Lato Ludzików 2002

Thomas Havemeister (TWH) of Foundation Two visited "People's Summer" in Poland, English translation by Harry Reminder


The decision
For a long time I had intended to go to a scener party in Eastern Europe some time. I wanted to get an idea of the talents we have to thank for those unbelievable demos such as Trip6, Daze and Drunken Chessboard. I have heard much about Polish events like Orneta and QuaST. If measured by the final results, these events were always a colossal success and surely held unforgettable memories for the participants.

After I met Mr Bacardi (Stephan Pollock) at the ABBUC JHV in October last year, we soon had the idea to take a trip to Poland. The things we do for and because of Atari!

Our summer examinations were well-timed, so there should be no problem driving to "People's Summer" alias "Lato Ludzików 2002".

The preparations
The web site, mainly in Polish, surely wasn't very suited to the international audience, nevertheless we could sample what would await us. We could find the small Polish town Opalenica even on a card of Poland, that made the journey admittedly easier! So only my Atari 130XE with 1084S monitor and APE notebook computer had to be wrapped up and we could then start our long journey through Germany with the aim: Opalenica! Those who don't have any idea where Opalenica lies perhaps know Posen (Poznan). So this year's meeting should be approximately 25 Km away from there for the Polish Atari sceners.

The journey proceeded without problems. Mr Bacardi came to me in Efurt by train a day earlier, so we could comfortably drive off on Friday 2nd August 2002.

In Frankfurt/Oder near the border we had a break and bought a crate of beer. We wanted to celebrate anyway!

The arrival
After about seven hours of travelling and various little difficulties with the Polish traffic we discovered the first signpost to Opalenica. Mr Bacardi already knew this place from last year. The destination was the so-called "Arts Centre". The advantage of this location was a big and completely darkened hall with a stage. There was a separate dormitory, a little kitchen as well as a shower! We could even store our beer in a refrigerator to enjoy a marvellously cool Wernesgrüner when thirsty! Furthermore there was the famous "Pizzeria Opalenizza" in the building, to cater for our insatiable need for pizza at any time.

From a distance we could already hear the Atari test melody and we felt a warm glow. Vasco, the organiser of the party, welcomed us after our arrival. He was obviously pleased to greet visitors from Germany and to meet Mr Bacardi again. This was a very kind prelude and we looked out for some chairs, a table and power connection for my Atari. A table was quickly brought into the hall from the neighbouring room and another blue background shone with the word "READY" on the monitor. Then there were the first curious looks and astonished faces at the German foreigners. It is apparently not often that people from the neighbouring countries come to Polish Atari events and so it led to the first interesting conversations. Unfortunately, there were bigger language problems than I expected at first. Most people had basic grasp of German, however, that proved to be insufficient for an intelligible conversation between Atari fans. Therefore Mr Bacardi and I decided to completely switch over to English and we coped, with some grammatical blunders, thanks to our Atarian ambition. We deserved a cool bottle of beer. Then we began to put famous scener nicknames to faces and we soon found famous people like MacGyver, Fox, Dracon and XI thanks to the name badges.

[Photo: Party on]

[Photo: Party people standing]

About 40 people had already arrived on Friday and the hall was almost filled. I took the chance to gaze admiringly at exotic hardware which is seldom seen or almost unavailable in Germany at all. I noticed in particular the strange disk drives like "California Access" or other completely unknown types. The XF551 or the Atari 1050 floppy is obviously rather unknown or has not been available in large quantity in Eastern Europe. On the other hand, finally I could examine stereo Pokey expansions working live and was surprised by some of the other upgraded Ataris. There was a 2 MB SIMM RAM expansion, 16-bit CPU upgrades and built-in SpartaDosX modules to admire. By the way, the QMEG-OS by Stefan Dorndorf is also popular in Poland and installed by many Atari users. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the SID upgrade of Slight anywhere. But it should still be a long night. As usual at such parties, there wasn't anything like a night's rest or defined event times. Until the early morning hours people were playing, demonstrating, soldering, discussing and celebrating. Late in the night towards 01:00, Vasco had managed to install the projector for the "big screen" and after an endless discussion, finally a couple of demos and programs were shown on a big screen. Later I spread my sleeping bag in the next room and recovered from the long journey and the exciting first day.

[Photo: Party people dancing]

[Photo: Party people tired and sleeping]

After a "restful" night the next day started. The sceners were still or once again engaged in programming Ataris or playing games. I realised that although the party was intended for all Atari computers and thus also for the ST and Falcon series, I only saw XL/XE computers. This was almost a late satisfaction, because there always used to be more for stuff for the ST than for the XL/XE anyway, and I took great delight seeing here a crowd of Atari fans filled with enthusiasm for their dearest computers. After breakfast in the kitchen Mr Bacardi and I decided to have an extensive heat of Archon and Ballblazer. After a hot duel and final competition for the victory of the Light or Dark side I could show my gaming clan "Foundation Two" the honour and got the victory.

[Photo: TWH and his Atari]

TWH is proud to have an Atari.

Then I asked the Polish fan community for a fight in International Karate of Epyx. We had a lot of fun and even a joystick was broken. After some hours of gambling it was suddenly there again: the need for marvellously oven-fresh pizza! In the afternoon I had the opportunity to talk to Nir Dary, an Atarian who made the long trip from Israel to Poland! Due to his excellent English we could talk about his colossal game cartridge collection and he talked about his numerous Atari contacts in Germany, England and at home. He had brought some astonishing pictures showing some very rare original games. He is a cartridge specialist and knows all about their production and demonstrated especially for me his self-programmed cartridge loader. He showed me, for example, a self-built cartridge with the most beautiful Datasoft games which loaded in a matter of seconds. In the afternoon Mr Bacardi and I took the opportunity to have a little Atari break and went on an excursion into town with McMaster/SSG who knows the location and language.

[Photo: Nir Dary and Mr Bacardi]

Nir Dary and Mr Bacardi.

[Photo: TWH is hungry]

TWH is hungry for good pizza!

[Photo: Dracon, McMaster and TWH]

Dracon, McMaster and TWH.

In the early evening the hall became even more packed. More cars stood in the car park now and the scener feeling was stimulated by various Amiga and Falcon demos. Besides some interesting stuff among some very impressive things we could admire was an Atari VCS 2600 emulator for the Sega Dreamcast console. So VCS games were tested there on a gigantic screen and proved that the spirit of old retro games is to found in today's consoles, too. Then it became louder and rhythmic techno-beats indicated the upcoming music, graphic and demo competitions. We were in the dark for a relatively long time and wondered when the new things would be introduced, and asked politely for a time schedule. But they just laughed and said that it will surely come some time. Hmm, this showed the small difference in style of game parties in Eastern Europe, which is by far not as organised as an ABBUC JHV! Here it is all just a little more laid-back.

[Photo: Waiting for the competitions]

Waiting for the competitions.

[Photo: Real-time coding]

Real-time coding.

After another pizza in the evening the high point was reached. Everybody took a place and the Atari demonstration was prepared. After some tests an Atari 130XE with 320 KB of RAM was connected to a projector and two gigantic loudspeakers, thanks to a stereo Pokey expansion. Then Vasco made some comments in Polish about the assessment form. Thanks to McMaster's good knowledge in German acquired at school we understood the most important parts and could join the voting. First the music competition was started. Altogether ten new MPT/CMC modules were introduced. Mega Player 1.6 was used for playing them, this is an excellent module player which is also visually attractive. After a long break musician X Ray/TQA also made wonderful new contributions. I particularly liked the song "Scream" of EPI/Allegresse besides the contributions with "typically Polish" music style. Then MODs were to be played by a Covox expansion on the Atari. Unfortunately, there were technical problems, so this competition had to be cancelled. I was very sorry for it, because I wanted to finally know how a Covox-MOD would sound on the Atari!

There was only one contribution from Dracon/TQA in the graphics competition. The multi-colour picture showed a person with astonishing similarities to Vasco, which led to some laughter. This picture naturally then got first place. The excitement increased because of the demos to be expected now. Rumours of an unbelievable new demo from Taquart already wandered around like a ghost for the whole day, causing the general atmosphere to get better and better.

Then things were going their way. After a pretty 1 KB intro was shown by DoDo/Satantronic, the first demo started. It was a contribution of the Animkomikals, which till now, were rather known for joke contributions or "anti-demos". But what we got to see was a nice animation demo with sarcastic design. After an ample applause the new demo by Quasimodo "Pacem in Terris" was shown. The guys managed to convert an expensive Flash animation from the PC to the Atari and to play it extremely smoothly. Together with a wild soundtrack one could enjoy the animation on the screen and hardly believe that only a small Atari 130XE was powering it. A great moment then came. The latest demo by Taquart was to be displayed. For a long time screen-shots of the famous Doom clone "Vector" on the 8-bit were presented on the internet. On that day the public was introduced to the actual working 3D engine by Fox for the first time.

The emotional tension further increased and many people couldn't believe at first what they finally saw on the screen. In the demo "Numen" (Latin: monument or genius) one could stare in amazement at unbelievably fast full-screen effects, look at multi-colour pictures and follow the virtual camera into the 3D world. The driving soundtrack of the demo is probably among the best sounds ever made on the Atari. Definitely the nearly 12 minutes' playing time of this demo was the absolute highlight of the party. According to Fox the MPT-Sound editor had to be adapted for this demo since there was nobody till now who had produced continuous music of such length! Then there were several minutes of standing ovations for the members of Taquart. Every Atari user knew that on this day Atari history was made in Poland. Of course many people wanted to try out this demo on their own Ataris at once.

[Screen-shot: Numen title screen]

[Screen-shot: Numen 1]

[Screen-shot: Numen 2]

[Screen-shot: Numen 3]

[Screen-shot: Numen 4]

[Screen-shot: Numen 5]

[Screen-shot: Numen 6]

[Screen-shot: Numen 7]

[Screen-shot: Numen 8]

[Screen-shot: Numen 9]

[Screen-shot: Numen 10]

[Screen-shot: Numen 11]

[Screen-shot: Numen 12]

[Screen-shot: Numen 13]

Suddenly only one program was run on many Ataris and if it came to an end, it had to be started again and again. Unfortunately, this demo also has a little caveat: it only runs with computers that have at least 320 KB of RAM. Regrettably, my Atari 130XE couldn't fulfil this requirement. I remembered that the Slovak group Satantronic introduced its 1 MB SIMM RAM expansion kit for the first time. So I talked to DoDo and quickly decided to upgrade my XE. At first I didn't understand that he wanted to upgrade my Atari immediately on-site. And so it was that XI and DoDo began in the middle of the night at 01:00 to upgrade my Atari to 1 MB!

[Photo: Satantronic upgrading TWH's 130XE to 1 MB]

[Photo: TWH's upgraded Mega XE]

After almost four hours of work from the two of them I had an operating SIMM RAM in my XE. The specially programmed RAM tester was then started by XI, with the result that everything worked very well. Towards 05:00 I joyfully looked for my sleeping bag and tried to sleep a few hours. Finally it was already Sunday and we still wanted to pay a visit to a friend in North Poland.

The departure
When I finally found my sleeping bag, I had to remark that the first Atari fans had already gone home. Nir Dary was already on the way to the airport and Mr Bacardi and I still had a long way to go. Then we packed up our things and had the last conversations towards 12:00. Vasco had just invited us again for the winter party. Many people were already away homeward again and what was left was a damned messy hall with many party remains. For certain Vasco still had a lot of work to do. So we thanked everybody we met there. At the same time, we also referred to the UnCon2k2. But I don't think many Polish Atari fans will come to Germany, but it was a first step. Perhaps more German fans will be in Poland soon?

In summary, this party was a real Atari highlight. Admittedly it shows the slightly different party style in Eastern Europe that we must get used to first. One notices this mainly in the form of the organisation and the more freaky behaviour of the sceners. However, an essential element of this party is much alcohol and a lot of celebration atmosphere and people like to go to Opalenica again and again to meet like-minded Atarians to have fun together. That much productivity can arise you can see in the numerous contributions and technically masterful performance of the hardware and software. Now I am looking forward to the UnCon2k2 party in Lengenfeld where we hopefully may welcome foreign sceners again.

[Photo: Fox, programmer of Numen]

Fox, programmer of Numen.

[Photo: Mr Bacardi and Dracon]

Mr Bacardi and Dracon of TQA.

[Photo: Foundation Two gaming]

Foundation Two gaming contest.

[Photo: TWH, Dracon, Pinoccio]

TWH, Dracon, Pinoccio.

[Photo: Vasco presenting the competitions]

Vasco presenting the competitions.

[Photo: Real-time coding result]

Real-time coding result.

[Photo: Tom's navigator is a great tool, isn't it?]

Tom's navigator is a great tool, isn't it?

[Photo: Everybody is watching Numen by TQA!]

Everybody is watching Numen by TQA!

This article was originally published in German by the Unconventional Party Society, August 2002, and is reproduced in English with kind permission. Additional photographs from Thomas Havemeister's private collection.

Useful links


Top of page ]

MyAtari magazine - Feature #10, September 2002

Copyright 2002 MyAtari magazine