It’s now a week since this year’s Assembly, the demo one. I’m all but excited about the huge lan-party thing, but still went there to see what’s there to be seen. Of course, masses of un-fit teenagers with clumsy motoric skills and other stereotypic nerds almost to comical extent. Also, I have never seen so many blue leds at the same time.
These aside, there were also something interesting to see and experience. For example, while visiting the many sponsor areas, I lost 2 – 15 to this one guy who could be challenged in his ’74 Pong. That didn’t feel too bad, as he had lost only a few games during the weekend. A little more embarrassing was my lost to a booth girl in Wii Motion Plus table tennis. Luckily I was able to regain some of my lost dignity by beating a Lego Mindstorms robot in tic-tac-toe. I was a little surprised when the creator of that robot told me that I was one of the few who had actually won the robot.
I attented the event during Friday and Saturday evenings, as the interesting compos and seminars were held then. Some of the ARTtech seminars were very good. Indie games were held in key-focus this year. One of my favourite seminars was The Mystery Seminar held by Petri Purho, the creator of Crayon Physics Deluxe. The seminar was a mystery because Petri hadn’t prepared any topic because he had been too busy playing Spelunky, another indie game, as he told the audience. The seminar was nothing but Petri playing different indie games on the projected screen and explaining the audience why the games he presented were so great. Sounds a bit off, but the whole presentation was very interesting and entertaining. The whole audience broke off laughing when Petri was playing the Enviro-Bear 2000.
The most interesting of the seminars I saw was the Fighting Organized Online Crime, held by Mikko Hyppönen from F-Secure. I was amazed to realize the extent and resources behind the business of creating viruses and malware.
Most of the seminars can be watched from Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/channels/asmsummer2009seminars
The main motivator for me to go to Assembly is to see the compos. Fast compos started the competitions on Friday, but did not offer anything special. During Friday were also Extreme music and graphics, 4k intro and oldskool demo. Extreme music had some very nice chip-tunes, at least the top three are worth checking out (results and prods). Extreme graphics wasn’t very good.
Then came the 4k intro compo. It was without any doupt the most high-class compo of them all! 14 entries were shown in pre-judged order (best last) and after the first few the intros were awesome! It’s simply amazing what can be done with four kilobytes today. The best intros are of quality that you would have been expecting from a 64k intro several years back. Many of the entries in the compo had a decent music or ambient audio and some even had a concepts of story telling.
Muon Baryon, the winning 4k
The oldskool compo was a dissappointment, only two entries. Both of them were good, though.
Saturday had music, graphics, real wild, short movie, 64k intro and demo compos. Music compo was mostly bad, too many generic and non-memorable pieces and the dreadful wannabe-metal songs. Even the winner fell into this category and won only because of the “funny” vocals. Songs that came second and third were good. Graphics compo had some nice pictures, but overall wasn’t that memorable. Real wild demo competiton wasn’t very memorable either. Short film compo offered some cheap laughs but nothing more.
Sadly, also 64k intro and demo compos were a bit let down. 64k had few nice intros, namely the winner Transform, a Flash intro Proof of Concept and a textmode intro Beefjerky. And the demo compo had a clear winner.
Rumours told that the demo winner was almost too unfinished to be released – even still, a clear winner.
Based on this year’s experience, I hope that the overall quality of the competitions would improve – after all, Assembly has the reputation of one of the major demo parties worldwide. Otherwise the Assembly is about to become an oversized lan-party where geeks gather to do exactly the same that they could do at home – gazing at the laptop screen ignoring the real-life people around them. Only that at Assembly they are interrupted by some competitions they don’t care the slightest bit.