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demoscene book review


demoscene: the art of realtime (isbn 952-91-7022-X) by even lake studios and is the first book about the computer demoscene (earlier there were only books which covered the demoscene as part of the hacker and cracker scene). the book authors are all from the nordic countries and it clearly shows content wise. one of the text editors is bent stamnes aka gloom^excess.

the first impression is a very good one. the book looks professional made and the english text is not to hard to read when you have a basic english knowledge. to make it more interesting for non-demosceners the book contains many pictures and photos from various famous demos (mainly amiga and pc ones).

the content

the book contains chapters about the history of the demoscene (from the first homecomputers to actual console and mobile device demos, of course also covering what the term 'demo' is standing for), a chapter about tracker music (including an interview with the maker of the gameboy music program 'little sound dj'), a chapter about demoparties (especially about the gathering since this chapter was edited by gloom) and last but not least a chapter about the demoscene exhibition by in 2003. the last pages are reserved for a look on the different demoscene eras (old-/middle-/nuskool) and the greetings.

positive and negative points

the 'brief history of the demoscene' is in fact the biggest chapter in this book with more than 20 pages. for people which are new to this kind of computer art it's a good overview how the demoscene evolved and growed. inside views how swappers have tried to save money for stamps are funny. the comparison between making a demo and making a theater performance is done in a very good way and makes things much more clear. but bill gates (mentioned together with linus torvalds) as a hero of our time? the chapter about demoparties is only focussing on the gathering, but it gives you a good overview how the party started and evolved. i doubt that the gathering '96 was the biggest computer party of the world, just thinking about 'the party' in denmark or assembly in finland ('96 was my last assembly). inside views are that the organizers tried to get an entry in the guinness book of records for the 'largest temporary computer network' (but the guinness people didn't came to norway). the chapter about the demoscene exhibition in 2003 describes how the exhibition was made and gives you a more detailed description about several works which were shown there. the pages about the demoscene eras describe typical things of the three eras (computers, demo features, typical parties, status of the first sceners etc.), but i doubt that the most first sceners of the oldskool era were dreaming of a 'job in a national game magazine'.

there is nothing bad that the book authors are all from the nordic countries, but they also only show pictures from demos which were made by groups in these countries. this way you'll get not the complete picture or you will even think that the activity in other european countries isn't that big. but of course a person without this inside knowledge will not care about this. personally i also don't like that the authors try to show a very close relation between the game scene and the demoscene. i think there is a reason why the most respected parties are still demoscene only. another 'minus' is the fact that the authors are not naming resources like or portal pages like orange juice so that the interested reader can easily search for demos or people.
update: since january 2006 there is also a web extension with demo download links and how to run them available.


demoscene: the art of realtime is for sure a very informative book for people which are new to this scene or just want to know more than the typical hacker cliché. it's also a book which sceners can give their friends. the many demo pictures are a good appetizer to investigate on your own.

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