[interview #4: This must be a *Conspiracy*...................]
From the suburbs of Hungary to the top of the Demoscene...

Revision 2016 was the definitive proof that 64k intros have still something to say.

Conspiracy is one of those demogroups that made 64ks the main reason of their existence.
In fact, they are in activity back from 2003, and released mostly 64k intros, a pair of 4ks and a couple of demos (one of them could have been a 64k too).

I asked for an interview to Gargaj, musician/coder/demoscene-myth of Conspiracy, shortly after their return from Revision, where Conspiracy placed 2nd right after Mercury (see the results here), and he extended the questions to the rest of the group.

Warning: if you are among the 3 demo freaks that have been on the moon recently and haven't seen "Darkness lay your eyes upon me" (DLYEUM from here after), stop reading this and go watch the intro (this interview contains spoilers and tool screenshots that would ruin the experience).
Then come here again (if you remember the address).

1) Almost 13 years have passed since "project genesis". That intro amazed for the incredible amount of content and for the general cleanness of the scenes. What has changed between the tool used to build "project genesis" (a.d.d.i.c.t. 0.9) and the tool used to create DLYEUM? In which way is the tool used to build DLYEUM "better" than the first one?

A lot has changed, and a lot hasn't.
For one, we learned to code and not just mess around. The tools became pretty sophisticated compared to the first iteration. They are faster, stable, easier to work with and can do a lot more. We overcame several limitations that seemed impossible back then, and not just because of the increase in processing power or the advent of shaders. The tools we used until 2006 had no notion of pixel or vertex shaders, they used fixed pipeline GPU acceleration. Our current generation tool has ditched CPU based texture generation for a GPU based one, and has a proper material system for utilizing the GPU.

The dark city buildings as they appear in the tool used for DLYEUM

Other than these two changes, the rest is basically the same as originally: the mesh generation, animation and especially the timeline concept has stood the test of time.

One thing that had the largest impact was the reduction in the turnaround time when creating visuals, and the evolution of our tool was partly driven by this. The fact that we can go back to a scene and modify a texture or a model and immediately see the result in all its post-processed glory helps immensely in achieving the quality that we'd like to put on the screen. In short: the concepts are the same but more refined, and built into a tool that is "production ready".

2) Same question for the synth used in both intros.

For the first two intros ("project genesis" and "a place called universe") we used a rudimentary tracker+sample generator combo that we knew wouldn't last, but it did the job at the time.
Since "Beyond" we've been using the same modular framework for audio, which allows us to do incremental upgrades without losing any of the familiarity or having to worry about the actual audio engine. It also allows us to deprecate modules that we no longer want to use.
In this particular intro we've tried a few techniques that we felt were needed to match the subtlety of the imagery, and the relatively small (initial) scope of the intro allowed us to experiment without the responsibility of having something that is a permanent solution.

3) Is there a "story" behind DLYEUM?

There is, albeit a loose one.
The initial concept was to create something dark and looming as a sequel (or spinoff) to our other intro called "One of these days the sky's gonna break", but there was no story or storyboard, just a bunch of scenes that we thought would fit together. The narrative created by the final intro is open to interpretation, and that was kinda our goal too: let the viewer fill in the holes, and make up a story of their own if they want to, which we've been happy to see that people have been doing.

4) The silhouettes in DLYEUM are great and original. Are those 3D models? Can you tell a bit more on the tech used to build them?

There were plans to create the human figures in 3D using primitives, but ultimately we imported small vector images and processed them a bit further in the tool to add more detail.

At the end, the simplest ideas are the best ones. Zoom in to spoil the magic

5) Did you have to do some size-fighting to stay under 65535 bytes for DLYEUM or you managed to include everything you wanted in the intro?

We ran out of time before we ran out of space, but just barely. We had 53 bytes left when the deadline came - we have never been so close before. The final version is going to be a challenge to do, because with the lack of time and sleep came the loss of quality in some scenes, which we want to remedy with a proper release. We have no definite timeframe for when that's gonna happen, but we hope to have it released by next week [4th to 8th of april 2016 for who's reading].

6) Did the result of the party (you came 2nd by 2 points, 1890 to 1888) disappoint you, or you think Mercury deserves the 1st place? Has "fermi paradox" something "more" than DLYEUM in your opinion? Be honest.

At this point the results don't matter, this is how it was meant to be.
The Mercury guys are very good friends, and having seen how much work they put into their release, we're happy either way. The two point difference just shows that the audience couldn't decide between the two intros either, and neither could we - like we said at the prize ceremony, "I guess we're even now".

I expected an answer a little bit more on the line of "Who is the best now YOU MADAFAKAZZ?"

We're happy with the way our intro turned out, we're very happy that the competition was tough again, and most importantly that 64k is back with a vengeance.
We still think it's the perfect demo platform.

7) I asked the same question to IQ some years ago for 4k intros: where are 64k intros headed from here to 10 years in the future? In my opinion, with 4k intros the scene hit something like an "hard edge", so someone had to "invent" 8k intros to go ahead. 64k seem still capable of impressing the audience.

If 4k (and especially recent 8k) intros are any indication, 64k still has a lot left to offer, although we don't think this is fundamentally about size limits.

We're not using any special technology in our intro, it's simply about how you present your content with the help of proper composition, framing, and coloring. This is what usually makes an impression in demos too, and if you do it in 64k, it's an added bonus.

I can't stop shivering when I look at that house. Even in that demotool.

4k seemed to hit a "hard edge" mostly because everyone and their mother started using distance fields/raymarching, which resulted in very similar-looking intros and a lot of people got bored of that.

We have already passed the point in the evolution of the demoscene where putting random flashy imagery one after the other doesn't cut it anymore, or let's say it doesn't really stand out. A few people commented on Pouet that finally they are starting to see inspiration being pulled from outside the demoscene, and that's where we can still improve, or at least it's one direction. The old demoscene conventions and "bring back the only demo art" have their place and we must know where our roots are, but from time to time it's worthwhile to take a look around in the world of film and other artistic media as well.

We definitely don't mean to stop trying to push the limits, but they have to be pushed both technically and artistically.

P.S.: for the maniacal guys out there or for those who want to spy the secret technology behind Conspiracy's intros, I've put two additional *BONUS* *EXCLUSIVE* *SCREENSHOTS* of their demotool here and here. Rip... errr... enjoy!!!
posted by friol at 4/02/2016 10:39:00 PM - under: , , - comments? here (1)

the Tunnel - demoscene blog(c) friol 2o18