CiH sounds a cautionary note over certain aspects of the STNICC 2000.
There has been some heated debate over the nature of the forthcoming ST News
International Coding Convention 10th anniversary party (STNICC). Many people
on the current Atari scene are suspicious, thinking it is just a celebration
of past glories, and the organisers aren't clued up about the current scene
However, it does seem to be the case, that Richard Karsmakers is
sufficiently aware of, and impressed by the current Atari scene, to allow
demo competitions for them after all. This is encouraging news, if taken by
itself, and will encourage more current scene people to turn up, than would
have otherwise been the case.
However, there was one chance remark made, which sent a chill through my
"Great news, Stephan Posthuma is attending STNICC, and will be talent
scouting for Electronic Arts Canada!"
So why the apparent ingratitude from me, for what would seem to be the offer
of a lifetime?
Well firstly, I'm not against anyone going to work for EA Canada, if that is
what they have set out as their heart's desire. If someone is a talented
individual, and wants the career that properly reflects and rewards that
talent, then fair enough. None of my following arguments should stop you!
It's just that if you think that your Atari scene related stuff can carry on
as normal, then you might be somewhat disappointed.
So, we're on to the main part of the article, which goes something like,
The Entertainment Software Industry isn't good for the demo scene because..
1. Time is a killer!
One of the major issues for the 21st Century, at least in the prosperous
developed world, is going to be quality vs quantity of life. At the moment,
things seem to be out of balance, with an individuals personal, private and
family needs being swept aside by the all-demanding corporate god. The
entertainment software industry is an extreme worst case example of this.
The earnings potential is brilliant, the image is glamourous, but the hours
There are ex-scene people in the 'industry' who are still keen to support
their old dust-choked Atari's. The sad fact is, THEY DON'T GET THE TIME! I
get the impression that the games industry is miffed by the fact there are
only 24 hours in any one day, and that puny humans eventually have to stop
working through sheer exhaustion!
The really ironic thing is, that some of the people that Rich K most dearly
wanted to come to STNICC, many of the original scene veterans, are unable to
make it this time. They are, quite possibly, "Too busy!"
2. What have they done for the demo scene, apart from take from it?
The relationship between the demo scene, and the games industry is one way,
parasitic in nature, and slewed entirely in favour of the games industry!
This point is developed further under the next heading.
3. The games industry is rife with short-termist thinking!
There doesn't seem to be any long term plan to develop the intellectual
resources that the (European at least) games industry needs, to be a world-
class player. They have been over-reliant on 'slash and burn' recruitment of
the existing talent, that has sprung into being, by accident, and by its own
efforts. With the current generation of 'Konsole Kidz' coming through
lacking any coding skills, Stephan Postuma's visit to the STNICC in December
would seem to be the tail-end of that process?
What happens when the current ex-scener generation is fat, burnt out,
married with kids, and in managerial jobs? Where are the next generation
(Answer - India, or whichever third world country gets those old hand-me-
down Commodore 64's! I don't think you can ever get TOO cynical about the
games industry, no matter how hard you try!)
4. Things 'aint wot they used to be!
A personal point really, how much empathy can someone like Stephan, who was
last in touch with the scene ten years ago, have with us? Things are very
different now from then. People's motivation to take part in a demo scene
relates a lot more to the 'fun' part than the 'reward' part these days. Back
then, a clearly marked path to a job in the games industry seemed to be a
lot more of a feature of the 'old' scene.
5. Foremost in the queue of rats leaving the sinking ship!
How soon you all forget! These are the same people who dropped support for
the ST as soon as they could! These are the people who sniffed disdainfully
at the STe, and wrote the Falcon off as a no-hoper. Now in cold commercial
business logic terms, they may have been right, but thinking really hard
about it, how much warmth and loyalty and goodwill to the mainstream, does
that inspire in you?
Not a lot? Thought so!
6. Waiting for 3-D GoDots!
This is a bit of a rerun of the 'Time is a killer' argument. So just how
many of the legions of ex-scene people, have managed to continue with their
scene activities, once they are sealed within the plush coding dungeons of
the games industry? Some deluded people with more faith than is good for
them (the authors of this diskzine included!) remain hopeful that SOMETHING
will emerge from the other end of the tunnel, one day, maybe.....
This wishful thinking does not take into account factors such as human
lifespans only being finite?
Still, if someone can prove me wrong here...
I'm sorry to sound so negative about Stephan's kind offer of a better life
overseas, it's just that if he was too successful, it really would be a case
of "Would the last person to leave the Atari Scene please turn out the
If you want to go to work for EA Canada, then go right ahead, don't let any
of this stop you. But you had better take a good look around you at all the
other people at STNICC, it may be the last that you see of them for a long
I look forward to seeing most of you at Error in Line Part 2 next year?
CiH for Alive Diskzine, Sept 2000.