Freitag, 8. Juli 2016

Computers and the Demoscene

My interest in computers stems from my childhood fascination for computer games. I read computer gaming magazines and invented games of my own, drawing sketches using pen and paper. That was what ultimately made me start learning to program.

The demoscene is something I got into more or less by accident. I was making a diskmag about general topics and we had a reader who insisted that the demoscene was the real thing, nobody had better computer skills than demosceners. Soon after that the main editor of the other German language diskmag that was released in those days, Cream, expressed his fascination with the demoscene and announced that he was going to remodel his diskmag as a demoscene magazine. As a coincidence this was the time when I got Internet access and I used the Net primarily for chatting on IRC, where I was mostly using channels related to the demoscene. There I met the scener Salami who believed in Hugi's potential and suggested that I should make Hugi a demoscene-related magazine in the English language. This is how I eventually got involved in the demoscene.

My involvement with the demoscene was strongly connected with my activities regarding Hugi. In these days I spent almost all of my sparetime working on Hugi. So I did not have time even to think about pursuing another project, such as a demo or intro. This is why my involvement with the demoscene remained to fulfill the role of the diskmag editor.

When I was no longer spending so much time working on Hugi after enrolling at university, I sometimes might even have had time to start creating demos or intros myself. However, I realized I actually did not feel the urge to do so. I had no longing for expressing myself artistically. I realized that my original fascination for the demoscene was due to my admiration of these people's technical skills. As I had programming knowledge, I knew how difficult it was to implement fast graphics code. But the scene had changed. The scene focused on technical aspects until about the turn of the century. Then, with 3D accelerated hardware and strong processors, it gradually became an art scene and this wasn't what I was interested in. As a side project to making Hugi, I had been organizing size optimizing competitions for Assembler programmers for several years. This corresponded very much to my own interests regarding programming: how to implement programs in such a way that the resulting executable is as tiny as possible. Demos and intros were more of applied science. The focus was not on code optimizing skills but on using these skills to create something beautiful. I was more interested in the raw technology.

It may be awkward that I still check out demoscene websites every day, but for some reason I haven't found any community site that would catch my interest more. I coded two intros in my life as an adult, Indian Summer and Whirlsphere. I don't think I will ever start coding demos or intros on a regular basis. Some years ago I coded a couple of games and game coding appeals a bit more to me than demo coding since a game is not primarily about aesthetics but about function. In my computer science studies I was most fascinated by the theory of computation - topics such as automata theory, formal languages, complexity theory and the like caught my primary interest. I have a penchant for things that are difficult to understand, they make me use my brain and I will not stop until I have figured out everything in detail. But that's another topic.

Dienstag, 5. Juli 2016

Changing...

I read at the website of the Medical University of Vienna that there is now a mentoring program for alumni. This changes so much for me. It is hard to explain, but the way I perceive the world and myself is affected by this. I have always experienced the world as a place where you have to fight your way through. I was strong and altruistic, I helped others, but I have never expected to get any help when I was in need of it. The educational system here in Austria has always made me feel that a competition was going on in which only the best would prevail. Now the existence of a mentoring program for alumni is the first thing that seems like you can actually expect help from others. The feeling that you have a right to get help is overwhelming, it is a completely new experience for me. The idea that you do not have to fight alone for your well-being, that you do not have to hide insecurity and weakness is awesome. But it has even further consequences: Not considering taking aid a defeat makes me think of society in a less hierarchical manner. You need not earn a privilege and fight for your position incessantly. It makes me think that instead of who you are, what matters is what you do.