Assembly 2003 was held at Hartwall Areena, Helsinki, Finland 7th-10th of August 2003. It was the 12th Assembly, 6th for me. I arrived at the partyplace 11:50 on Thursday, doors were scheduled to open at 12. I thought the heatwave was past already, but it was very hot waiting there. I saw some Swedish sceners, but mostly the people were gamers with their parents. The doors opened at 12:20 and this time they inspected us more carefully than before, even body inspections.
The oldskool was quite empty when I arrived. I found my place at B2 and sat there. Networking was handled differently this year, when you first tried to access any site it opened up a registration form with a TOS (and it didn't work with Netscape for some reason). Some guys sat besides me and two Japanese dudes placed their tiny laptops on the other side of the table. I had to hurry to meet mooz on the Pasila railway station to fetch the disks with my oldskool gfx entry. I also picked up some food which was soon carefully inspected by the Areena security girls.
More and more people were arriving in the oldskool. I met sts, bethvoid and Kojote. The guys besides me were watching demos on a neat TFT. At 4 I went to meet huhta and met dozens of other people. Together we brought Paladiini his tickets and met with VarjoPoro and ld0d. We hanged around for a while and then went outside the arena to meet some ticketless people. From there I hurried to submit my drawn and freestyle gfx entries before the basketball compo started. Paladiini's team only lost 1-0, but my other friends didn't fare too well and lost 11-0. We met raejuusto who said a power blackout had killed his hard drive earlier this week. Ouch.
I rushed to submit my oldskool gfx disk, the deadline was at 22 and it was only 20:30, but the fast gfx topics were about to be released. I didn't find them on the website nor were they announced on the bigscreen, but #assembly helped. The theme was summer and the picture also had to include an icecube. As it was a freestyle compo I took a photograph with some grass from my archives and drew an icecube over it. _LUKE_ was very bitter, as he failed to submit his fast gfx and vocal music entries in time. Altparty was selling different kinds of merchandise, like Altpart name badges for one euro so I bought one. I also picked up their coloring compo picture, a dragon and a woman by ravel and started doodling it.
Game development began late, at 23:20. It started with Dreamdust's Raid over London. Too bad it wasn't properly played and the sound disappeared too. With the third entry sound was back again, quite decent mellow music and the sound effects of that shooter weren't bad either. Netpuck was table ice hockey, nice but the playfield scrolling was weird. TAAt's already famous Frontal Assault focused on boobs, but was quite bland.
After gamedev I left for Boozembly. There some Swedes sang drinking songs and two of them argued whether I was DiamonDie. Gnilk kept jumping around in a rabbit-like manner and slapping people with his sleeping mat. He also informed me I was lousy with my glöps, but I couldn't make sense of most what he said. Spiikki stripped off all his clothes when asked to and performed something on a big red pipe. Jaffa managed to turn it into a didgeridoo. Kraku sang Paranoid and kept insisting I should date Heatbeat. On my way back I chatted with hot and MegaMies, who said their boozing on the bus stop was "alternative". I headed to the Power Salon, as the rave had already begun. The first on the decks was Dura with melodic trance, it was really cool, not too cheesy. People even danced together and not just alone. It was followed by Jagu's techno set which was quite nice too, but after a while I just had to get some sleep.
We saw _rm sleeping in his underpants on and I took a picture. When he woke up, he wasn't very pleased to hear that. I went to meet iood and picked up MegaMies and loop on the way. We watched Sodomized Whore Dysfunktion's demo (which had a logo and a plasma effect) and the Numedia Cyclops 4k, which wasn't much more impressive. We went looking for HP Bazaar that was supposed to have a photographing competition, but it was nowhere to be found. Later I found it, but the cameras weren't available then.
Dbug gave me a bunch of French chocolate. Q-FUNK returned my "Sinky Bear" (Uppo Nalle) aka Miss Alternative 2003, which had been in his possession since Altparty. It was placed on our table. I took some pictures of it for the HP Bazaar photographing competition. Other photos I took included bethvoid's hand with text written on it, someone sleeping on an inflatable "palm island", the partyhall and Ananasmurska's fries. In the ladies room I met three girls who looked like gamer gf's. They had taken Asus fake tattoos, as there was a compo where you were supposed to stick one of those on your body and have a photo taken of you.
Kojote returned, he had slept for 12 hours and his friend even longer. Ravel arrived with the brand new Altmag, which cost 2e but I got it for free being one of the authors. Outdoor compos started at 14 and I met VarjoPoro, Jawatus and his girlfriend at the infodesk a little earlier. The departure was delayed for some time, but then the whole bunch walked to Messukeskus fields together. It was very hot and there was plenty of wind, which made cd/floppy throwing more interesting. My 9-year old sister Roosa arrived to the outdoor compo place, I had got a free visitor ticket for her. Soon we started to feel really hot and decided to skip the soccer. There was a poem reciting compo starting on Altzone. We quickly generated a poem with my Runogen and performed it with Roosa and iood. Other participators included MegaMies (also generated poem), Setok, ravel and several people I can't remember.
I went late in the drawn gfx feedback and got to hear my entry didn't qualify, just as I expected. Fast gfx compo. proved a disappointment, but most of the entries were much better than my 10-minute paintbrush-smudge-manip. Only eight were shown. Magic ice cube of the Caribbean looked amazing. There were no photomanips, just 2D CG drawings. After that was the fast music compo. First we didn't hear anything in oldskool. Can't remember much of the tunes, except for Back to roots, which was really good. 455emblytango was short but a lot of people liked it. Many of the songs were ordinary and quite boring mods. Some of the audience had misunderstood fast music compo as "music with a fast tempo".
After the music compo iood, JoneK, Dbug and I hurried to the Pasila railway station to buy food before the drawn gfx compo. The compo was ok, 20 entries, some really good and not even half had chicks, but at least two entries looked very unfinished and some had crappy shading. There was a nice scifi landscape and an interesting parrot (though curls on the background kind of ruined it). Female Melon Display Extraordinaire didn't have boobs but an older woman holding two watermelons. I think they my entry might just have qualified had I not lost that layer.
The instrumental music compo was next. Too bad we couldn't hear the songs in oldskool and I couldn't bother to go to the main arena until the song 9. The quality was quite bad, though I later found out there had been many famous names participating, like !Cube, Crud, Little Bitchard, Acumen and Heatbeat. After the song 10 I and bethvoid left for the concert. It was held in the parking hall they had built a nice (even if small) stage there with lights, scanners and stuff. There was a whole bunch of audience, but for some reason everyone kept a clear distance from the stage.
Axes Denied wasn't bad, they played old game songs like International Karate, Star Control 2 and finished with Bubble Bobble. They didn't manage to capture the audience quite like Machinae Supremacy last year (when people moshed, stagedived and surfed). After that was CNCD outside with a really nice gig, Aleksi Eeben controlled Vic-20 and there was also a trumpet and a clarinet.
Next was Purple Motion, who had a special live band exclusively for this event. As his last song he played Second Reality (oh the surprise) and people went nuts, clapping their hands together and stuff. After PM, the announcer blonde said there was a surprise and a guy appeared to play one song with bass. They presented bassist jokes written on big posters on the stage, the question was written on one poster and the answer on another which appeared soon after. Abyss was there too and made worshipping movements towards the bass guy. I couldn't figure out who he was.
There was a long delay before the main artist Stereo Gentleman got on stage. He was an older guitarist, who had been transported from London (God knows why). There was a technopop music on the background and a group of four girls - a dance group named "High Heels" - appeared beside him. They were wearing black PVC/leather clothing and their movements were quite suggestive. People seemed to like that. After some songs two young rapper guys (one of them was black but they were both Finnish) appeared on the stage. I found the remaining show quite ridiculous and we left.
Oldskool music compo was very high quality. Most of the entries were for C64. I especially liked Cyberdragon and Popstar, which was extremely catchy. Oldskool gfx was good, except that they preselected my pic. Oh well, I guess C64 "ASCII" isn't eyecandy enough. All the pics gathered a huge applause, even on the second showing round. Captain Blackbeard was awesome, but people also seemed to like Bubbling Panda (a panda smoking bubbles), Kosiomatka (a frog), Yoshimi (an interesting Japanese-like face) and Cutie cliché (cuteness for SNES).
Mobile game development was sponsored by Nokia and played with real mobiles. Was too tired to really concentrate on watching and slept some. I hanged around with bethvoid, we went looking for her russian friend who had disappeared with her sleepingbag, but didn't find him. We met Ananasmurska dudes who told us that there was a bottle returning automat inside the arena. Didn't take us long to pick up a bunch of plastic bottles (worth 20c and 40c) and we got 5.80e. They collected much more though and I heard some people had made hundreds of euros by collecting bottles.
We went outside and took a look at Nokia's Ngage truck that was advertising their new mobile game console. You could play Tony Hawk, Tomb Raider or Sonic the Hedgehog, but they only recorded the highscores of the first one. The winner would get a trip to Paris for the finals. From there we walked to Boozembly where bethvoid and jobe heroically extinguished a forest fire. Dr. Dick told me my oldskool gfx had been disqualified, but he didn't know why and I was very puzzled as I couldn't think of any reason. Boozembly was quite empty anyway, only Dr.Dick, Sauli, stonda, Leia, uncle-x and a couple of others.
The vocal music compo started with Liekit (flames). It could have been good had the mixing been better. Second was Tommi on homo (Tommi is gay) which wasn't quite as bad as the name suggests. I called it "campfire pop". Third was The dreaming, which reminded me of downtempo folk and had very subtle female vocals. Never had a gun in my hand was rap spiced up with some mellow female vocals on the background. It was quite good considering it was rap. Cyborg from hell presented yet another style, metal. The next songs I didn't listen to very carefully, but #9, pearls, presented female vocals with a breakbeat kind of a background.
Should have paid a closer look at the browser demo compo, I only remember that all the prods were Flash except for one that used Director. So no Alambik goodies. Oh and there was a Second Reality "remake". Then was the 4k compo. It started with 99 beers, a prod with no effects at all, just a speech synth reading some lines out loud. People thought it was nifty, I think it might have been neat had there been visuals too. Another soul lost was quite funny, it had some text-based gamer dissing but not too tasteless. And the effects were cool too. No music though. Moonhazard's prod was surprisingly nice, but the numedia style wasn't my cup of tea. Etherium by Northern Dragons had some textured balls and looked like it had a plot, but if it did I missed it. Wandering star was a Linux prod with coder design, there was a hot air balloon and some weird objetcs, it could have been much better done. Unique's prod had a ridiculously long name and looked like it was from the 90's.
The next 4k was interesting, it was for Linux too and named Topsy Turvy and had an amusement park with a merry-go-round and a rollercoaster. It was too long in my opinion, but the rollercoaster ride was funny as people in the party hall screamed in appropriate parts. I expected a lot of Ephidrena's and Spaceballs' Fistpig, but it wasn't as good as their other 4k's. The next prod was for Amiga too, Humus 4. The previous parts of Humus have all won the 4k compo of Assembly. The problem is that they recycle a lot. The prod #13 was AcidIce by AND, the Russian coder who won 64k at Assembly last year. It was quite cool (hot). The last 4k was yet another Linux prod called The yellow rose of Texas. It had with very interesting B&W visuals and a great music too. I wasn't disappointed any more that our 4k wasn't shown because we would have been ashamed (and probably placed last).
After 4k I and iood quickly voted and then left for the stores as they closed at six. Many other people were aware of that fact so the grocery store at Pasila railway station was packed full of sceners. On our way back we visited a Finnish IRC meeting that's always held at the same time as Assembly, but this year there was only a handful of people. Tignay got all excited when I mentioned Assembly (she has been there most years since 1995) and decided she had to get a ticket somewhere. I and iood headed to Boozembly, where people were moshing and singing along to tunes from Finnish classics to things like Iron Maiden.
Like previous year, there were two prize ceremonies because there were so many compos. The first one was held on Saturday evening at 20:00. First they awarded the winners of outdoor compos. Not much to say about that, since AFAIK none of the winners were sceners, but the same team (though I think with different members) won both soccer and basketball. The winning result of floppy and CD throwing was 74,6m for both, quite weird. Game development was won by Rekkaturvat, a little shame IMO. Pekka Kana took the second place and Netpuck was third. Oldskool graphics would have been won by Captain Blackbeard but it was disqualified as it was a straight rip-off. Now the winner was Ruiskumies, not a good picture IMO. Reed won oldskool music with a huge margin and told the audience to eat shit. Little Bitchard came second so there were both of Suomiscene's goldfinger musicians. Not a surprise that Robotic Liberation won the oldskool demo and Dekadence placed second, but I was surprised that Da Jormas came third.
Fast music was deservedly won by artz and fast graphics as deservedly by marzu's Magic ice cube of the Caribbean. Mazor's wicked picture won drawn graphics, freestyle was won by Visualice. The funny thing is that Marvel / Future Crew placed third and last year Marvel's and Visu's entries were preselected. Aisth won vocal music yet again, the rap song placing second. The first prize for instrumental music went to !Cube.
I can't remember much of the intro compo, which is a shame since it's my favorite compo and this year we were going to participate again with foobug. There are many prods I remember nothing about, not even that they were in the compo at all. My paper pony I somewhat remember, by Hipo who beat us in 64kb in 2001. I felt it was pointless and didn't really like the objects. Ruoste was a Java intro which I recall something about probably because its coder talked to us at Boozembly earlier. He said it would run smoothly on a 500MHz (IIRC), but it didn't run completely smoothly and I bet the compo machine has higher specs. But some cool stuff anyway.
Kolme Missifitti I remember because it sucked, it was ugly and I didn't like the music either, not a surprise as it was by Cryonics and DXM. Moonhazard's Transqulation didn't really leave a mark on my memory, but their intros have constantly improved. Svenskarna är här (The Swedes are here) was surprisingly good (even though the authors complained it bugged on the gfx card) and had a nice "Svenskarna är här" speech sample. Leeko by Fit was funny and quite creative like Fit's prods have been, the legos looked surprisingly real (though someone later complained they were modelled badly), though I didn't really like the lego dudes, they were ugly. Sadly I can't remember anything about Kewler's, tAAt's and some other entries, but the last prod was a killer. You've probably all heard of Zoom 3 by now and I heard in advance that AND's coming to win again, but it still surprised me, reminded me of Farbrausch a lot, but didn't have that Sandman effect. Not many seconds from the beginning I knew it would win and he just kept showing us more stuff.
After the intro compo _LUKE_ told me that our wild was going to be shown after all. I was pleasantly surprised. Then we watched the mobile demo compo, it was good. There were entries for Nokia mobiles, PDA's, GBA and TI Calculators. Matt Current's GBA prod was first and I moved my ass over to the main hall to hear the music properly. Yodel's Septima was beautiful, it had things like butterflies. CNCD, Komplex and Orange had teamed up for Love is a fix, it had a lot of different scenes and anagrams of the words "love is a fix". Last year the TI demos weren't impressive, but Anal Party by EhD made the audience hysterical. There were cool effects like a rotozoomer and good jokes. The ending where "Swallow - Sanovat että" started playing was just hilarious. Noice's TI-83 demo had some good effects too, the vector thing was impressive, but it lacked on the amusement part.
There were some weird things happening on Sunday night and morning. There were naked guys coming from the sauna to the partyhall. Of course being nude is nothing new in the scene, but not often seen inside Assembly. I heard there had been more nudity at Boozembly, with members of at least Damones and Jumalauta in action. I also heard reports of a sleepwalker encounter in the partyhall. Someone played a common Finnish children's tune Jos sun lysti on ("If you're having a good time") which includes a lot of action such as clapping hands and snapping fingers. The weird thing is that the whole hall did just that. Maybe it was because they had already been exposed to a horrid children's tune called "Olen omena" (I'm an apple") which was played all over the place. There was a black metal version made of it, a psytrance version, several "funny" little wavs and even priceless pictures and a Flash too. Another meme was yelling Festival! (or Festivål), which originated from drunken Noice guys and was made popular by tAAt.
Animation started with a fairly simple prod with piano music. Next up was MAD Software's space themed animation. Sword of 'Nur was fantasy themed and quite nice, though the music was too movie-trailer like. Post war millenium (sic) was an ok apocalyptic story despite the ugly beginning and end screen. Kalja on loppu (The beer has run out) made the audience laugh.
The rave was scheduled to start at 1 am and the wild compo at 1:30 so I and iood went to visit the rave before the compo, but the rave was delayed to start at 1:20. Too bad, as it started very nicely, a long slower part which evolved into hard trance. But I didn't want to miss any of the compo, especially as our entry was there.
The first wild was Copy and Paste - Hei me dissataan by uBBu, which is a humorous project meant do dis tAAt (uBBu = tAAt ROT1-1'ed). Too bad it refused to work the first two times and we only saw the intro, with Star Wars lego characters, meant to make fun of tAAt's lego animations LeGorso and LeGorsika. The legos had funny SW names like Master Gouda, See-through-P-hole and Are-u-dead-too. Pako - trailer was a really crappy home video. The third prod was named Kanava X (Channel X). _LUKE_ said it was so bad it was almost good, but note the word almost. It featured a tv channel with TV shop, lots of puking and breaking of chairs.
Our entry Todellisuus on vinossa (Reality is crooked) was shown fourth. It felt good seeing something of mine on the bigscreen after two years. Too bad people failed to understand this wasn't an "art video", just a music video (with (IMO) great music by lostchild). After that there was a weird video by kiivi films followed by a great paper animation called Röhkö ja Pöhkö (Rumpy and Grumpy) where two cartoon characters went to Assembly. I won't spoil the dramatic ending! Mitä sä paukutat henXeleitäs was a video about drug called snactasy, it had some clever inventions but as a whole it sucked majorly. Ihmeneloset was even worse, it was a totally sick rap music video and the audience wasn't sure whether it was a parody or not but it sucked anyway.
Fortunately the next prod was better. Newborn by Fragile was an ethereal and soothing music video. There were two girls dressed in black and one dressed in white (she looked just like an elf or fairy) in a forest with some stills too. The trip was a story about some lamers' trip to Assembly, evading the police with a lot of effects. LCD Megademo was a great idea, it was a demo on a computer case LCD screen. Betrayal at Böle featured roleplayers who cast spells and gained experience, but ended up in Assembly instead of Ropecon (a role playing event held near Helsinki the same time as Assembly). The only thing I remember of The incredible hurk was a part where a guy ran without a shirt and his stomach and manboobs bounced in a totally lovely way. The last video was Grand Theft, not surprisingly a real life version of Grand Theft Auto.
After the compo we were shown two more videos, a funny and very authentic boyband video by Yodel and John's not mad, a weird video disqualified from the wild compo because it consisted almost entirely of copyrighted stuff. I headed back to the rave, where Kirsu and Midiflip where playing psytrance. I couldn't dance for very long until I got very sleepy and had to return to the oldskool for a short nap on the table. I asked Heatbeat to wake me up and when he did it was 4:50 and I returned to the rave room. Now it was Psykerö playing, a great set too with a little harder psy sounds. It was followed by Dana's goa set, which I enjoyed even more. After that I was really tired and didn't stay to listen to the last one, which consisted of d'n'b.
When I went out, I was really surprised to see it was already 7:30 - I had thought it would be 6:30 or something. I think I took a short nap and then hacked some Nethack for the compo of Altzone. The game ended in a miserable YASD with a very low score, but I didn't have time to play more as the democompo was starting at 10. I and iood headed for the upper stands. I was glad that for once I felt awake at the start of the democompo.
The first prod was PITT by David Hasselhoff Fan Club. That caused some weird expectations but the demo was good. Traction's A study in Lines and Textures was interesting, but I think it lacked in music and design. My favorite one was demo #3, ASD's Dreamchild. After that was Complex's X-box demo Doomsday, which was confusing as Doomsday also had a demo. The only Amiga demo was Mental by PUSH Entertainment. It was beautiful and had some technically very decent things, like animated characters and a nice "water splash" effect. Fr-031 was shown sixth, it wasn't a pure FR demo as Vic and Visualice had also participated. Like many FR demos, it made me sleepy and seemed to have the same effect on iood who fell asleep.
I don't remember much about Fairlight's Digital dynamix, except for reflective dice with the letters FLT. From the Kewlers demo I recall some surreal Picasso like things and that I liked it better than Variform. MFX's demo I didn't like as much as most of their other demos, but it was nice anyway. Melon Dezign's demo was shown as tenth, it was very different from other demos. It had a very cartoonish look and a funny dog jumping around. Too bad the music were ripped from artists like BT and Little Computer People. After Melon we were shown the Faktory demo, I found it mediocre except for a neat furry dog. Can't remember anything of 3000 by Rocketscience, but Legomania by Doomsday was of course about legos, it featured the same lego guy which was in their demo Boost and some "sgeneboetry". Can't remember much about AMC's demo and sadly I was too tired to really concentrate on Moppi's IX either, but people seemed to like it a lot.
After the democompo there wasn't much left to do besides packing. AltZone's prize ceremony was held at 2. This year they had some decent prizes too, last year being second in one compo and third in another only yielded me some stickers, monitor cleaning cloths and two Red Bulls, but now they gave away Alt and Assembly t-shirts, Assembly DVD's and some other stuff. Sadly Numedia Cyclops didn't rank in poem reciting, the winner was (not surprisingly) tAAt. In coloring compo third place went to marycloud (who had drawn a logo saying "FUCK" over the original picture), second was hot's girlfriend Annu with her pretty rainbow-haired coloring and the winner was thti/Numedia Cyclops (at least we dominated one compo). Livemusic was won by tAAt and Die Rebels. Nethack compo would have been won by Lobotomy but he disqualified himself as he organized the compo. I placed second and got myself an ASUS beach ball, yippee.
The prize ceremony started at 3. Many first prizes were again given by sponsor people, but I can't remember them all. First they awarded the game compo winners, in Counter-Strike, Warcraft 3 and Unreal Tournament. People were yelling all kinds of insults to the winners which wasn't probably very fair, but our part of the audience really burst out in laughter when someone was walking to the stage very slowly and someone yelled "Shifti pohjassa juoksee!" ("Press Shift to run!")
Third in 4k was Topsy turvy, IMO undeserved and they also said it themselves. Second was Humus 4, Exploder finally had to give up winning Assembly every year. Yellow Rose of Texas won with over 11k points and was also awarded the Altparty creativity prize by Setok. The winners delivered a funny message to Exploder in poem form, something about the Finnish bear. We all knew the winner of 64k in advance, legos placed third and Svenskarna second. AND got an amazing amount of points, 18181, probably the biggest in Assembly history. They announced that the first prize in 64KB was doubled, which I think was a good thing, the prizes have been too small compared to other compos.
There were two P800 demos in Mobile demo top 3, Zion (which I really didn't except to place that high) and Septima. But the winner was Anal Party. The coders gave a speech saying "Lääh" ("drool"). They really didn't expect to win. Animation winner was no surprise, it was Kalja on loppu. LCD Megademo ranked third in wild, second was Röhkö and Pöhkö but unfortunately Grand Theft won. Sigh. I really wished Newborn by Fragile would have ranked better than #6. During the second ceremony Abyss said that someone couldn't be present because he was in the hospital after being beaten with a basketball bat (or something like that). The audience tried to resist the temptation but burst out in laughter and puzzled Abyss soon realized his error and corrected that it had been a baseball bat.
As always, Assembly awards five winners in the combined demo compo. PUSH's Amiga demo was fifth, I felt it deserved a better rank. ASD placed fourth, Complex third, Moppi second (like last year) and the winner was Doomsday's Legomania. Melon Dezign would have placed third had they not been disqualified. They were let on the stage anyway where they expressed "paska [shit] to our musician". It was a little weird that so many winners of the big compos had been shown/played last (like the 4kb, 64kb, animation, oldskool demo and wild). Then there was a long closing ceremony which featured Abyss's normal babble about the party being the best ever and greets and thanks to sponsors and different organizations and the 240 people of Assembly Organizing. That's quite a lot.
Loading doors were opened and people started rushing out. The party was over, but it didn't take more than day for the first early birds to start asking about the next one and when would the ticket sales start. For some, Assembly is the only party in existence.