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|As everything, it all started innocently enough.
I'm thinking of organising some kind of Atari get-together at my gaff next year."
When Tat of Avena invites you over for a few days, how can one refuse? Damo, GGN, Gwem and Showaddywaddy certainly didn't! The premise of the whole gathering was to just relax and have some Atari time together, possibly work on something fun. A few of the participants were reluctant at first as they claimed they cannot code (such modesty!). They were however calmed down by the host saying that nobody would be forced to code anything. So after a date was agreed upon (21 to 23 February 2020) people booked time and arranged their transportation to the "hack".
First to arrive at the place was GGN, one day before everyone else, due to flight schedules. Things stated looking bad (or good depending on how one looks at the situation) when after a lovely dinner GGN started working on his entry for Outline, while Tat was deep in unpacker territory.
A few days prior to the party he had finished a rough-but-working depacker of the LZSA1 packer. Little by little the LZSA2 depacker started working and by early next day everything was ready: both versions of the LZSA depack algorithm are now available on GitHub. So that's already one release before most of the people had arrived - oh no! Also, GGN's tests showed that LZSA packs better and depacks faster than LZ4, so it's even a useful tool!
Late in the evening the rest of the crew started arriving: Grazey, then Gwem, and last but definitely not least, Damo. Here you can see everyone inside a local pub the next day.
With us were 1 STE, 2 STFMs (including Showaddywaddy's infamous orange sprayed one) and one Falcon, what more could one ask?
Once everyone settled in and had a good night's rest, things took off: The water boiler was working at 100% capacity in order to keep up with the tea demand, snacks were being passed around and generally the mood was great. People were even productive, which is unheard of! Meanwhile, word has got out that a party called "tathack" is happening and that it was populated exclusively by 1337 people (although none present at the place saw any), so around Saturday noon we were asked something really scary:
"whens the deadline, remote entries?"
Oops, busted! Sure, Gwem was set to release a new version of MaxYMiser (which of course he did), but that's pretty much it. Remote entries meant there was supposed to be a compo of sorts, so it was starting to feel a bit like work! Not to worry though, we set the deadline at midnight GMT and hoped that people would not carry on their threats of submitting something. GGN started working on a potential release but it was soon apparent that at least one more day was required to get everything to run properly, so with heavy heart that idea was abandoned. Grazey was still working on his Outline release and preparing something that will be released soon(!), Damo was working on his tracker, Tat was working on his release (for another party).
So, apart from MaxYMiser, there was nothing for the compos. And then the blasted Spice boys carried out their threats and submitted not one but two entries! Oh well!
To ease the tension of waiting for the compo deadline (snacks, food and tea also helped plenty) Showaddywaddy suggested a gaming compo. After a couple of false starts in trying to find of a suitable game, we settled upon Gemini Wing.
The poor rabbit soon lost its smile as it witnessed the general level of the contestants. The less said about this compo the better. People in the know probably have a rough idea of who won the compo (or just took a look at our fancy results file)
So, compo time! Luckily GGN had brought with him a pre-production devkit made by Ultra of Cream, ultraDev which made sending the entries to the compo machine a breeze. Big thanks to Ultra for this splendid piece of hardware!
House rules dictated that there would be only one voter, who was certainly the most qualified and knowledgeable in Atari demoscene culture in the house: Newton the cat. After both entries were shown (and the crowd indeed have a lovely time watching them - many thanks to the Spice boys for sending entries on such a short notice!) Newton considered the matter very carefully, judged both entries on their merits, and promptly disqualified both. Everyone present was gutted but rules are rules. Oh well...
Get the releases over at Pouet and have a good laugh - we certainly did!
After all that excitement people were exhausted. So it was mutually agreed to get some rest for the final day. Said final day turned out pretty uneventful: after a long and lovely breakfast people slowly started packing up, saying their goodbyes and going on their merry ways.
There are of course a lot of things left out in this mini report: all the small talk, tracker ideas, collaboration, info exchange, etc etc. However, these are the things that cannot be conveyed with words; one simply has to be there and soak up the atmosphere. It could have been bigger, more organised, better advertised. Or it could even have been smaller. In the end everyone that was invited had a lovely quiet time (after all we're all old, right?!?) and we're sure that everyone present would agree that this was the perfect way to open the Atari 2020 demoparty season.
We are very grateful that Tat invited both D-Bug members to hang around with the rest of the people. His hospitality was top notch, the tea service was excellent, and everything else was just lovely. Nothing more to add here, so catch you all later! Outline is just around the corner, and Sommarhack isn't that far either!