Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Archive for August 27th, 2008

Chock full of awesome

Posted by Trixter on August 27, 2008

NVScene was everything I had hoped for and much more.  Thanks to the money put behind the event by NVidia, the sound system and bigscreen was something to be in awe of:  1920×1080 on a screen about 30 feet tall.  North American sceners got the chance to meet some of the modern greats, with representatives from Farbrausch, ASD, Plastik, and more.

The talks were all outstanding, even the “history of the scene” talk we could all give in our sleep.  The demoscene.tv crew were busy running around doing interviews and live-cutting footage for your enjoyment, so they were understaffed for the actual talks and conferences.  I missed Mentor’s talk :-( :-( due to a misunderstanding on my part about the schedule, and then I may have irritated him by asking him for his slides during the Spore talk when he was busy, so that was a flub on my part… I hope he releases his slides because they looked really awesome and I’d really like to learn what he had to say.

I am in the airport waiting for my delayed flight to be undelayed, so I thought I’d put up a quick summary of what I learned at NVScene.  First, the obvious-to-Euros-but-not-Americans surprises:

  • Americans and Euros can get along wonderfully in the demoscene. (By association, there can indeed be two NA demoparties in a year without the space/time continuum imploding.)
  • Everybody has a chance to learn from each other, regardless of experience or skill.
  • Computer graphics techniques are so universal that you can hold a conversation with any demoscener, even if you can barely understand each other due to English not being your native language.

Here’s what I learned that surprised me, mainly because I don’t write demos for modern platforms, only follow them:

  • Realtime raytracing with fantastic quality is not only possible, but can be done entirely by the graphics card using pixel shaders (!).
  • Most demos (and some 4K intros!) use a scripting/build system, and each major group has their own tools.  One very interesting exception is ASD, whose coder writes all sections of the demo with the ability to render along any point in time (ie. f(x) where x is a float from 0 to 1 with 0 the start of the scene and 1 being the end).  He said he likes to “scrub” through his demo using the mouse, and doesn’t mind that his scenes are hard-coded because it only takes him 3 seconds to recompile and run.
  • Future of the scene for the next two years in two words:  Ambient Occlusion.

Polaris/ND and I tossed around a demo idea.  Not sure if NVScene will be around next year, but if not, Block Party will be.  So who knows.

I would like to publicly thank the organizers of Block Party for enabling me to attend NVScene.  And, of course, I would like to thank Gloom, Gargaj, Steeler, and Temis for making NVScene possible.

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