It was a rainy, rainy summer in Finland, it rained for weeks and we even had floods that drowned cars and a few people too. Assembly was held 5th-8th August and a couple of days before it the weather changed against all odds and we got a wild heatwave. I pity the people who queued in front of the arena for ages. I arrived at 11:45 and was pretty much melting before the doors opened at 12:10.
I headed for the oldskool area and started tweaking one of my graphics entries. Soon I met AND, who said he had been too busy to code a 64k, what a shame. In the partyhall I met some friends, who were also seated in oldskool and had brought a plastic Christmas tree with them. Some journalists were interviewing people in the oldskool area. I met Miss Saigon and her adorable baby, who acted a little shy. There was a whole bunch of babies at Assembly, some even visited Boozembly (one still in the womb).
I went grocery shopping on the Pasila railway station and halfway there I realized nystep and voxel were walking right in front of me, so we went to Lidl together. Some gamers were there shopping as well, their cart was filled with nothing but energy drinks, chocolate bars and chocolate pudding. When we went back to arena nystep and voxel went to fetch their wristbands, but it turned out someone had already got them. No problem there, we found Leia and the Frenchmen got their tickets.
The Hungarians had arrived too and Tomcat set up a t-shirt stand on the oldskool arena. Later he also added underwear, socks, scene stickers and CD-ROMs to his merchandise. I walked around the arena with hydron and we met unssi and ravel. When we were talking with ravel Abyss walked past us and ravel informed him that Altzone had an Abyss drawing compo. Abyss looked dumbfounded.
The opening ceremony started at 18 with a boring and poorly constructed video describing the history of Assembly and the ideas behind the demoscene, with interviews with Pehu and Skaven. It even showed a little glimpse of me in AssemblyTV in 2002. After the video Pehu held a little speech, during which the microphone connection was very flaky, causing amusement in the audience. He also presented us a deadly force never seen before - a basketball bat! It received a huge round of applause.
I met a whole lot of people, Sir Garbagetruck with his towel, saw A_Lee_N and buzzie for the first time and bethvoid who walked around with a framed picture of the Finnish author Volter Kilpi. I got a Jumalauta sticker from unssi and a Goatse and Guage Rules stickers from ravel. Unfortunately Altmag #3 hadn't been finished in time, but to compensate for that ravel was selling copies of the older issues and the remaining boxes of Alt <3 condoms. One of the Altzone compos, the exercise bike compo, had to be cancelled because the owner of the bike changed his mind.
I finished my graphics entries just in time, as the fast graphics themes were published at 20:30 and the general deadline was at 22. The required themes were desert and a dolphin. Then I noticed my Wacom was no longer functioning. Whoops, can't draw with a laptop mouse. I ended up making a really crappy photomanipulation while hydron was keeping me company. My dolphin was ready 10 minutes before the deadline and I went to Boozembly with ankkalaps and lemonade.
The sun was setting so the sky looked pretty. The people were looking less pretty, especially the Finns. Several of them were crawling on the ground and many of the rest were singing loudly. Heavily drunk Zelex and 216 wanted to talk with me and 216 wanted Zelex to make up him. She only had lipgloss with her so she applied that. I had a conversation with nystep and we went back to the arena. There we noticed the gamedev compo was running, we had forgotten all about it. We saw Trolley Rally, which had a good concept but seemed to get boring quickly. TSS demo invoked huge applause, it was a lot like GTA.
I talked with Tomcat and got two sheets of his great scene stickers for free for my little sister. The rave was supposed to begin at midnight in the seminar hall, but it was delayed a little. The place looked cool and the volume was rather loud. They started with house, too monotonous for my tastes. I went back to Boozembly for a little while and then back to the rave to catch Tero (deetsay). The rave hall was full of people, but most were just standing there and listening. Jagu delivered a kicking technoset and people were enjoying every moment. Unlive's energetic psy sounds weren't left without appreciation, either.
I crashed to my sleeping bag at 4, but some organizers forbade me from sleeping on the oldskool area table, so I had to go to the sleeping area, which was inferior (too light, too warm, too randomly noisy). I woke up at 9 and noticed it was already very warm outside. I participated in Altzone's Abyss drawing compo and then gave directions to the French embassy to nystep and voxel.
Blueflame told me to go to the website of YleX, one of the major radio channels in Finland. Their front page announced an interview with "Ari Hamara [Blueflame] who has visited many demoparties all over Europe". It was to be held in the afternoon. YleX had also had a writing competition related to Assembly, but when I searched their website for the results none were found.
Usually Assembly seems packed with stuff even in daytime, but on Friday it got a little boring. There were several outdoor compos (soccer, basketball, disk and cd throwing), which I usually follow, but this time I skipped due to the heat. Boozembly was dead too, because it was simply too hot outside. A lot of people were in the .kkrieger seminar. I walked around and participated in some sponsor contests. Navis appeared, his flight had been delayed a lot so he missed the first day of the party. I had a long chat with the Greek guys, during that Leia and the Hungarians amused themselves by filling balloons with air and then releasing them, creating funny sounds.
I watched some friends play a few rounds of the Uno card game and then it was time for the unofficial ASCII/ANSI competition. The first prod was a traditional scene logo, the audience wasn't impressed. My ASCII was shown second and fortunately pleased the crowd a bit more. We saw some more scene logos and a bunch of ANSIs. Two of the ANSIs looked good to me, the others had good designs, but were too simple/comic-like.
The fast music compo wasn't impressive. Two songs started out good, but ended way too quickly. Summer Rain sounded mod-like, but good. There was one song, "Rempseähkö", that was entirely horrible and ear-mutilating, even though several entries had been preselected out. The fast graphics compo also blew. All the entries were CG drawings, I guess it's because not many people have taken photos of dolphins and raytracing takes time. Some had a very original style, but most were forgettable. I think I could have made it on the screen had my tablet functioned.
There was a two-hour break after the fast compos so I returned to the rocks. It was really crowded there thanks to the weather and even Abyss was visiting. The fire was lit again so people could barbeque. When we came back we briefly watched the Dance Dance Revolution competition. The instrumental music compo started at 22 and it was more like a movie score compo, but most of the entries were decent.
The quality in the drawn graphics compo varied hugely. Some pictures were great and innovative, some weren't made with that much skill and effort. The first entry Waikiki received the most applause, because it featured a tanned blonde on the beach, but it wasn't even good. There was another mediocre tit picture with some nudity. The two pirate girls weren't hiding their cleavage either. Other pictures with women were more creative, but there were also aliens, indians, guns, birds and a kitten.
After the graphics compo I went outside to pick up mohk and iood from Boozembly and went back to watch the 4k compo. Before the compo I said "This might just be the best compo at Assembly" and I turned out to be quite right. The first entry Lätäkkö wasn't too spectacular, but most of the remaining 14 ones were. Borots presented us some neat robots, though Micropolis did it even better by marching a big mecha on the streets of a 3D city. Feet4 was easy to recognize as AND's prod, since it looked like Zoom3.
Cubic Revolution featured a splendid collision physics engine and actually reminded of tAAt's Dismount games. I liked the B&W design in Escape From The Planet Of The Apes, though it ended too quickly. Evolutio showed a funny 2D story about evolution. Exploder presented us "Humus5", though now named Rebirth. The first three Humuses had won Assembly, but last year he had to give up the winning position, so I guess that's why he tried a new name and also added scenepoetry. My favorite from the compo was San Angeles Observation, with a city made out of nicely colored shapes.
The oldskool compos were shown in the night. Oldskool music had mostly SIDs, but also tunes for the PC, Speccy and Gameboy. Unfortunately there was a problem and the names of the platforms weren't displayed on the screen at all, so in some cases you had to guess. Many of the tunes had the problem of not standing out from the crowd enough. A Big Bad Party Robot didn't have the problem, as it had a vocoder voice repeating the title and didn't sound too shabby. The weirdest song was Da Smit Eastwood Jacks with its western theme and odd beeps, but it was actually rather good.
There were some thoroughly impressive entries in the oldskool graphics compo, like the innocently gay-erotic Menergy. A few of the entries were extremely crappy though, so I was pissed off for not having my entry shown, knowing it should have qualified. The oldskool demo compo was an interesting watch. This year pWp didn't have an entry, but we got to see prods from the legends Dekadence, dA JoRMaS, Carillon and Fairlight. The newish Finnish group Aspekt had also made a sweet C64 entry. I didn't really like the JoRMaS demo with its Flash-like design much, but Dekadence's demo was a crowdpleaser with its 3D stuff. Fairlight's concept wasn't bad either.
The compo ended at 2:50 and everybody was sleepy, we were pondering whether to go raving or not. We decided to go on a car trip instead since some greedy person wanted chicken nuggets, which the Hesburger at the arena didn't have. When we came back we raved a bit to Luminescent's excellent psytrance live. When it ended we settled on hanging around and sticking some Goatse stickers to non-innocent victims, waiting for the decent public transportation to start at six in the morning.
I came back to Assembly at 16 and my little sister Roosa had arrived. The freestyle music competition (former vocal music) was just finishing and we only got to hear the last tunes #8 and #9. Quite disappointing to only have nine entries, considering the hundreds of entries the music compos used to receive. The ones we heard were very good though, but not all the entries were the same quality. I showed Roosa the partyplace and she participated in the Abyss drawing competition. During that some girls from Demoscene.tv interviewed me, I think the questions were a bit bland though ("How does it feel to see your production on the big screen?")
The voting deadline was supposed to be in the middle of the browser demo compo, but it was delayed a bit. After the compo my sister left and I went to Boozembly. It was crowded, but not as much as on Friday. Damones had hung their banner between two trees and there was a lot of other interesting apparel. A bunch of people were lying on an inflatable mattress and had an umbrella to protect them from the sun, quite a sensible approach. Some guy was painting with oil colors and others were even using a car accumulator to enable them to play games.
I returned to the party hall when the first prize ceremony was supposed to be held at 18:30. It was delayed to first 19:00 and then 19:20, which sucked. Strangely it was held by Pehu and not Abyss, who only grabbed the microphone to yell that the 4k intros ruled. The music compo winners weren't surprising, artz and !Cube won fast and instrumental music respectively, just like last year. Shanona showed that you can win freestyle music with a song in Swedish. Da Smit Eastwood Jacks won the oldskool music compo.
All the graphics compo results seemed extremely weird to me. Some of the pictures I expected to win weren't even in TOP-3, like Menergy in the oldskool graphics. The freestyle graphics was won by a totally crappy photomanipulation, apparently some people didn't notice it was a photo. When it was time to award the 4k intros, Pehu announced something many of us had already guessed: they would give out five prizes and the prize money had been increased. I was a bit surprised that Rebirth won and with such a clear margin, but it was later disqualified for using copyrighted music, making San Angeles Observation the deserved winner.
The mobile competition was held immediately after the first prize giving. All the entries were decent and they were for a wide variety of platforms (GBA, GamePark32, PocketPC and some mobile phones). This year calculators were no longer allowed in the compo. I can't remember the entries too well, not even the original design of the Fit & Bandwagon prod. Jumalauta's Uhka idästä I paid attention to, as it was the first Jumalauta prod to ever get on the screen at Assembly. Ok effects, really nice 3D models and some humor too. Ex-Euthanasia's prod looked like a mid-90's PC demo, which made sense as I later found out it was a port of their old PC demo.
Some friends decided they need to buy more beer before 21, which is when alcohol sales end in Finland. We walked to a nearby gas station. Apparently they weren't the only beerless people and there seemed to be a Boozembly remote office as well. We also saw a rabbit. Back in Boozembly I remembered I had missed the vox humana music competition at Altzone, but jaffa showed us his didgeridoo and TB-303 emulation skills.
The short film competition was combined from the animation and wild competitions, an idea not many sceners approved. The compo had a few decent animation entries and Pyrmiö's wild demo on a little display screen, but the video entries weren't too good. Actually most of them were horrible crap meant purely to amuse morons without any sense of humor, such as Kanava Omega. Some people still think wild compo equals a comedy compo and serious entries often have a hard time getting to the screen.
The slapstick video The Jolly Gypsy Man was decent, but it was later disqualified due to ripped music. The same fate met An Italian on Malta, which relied on 3D animation and the same old joke featured in MFX's Dose 2. Some videos were disqualified already prior to showing. I expected there to be more animations and more actual wild demos, though tAAt's feedback videoSormiväritelkkari was a decent shot at the latter, real Altparty material.
The intro compo started at 11, but there were only three entries shown, probably the smallest number ever at Assembly. TAAt's intro wasn't too impressive, perhaps if it had been a 4k. I didn't like RNO's Amiga intro much either, it was too flash-like and nuskool. Everyone was amazed at Conspiracy's intro and it did look nice, it was just missing something and felt too boring to me. I was not too happy that we didn't finish our intro in time, as the second place would have been guaranteed.
We went back outside. It seems most people at Boozembly had run out of things to booze and tried desperately to find some, though it was soon time to go inside. The demo compo had been moved from the morning to the night, which was good. The first demo was Matt Current's Elektronimusiikkia, which was damn good. Too bad foreigners couldn't appreciate the hilarious texts and speech samples. My other favorites were ASD's stunning Planet Risk and I am by Traction with its fine effects and excellent scenepoetry. Obsoleet was cool too and MOPED had some really classy physics scenes.
Moppi's demo was weird and seemed to crash during the compo. I didn't really like the Fairlight demo nor Nesnausk's invitation. The Kewlers demo had some neat effects, but didn't manage to amaze me. The worst entry was tAAt's demo Laav with the same horrible vocal tune already played in the freestyle music compo, 3D hearts and Comic Sans. I found the Farbrausch demo boring and not as good-looking as most of their prods. This year there were no console or Amiga demos, just Windows stuff.
After the demo compo they showed the preselected realtime entries, but there was only a handful of them and I didn't stay to watch. Sts said the rave decorations and lighting had been improved so we checked it out, but there wasn't that big of a difference. People still had the energy to rave, but I left to sleep. I overslept and thought I would miss the beginning of the second prize giving seremony as I arrived at the arena at 14:10, but of course it was delayed until 14:30 and still some more. AltZone had already held its prize ceremony, with Ansichrist as the clear winner in portrait drawing and Jaffa winning the live music.
Fortunately the ceremony was as straight-forward and quick as the first part, save for some sponsor speeches and a lot of self-praise for organizing the first Doom 3 tournament in the world. Still most of it consisted of sponsor and game competitions. A lot of time was again wasted by the speaker stage being at the top of the stairs, climbing up such stairs isn't as quick as it may seem. Pehu seemed to drop in even more dry, sometimes almost nasty humor than in the first ceremony, somewhat different from Abyss's jovial style. The sports teams "Josken homopojat" (Joske's gay boys) and Sugarboyz caused amusement, but so did the winner names Team Höyryhirvi (Steam moose) and Team Läski (Fat), as the results were announced by an AsianASUS representative.
I found the demo results somewhat surprising too, Obsoleet wasn't the prod I expected to win. Sadly Matt Current and Traction weren't among the five winners. When all the awardees had been announced, the closing ceremony started. It was quite a drag and basically the same every year, so I went back to the oldskool area, packed up my stuff and spent an hour hanging around the arena and talking with various people, until I decided that maybe it was time to call it quits for this year.
Assembly was a nice party again, despite the compos, juries and voters sucking. Of the seven years I've been there this was perhaps the third or fourth best. One thing that bothers me is that there were no demos on the bigscreen outside of the compos. Actually there was hardly anything being shown besides compos and info screens, not even the AssemblyTV broadcast which featured interviews, trivias and the scene soap opera series made by Altparty (which I unfortunately missed), it was a shame. The big screen seems small for such a huge party and a big area to cover, I think it could be improved.
The lack of sleeping space was bad and numerous people complained about being woken up when sleeping at slightly wrong spots. I personally wouldn't like to sleep at grand stand at all, so I guess I was lucky to get a spot in the half-decent sleeping area. The food quality had somewhat improved, though us vegetarians didn't really notice it. Considering how many veggies there are in the demoscene it's really lame not to offer any vegetarian alternatives besides fries and cheese bread dripping with oil. Toilets were much cleaner than they have been previously. The rave was really good, sadly there wasn't a concert this time. Hopefully the quality of the compos will improve next year and the ANSI/ASCII compo will become an official one.