Mariusz Bartosik

Graphics programming, demoscene and book reviews

Riverwash 2017 PC Demo Compo

"Rise and Shine" by Elude
"Rise and Shine" by Elude

The main theme of the 9th edition of Riverwash party was the Wild West. At the beginning of September, about 150 cowboys and cowgirls travelled on their horses to Katowice in Poland. Some brought valuable goods with them. Let’s see if they left some gold nuggets there.

#1 – Rise And Shine by Elude

First of all, you may wonder why the screen resolution of this demo is so low. That’s because originally it was meant to be an Amiga release. Due to last minute problems with a sound driver, Kiero quickly hacked a PC version instead. That’s what I would call a flexible demo tool!

BTW: If you are interested how to create a system for making Amiga demos on a PC, you may want to watch Kiero’s seminar from Demobit 2017.

All right, back to the demo. As always, guys from Elude delivered quality stuff here. After introducing group’s name and the demo title in a stylish way, we get an effect that reminds me Life On The Grid by Keyboarders, my favourite demo from Solskogen 2017. Next, we have buildings seen through a fish-eye lens, some classic objects shown in a new way, credits with partly dislocated object’s surface. And did I see raytraced spheres a moment later? Elude constantly prove that even on an old-school platform you can create fresh effects synced to a modern soundtrack.

Speaking of music: you cannot expect anything other than pro quality track from Chaser. There is a new trend of going retro with a synthwave music from the 80’s, and this is what you get here.

If you listen closely, around 2:00 (and a bit later) you can hear a sound of… Facebook chat notification?! I’m not sure if this was intentional, but it’s pretty unlikely to get this into the mix while rendering the final track. Maybe it was a kind of an easter egg to troll the audience at the party :). Anyway, you can download clean, 24-bit WAV version from Chaser’s SoundCloud.

One thing that I like less is that the last minute feels a bit empty. Its first half is filled with a “grass” effect and the last 30 seconds are used just for a long fade out. It would be nice to have an effect or two more here. Apart from that, a very nice release and deserved 1st place!

Credits:
Kiero – code
Substrate – gfx
Ubik – gfx
Chaser – music
Rise And Shine by Elude on Pouet and Demozoo

#2 – Otaku by Satori

If you remember Satori’s demos from Demobit 2017 or previous edition of Riverwash, you can probably guess that they have prepared something with heavy post-processing. Indeed, this release requires very fast CPU and kills YouTube’s video encoder with the level of details and tons of glitches.

This time we get a demo with a theme of otaku – a Japanese term for obsessive enthusiast of manga, anime or computers. Probably that’s why you can see 3D models of Sailor Moon (I guess…), Amiga and Commodore 64 logo there.

Apparently, Chaser didn’t want to lower his standards from the previous Riverwash where he composed soundtracks for 2 demos. So, the second place in the compo also features his music. Zden announced this demo as a sequel to Satori’s Karoshi (“death from overwork”).

Conclusion: living in a small, flat-shaded room is not fun, so don’t be like some frustrated otaku. Go outside, meet others and make a demo about it!

Credits:
Zden – code, visuals
Chaser – music
Maali – 3D
Laila – 3D
Substrate – Graphics
Otaku by Satori on Pouet

#3 – Boxbuffergeometry by Elude & Logicoma

One more Elude release in the compo, but this time with Ubik as a coder.

It’s actually a one scene demo featuring industrial buildings and a few extra ideas. It has a pleasant colour grading, smooth camera motion and a big cube that reminds me of a red square from the later design of Amiga logo. I don’t like z-fighting artefacts on it at the beginning though, even if it nicely affects the lighting around.

Wobble of Logicoma created a fitting soundtrack for this short demo. After the first minute, I thought that it will reveal itself as a smashing James Bond theme remix, but the 4th note was actually different. But for me it’s close enough, I like it.

This demo uses JavaScript and WebGL with a help of three.js library, so you can watch it in your browser. It might have been slightly updated in the meantime. Well done!

Credits:
Ubik – code, graphics
Wobble – music
Boxbuffergeometry by Elude & Logicoma on Pouet and Demozoo

#4 – Shamans of Silicon by Samar Productions

The first word that comes to mind after watching this is “psychedelic”.

The demo starts with anxious music and strange sounds. The visuals are equally weird. After a while, everything transforms itself into an old school VJ set for a minimal techno track. Some moments of this trip looks really nice.

What’s interesting is that this is a one-man production. Isildur spent a year developing this demo. He used Tooll, an open source demo tool. Check it out, and with a 74-names-long greetings list, there is a chance that you will find your group there too!

Credits:
Isildur – 2D, 3D, music, design
Shamans of Silicon by Samar Productions on Pouet

#5 – Riverwashing Machine by Aberačné Kreácie

There were two releases in this compo that technically aren’t PC demos. They were prepared for a platform called PICO-8. It’s a small console with very limited capabilities like 128×128 screen resolution with fixed 16 colours palette, 4 channel sound, limited memory and so on.

PICO-8 is a fantasy console. The real hardware doesn’t exist, but you can emulate it on a PC, just like any other older computers. These two demos might have been ranked higher in the old-school category.

“Riverwashing Machine” features a few effect like rotating cube, plasma, spiral tunnel. Pretty nice set of classic stuff. The soundtrack is a remix of O-Zone’s “Dragostea Din Tei”, but you really don’t want to click this link :).

There is a PICO-8 emulator written in JavaScript, so you can watch it online.

Credits:
Citrus – code
Maugli – code
mu6k – music/code
Severin – art
Riverwashing Machine by Aberačné Kreácie on Pouet

"Riverwashing Machine" by Aberačné Kreácie
“Riverwashing Machine” by Aberačné Kreácie

#6 – R8 by D.Fox & Xtrium

The last demo is a big surprise because it was made by D.Fox who, after 20 years of doing mostly graphics stuff, decided to code a demo. With a help of Xtrium, he prepared his first executable release for the PICO-8 platform.

As he is an organiser of the biggest demoscene party in the world, this little one-effect demo couldn’t be anything else than an invitation for Revision 2018. So, you may want to visit Saarbrücken in Germany between 30th March and 2nd April 2018.

Programs for PICO-8 can be exported to JavaScript, so you can watch this one in your browser or check these screenshots below.

Credits:
D.Fox – Code, graphics
Xtrium – Music
R8 on Pouet

"R8" by D.Fox & Xtrium
“R8” by D.Fox & Xtrium

Seminars

It’s fun to watch demos and meet friends at a party, but it is also nice to learn something new there. Obviously, this is not a part of the PC demo competition, but I like the idea of sharing knowledge and would like to mention two seminars:

  • kbi / Elude: “Vulkan: Demo coder-oriented conceptual crash course”
  • KK / Altair: “K65 – an Unconventional 65xx Assembler”

At the moment of writing this, video recordings of these lectures are not yet published, but it’s just a matter of time. I will update this article with appropriate links as soon as they are available.

Summary

It’s definitely worth noting the very strong support from members of Elude group, as well as constant demo-providers like Satori and Samar.

Releases that use WebGL are already standard nowadays and you can expect them on almost all parties. But it looks like the interest in the new PICO-8 platform is growing. This makes a “back to the roots” approach possible, where everyone had exactly the same hardware to exploit.

It may appear that there were fewer entries this year than in the Riverwash 2016’s combined demo compo. But if you add 3 more from the combined old-school demo competition (not organised last year), the amount will be exactly the same: 9.

The organisers announced that Riverwash 2018 will be the final edition. It is not yet clear if this will be a definitive end of this party, they want to change the name or maybe WeCan team will organise something. We will have to wait until 2019 to find out what the fate of the biggest multi-platform demoscene event in Poland will be.

Official PC Demo Compo results

# Points Name
1 220 Rise And Shine by Elude
2 199 Otaku by Satori
3 185 Boxbuffergeometry by Elude & Logicoma
4 155 Shamans of Silicon by Samar Productions
5 122 Riverwashing Machine by Aberačné kreácie
6 111 R8 by D.Fox & Xtrium
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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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