2012/11/07

"run demo" - How I discover Demoscene -

I got some Tweet comments from Japanese demosceners and people around the scene for “Moleman 2 : Demoscene - The Art of the AlgorithmsJ Seems like some are watching it many times… Yes!! Watch it! Replay it! And show your love by LIKE-ing it J (Interview with Szilárd Matusik, the director of this film can be read here.)

In case if you’re wondering how active Japanese demoscene is, there is “Tokyo Demo Fest” which has been held since 2011. (This is where Moleman2 was premiered in Japan. The party’s invitation intro was ranked 1st at Hungarian party “Function” this year, a party which you can see in the movie.) If you are interested in Japanese culture and demoscene, probably it’s the best timing to visit… I’m no one to comment about demoscene, but I can assure you: Our food is great and Tokyo is fun.

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Well, as I say, I’m not a demoscener or programmer. I’m just a usual computer user who needs constant help from people and manuals. Today, I’d like to explain why tech-idiot like me decided to translate this movie into Japanese...

The first time I saw a thing called “demo” was when I was around 10. There was a PC-9800 series computer for my father’s business. (PC-9800 series was the most common machine in Japan back then. I remember our model got 2 drives for 5-inch floppy) I guess my dad was trying to bring in new technology, but somehow he started to avoid it after several weeks..:D And he gave me a permission to use it. Yippee!


Probably the right machine is the closest to what we have...
Photo@Youtube

Around that time, PC company used to send someone to teach how to use. Not sure it was a part of customer care, but an instructor used to visit our house about twice a month. Since I got permission and I was dying to try this ‘mature’ machine, I decided that I take this lesson on behalf of my dad. (Also because my dad used to get extremely busy around the lesson time…specifically around the lesson time :D) When the instructor found 10yr old girl waiting at the desk, he looked confused (naturally) but he was kind enough to teach me how to power on/off computer, how to handle floppy (like formatting) and 2 command lines; “run menu” and “run demo”.

I remember he explained to me that “run demo” shows us what this PC can do (Probably it’s installed in PC). And the first time I saw it.. I was just stunned. Until several seconds ago the screen was black and white, and suddenly colorful line art like a laser beam show up on the screen. It was so cool. Even after the instructor left I kept typing “run demo” wondering how this can be possible. Then I started to draw lines and circles by reading the telephone book like manuals to try making something similar to this demo. I spent some weeks to draw a picture with only circle and lines to show the instructor but he never show up after that… (I can understand) Then at some point I sensed my limits and stop doing it.
But I remember I watched that demo every time I used that computer. 




It was about 1min demo like this with no music. …but not sure, my computer didn’t have sound card. (This is a music video of Kenton Slash Demon’s “Deamon”. They tried to reproduce computer effect with analog way. You can see the hand to bend strings :D  Swoooon… Their previous work “Matter” also looks like analog-demo. )


I found the existence of “demoscene” about 5-6 years ago. In the meeting I joined as an interpreter, there was a guy who was referred to as “Legend” or “Genius”. I wondered what kind of “legend” he has and the search(!) took me to ‘demoscene’. As I wrote before, I first thought it’s a community with smell of danger :D but as I read on, I found that this “demo” is a same kind as that “run-demo’s” demo. But...why it’s so different from what I’d seen? What was happening in overseas? What is Party? Why people are so enthusiastic about this??? To figure out, I started to read old articles and mail magazines (for articles in 90s, I liked this WIRED's article).

To me, existence of “Demoscene” has been like an unidentifiable club at school… We know there’s a small room for this club and we see people inside the room is having fun till late night, but for outsiders it’s a full of mysteries. I try to dig more whenever I remember it, but it didn’t go well… then I run into “Moleman 2” demoscene documentary. This film instantly answered almost all the question I had for years. I felt that I wish I could have seen this when I first heard about demoscene… and hoped that more people discover this interesting world of demoscene with this movie. And that was the motivation to do Japanese translation. (Also, coincidentally I had occasions to meet quite a lot of computer-enthusiastic highschool students right after I saw this film. I wanted to introduce this film but they all claimed that they are not good at English.)

Among many other footage in the movie, I like one where the young boy from Transylvania saying “I’m really lucky to have the demoscene”. Just like him, I’m sure there are many people who discover what they can put their heart into through the demoscene… programming, graphics, music or lamer stuff :D… whatever that is... I believe it is really fortunate to have a hobby you can seriously put your time and effort into.

Since I don’t understand the technical part at all, I enjoy demo/intro as a visual work. I’m now in early 30s, but feels like 10-year-old again when I see demo! :D 

I hope this scene will continue and evolve with the time, and.. looking forward to see some awesome demo in the future. :)


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