Written by Pulkomandy for Push'n'Pop
This year again I come to the Forever Party in Slovakia. For those who missed last year's report, this party is dedicated to the whole 8-bit scene. Unfortunately, ZX Spectrum, C64 and Atari XE/XL are over-represented. For some people Amstrad only made the Spectrum +2 and +3, and they never heard about the CPC. So last year we decided to show them who we were, with Eliot, Rouquemoute and me coming from France, and, of course, the great Batman Forever demo coming from Spain.
This year, I'm the only french guy to go to the party. I'm not completely the only CPCist, because Eliot gave some CPCs to people last year. Let's see if they were put to good use. Anyway, I decided to bring some Thomson computers (MO5 and TO8) this year, because I happen to have various projects around them at the moment.
Coming to Slovakia is not an easy trip. You can try to go by train, but you have to change trains a lot of times (and I don't want to get lost in a Czech train station). You can go by plane from Beauvais to Bratislava, but, you need to get to Beauvais somehow, and from Bratislava to Horna Suca, the place where the party happens. I chose to go by Eurolines bus, which goes from Nantes to Trencin, near enough to the party place. I spare you the scary details of the 28-hours long bus trip. Next year I'll try to take a train to Strasbourg so it's a bit shorter. Notice that Slovakia isn't THAT far from France, about half of the time spent in the bus was going from Nantes to Strasbourg. I hope to be able to share a car with someone? For reference, Google Maps shows that going from Strasbourg to Coutances needs 8:35 hours, and going from Strasbourg to Trencin is 9:35. Going from Antibes to either Coutances or Trencin takes the same time. So, why aren't there more French people in Slovak events?
As Eurolines busses are only running every other day, I come to the party one day early. Fortunately, I can count on the party organizers to find a solution for every problem. I'm welcomed at Trencin train station by Mike, party organizer and member of the Zeroteam group (maybe you remember their CPC demo "CPCTro". I heard they are working on more...)
Mike found a place to sleep at some friend's home. It's nice to be able to count on Slovakian hospitality :). I leave my bags full of computers there and we go to a restaurant for typical Slovak food (fried cheese!). Then, Mike has to take a train back home to pack all his hardware for the party. I have some time to sleep and get used to the Slovak schedule: there is no time shift from France, so here the sun sets down at 5:30PM.
Next day, it's time to get to the party place. There was a last minute change (2 days before the party - don't that remember you some Ze Meeting editions?) for the party place. The Culture House was already booked, so the party moves to Agro Suca instead. This is next to the hostel where sceners can sleep, so it's a bit more practical... if you are that kind of scener. Most people tell the organizers that they don't sleep more than 2 hours per night, and thus don't need a room.
Anyway, we go there on friday morning with Mike and Ellvis. This year again, I'm the first scener at the party beside the organizers! First people get there during the afternoon and start setting up their hardware. It's time to meet some PMD85, Didaktik M, Didaktik Kompakt, Speccy 2010, and other weird machines.
The party schedule is finally annouced. No AYRiders live performance this year, instead the party starts with a tribute to Raster, who was there for the 12 previous editions and died last year in a train accident. He was a very important contributor to the 8bit Atari scene, with 45 entries in all the Forever competitions. He also made some hardware extensions for the Atari computers (dual pokey, multijoy, and more), and also wrote some games and tools. So, we watched some of his demos, gfx and musics on the big screen.
Then, time for lighter topics with the video game screenshot quizz. In that game, we have to guess the game and platform from part of a screenshot. The first ones are rather easy, but it gets more and more difficult, to the point that the last picture is only 5 pixels (and of course, no one guessed which game it was from).
The next step is the opening ceremony where we learn about the live compo theme (with usual Forever style). This year it's "Alien versus Fredators". Then the night goes on with a C64 demoshow on the big screen while people get back to their seats for finishing up their prods; or drinking more beer; or both. This year there's no party-provided internet connexion, but some people can connect with mobile phone systems in cases of emergency.
During the night I worked on the HxC floppy emulator support for Thomson MO5. I bought one last year from Lotharek, and started to write the support software back then, but I had encountered some problems that needed a firmware change, which was made just a week before the party. Right on time. Now it's working, which means the MO5 is the second 8bit computer to get support for this after the Amstrad CPC. Maybe this is because the others don't have a standard floppy interface and already have some kind of SD card or other mass storage support...
I go for sleep for a few hours. I wake up at 6:00, the time when you can see the real sceners, still hard working on their compo entries.
Saturday morning goes quite quietly. There's nothing on the schedule table on the mornings anyway. The compo fun starts with a game contest. It's a jump'n'run game on C64 where you have to go as far as possible without falling in a hole between buildings. A fun and fast-paced game, perfect for this contest.
Then, it's time for the actual demo compo. The schedule was to start with the wild compos, but in the afternoon there is too much sun and the screen isn't very visible, so the organizers decide to start with music compo instead. There are quite a few entries, most of them quite good. Then, it's the graphics compos, nice pictures as well. The 1K intro contest was not very interesting this year, last year's entries were better. However, there were nice demos on Spectrum. The C64 demo compo was cancelled because there weren't any contributors.
The real time compo is a multiplatform one, but the short demos made on the party place are usually more around jokes over the theme than actual effects. So this compo has few value besides the fun at the party (which is already enough to justify it).
The last compo is for the "wild". This year we have:
- An MO5 intro by Shinra, done at the party place in 6 hours,
- A demo on CPC by Dirty Minds, called Wolfenstrad, which shows some wolfenstein-like 3D world with some animations going on on the walls. The textured walls look quite nice, and the trick to use only every other line works fine on the videoprojector used at the party, but, where are the level maps? We see only a very small square world with few walls accross, and the camera is just rotating around, not actually moving. I wonder if the demo was actually finished?
- A music entry on CPC by Electro.
- And, 3 videos are also put in the same category.
This makes the wild category the most difficult to evaluate, with stuff from different platforms, different categories and some non-demo productions. That's why we need more actual prods for each platform to get an actual compo running!
After the compos, it's time for lunch, and then, some other "crazy compos". First there's a quizz about 8bit games; then, the Show-it game, where contestants have to make one guy guess the name of a game without talking. A lot of fun, of course.
During this night, as the compos are over, people have more free time to work on uusal projects. I helped Mike to debug some cross-development tool for the Spectrum TPC/IP stack. But, I was quite tired so I slept a lot during that night - an amazing 6 hours!
On sunday morning, finally, is the prize giving ceremony. As usual, Factor6 gets most of the prizes in all platforms and compos. In the Wild compo, Wolfenstrad is ranked first, and CPC in Wonderland, a music by Electro, is ranked 3rd. We really need more CPC prods to open actual compos and not have everything in the Wild compo. And some entries to the realtime compos would be nice too.
We also learn that Ellvis and CVM will not be part of the organization team anymore, after setting up and doing the party for 13 years in a row. Next year they'll be there as *PAYING* visitors (and this seems to be very important to the other orgs). But there are some new people coming in as well.
The Forever Eternity prize was not awarded this year. The official reason is that no one deserved it. Actually, we can consider that it goes to Raster, who deserved it every year but was always considered a "backup solution" for years where no one else deserved the price.
Anyway, just after the prizegiving, everyone starts packing up, the party is over and it's time to get back to real life. As my bus only leaves on monday, I go with the organizers and some other late-leaving sceners to the mandatory after-meeting pizza. This year we go to Horna Suca pizzeria, which has good pizzas but takes from 1 to 2 hours to get them cooked. Then it's time to get back home for everyone.
Report is over, see you next year!