Breakpoint 03 party & travel report by DiamonDie

This is not exclusively a party report, that's why the name. Those who are only interested in the party may skip the first five paragraphs after this and start reading where it reads "The party begins here!".

Prior to Breakpoint, I had never travelled outside of Finland alone. So I took extra cautions, checked and doublechecked my baggage, timetables, routes, etc. I had planned to arrive at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport 1.5 hours before my flight to Arlanda took off, but my plan was quickly ruined by a bus that refused to pick me up. The next bus appeared less than 15 minutes later, but it belonged to a superslow variety and I made it to the terminal barely an hour in advance. An SAS worker helped me to use an automated check-in machine. The baggage x-ray and metal inspector took five minutes. It was so weird, no one wanted to see my passport, weigh my hand carriage or check its contents (barring the x-ray). As my gate was the first one in sight, there was plenty of time. I checked some of the tax-free boutiques, but found nothing of interest. My flight left late, but arrived in time. The takeoff made me really lightheaded for a long while and during the landing I felt nauseous, but otherwise it was ok. SAS sponsored us with newspapers and wholewheat rolls with dead animals in them.

The second flight was even easier. I had already been checked in, so I just walked to the nearest gate and idled there until my flight to Frankfurt started boarding. I picked up two newspapers, Expressen and Herald Tribune. This was a two-hour flight and we were served something gross, which consisted of mayo with celery, cucumber, paprika and a couple of potato pieces swimming in it. It's a beautiful view in the sky, the clouds are huge patches of cotton candy and the ground looks like a game. When we were landing, my first impression about Germany was that all the houses had red roofs and there was water everywhere. A weird thing about the water was that it came in many different colors: blue, cyan, bluish green, green and brown. I also saw something that looked like a giant sun panel and buildings that we'd call skyscrapers in Finland.

Surprisingly, this flight wasn't the slightest bit late either. I walked out of the terminal, following the signs pointing to railway station. I had been advised to go to the Fernstation, but there an officer told me it was the wrong place and I had better head to the commuter train one. There I noticed that a train to Bingen was about to leave very soon. I asked a random person if I could buy tickets in the train and he said I couldn't, but he would go for the train anyway and pretend not to understand if anyone asked for a ticket. So I did, but no one had told me that I was supposed to change train. I drove all the way to the last stop, where the train turned back. A bunch young people informed me that I need to change train in Mainz. Too bad there was an hour until the next train and it was already dark outside. I bought a bag of Haribo strawberries and sat on a bench waiting for my train.

I hadn't known that Bingen has three railway stations, my hotel brochure only mentioned it was located near the station, but which one? Fortunately a woman in the train knew Rheinhotel Starkenburgen Hof and told me to step out at the Stadt Bahnhof. I needed to ask for directions for two more times and almost got lost, but then I found my destination. It wasn't a very fancy place, but I didn't expect it to be. There wasn't even a free soap or shampoo, only shower gel. I doodled my compo picture for a while and then went to bed. Despite the superluxurious feather blanket I had a hard time falling asleep, as the trains and cars were really noisy and so were the local teens who quarreled and shouted "Sieg Heil!". In the morning I was woken up by noise inside the hotel. I took a shower, packed my things, paid and left. The reception lady was very friendly and also asked me if she could change some German euro coins to Finnish one and we did the exchange.

It was only 11 AM and the first Breakpoint bus wasn't going until 12, so I randomly strolled through the town. Most places were closed, it being Good Friday and all, but it was nice to see what Bingen had to offer. To me it looked like a place from the Little Heidi books, even though the mountains weren't Alps. I took photos of some nifty buildings, a funny computer shop and weirdly shaped trees. Ice Cream cafes and pubs were everywhere. I encountered a bunch of Swedish sceners who said something about Finland when they noticed me.

The party begins here!

I sat on a bench in the Hospitalstrasse and tried to watch demos with my Thinkpad, but the sunshine made it impossible. I was waiting for the Breakpoint bus, when it drove right past me. Argh! I tried to run for it, but cars are faster than people. When it next stopped the people inside noticed me and I was able to run to the bus. In the process I dropped my cellphone in front of moving cars, but neither me or my trusty Siemens suffered any damage.

It was really hot inside the minibus, most of the places were already taken. When we arrived at the railway station there was a whole bunch of people waiting. Fortunately everyone could stuff themselves in the vehicle. During our voyage Tomcat entertained us with "excellent" jokes. The trip seemed quite long, considering that it was only supposed to be a few kilometers.

Even though the gates hadn't been opened yet, the place was packed with people. They opened a little past 1PM and 10 people were let in at once. First we passed through the infodesk, which was inside a big tent. The tent itself was like an opening to the real partyhall, which was already half full of computers. The hall was big, but the bigscreen looked minute. I didn't know where to sit, so I just picked a random place which seemed free and booted up my laptop for doodling my picture and watching demos, though I had to rely on others for the sound as their demosessions were much louder than mine. I filled out a survey for Mindcandy II. The surveyer asked if I was Scandinavian and I said I'm Finnish. He thought it was weird that I had travelled "all the way" to BP. Maybe it was because I'm a girl?

I was finally given a wristband but they should have fixed it tighter, it could have slid off. The yard was full of boozing people and some of them came inside and entertained us with various drinking songs. The opening ceremony was held at 8 PM and it wasn't particularly spectacular, but was followed by a funny little speech and later a live jam and a Crest demoshow, which was quite high quality. Some guys had burnt their faces in the sun, but when the sun set it started to get really cold, especially as the one of the heaters didn't work. Dipswitch asked me to come to the campfire so I did. There I talked with him and some Fuzzion guys. One of them couldn't understand why I liked his Rand intro that much. The fire was great to have, while my back was freezing at least I had my face warm.

I got an SMS from midiclub (one of the coders and graphicians of Numedia Cyclops) saying that he had arrived at the partyplace so I went back in looking for him. I sat on the same table with Leia, macaw and some Finns and soon midiclub was there, he even had the network cable he had promised for me. We went to network our laptops which proved out to be slightly more problematic than we had expected. My Wacom Graphire also stopped working in the process, but it resumed function with the German drivers midiclub sent me via the LAN. There was no Internet connection for the visitors, except for a gateway bot from IRCnet to the partynet. Besides IRCing we were retouching my compo picture, which wasn't yet appropriately icy for the ice compo. Florent and mnemonix came to have a brief chat with us. Some people had formed an IRC channel named #freezing-to-death and it was blooming with really bad jokes about heaters, terrorists etc.

The night was icy. It was hard to do anything because of the temperature. Mostly I just sat and talked with people. In the end I wrapped myself in midiclub's coat and my own towel, but wasn't enough to make me fall asleep. People besides me didn't even have time to sleep, so busy they were coding. We watched crappy anime and midiclub boiled some mineral water for me. I had brought bags of my favorite tea from Finland and sugar from the plane, so I was well off and could actually feel somewhat awake. I had a long chat with Gargaj and almost missed the deadline of theme graphics. The bakery was open again and people were fetching breakfast. It was still cold, but the campfire was up, though we felt it should have resided inside the partyplace. The fire looked more like the remains of a grill now.

The Amiga 4k compo was delayed and it switched places with the C64 competition, which started 12.30. The first two entries weren't special, but third one invoked applause already in the halfway. The fourth one could have been decent, but it was boring, as was Padua's prod, which was practically a horizontal scroller with a moving sprite. Plush's intro had a chess theme and a checkerboard rotozoomer, which the audience rewarded with an applause. The same happened with the very last prod, it had a weird effect I can't really explain, I guess it was moving, rotating and stretching sprites but i may be wrong. The Amiga 4k had only three entries. The first one was from 1997 and didn't even have sound, but the second one looked nifty and had nice, if monotonous music. The last was Spaceballs and Ephidrena and there was no doubt that they were going to win. Wicked kickass music and a lot of cool visuals, just like Amiga 4k's are supposed to have.

Too bad the Amiga 4k's lost to the PC ones, bwhaha. The first one was a quite awful 3d scene of a castle and the second one didn't seem too promising, it was black and white but only later I found out it was in textmode. Nebula's Frozen was quite ok, as was Raving tomatoes, a funny intro with tomatoes bouncing on the subwoofer. The fifth entry was Catch a cold, quite an ordinary Windows 4k with rotating 3d texts. Fuzzion's Looking for east wasn't as good as I expected. No frogs this time, but Japanese/Chinese letters, a lot of mediocre stuff and music that sounded awful with the equipment. The eighth one was named 4k ahead and it looked more like a demo than an intro. Jumalauta's 4k wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it didn't have sound. The 11th entry featured a tropic island in 3d, but was no match for the last prod. Many thought Mojo Dreams was the best 4k ever. Unbelievable landscape renderer (real 3d) with realistic textures, shadows, lighting and moving clouds, there even was decent music. People were impressed. A lot.

I was waiting for the theme graphics compo, because I had participated in it. The first entries were so crappy that it wiped off all the doubt about whether my picture would be shown. There even was that lowres duck which Andy/Nuance submits every year. The brightness and contrast of my entry happened to be just correct for the screen and it actually looked good. Some of the following pictures were much cooler, but they also had a lot of common. Most of them were rendered, but 3dsmax seems to be out of style nowadays. Critikill's picture was beautiful like could be expected. Only two pictures with a girl.

The tracker compo started with two good but quite ordinary tunes. There were as little as eight tracks, and none that really appealed to me. I went outside to photograph and tape some lush sgeneboylove. The campfire had turned into a bonfire, it was scorching. I returned in just in time to catch the 96kb gamecompo, which had two interesting entries called Tsunami and Dance Dance Calodox. After the compo there was a sing along in multiple languages, from Finnish to Portuguese. People are just too adorable when they are piss drunk and sing in a foreign language.

The Scene.org award giving was both a funny and a ceremonial event. It was filmed on video by several people and most of the people at BP were watching it. Melwyn and Steeler were brilliant and charming. Variform won the most prizes, which provoked people to chant "Kewlers suck". I was puzzled by some of the jury's decisions, but happy that Raw Confessions was also awarded. When Variform was announced to be the Best demo, a dozen of people jumped on the stage and danced there for a moment. Melwyn announced an afterparty for winners and jurymembers. When I returned to my seat, someone was watching porn so that most of the hall could hear "aah!" and "oh yeah!"

I briefly dropped outside and met elend and some friend of his. Left just in time to see the C64 democompo. Not much of interest, besides Dekadence's Beertime 3 and it wasn't as good as the previous ones. The endscroller featured Starfall.sid, like usual. The previous demo had an endtune that reminded me of Dune (the commercial band, not the scenemusician). There was also a prod with Ghostbusters as its soundtrack and texts that were probably funny, but they were in German and too small for me to read anyway.

The freestyle graphics compo showed us 28 pictures, only five had been selected out. Some incredible pictures but also some less incredible. A few of them looked good in the last step but the final was ugly. There were several women, even three dragons and one cute harlequin that got my vote. Let's not forget the necessary Windows bashing picture, though its idea of Gates looked more like Elton John. I missed most of the wildcompo, but the first entries were interesting, especially the Satori one. There were several good demo-like entries, not only crappy homevideo odysseys. Sceners in the sun was quite a lame and eventless music video, but nosfe's Harmi was a fine tribute to Flo, if not as good as Flo demos. Breakpoint rollercoaster would have been an amazing 3d-trip, but it lasted for too long and the ending sucked.

There was a weird marathon flood on IRC, thousands of lines of different bad puns with the word pansen, which I was told means one of cow's stomaches. I borrowed a comfy big blanket and dozed some hours on the chairs, trying not to care about the crappy music playing in the party hall. The temperature was supposed to rise up to 22 degrees on Sunday, but it surely didn't seem like that at first. The hall was cold, outside it was cold and it rained a bit. Half of the toilets were out of order and people were queueing outside. There were also bad news: Amiga 64k was cancelled due to lack of prods.

A while after the rain the sun appeared and suddenly the weather was quite good again. I hanged at the campfire, which had reduced into a small blaze, until some jolly singing Mad Wizards members decided to build it into a tower of fire by topping it with a big wooden crate. Flapjack also wanted to jump over it and was captured in a marvellous photo. Mad Wizards indeed. But soon the fire diminished and we came back in.

The first entry in the intro compo combined text art and graphics. It was ugly at times and got boring. There was a lot of stuff, but does it need to be that long? Fairlight's In space wasn't my cup of tea either. Astral Aliens N Da Haus was partycoded and featured a green dancing alien. Music was at times very nice and at times much less nice. The fourth and fifth entries were quite cool. The seventh one had an interesting soundtrack and so did the next one, it reminded me of MFX demos. Universe was the eight shown intro, quite a cheesy concept. Farbrausch's intro could probably be described as "sweet" and it had a nice 3d chick, but nothing special to me. Project Genesis was quite a cool intro, it was like a demo and had multiple parts. Credits included probably half of the Hungarian scene.

After the intro compo it got hot, almost too hot and people started to complain. There was a rerun of the freestyle graphics. The console demo was first delayed and then moved to the evening. A new fun compo was announced: balloon making. Sid compo was almost in time. People on #freezing-to-death performed a nice IRC karaoke for the tunes using onomatopoetic sounds. After the compo I went out. There were a lot of people and more and more were coming until most of people were outside. The weather was lovely, people were lying or sitting on the grass, many took their shirts off. Everyone was taking pictures and videos. Some farbrausch guys played music and made people dance. It was amazing. I saw a green lizard on the grass and took pictures of it.

Fast compo was delayed a lot. The entries were the normal fast compo quality. North Mekka Park was a South Park Parody with a funny idea, but it grew too boring. The next one was crappy and the following one had a cool party bus. Pipidemic's great prod had HC for the music. The next prod also had fast paced techno but it wasn't very good. Last entry of the compo was called Lexicon and was an extremely fast prod.

I decided to miss the C64 gfx compo and went back outside. Everybody was singing and jaffa filmed that with his dv camera. Bronix also showed his ass and his genitals. Someone captured a lizard, not of the green variety but a brown one that had dropped its tail. We took photos and then released it before the drunkards had time to drown it in beer. It had got colder already, but not too much. Jean9 and someone else got cute German moustaches drawn on their faces. Jean9's stomach read "Matti Virta" and his back now read "Matti Nykyinen", both meaning "Matt Current" in Finnish.

Music compo was played so that we could listen to it outside, a nice idea. It was opened by benJam's version of Stand by me, this time Scamp, warm my feet. Wayfinder's tune was played second. It was interesting, heavy bassdrums, a bit synth and also some etheric woman vocals. Cheesy but good. The next tunes were a bit boring, jco's one was better. Little Bitchard and Dead Meat had a neat co-operation song.

Amiga democompo only had three entries, but all of them were awesome. Light 2 by Iris was really good, but not good enough for its contestants. Mad Wizards predicted that they would yet again lose to TBL and it was obvious they would. TBL's Magia had a great atmosphere and it really pushed the limits. Console demo had entries for Gameboy, GP32 and Xbox, the last one being the least impressive. Unique's demo Phloam was a real wow inducer with amazing effects. The GB demos were shown with a camera, so the quality wasn't the best possible.

Democompo had 21 prods, quite a decent amount but not too many. First one was mnemonic's b&w demo, not very interesting. Minimalanimal by Kosmoplovci was shown third and divided opinions, it was really, really long and had no real climax, but it was somehow hypnotic. After Kosmoplovci's demo there was a technical pause and the organizers amused us by singing "Let me entertain you". I missed the Farbrausch jokeprod - a shame - and most of the Pipidemic one, but it seemed great. Minimalanimal also had a demo, but it was too long and not capturing. Threepixels and stravaganza had made a co-op demo, which was chaotic and repetitive, but the hypnotic factor was there.

Federation Against Nature had two good demos, an original chrome-tinted prod and a beatiful flyby with excellent 3d and nice atmosphere. TPB-05 was a perfect example of excellent repetition, it rocked. It was also an invitation to Scene Event. Pipidemic's second demo made people yawn. Pornonoise was an interesting play with patterns, shapes and reflections. SquoQuo's entry was good, too. Farbrausch's serious demo was shown under the pseudonym "hund.", even though the real title was fr-025: the popular demo. It looked quite cool, dancing people with reflections, but it didn't manage to impress me. The dream-like world of Kolor's Relais appealed to me much more, even though the music could have been better.

The deadline for voting had been announced as 5 AM, but after the demo compo it was moved a lot earlier: 1 AM for votesheets and 2 AM for online voting so there was a rush to the infodesk. After that a lot of people moved outside. I stayed inside for a while to listen the dj set with stuff from breakbeat to eurodance and happyhc. One of the guys also scratched the records, quite nicely I think, and had this wicked expression on his face, like he was there to torture us.

The surroundings of the campfire were full of people. A couple of guys removed their shirts and bronix almost dropped his in the fire. Jaffa continued filming people in his interesting style. Someone kept laughing at me because I had trouble keeping my eyes open, so I decided to get some sleep, this time on the table. Soon I woke up, because I had dreamt about sleepwalking and waking up from a different place at the party hall. I also had weird and fuzzy dream that had to do with Mojo Dreams and obscure jokes in endtexts.

Now there were much less people at the fire, only Tomcat, bronix, midiclub, nosfe, synteesi and maybe five other guys. Someone had passed out in his sleeping bag near the fire and other people built a "path" out of wood so it looked like the fire would reach him. That was only for amusement and photographing purposes. I and jaffa went to picture the beautiful sunset. There weren't any red clouds or stuff like that, but the sun itself was the color of deep orange. Jaffa told me that he had filmed several 135 minute tapes full of Breakpoint stuff. We stayed at the fire until 8, by which there was only a huge pile of hot charcoal left. In it and near it were hundreds of bottlecaps, broken bottles, glass shards and miscellanous trash. It really looked awful.

The morning consisted of packing. Someone was on the platters, but not many were there listening. The IRC channel was flooded with requests for results, productions and pictures. I had to disconnect at 11 when the owner of the hub left. The prize ceremony was supposed to happen then, but it was delayed for an hour. Steeler carried it out quickly because it was so much late already. It was quite confusing as we couldn't really see which of the people on stage belonged to which group and received which prize. The results were shown in an intresting way, where the ~10 best entries of the compo had "progress bars" that slowly grew to reveal the winners. The amount of points was not shown, but both Phloam and Mojo Dreams had huge gaps to the secondcomers.

The last Breakpoint bus was supposed to leave after the prizegiving. That was a problem, since there were hundreds of people still present and not everyone was with a car. I and midiclub left during the last minutes and outside we met some MFX people, who had also decided to play it safe. It was hot like sauna, I heard the temperature was 26 degrees and sun was shining. More and more people came out and MFX promised to fight for their bus seats, but that was not necessary. The bus was packed with suomiscene people, I, midiclub, florent, Gargaj, vickey, Tomcat and some other guys and it left for Bingen. The journey felt much longer than before, maybe it was just the heat.

At the railway station we found out that the next train to Frankfurt was leaving in an hour. Fortunately there was another bus, which brought the missing suomisceners. We got group tickets, so the cost was only four euros for person. In Mainz we had to wait for the next train for 30 minutes and camped underneath stairs eating goodies we bought from the station. In Frankfurt we headed for a Pizza&Pasta place, which had very reasonable prices, but the pizzas were small and not particularly tasty.

The airport was huge, which I hadn't realized before. We took a futuristic metro-like train to another part of terminal, where the MFX flight left. After they had checked in, I travelled back to the other terminal with raimo and dodke, who were returning on the same flight with me. I got to see Phloam on the real GBA SP, a neat demo and a neat piece of hardware. I can't remember much of the flight, I don't really think I slept, but on the other hand the remains of my food disappeared mysteriously. It was dark and the land was just a huge black area with a lot of little lights sprinkled randomly over it. The smallish Lufthansa plane landed safely on the Helsinki-Vantaa airport, the first time I saw that place that empty of people. Fortunately there was a friend of a friend waiting for me with his friend and I got a friendly ride home, entertaining them with wild party stories, of course. It felt great to be in a comfortable temperature, drink real water and sleep in a real bed, without any Krokodil songs blasting in my ears.