Mariusz Bartosik

Graphics programming, demoscene and book reviews

Riverwash 2016 Combined Demo Competition

A2016 by Altair
"A2016" by Altair

The biggest Polish multiplatform party is doing well. After few editions with a smaller number of releases, sceners delivered lots of demos and intros.

I have to confess that my last laundry-washing party was Riverwash 2010 held in Warsaw. This year’s edition took place between 2nd and 4th September in Katowice. I wasn’t there, so this time it’s not a party report, but a review of combined demo competition releases.

#1 – A2016 by Altair

This demo is a kind of come back, as the highest peak of group’s activity was between 1997 and 2002 (with a small exception for Loopback demo for V6Z80P computer released in 2010). It’s a nice way of saying hello once again in 2016. Let’s see why the audience decided it was the best one.

The demo slightly refers to this year’s party theme, that is, “Space and Flying Saucers”. There’s an astronaut with nice reflections on the helmet, travelling through a tunnel, but there is no further story. We are taken on a journey through the field of crystals in a company of flying cubes. A few seconds later an object made of metaballs appears and there’s a nice plexus-like effect in a background. Another scene with glowing ball inside morphing shell, and we are at the end of this demo, watching the greetings part.

There are no groundbreaking effects inside, but the demo is aesthetically pleasing in its simplicity. Consistent colour grading (even if a bit too dark in places) is a plus. But the depth of field is a bit too narrow (or the blur strength is too high) and the screen looks too soft. The soundtrack composed by Dakota is a fast two-step demo-style tune and does its job, although something slower would work here too. Guys from Altair have all what it takes to make a proper demo, so I think we can expect something like “A2017” in the near future. Well done!

Credits:
Mi-ku – code
Ratz – code
Lipek – code
Dakota – music
Atuanu – 3D gfx
Fuzzy – 2D gfx
Malfunction – 3D gfx
A2016 by Altair on Pouet

#2 – Evenk by Madwizards

A new release from Mawi was ranked 2nd and got only 7 points less than the winner. This demo is special: Kiero used software renderer ported from his Amiga productions. This also means that you should be prepared for watching it in 320×180 screen resolution. Quite a unique opportunity in these days.

Slow paced dubstep combined with female vocalise makes a perfect opening for a demo. This is a good time to introduce the group. After the main titles, Chaser pumps up the BPM slider and transforms the tune into aggressive drum ‘n’ base track. Visuals follow the music here, they’re also heavy post-processed with Sobel operator, picture overlays, chromatic aberrations and screen glitches. Luckily, there are no additional screen flashes synced to the beat on top of that, so you can still recognise the actual effects beneath it. A wise choice :).

Speaking of effects, you may expect to see a tunnel, fluids, 3D objects, nice looking particle spikes, smoothly running voxel space and some other used in credits and greetings parts. This is a party version, so the final one may look a bit different. Still, it’s a pity that the quality of code, graphics and music haven’t been properly appreciated by the voters.

Credits:
Kiero – code
Chaser – music
Azzaro – lead graphics
Rorque – graphics
Mr Robin – artwork
Dżekson – artwork
Evenk by Madwizards on Pouet

#3 – The Spacewalk by Futuris

You may get a feeling of deja vu, but this demo also was ranked just 7 points less than the previous one. It is also special: it’s the only one that uses Unreal Engine 4.

The similarities end here (well, okay, it’s also a party version). This one is a 4 days production and has been prepared with party’s “Space and Flying Saucers” theme in mind. Somewhere in a far galaxy, there’s a space station and an astronaut is about to do the spacewalk outside of it. We travel through asteroids to discover a strange structure with a glowing matter inside of it.

Let’s leave the discussion about using Unity or Unreal engines on the demoscene aside, as this is a longer topic. In this case, I think that any way of supporting a party with a release is worth appreciation.

Back to the demo and what I like: the object of the alien structure looks really good, just like the space environment texture. There’s also a moment when the music and graphics turn into 8-bit mode, I like this tiny detail too. The soundtrack was composed by Mr Quiet and fits the visuals. You can download “Chiptonizee” track from author’s SoundCloud. As a bonus, you may even find a few alternative versions there.

Now, some things that could have been improved. I have to say, that I was a bit confused after watching it. What happened with the guy from the first scene? He doesn’t show up later at all. If this is a story, as the title suggests, the only explanation is, that at some point the camera switches to the first person perspective mode. If this is the case, some kind of emphasising this (by adding a helmet’s HUD?) would be a good idea. Another thing to fix is the demo’s size. It takes about 900 MB after unpacking, that’s way too much.

Thankfully, Biter has promised a final version, so we may expect it in the near future. In the meantime, please visit his website and tell him to restart his activity there :)

Credits:
Biter – graphics, code
Mr Quiet – music
The Spacewalk by Futuris on Pouet

#4 – Inside My Head by Samar

A demo written in JavaScript is an exploration of a new grounds for Samar Productions, as the group’s major platform is Commodore 64. This one uses Three.js, the JavaScript 3D library for WebGL by Mr Doob, so the programmer could focus on creating just the effects. Let’s see how it turned out.

For a start, we get the ball object with jittered surface that explodes, so we can go further. I like the following infinite grid effect (maybe except that it’s not so infinite). A fast travel through a tunnel and we discover a rotating ball-shaped object, more spheres with furry surface and particles forming into a galaxy. Some more grid-like objects, a rotating head object (self-portrait?) and our journey ends. In some scenes, you can spot a UFO object. Whoever this head is, it seems to be full of late 90s effects. You can also see floating thoughts about space and spaceships, just like the party’s theme.

You may wonder where you heard similar soundtrack before. Well, it turns out that Chaser is very productive and that’s the second demo with his music released at Riverwash 2016. Obviously, he can compose music in various styles, but this one is also a fast, drum ‘n’ base track. Maybe that’s an alternative soundtrack for “Evenk” by Mawi? Let’s have some fun: start YouTube captures of both demos, scroll up and mute Evenk. Watch it with “Inside my Head” music. You may like to check out the second one with swapped music too. It seems that this style is universal and fits visuals of many demos.

While it is easier to watch a video capture, only the executable version will give you the full experience. Luckily, the authors provided an on-line version, so you can run the real thing in your browser.

Credits:
Don Kichote – code, design
Chaser – music
Isildur – graphics, design
Inside My Head by Samar on Pouet

#5 – Locus Alienus by Satori

Do you remember 400 by Satori + Tu v dome from Revision 2016 demo compo? Well, Zden is back with another release in this year and it’s also based on processing a video material.

Once again, I recommend watching the real, executable version. The screen changes are so dynamic, that YouTube’s compression kills the details. After a while, I think that you will recognise these alien creatures with no problem. The post-processing filter looks very interesting, and the only downside of this production is its size. Over 300 MB for a one-effect demo is still too much. I think that this fits into wild / anim category better.

As a soundtrack, we get a solid portion of breakbeats made by Raiden. A nice re-appearance on the scene for sure! The track itself somehow reminds me The Prodigy’s classic “Voodoo People”. It shares some similar sounds, although it’s not a direct remix. It seems that all productions in the compo have remarkable musicians behind their soundtracks.

Credits:
Zden – code, visuals
2ge – video
Raiden – music
Locus Alienus by Satori on Pouet

#6 – Liver Wash by M ‘n M

Looks like this year’s competition had a really wide spectrum of demo types and used tools; Windows, DOS, Unreal Engine, WebGL. Things get even more interesting, as this demo uses good old ASCII mode.

This party-coded coded entry is a short (a bit over one minute) reminder, that you should wash your liver at least once a year, preferably during Riverwash. No reason to complain here, it’s a short but decent release. It’s also Maugli’s first demo. Well done!

There is no video capture of it right now, so just run it on your own machine. If, for some reason you can’t, these 4 screenshots should give you an idea how does it look like.

Credits:
Maugli – code
Musk – code, music
Liver Wash by M ‘n M on Pouet

Liver Wash by M 'n M
“Liver Wash” by M ‘n M

#7 – Bionic Carnival by Amnesty

To add another tool to the combined demo compo’s mix, this entry uses Blender Game Engine. It turns out that it can be used to make non-interactive demos too.

If you are not a programmer, you can still create 3D scenes, sync them with a soundtrack and export as executable. And that’s what Szudi did; this demo is a one-man production.
Even if the visuals looks like in demos from the 90s and the “motion capture” went a bit wrong, the effort is worth appreciation.

Again, no video capture is available at the moment, so download and run the executable or just take a look at these 4 scenes.

Credits:
Szudi – 3D, scripting, music
Bionic Carnival by Amnesty on Pouet

Bionic Carnival by Amnesty
“Bionic Carnival” by Amnesty

#8 – Silly Venture 2k16 invitro by Checkpoint

How about adding Atari ST to the mix? Check out this invitation to Silly Venture party held on 11th-13rd November 2016 in Gdańsk, Poland. If you’re into Atari demoscene, you may be interested in this event, as the organisers promise “Atari, beers, concerts, girls and many hours of entertainment for the compo night!” :)

This mini-demo contains a nice sound loop and a small video, all of this in just 345 kB. Maybe Checkpoint could cooperate with Satori to make their video-based releases smaller?

By the way: the length of the demo is around 20 seconds, you don’t have to watch 4 minutes of the video capture on YouTube. But if you like the music, why not. I wonder if this can be categorised as a vaporwave?

Credits:
LSL – code, design
Vitalic – music
Kaspar Hauser – video
Silly Venture 2k16 invitro by Checkpoint on Pouet

#9 – Pryszcz by Grabek

The last entry is a really simple JavaScript effect, probably created at the party. The source consists of minimised jQuery library and a few additional drawing functions with comments in Spanish. Quite a strange combination for a Polish demo. Anyway, Traymuss provided a short soundtrack for it, and that’s the best part of this release.

There is no video capture or on-line version, so you can download it and run in a browser or just use your imagination to move lines from screenshots using a sinus path.

Credits:
Grabek – code
Traymuss – music
Pryszcz by Grabek on Pouet

Pryszcz by Grabek
“Pryszcz” by Grabek

Summary

The 8th Annual Laundry Party can be considered as successful. Scene groups used lots of various tools and techniques to create their demos. There’s definitely an upward trend in their quantity, and we can still expect at least two final versions.

Even if not all of the releases were top-notch quality, every effort to support a party is worth appreciation. And if you think you can make a better one, just prepare your demo and bring it with you to Riverwash 2017.

Official Combined Demo Compo results

# Points Name
01 152 A2016 by Altair
02 145 Evenk by MadWizards
03 138 The Spacewalk by Futuris
04 115 Inside My Head by Samar
05 114 Locus Alienus by Satori
06 103 Liver Wash by M ‘n M
07 95 Bionic Carnival by Amnesty
08 60 Silly Venture 2k16 invitro by Checkpoint
09 55 Pryszcz by Grabek
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Written by Mariusz Bartosik

I’m a software engineer interested in 3D graphics programming and the demoscene. I’m also a teacher and a fan of e-learning. I like to read books. Over the last few years, I became interested in psychology and bioinformatics. In spare time, I secretly work in my lab on the ultimate waffles with whipped cream recipe.

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