America Has Demoparties?: Demosplash 2017

- Posted November 13th, 2017 by

If you’re a twenty-something in America like myself, you’ve probably never been to a demoparty unless you’ve got the money to fly to Europe. (If you do have the money to fly to Europe for a demoparty, well…take me with you?) While I’d heard tales of these events where nerds huddle together around ancient computers and make music videos that fit on floppy disks, I never thought I’d get the chance to go to one myself – which is why when Inverse Phase asked if anyone wanted to go with him to Demosplash in Pittsburgh, PA, I jumped at the opportunity. What follows is a postmortem of my time at the event. Join me, won’t you?


To most people at Carnegie Mellon University this weekend, it was just a weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Carnegie Institute of Technology merging with Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. For a small team of students, alumni and professors though, it was time for the sixth annual Demosplash, one of the only demoparties in America. If you’re not familiar, I’d like to direct you to this handy Wikipedia link which will explain it much better than I can. CMU boasts one of – if not the – largest vintage computer collection in America, so there’s no place better suited to show off a bunch of demos on original hardware than something put on by the CMU Computer Club.

Since this event took place at a university, it’s only fitting that there were some educational talks throughout the day. In addition to several presentations put on by members of CMUCC, there were special lectures from Chris White AKA cxw on how a demotool works, Matt Godbolt on emulating the BBC Micro computer in Javascript, and Soji Yamakawa on the Fujitsu Micro computers from his youth in Japan. There were also screenings of both classic and modern demos, as much on original hardware as possible. For retro presentation purposes, the team set up a Vectrex, a Commodore 64, an Amiga 1200, and their hilariously overpowered compo machine with parts donated from Nvidia for any of the modern demos. Obviously, with all these old computers around it would be a sin not to let people play with them. In the retro gaming room they had everything from Ataris and Nintendos to Yamakawa-san’s childhood FM Towns (on which I played Afterburner, and died) and FM 7 to a Sharp X68000 (on which I also played Afterburner and Cho Ren Sha 68k, and I also died).

As to the actual competition itself – there were six categories: Modern Demos, for anything on a still-produced console; Retro, for anything on old systems; Freestyle Video; Freestyle Graphics; Freestyle ASCII/ANSI; and Freestyle Audio. Each category had a cash prize for 1st place as well as trophies for 1st and 2nd place. I’ll include links to view pre-rendered versions of everything below is it does not appear that they have all been uploaded to Pouët, the online archive for all things demoscene. By the time this article is live, you should just be able to head to demosplash.org to view all the results and entries, but the winners for the event were as follows:

Overall, it was a great time! Between the great catering, the cool panels and amazing range of submissions, this is an event that I hope will be going on for many years to come. If you’d like to stay informed about the next Demosplash event, take a look at the links below – and hopefully, I’ll see you all there next year!

Demosplash
@demosplashdemosplash.org | Scenesat livestream archive

Matt Godbolt
Blog | @mattgodbolt

Soji Yamakawa
www.ysflight.com | wildbird.en.ysflight.com

cxw
Blog

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