Xzentrix 2009 – party report

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The Xzentrix party is a friendly multiplatform party with a focus on fun and using old machines. It is less demo oriented although demos can be seen ofcourse.

The party is held on a yearly base in Seeshaupt in Bavaria near Munich. Once it had a focus on Amstrad CPC and other Z80 machines but it is open to all platforms that are different from standard PCs. Actually this year there were more non-Z80 machines at the party than Z80 based ones.

ThorN / .tSCc. had suggested visiting the Xzentrix party to me in 2008. The party back then was so nice and different from other parties that I decided right away to visit the upcoming editions aswell.

This year the party run from September 11th to the 13th. The Friday I had a time off from work and did pack my gear and was in a good preparty mood. I took a train late in the afternoon to Ulm where ThorN and his Kick Off mate Frank were supposed to pick me up.

With only a slight glitch which directed ThorN into the local underground car-park at the main station, everything worked well. The car was pretty crowded as ThorN had plenty of gear himself and he already joked I might had to take a second Amiga monitor on my knees for the return trip.

We had quite some fun and decided to eat first. Along the motorway to Munich we gave Mc Donalds a go which turned out to be a good idea. Because we only arrived around 22:30 at Seeshaupt, there wasn’t any proper food to get anymore.

The party was already about 2/3 complete and we quickly occupied one of the free desks left. ThorN setup his Amiga 500 for the Bavarian Kick Off Tournament while I put my trusty STE together with my Satandisk into action. ThorN brought me a nice SC1224 monitor so I could spare myself the trouble to bring one myself. Soon we were playing with our machines, ThorN and Frank ofcourse headed straight into Kick Off 2 while I enjoyed Elite a bit.

Thorn and SSBs desk at Xzentrix 2009

Thorn and SSB's desk at Xzentrix 2009

Various people were already there. Shortly after us, CPC-Mike and Tolkin from the Amstrad CPC scene arrived. CPC-Mike took the desk right next to me which turned out to be a cool thing. Over the course of the party, I got good in touch with him although his Lower Bavarian dialect was hard to understand at times. We got along well and he showed me quite a few games on his CPC6128 and his 6128+. I never had played or worked with a CPC before so this was an interesting experience. I learned a bit about the CPC floppies and for the first time I saw a rather big lot of original 3inch floppy disks. CPC-Mike told me, they normally have a good rate of keeping data. However formatting them again after 20 years will only give a 50/50 success rate.

CPC-Mike and ??? playing on CPC

CPC-Mike and ??? playing on CPC

Ofcourse there were other systems around, including a C64 with an external CPU cartridge. In effect this used the original C64 only as an I/O module and it did run an impressive horizontal scrolling shooter game for two players.

Another C64 user had a YM emulator running on his C64 and we had a very nice chat about it. I introduced him to the SNDH format and into Atari ST bitplanes as he was interested about them. His software currently replays AY and YM files on the SID. However full SNDH support will be unlikely as it requires emulation of the Motorola 68000 aswell as the MFP. He was actually quite impressed by the YM music possible with Maxymiser and Musicmon 2.5.

Other interesting retro systems included both an AIM-65 and a KIM-1. However due to lack of time I didn’t really talk to its owner. Though both were nice to look at – and as I had read some documents on them in the past, I could make atleast some sense out of these interesting singleboard computers.

As always on the Xzentrix there was some Acorn action. E.q. RISC OS 5 running on an embedded ARM board, a RISC PC and a BBC Micro which I saw for the first time live. I think it is a pretty ugly machine but it showed at least some interesting software, including a colorful porn slideshow from the early 80s and various arcade games.

A very special machine was also there, a Sharp X68000 which demonstrated games all the time. I never saw this machine before. I only heard about it. The computer is housed within a distinct black upright tower with vertical floppy slots. According to my knowledge the X68000 is pretty rare and was only sold in Japan for only a few years.

The party location itself was the Communal assembly hall in Seeshaupt. Only drawback was the lack of showers (that seems to be a standard party feature). Breakfast was plenty although rather simple in organisation. “Here are the rolls, there is jelly and Nutella. Serve yourself!” Sweets, drinks including good beer were for sale so there was no need to go shopping to the supermarket. The party pizza on Saturday was actually quite edible, it was both warm and tasted not as cardboard.

I slept quite well for those two nights. Being the second party only where I brought an air bed, it is definitly a good idea to bring one instead of just a skimpy isolating mat. My air bed didn’t loose air this time like it did at the Numerica 2009 in Montbeliard. Even the typical party noise didn’t make sleep much troublesome. I never assumed this to happen but this year at Xzentrix I had no problems with that. I assume it was mainly based upon the better bed.

As always on the Xzentrix party, there was a flea market again. I didn’t buy many items this year. Just a box of several Ocean titles for my STE and a Sega Megadrive pad with 6 buttons. The latter one did work ok in port 0 (mouse port) but not at all in port 1. Instead of modding it, I traded it for 2 other Sega pads at the time of this writing.

Very interesting stuffs at the flea market included a large collection of Laser disks and a Laser disk player. I never saw such before but it wasn’t hooked up so I could not see this technology in working order.

Another interesting item for sale was a Microprofessor Z80 singleboard computer. Sofar I only knew about this from early c’t magazien issues but I never saw one and I didn’t expect to see one.

Codewise the party was uninteresting. Except for me doing a few lines of code on a game project of mine, noone was really coding in large style. Xzentrix is fun oriented, and not for hurry-hurry-finish-that-demo coding. Actually half of the time, people were enjoying games on the different machines, from Amstrad CPC over C64 to Kick Off 2 on the Amiga for ThorN’s tournament, Xzentrix 2009 had a distinct gamer’s feast touch. I liked it this way because it adds a new feel to a party. It’s different to a demo oriented party like Outline but merely a class of its own. I enjoy both styles of parties afterall.

In the end, ThorN really bough that second Amiga monitor, a 1084 with no SCART input. But luckily I didn’t have to take it on my knees. Packing the car better than on the trip to the party, we had more space in the end than before.

After a crosscountry trip through the Bavarian countryside, ThorN dropped me off at Memmingen where I took a train back home to Lake Constance.

All in all, Xzentrix 2009 was a great party. I enjoyed it a lot and considering the low entrance fee of just 10€, it is a good bet to visit. The flea market and the very friendly multisystem atmosphere give it a very cozy and enjoyable feeling.

Xzentrix 2010, I’ll definitly be there!

Links


1. Xzentrix website

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