The Best Foreverwritten by Jason Wotnau
Successful, enjoyable, peaceful, funny, fast-paced, crazy, event-packed, the best. Wanna read more fitting adjectives on Forever 6, which took place (as always) the 3rd weekend in March in Trencin, Slovakia? Then read the full party report by Wotnau.
I used to have a problem with writing the Forever reports. I usually started thinking ?What can I write about the party? There, compos, back again?? and ended up with over 20 kB of text, which not many people could read from the beginning till the end. Forever 6, nicked Forever Hex, was definitely the most event-packed Forever … ever. So I?ll try to be brief at first.
Here?s what?s taken place:
- Disk tower challenge (winner: ZX team ? TDM, Factor 6, CVM)
- Humanistic Commando (winner: Lord Hypnos)
- Amstrad CPC demoshow (presented by Mike/Zero Team)
- Flashbacks (winners from previous Forevers)
- 6502 emulation for the ZX (presented by +Gama)
- Joystick news (new game projects for the C=64 presented by Protovision)
- 16-joy adapter for Atari and tournament in Shoot Em All and Cervi II (presented by Raster)
- Regular compos (too many winners to list)
- Show It (gesture and mimic the game)! (winning team: by Sad, Visac ? actors – and Lord Hypnos – guesser)
- SID listening compo (winner: ThunderBlade)
- SID remixes listening compo (prepared and presented by Top Secret, winner: CreaMD)
- 8-bit Quiz (winner: Mikey)
- Tanks 3000 game presentation and tournament (presented by Protovision)
- Demo show (presented by various demo freaks)
… this all done for approx. 85 party freaks 18. ? 20. 3. 2005 in Trencin, Slovakia.
Special thanks go to Top Secret for bringing an own competition including prizes and assisting as the sound operator during the first SID listening compo, MacGyver for assisting as the computer operator during the 8-bit Quiz and ThunderBlade for lending his notebook for the crazy compos.
And now let?s get into detail…
Coming to Forever is always special to me. As I leave my home, the bus station, Praha, Czech Republic, I?m consciously leaving my usual world behind, listening to CD?s which put me in the right Forever mood, reading an enjoyable book, letting my mind wander… you get the idea. This year I had the luck to find a direct bus Praha ? Trencin and the tough luck to be put back on Earth 2/3 of the way there when I had to answer a job-related phone-call. Anyway, fortunately, the walk from the bus/train station to the party place never fails.
The castle, the foreign town buzz, the CD?s, and especially crossing the bridge over Vah, which somehow seems to have a symbolic meaning to me, gets me up into the 8-bit space even before I enter the party hall.
It?s important to have rituals in your life. Beginnings of Forever are one for me. I always enter the almost-empty main hall around 12:30 to see CVM and CreaMD setting up the sound equipment and Mike playing music for them from his ZX. A few Polish visitors are already present. Shaking hands and howdying within the organizing team, greeting Cobra/Samar and Cactus/Oxyron, who always belong to the first visitors ? this all belongs to it. And there was also a pleasant surprise for me: Ellvis was alive! Erm, before you start having strange thoughts on me, notice the two ?l?s?. Ellvis, one of the Spectrum organizers, broke his leg a short time ago plus he had a flu, so he seriously threatened us with not attending the party after arranging the party hall etc. He?s one of those with whom I hardly exchange fifty sentences throughout the party but without him Forever would feel incomplete to me. And he was there! And to get me to ecstasy, CVM brought a working microphone to the party. My voice would make it this time!
There?s not much to add to the pre-launch stage of the party. CreaMD and I had a lunch in a nearby pizzeria where we made our final draft of the party?s time table and then finalized it together with the other organizers. (Of course it went through several consequent revisions during the event.)
They say when you?re recording an album, you never know what?s going to be a hit. When you organize a party, you can have this or that feeling but you can?t do without two things ? the visitors and a positive atmosphere. If you have 20 people whose steps are echoing in a big hall or big but hostile audience, there?s not much you can do. During the party I feared a bit of both but as you?ll see, everything turned to the favour of Forever Hex.
Actually, at 16:00, when we wanted to open the party officially, I feared the worst. There were some 30 people around. So we put off the beginning until 17:00. Fortunately, more people arrived in the meantime ? enough to start the Friday programme.
When being asked what they miss about the party, or even giving feedback proactively, Forever visitors often said: ?I want more programme, more events.? We decided to follow the advice and stuff the party with events. On the other hand, we still have to educate the visitors that there are things to attend even on Friday.
After the usual ?Hello, this is the beginning of the party, these are the rules and this is what will follow? we started with the Disk Tower Challenge. At Forever 5, where Shrek declared war to other platforms, people showed interest in inter-platform competitions but (justly) complained that e.g. a tournament in Microprose Soccer strongly favoured the C=64 team. So they were offered an equal-conditions task: given forty 5,25? disks, 3 teams by 3 people had to build the highest tower possible within 5,25 minutes. Soon the guys really got into it. C=64 had a very strong start. In almost no time, they had some 30 centimeters, followed by Atari. The ZX team was building their tower in a slow and concentrated manner. Then a C=64 guy breathed too carelessly or something and the building collapsed. The team lost patience and in repeated tries to rebuild as fast as possible they were unable to get enough stability. Then Atari had tough luck, too. From the ashes of the competition, ZX guys emerged with a relatively high object, calling it finished and asking for measuring it. Respectable 41 centimeters! There were 2 minutes to go and the C=64 and Atari actions went quite frantic. In the final seconds, the C=64 tower collapsed again, so they at least piled up the disks to get a solid block of disks 8 centimeters high. The drama peaked when Atarians stormed to finish their creation. It was quite high but also shaky. They withdrew their protecting hands … and the thing fell down. With 10 seconds remaining, they at least snatched the other record ? the smallest output ? they spread their package all around the floor so that nowhere there would be even two disks overlaying. The ZX guys were pronounced the winners and their tower photographed by many people from the audience. The ZX team was: Factor 6, TDM, CVM.
The second event had a mysterious name: Humanistic Commando. First a volunteer from the audience was needed. Poison of Singular had the courage to come the stage not knowing what was expected from him. He was asked to play Commando on the C=64 the way he usually does. He did well, killing numerous enemies on his way to the first gate where he lost a life. It was enough to introduce the competition. You know, Commando is a very violent game. The concept ? kill everything that moves ? is simply outdated! We should finally enter the age of understanding, love and compassion. Simply ? the 21st century games need a more mature approach ? such as in Humanistic Commando! The volunteers were asked to play the game in a humanistic way ? not shooting a single bullet or throwing a grenade! First an Atari guy tried. The funny thing is that Humanistic Commando often plays better than the regular one, and the guy got to the first gate where, unfortunately, he lost the rest of his lives in attacking waves. ZX Spectrum was represented by Factor 6. He soon got to the gate and lost a couple lives. But then he had a strong run ? he manoeuvred skilfully and the audience started to go wild. They could see that the guards running out of the gate, moving randomly, don?t return back to the screen once they left it. Factor 6 almost made it and was rewarded by big applause. An interesting thing about his performance: even though he was playing the game the humanistic way, he still collected grenades. What for? Was it a relic of the prehistoric violent thinking inside him? We?ll never know… The last contestant was Lord Hypnos for the C=64. He had the advantage of seeing the performance of those playing before him and he?s an experienced gamer ? so it?s only natural that he was the one to drive the crowd wild to conquer the first base without shooting at all, and so he became the well-deserved victor, even though he didn?t get much farther in the second level. Also he kept collecting grenades ? it seems it will still take time until the beasts in us will fall asleep… Especially as the winner won a joystick featuring three fire buttons! Oh well…
United committee of Forever-organizing Wotnaus advises: When you want a programme, how about attending it?! After the Humanistic Commando tournament, most of the Polish sceners left the place to collect another Polish guy at the train station and the rest followed, going downtown for a dinner or (logical or, that is) a drink. Next items on the schedules were the 8-bit Quiz and Show It, two events we knew would be killers, so they had to be rescheduled for Saturday. I had thoughts featuring BUB?s (Bloody Ungrateful Bastards), BFB?s and even BFA?s (not to be explained, as minors might read these pages). Anyway, the next event was then a Schneider CPC demo show which concluded Friday?s official part. That meant the end of my shift ? I could put the microphone aside and leave the stage. Meanwhile Fri(ghten)day really turned into Friday, as more visitors kept coming in, including some of my old friends, so it was double pleasure for me. I spent the rest of the day (and most of the night) talking to friends. Around 1:30 the DMagic team finally reunited after 2 years when CreaMD, JTR and I picked MacGyver at the train station, and around 4 A. M. I finally took a shower and a nap.
At 10:00 A. M., the Saturday programme started with announcing the revised time-table, so that people could decide what to skip and what to attend, and the real-time compo. After several complaints in the previous years that people put pre-coded, pre-composed or pre-drawn productions into the compo, we decided to make it a themed compo. Still the limits were quite wide ? there had to be something scrolling ? whether text or graphics ? and there had to be Forever.
The first event of the day was called Flashbacks. Forever already has a history, and that even quite a long one. So we decided to play winners of all the previous Forevers in the major categories (music, graphics, 1 kB intro and demo). It was great to remember all the previous Forevers ? finally I had a legitimate reason to listen to Gasman?s Cybernoid?s Revenge or CreaMD?s Mouth in the Foot. On the other hand, the strength partly turned into weakness ? playing only the winners still took around three hours and so somehow lacked the appropriate dynamics. We ended up perfectly aware of our history and perfectly 1-hour off the planned pace. I had an idea how to put us back on track and start the compos on time but I didn?t want to use it until I knew there wouldn?t be another way.
Then it was +Gama?s time to demonstrate 6502 emulation for ZX Spectrum, emulating Apple II. As one of the ZX sceners remarked, it?s the first step on the way to ZX absorbing C=64 and Atari. The presentation got attention mainly amongst the hard-boiled hardware freaks who asked detailed questions and were given competent answers.
It has become a tradition that Protovision, a game label caring after new games for the C=64, present their latest projects at the party. This year was no exception. JTR and MacGyver of Protovision introduced the latest progress in Soci?s conversion of Worms, and two new games: Advanced Space Battle and Jim Slim. Advanced Space Battle is a nice little turn-based strategy game at galactic scale. Jim Slim drew even more attention, as it?s an interesting jump?n?roll ? a kind of Stone Age meets Wizball game. You have to jump and roll through the levels, using collecting goodies and using keys to open doors etc. The game features cute animation of the main character. I?m sorry if I missed something important but I partly missed the presentation, as it was a rare opportunity to leave the stage and exchange a couple of words with other visitors.
Then it was time for even more gaming! Raster/C.P.U. took over to present the 16-joystick adapter for Atari. It was demonstrated on two games ? Shoot Em All and Cervi II. The audience knew Shoot Em All from last year already but it didn?t really matter, as it?s a perfect party game ? sixteen players hunting each other, chasing someone to a dead-end part of the screen and then being shot to the back ? oh well, rest in peace, Humanistic Commando. :-) The second game was new ? imagine Nibbly or Centric with 16 players on the screen at the same time ? the person who doesn?t crash into anyone and anything is the winner. The players had a great time, and so had the audience. Just by the way ? the adapter was developed by Raster, Shoot Em All was programmed by Raster and the author of Cervi II is no one else than Raster! What would the Atari scene do without this guy I really don?t know!
After the 16-player mayhem I checked the watch to find out we were still 45 minutes off the pace. Drastic measures had to be taken. In February, Factor 6 (ZX Spectrum), Raster (Atari) and I (Commodore) prepared an 8-bit Quiz for the Bytefest party in Praha. The quiz was put off two times during the party and finally cancelled. OK, I thought, I would translate it into English and bring it to Forever where it really belonged. On Friday, we rescheduled the quiz for Saturday ? and now it was time to (hopefully) reschedule again for late evening. I felt a dark premonition that in the end the quiz wouldn?t take place at all. Anyway, by leaving the quiz out for the moment, the party returned back on track and after collecting the entrance fee the compos started ? this year some 2,5 hours sooner than usual, so that the visitors, should they like to spend the evening outside the party hall, dining, talking and boozing would still find restaurants open downtown.
The compos started with the wild category, and in style. Protovision had an ace up their sleeve!!! After years of development, they could announce that Metal Dust, THE game for the SuperCPU, is finished! All that remains to do is the manual and packaging and then the game will ship. And the first entry in the wild compo was the official trailer. It?s no secret that SuperCPU and I have never been in love with each other but boooy, was the trailer impressive! Fast scrolling, skilfully drawn colourful graphics, huge monsters, all underlined by a brilliant piece of music by Markus Siebold. It?s a pity that SID is such a crappy chip (just kidding) so that this music can?t be in the game. You?ll have to settle for sampled music exclusively done by Welle: Erdball. Well, not a bad deal anyway, eh? If you have a SuperCPU, order the game because it?s as good as it gets. (And if you ain?t got a SuperCPU, wait for Katakis II by Manfred Trenz and AEG ? if it?s as cleverly programmed as AEG is talented and as bug-free as Manfred?s games have always been, my underwear will be in serious danger when my copy arrives.)
The second entry in the wild compo was Te-mod Extended, presented by Jookie/Satantronic. It utilized the popular concept of making a funny video inspired by a known demo. First we could see the original part of the demo and then its funny counterpart. When there was fire, you could see a real fire, when a 3D object was rotating, you could see a wire model being moved by Jookie?s hand etc. In each part the audience burst out in laughter, as the ?real? counterparts were usually arranged in a funny way. The extension ended with several funny photos of Satantronic guys and several internal jokes.
In the end, Te-mod Extended won the compo by a few points ? and I think it?s OK. Metal Dust got a full-audience advertisement and Satantronic was rewarded for the effort they put in making the party freaks happy.
Another confession I have to make that the compo I always look forward to the most is the ZX music compo. While C=64 musicians often concentrate on digging the best sound of their toy, the ZX guys usually try to make the best music. Sigh, sigh, I was disappointed. Even Gasman?s music didn?t deliver and Factor 6?s C=64 music (which deservedly won the compo) was better than his ZX entry.
This is the place where the compos should have been reviewed byt CreaMD. So CreaMD says. Check stuff for yourself. I definitely reccomend Atari and Speccy stuff. C64 compos weren't that strong this year. Except of few cool pictures and musics.
There was one thing I really didn?t like about the compos. Usually, the audience at Forever shows appreciation. Even the worst entry in any category gets its share of applause (despite some sarcastic remarks) just because it still represents some efforts and long hours spent in front of the respective computer. This year?s audience was somehow cold and near the end I was really looking forward to the finish. However, I was also a bit frightened because the programme was supposed to go on after the compos and I didn?t feel good about facing an audience in that particular mood. That was even worsened by the discovery that ?nuts factor = 6?. After the compos Factor 6, whom I otherwise respect as a talented musical amphibian (ZX and C=64) and a guy with very wide scope of knowledge on 8-bit computers, came to the podium and demonstratively shattered an Atari into pieces. It wasn?t funny. At all.
One thing is Shrek declaring war between platforms and another thing is just destroying things. By the way, after this incident Shrek came to the Atari guys to say sorry for the incident he didn?t have anything in common with ? except being a ZX-based person like Factor 6. (Well, about Shrek?s hate towards other platforms… I somehow have to remember the movie and the original Shrek talking of ogres being like onions ? ?cause I have seen Shrek?s votesheet.)
After the compos the hall partly emptied but fortunately not enough to cancel what Cactus fittingly labelled as ?crazy compos?. The funny thing is that they nearly didn?t take place at all, as I brought a CD with the stuff and asked Xi to be allowed to use his notebook. He kindly agreed, so I copied everything on the notebook… just to discover at the time of the crazy compos that he went downtown and either took the notebook with him or hid it somewhere! Most fortunately, ThunderBlade offered help and lent his notebook for the show, which saved the crazy compos. Thanks, mate, it?s highly appreciated!
First was a competition called Show It! ? a game of wits, brains and acting skills. There were three teams by three people, each team having two actors and one guesser. The team drew a piece of paper with a name of a famous game written on it and they had to gesture and mimic the game for their guesser. The fun consisted in that the name of the game was projected on the wall behind the guessers? heads so that everyone in the hall knew what game was going on, enjoying the performance of the actors and the tries of the guessers. The competition had several highlights, such as Womana/Studio Style and Lisu demonstrating Hexenkueche II, Visac mimicking blowing a fanfare on a trumpet and then jousting with Sad (Defender of the Crown) and JTR and Sigi showing Tetris. Everyone had fun and big thanks to all participants. For the sake of historic records: Visac, Sad (actors) and Lord Hypnos (guesser) won the competition.
Next on the schedule were SID listening compos. Here I have to digress a bit. Originally, only one listening compo was planned ? but two days before the party I received the news that also Top Secret, completely independently had a very similar idea. This is the place to say a big THANK YOU! to Top Secret. Not only did he not come to the party with the usual ?C?mon entertain me!? attitude ? he prepared a competition on his own and brought prizes at his own expenses. I?m impressed.
The two compos nicely complemented each other. The first was inspired by an old world tour of Deep Purple where they played a game with the audience: what could possibly be the most famous riff in the rock history? The played such ones as Thunderstruck and Highway to Hell and of course it all lead to Smoke on the Water. When I recalled that show, I realized that many famous SID?s start in a very strange and disharmonic way. Remember the ?squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak? (Parallax), the gong (Last Ninja), the horrible humming (Thrust), the triangle (Robocop 3)? Well, then you can imagine what this guess-the-music-and-its-author game was about. Of course next to the chaotic sounds, there were also some known themes to be listened to, including Tim Follin?s Smoke on the Water in LED Storm. :-) The task for the audience was easy ? the first one to recognize the tune just shouted, the sound was stopped and the guesser could get one point for the author and one point for the name of the tune. Here another thanks must go to Top Secret for being the sound operator while I was on the stage with the microphone. The audience cooperated and even Atari and ZX guys were doing very well! Still, ThunderBlade, who has already won a similar competition at a Plush party, won the competition and received headphones to enjoy his favourite SID pieces in peace.
Top Secret?s compo had the same task (recognize the tune and its author ? and one extra point could be awarded for guessing the remixer) but a different background ? this time the audience was given mp3 remixes, including many wonderful items, such as Delta for Spanish guitar or Glyn R. Brown?s Rubicon. The prizes from 5th to 1st place were a bottle of: mineral water, a grapes-juice-based drink called Top&Topic, beer, wine and slivovice (a high-grade drink). After the regular end of the competition we had a draw with surprising results. 3 guys had 7 points each ? DMagic?s very own CreaMD ? and two Atarians! Their names were Lisu and Thomas. So after all it was a compo for everyone! The guys were called on the stage and given more questions until a definitive order could be made. It went on being very tough ? but after some six extra rounds CreaMD won, leading Thomas and Lisu.
During the crazy compos, something wonderful happened ? the mood in the hall changed completely and the atmosphere rocketed to the skies (the ceiling of the hall, that is). Obviously, the visitors enjoyed direct participation in the programme and the compos were simply about maximum interactivity. Also, people kept coming back throughout the evening and organically integrated into the competing audience. So it was the right time to present something aimed really at everyone ? the 8-bit Quiz! 40 questions varying from ?When did Sinclair ZX Spectrum enter the market?? through ?What chip do have Atari and C=64 in common?? to ?Which game is this screenshot from?? resulted in a great and dramatic show. Again there was a draw, and so Cactus (C=64) and Mikey (Atari) had to come to the stage for shoot-out. Of course they got a ZX question and Mikey was the first to remember what?s the name of the ZX with an integrated disk drive. And this time special thanks go to MacGyver for helping to finalize the Quiz operating the computer during the show.
And with people being joyous from the crazy compos, Protovision went on with presenting another new game ? Tanks 3000 for up to 4 players. Another great party game and a perfect way of concluding the official Saturday programme. Afterwards the particular scenes had time to make demoshows and Mike/Zero Team and I spent the rest of the night counting the votesheets. Oh well… :)
This year?s prize-giving wasn?t delayed several hours but just 20 minutes or so ? not bad. Probably you already know all the winners so the only experience to share is from interviewing the winners. Wotnau asks: ?How do you feel as a winner of the compo?? Answer: ?I don?t know.? Next winner: ?What?s the recipe to win two consecutive graphics compos at Forever?? Answer: ?I don?t know.? Next winner: ?What does it take to code such a nice entry in such a short time?? Answer: ?I don?t know.? Uh-huh! JTR later told me that I should have asked the next person: ?Do you know?? :D Shame on me for not having that idea! Anyway, the prize-giving was pure fun and joy and then party people slowly started to pack their stuff and the organizing team cleaned the party place, had a pizza and went their separate ways, motivated as never before.
And do you know why? Because Forever Hex was the best Forever … yet!
Photos by: Aragorn (Speccy), Factor6 (Speccy), Poison (C64), Sweet (Speccy), Tornado (Speccy), MikeZT (speccy), Baze (Speccy), Cactus (C64), Dely (Atari), Icabod (Speccy), Pinokio (Atari), Stryker (Atari) and more… Thank you all for support.
Author of the article: Wotnau / Dmagic
Discussion: 25 reactions