready for a 20.15 start. Does this mean that all the entries for all the compos are shown at once on the big screen?! This would be both confusing and memorable. Especially the bit afterwards where rc55 is dragged off the stage and sectioned.
Oldschool music starts, memory_ZX by Nativ goes off first with a six channel Flexitracker modfile made on the Falcon. It is a mellow ambient piece.
Other entries are following, generally showing off ‘chipsound’ as defined by XM tracker but with a nice entry from Ne7 playing something with more oldschool tones.
Females have arrived for part 2 of the party. They have been smuggled in through the kitchen as the main door is shut.
Synth music about to kick off, the oldschool compo was ended on a rather nice oldschool Amiga modfile. There is still some of the German fruity boozy brew left, which is handy as the coke has run out, but the whisky hasn’t. I’m not ready for neat scotch just yet.
A plethora of SID tunes play, what is the adjective term for these, a cacophony of SID ziks perhaps?
Something different with two ZX Spectrum 48k’s joined together, so six channels are made from the beeper sound. It sounds crazy but workable somehow.
Streaming music to start shortly.
Something featuring ‘Coleco talking teacher and bits of string.’
“PUSH THE BUTTON, let it awaken, in the middle of the night; NIGHTBACON!”
Thanks to mOd, who indeed indicated earlier he was on standby with supplies of this magical food if people were feeling the need for it later on!
NuColour by Nativ, Atari STe, Casio CZ1000, Akai S3000XL, Korg XSD, another one in a relaxed ambient style.
Intermission, erm, breakdown….
Back again. “The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, he said, but still, they came.” – Repeat phrase until panicky and desperate tone creeps into voice as dissatisfied party audience start making gestures of intent and sharpened objects in the direction of the compo organisers pit.
“Time for a retroparty…”
Newschool streaming music, as so often the case, the competition without an end in sight. My ears are satisfied, but my eyes are starving from a complete delay in getting the screen candy they need!
Newschool streaming music compo, the best boredom filter to get rid of the uninitiated from demo parties since 1997!
Well that last sentence might be a bit harsh, but it seems to be the case that out of all the non-demo competitions, this goes on a lot longer than the rest by a big margin, even at the smaller parties.
END!!!! At last, some graphics competitions in 10-15 mins.
ASCII compo, sad bunny by Torment to start with.
We’ve also had to repatriate a sad Nicky back to the hotel due to something which disagreed with her that she ate or more probably drank? Still she’s in a comfortable state now. Just had some more out of party moments and out of body experiences getting back up that damn hill again.
Ascii compo was a mixture of ascii logos and ansi BBS style chunky stuffs.
Oldschool pixels are coming up soon(ish).
All timings are approximate and guesswork.
We are now lubricating with a combination of fresh orange and Whyte and Mackay whisky.
Unfinished face by Spiny of Torment.
Nice C64 picture, ‘The Tower of Pearl’. but ‘Silently floating into Darkess‘ is even better. Hokay, that is enough oldschool, so newschool graphics are to follow.
A joke entry to start with but things settle down with a couple of good entries. Then it is suddenly all over.
“Ten sweet minutes” to the main event…. (Ha ha!)
From the screen of a BBC Master system.
BE BORN AS RUIRI
TRY TO RUN SUNDOWN DEMO PARTY FOR 6 YEARS
RICKROLL WHOLE PARTY
(cursor blinks at about here…)
Oldschool demo compo to start. At this point I switch off to pay total attention to the demo compos, so back later.
Sunday and oldschool has ended. The following things were shown.
Small amiga intro which was mainly a lot of infotext.
Spiny’s music disk for the ST called ‘May Crash’ and it actually did.
‘Pimp my Spectrum’ actually redone on a raw Spectrum!
BBC demo with some oldschool effects including chequerboard.
I’ll elaborate later. Newschool intros are to follow.
What time is love?
It’s all over, all over the place and all over your face. Bed beckons and morning recollections will have to follow later on.
Sunday bloody Sunday!
Morning, and we’ve left the hotel of comfortable beds and cooked breakfasting and arrived back at the very quiescent party place. A furiously vibrating Ne7 can be found in the kitchen area attempting to dine off a chicken tikka masala, kitchen microwave being so powerful, it is capable of providing any food placed within it with a glowing radioactive half-life.
There was a wee small hours beach party apparently, with a driftwood bonfire and night bacon cooked on it. I’ll have to hope for pictorial proof as I didn’t quite make it, hotel access being dependent on other members of the party, plus other boringly sensible considerations such as being in a fit state to drive home today. Oh, it has rained overnight, quite a lot of it through the open window of our hotel bedroom, necessitating a discreet mopping up operation with the spare towels.
I’m trying to think back to the competitions, and my brain is coming up with a state of ‘blehhh!’ I don’t think the PeeCee stuffs were that memorable, apart from a sublime 1 kilobyte sunrise. There was one entry which definitely should have been filed under “why bother?” and no, it was not the Belgian Beer Squadron entry. There was a little bit of an
Out of the two highest ranking oldschool entries, ‘Pimp my Actual Spectrum’ seems to show the most accomplished effects, but the BBC entry works well showing things that have not been attempted before on that platform in a Mode 7 teletext style in places. So hard to decide which one is best really?
~~ Unravelling towards the end ~~~
Variously known as “Oh dear, is that it?” and “The bit of the realtime that CiH hates writing as it means the end of the party is near.”
It’s a shame that this is the last Sundown and probably the last chance to visit sleepy seaside Budleigh Salterton. The party itself picked up nicely from last year with just about all the people that made it special the last time returning here. There were one or two new faces I had the pleasure of seeing for the first time, with Heavy Stylus donating a vital
video lead to let me type this on my STe. Also it was cool to meet Nativ from the Atari Forum who had the sole Falcon 030 presence, with several classic demos and some neat tunes playing there.
Of course we reaquainted with many various people such as ne7, rc55, Meaty, MegMeg, Stavros, Gasman and many others.
As for the future direction of UK based demo parties, hopefully this is not the end. A forum to discuss this was tentatively placed in the timetable last night, but got quietly removed when the competitions started to run seriously late. One school of thought is developing the ‘Breakpoint replacement party’ idea first mooted last Easter, but in a modified form and not as the replacement Easter party. If this comes off, then a location at Nottingham was being considered. This would be seriously convenient for this writer, only being an hour away and all.
Alternatively, rc55 (Ruairi) is taking a break and may well come back with something different of his own to replace Sundown, as he figures that six editions of the same party are enough. Personally I’m pleased that we managed to catch these last two editions after a slow start when we half-planned but never got around to doing anything.
The other major difference this year, was with bringing the female elements in our lives over, and organising a more general holiday around the week before the party itself. This worked without *too* many broken bones and torn limbs (Ouch!)
Anyway, I’m sure we’ll meet again, not sure how, not quite sure when..
CiH – Sept 2010 for Low Res Mag.