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Demoscene: 64k Intros At Revision Demoparty

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the how-do-they-do-it dept.

Graphics 207

An anonymous reader writes "Last week-end at Revision demoparty, demosceners have pushed further the limits of what can be done in a single 64kb executable file. Using extensive procedural techniques and compression, Gaia Machina (video capture) and F — Felix's Workshop (video capture) are realtime animations, featuring high quality rendering, sound, 3D models, and textures."

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Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (-1, Redundant)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629325)

Demoscene? Demoparty? 64kb executable?

Re:Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629337)

Get off my lawn!

Re:Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629521)

I would give you 8 votes if I weren't such a coward!

The reason you haven't heard about it (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629365)

I think I know why North American readers may never heard of it. (USA and Canada represent well over two-thirds of the population of industrialized anglophone countries.) From the article:

in Saarbrücken, Germany

For some reason they never have demo parties like this in North America. Why is that?

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (2)

beltsbear (2489652) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629431)

Well not really. We had demo parties in the USA demoing the Amiga demo's from Germany.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (2)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629545)

I think I know why North American readers may never heard of it. (USA and Canada represent well over two-thirds of the population of industrialized anglophone countries.) From the article:

in Saarbrücken, Germany

For some reason they never have demo parties like this in North America. Why is that?

In Atlanta, Ga a friend of mine did a cheese and demo party every year and showed a bunch of demoscene stuff from the past year. There was also a bunch of cheese tasting involved. That is the closest to a demoscene I've experienced in the states.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (2)

gloom (98258) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629985)

I'd say that the closest the US got to having "a demoparty like this" (meaning: with such good releases and turnout) was NVScene in 2008 which I helped organize. The event was documented in this now-severely-outdated blog, if you're interested in catching up: http://demotrip.blogspot.com/

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (5, Informative)

X3J11 (791922) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629623)

I think I know why North American readers may never heard of it. (USA and Canada represent well over two-thirds of the population of industrialized anglophone countries.) From the article:

in Saarbrücken, Germany

For some reason they never have demo parties like this in North America. Why is that?

I'm Canadian, and I know of the demoscene and all the related terminology the GP doesn't. While I never had the opportunity to attend a party, I loved watching what some of these groups put out. The Amiga era was a few years before my time; I got into it in the mid-90's when names like Renaissance, Future Crew and Triton were the big guns.

There are caps of some of the big name demos from back in the day available on YouTube, with Future Crew [youtube.com] 's probably being the most popular. I still remember the awe I experienced when I first saw Triton's (later Starbreeze Studios) Into the Shadows [youtube.com] demo. I purchased their subsequent game, Enclave, because of that demo (and they were the guys who wrote FastTracker 2).

For those who don't know what the big deal is, way back when PC hardware was pretty crappy these groups were putting out some of the most demanding and advanced programs, stuff that put a lot of what the game companies were pushing to shame. The aforementioned Into the Shadows demo was released in 1995. This is long before 3D accelerators and hardware floating-point math were standard. It really was impressive at the time, and it was being done by groups of kids.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (3, Funny)

mrhight (234204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630015)

I still have floppies with demos from Future Crew. The GP probably doesn't know what floppies are either. ;)

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (3, Interesting)

ZahrGnosis (66741) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630345)

Out of points or I'd mod you up for mentioning Future Crew. I still have a 3.5" floating around with some great old demos from that era.

I'm not surprised anyone hasn't heard about the demoscene any more, but it's easy to figure describe: fit the most impressive graphics and sound you can on a very small memory footprint -- 64kb is the common limit now apparently, but I seem to recall some good "anything you can fit on a disk" rules and some impressive 4k demos.

Other than raw coolness, the point is to "do more with less" -- push creativity, efficiency, and algorithm design by artificially limiting resources. It's very impressive stuff, and having been out of touch for a long time, I'm AMAZED at the quality these vids are putting out. Has anyone been able to run the .exe's to verify? My rig keeps failing them -- I imagine it requires specific hardware and software versions.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (1)

SiChemist (575005) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630783)

The first one Gaia Machina [pouet.net] ran (slowly looked like about 10-15 fps) under wine.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (2)

sqldr (838964) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630347)

While I never had the opportunity to attend a party

Get your ass to assembly 2012, helsinki, finland. I'll see you there :P

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630601)

While demos from that era looked nice, they had the problem of not having to worry about AI, an interface, asynchronous audio and video...

Granted if these demo sceners were to build a 3d engine it would probably kick id tech and unreal engine's ass. ;). Although I would watch a John Carmack demo.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (0, Troll)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629919)

For some reason they never have demo parties like this in North America. Why is that?

Americans don't do 'small' or 'compact'. 'Economical' can get you lynched in some parts.

If a program doesn't need a hardware upgrade to run it then it can't possibly be any good.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630165)

If a program doesn't need a hardware upgrade to run it then it can't possibly be any good.

Then explain the DS outselling a PSP with a CPU clocked over three times faster.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629953)

I was wondering why it's "demoscene" and not "demo scene". I was reading the former as if it were an ancient middle-eastern city mentioned in the Bible:
"deh-MOS-keh-nee".

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630225)

Well, many continental European demoscene people do pronounce it like that...

Wortbildung (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630463)

I was wondering why it's "demoscene" and not "demo scene"

Because English puts spaces in its compound words more often than German does.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630207)

Probably because the only good demoscene group from the USA was Renaissance [pouet.net] and they've been gone for a long time now.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (5, Interesting)

sqldr (838964) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630275)

For some reason they never have demo parties like this in North America. Why is that?

Hello, I'm meaty. I coded the synth for Gaia Machina. There were some Americans there. he was saying to me that you're all up for it, but spending months/years working on it isn't an american thing. We spent 3 years rewriting our engine since "ephemera" which pretty much maxed out our last engine. I'm British, the rest of the group is Swedish. There ARE American groups who do stuff. And Canadian - Northern Dragons kick ass. We may even visit an american party with a release just to kick your backsides and get you to do some fucking work :-) There's loads of tracker musicians in America, but you never hear music done in tracker that took more than 2 days to write! You guys have the talent, you have the place, just pull your fingers out and get working!

PS. Linux port of gaia machina is coming. It already compiles ok. We need to check it first.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630499)

Hi Meaty, care to shed some light on the internals of the synth parts?

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (2)

SiChemist (575005) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630843)

Gaia Machina ran under wine but was pretty slow (1024x768, windowed, looked like around 10-15 fps). Would love to see it running on my Linux box native.

Re:The reason you haven't heard about it (2)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630453)

For some reason they never have demo parties like this in North America. Why is that?

Because you can't get rich doing it.

Re:Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629377)

They put links in the summary for people like you.

Re:Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629415)

Seven digit UID? Probably not.

Re:Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (5, Funny)

Nyder (754090) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629423)

Demoscene? Demoparty? 64kb executable?

Ya, i wish there was a website that you could like, search for the meaning of stuff and maybe websites about it and crap.

Re:Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629451)

Welcome to the world of computer nerds.
Do not be afraid to ask; once we too were noobs like you.

Re:Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (1)

discord5 (798235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629883)

Demoscene? Demoparty? 64kb executable?

Here [metafilter.com] is a nice article on the subject. Now hand in your geek card.

Re:Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630477)

I doubt he ever had a geek card.

Re:Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (2)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630469)

To be worthy of posting on slashdot? Yes.

Here's the blurb I posted on my facebook page:

I forgot to mention. This stuff is also all rendered in real time. It's not a movie. The music is also composed/tracked. It is not a recording. Here's another impressive entry in the 64K competition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CiF034IhgY&hd=1 [youtube.com] It's mind blowing where these guys have gone over the years. I thought the demoscene would have died as computers became more powerful and anyone could create effects without having to be an artistic assembly programming god. I apparently, and thankfully, was wrong :-)

Re:Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630595)

Re:Am I supposed to have heard about this before?? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630711)

If a modern day game company made that it would be a 500MB cutscene.

I'm sorry! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629381)

I'm sorry, but I have to get this off my chest after all these years. I was...the one you gave Steve Jobs AIDS. I have been HIV positive for nearly a decade and I knew I shouldn't have had sex with him in the bathhouse that night, but when we started stroking my shaft and fingering my prostate I lost all sense of reason. I told him we should use a condom 'just in case' but he demanded that I plow him bareback and I couldn't help but to orgasm in his asshole. A few months later was when he first started having health issues and I've felt bad ever since.

Word Salad (-1, Troll)

cyocum (793488) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629387)

I can't seem to make heads or tails of this post. It's techno-babble and word salad. I guess I should remember this feeling when I talk about programming with my non-programming friends.

Re:Word Salad (4, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629445)

I can't seem to make heads or tails of this post. It's techno-babble and word salad. I guess I should remember this feeling when I talk about programming with my non-programming friends.

Sort of sad as a programmer you have no knowledge of some of programming history.

Re:Word Salad (4, Insightful)

Tukz (664339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629507)

Makes me wonder if he really IS a "programmer" and not just a "HTML/CSS" scripter.
You would be surprised at how many HTML/CSS monkeys, calls themselves "programmers" these days.

Re:Word Salad (0)

DrMaurer (64120) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629977)

I've not programmed properly since the 90's. The closest I get to coding at all is web stuff now, though I don't dare call it programming. I understood the summary perfectly. The OP just might be ignorant. Or an idiot. Or both.

Re:Word Salad (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629555)

Sort of sad as a programmer you have no knowledge of some of programming history.

How else would marketing sell the same old idea as something new? That is about 99% of "innovation" in IT.

Re:Word Salad (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629559)

Oh, crap. You just called the demoscene "history". That means I'm old.

Re:Word Salad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629881)

And also what the hell happened that the first two comments are expressing confusion over what this story is about?

I was never involved in demoscene stuff (despite having an Amiga during the early 90s), but I certainly knew about its existence. Was it really so niche after all?

Re:Word Salad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629531)

Even if you somehow haven't heard of a demoparty (but this one is linked, and you are only a fingertap away from finding out what it is), or the demo scene, I would seriously hope that as a programmer you could understand what is meant by a "64KB executable file".

Re:Word Salad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629547)

it's talking about how programmers manage to get high quality animations and sound from executables limited to 64Kb.

they use programming tecniques such as procedural generation and compression to achieve this.

i could simplify it even more for you if you like? maybe i could write it in crayon?

Re:Word Salad (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630231)

So instead of trying to make sense of it all by researching on the topic, you immediately start complaining because it assumed you had prior knowledge? I'd hate to see how you've reacted to the math and science articles here a /. .

What ever did happen to people involving themselves in /. because of an inquisitive nature?

If you have to ask why this is cool... (5, Insightful)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629427)

...you're not part of the intended audience. Admittedly, there's a lot of necessary hardware support to get these kinds of results, but still... full A/V in a space less than the banner image of most websites. Makes you wonder what could be done with similar techniques and, say, a megabyte of space.

Re:If you have to ask why this is cool... (0)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629481)

64k? That's quite a lot, given what went on with the computers of the 1980s. At first I thought it wa a typo, and it meant 64 bytes. 64k was more space than was actually used by the program code of most Commodore Amiga games, for example. It had 512KB of ram, but even back then, if you'd specified 64k you'd have got some pretty impressive demos.

Kids these days...

Re:If you have to ask why this is cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629541)

Actually, stuff for the Amiga was also presented at this party. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6dfLG7wowQ for example.

Re:If you have to ask why this is cool... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629577)

These demoparties still have 4KB competitions in addition to the 64KB competitions (and unlimited everything), and also retro competitions (best C64/CPC/etc demo, best classic Amiga/ST/etc demo, ...).

Some 64KB demos are basically now just "best procedural texture generator + best scene generator" demonstrations, but that's no bad thing.

Re:If you have to ask why this is cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629609)

And again, that sounds impressive until you notice that you're allowed to use DirectX and .NET. Which means your code is actually 4k, 64k, etc + 100s of megs of libraries and you are using 100s of megs of RAM as well. It's easy to write small executables when you can shove the work off to something else.

Re:If you have to ask why this is cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629653)

And if it were practical to "hit the hardware" on modern PCs, they'd still be 4k or 64k. Perhaps even smaller.

APIs are a necessary evil in the PC world of infinite variety.

Re:If you have to ask why this is cool... (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629757)

That's 64KB of code and data, so it's still fairly impressive. Even if you're using a completely off-the-shelf 3D engine, fitting all of the geometry and textures for a virtual environment into 64KB is nontrivial.

Re:If you have to ask why this is cool... (1)

CaptnMArk (9003) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630583)

Agreed, from someone that has seen a JIT generate >64KB of code for a function call.

Re:If you have to ask why this is cool... (1)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630071)

Cool, can you give us some examples of programs from that area that had this kind of graphics? I'll even let you pick non-realtime stuff :)

Re:If you have to ask why this is cool... (1)

tusam (1851540) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630627)

Keep in mind that even your comment is already 368 bytes in size.
While pushing random pixels on the screen might be possible (depending on the hardware) with pretty much the same amount of code as hello world would take, fitting anything more complex than that in 64B has never been possible.

Re:If you have to ask why this is cool... (2)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629753)

Well, Farbrausch did release .kkrieger [farbrausch.de] , which is a 96k FPS with Doom 3 graphics. Not much in the gameplay department, but it's still a revolutionary example of what can be accomplished within a small filesize.

Re:If you have to ask why this is cool... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630325)

Makes you wonder what could be done with similar techniques and, say, a megabyte of space.

Grab an Amiga (or emulator) and find out. Amiga floppy disks are 880k, and there are plenty of one or two disk demos. The results are damn impressive.

Not that impressive (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629461)

Yeah, so just their executable is 64kb, but what's the size of the code and memory usage of the libraries this is obviously calling to do the actual work of rendering the 3d images and creating the audio? I'm guessing far more than 64kb...

Re:Not that impressive (1)

black6host (469985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629613)

For PC based demos Win 7 is used. (Linux also available) The latest version of Direct X and .Net are present and available for use. Other OSs and hardware will have their own support packages as well. So yes, third party libraries are available but that does not make the outcomes any less impressive.

Here is a link to where the info above came from with additional details:

http://www.revision-party.net/compos/pc/ [revision-party.net]

Re:Not that impressive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629635)

Yes it does make the outcome less impressive. It's easy to make small executables when you can shove off the hard work to the 100s of megs of libraries you use. Real demosceners were using their own rendering code in a tight executable not using bloated rendering frameworks like Direct3D. Lame.

Re:Not that impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629827)

And I'd bet that they had direct access to the hardware as well. Times change.....

Re:Not that impressive (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629921)

Demoscene was not always about just making the most impressive output from a given piece of technology. As I recall, demoscene evolved from game pirates marking their cracked games with elaborate intros using only the available space unused by the game. I also recall hearing that some teams would occasionally use routines from the actual game as part of their animations. With that history in mind, how can one object to using libraries now? The original spirit of the art, where your own code had to fit into a small space, is perfectly intact. Today, you can expect DirectX and OpenGL just as much as you could expect a clock in older hardware.

Re:Not that impressive (1)

dmacleod808 (729707) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630011)

The point is the libraries exist, programming does not need to be a 16GB Blue ray, code is so bloated and inefficient for the amount of processing power available.

Re:Not that impressive (1)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630377)

No, real demosceners make their own demo hardware [youtube.com] . Those so-called "sceners" that use pre-assembled electronics are just lame.

Sorry, but just accept that the world have moved on. And you should also understand that these modern demos are just as impressive as ye olde ones.

And for that matter, people are still making C64 demos. Like Edge of Disgrace [youtube.com] from 2008.

Re:Not that impressive (0)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629863)

So yes, third party libraries are available but that does not make the outcomes any less impressive.

Yes, it does. I don't mean to shit on their hard work, but if that is what kids today consider a 64K demo, I hope the previous generation of demo coders over there are appropriately mocking them.

I'm sure there are still copies of the 64k demos from 20 years ago kicking around online -- 64k of bytes, loaded into memory from DOS, with absolutely nothing else being used. No 3D hardware, no DirectX libraries, no .NET runtimes. That's tens of millions of lines of supporting code. So, what, they're using some procedural code to generate some textures and 3D objects, storing some sequence information, camera path splines, and pumping everything else to the OS?

I watched those videos, and they're definitely cool, but they are dramatically less impressive than what people were doing in 64k 20 years ago.

Re:Not that impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630029)

I don't mean to shit on their hard work...

Yet you go on to do precisely that...

And? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630033)

And people before that did it without DOS. Go all the way back and people where flipping switches to input their code. And they found it boring to rewrite the same stuff over and over again and so created common libraries that soon became an OS and everything else.

If you make a cake from scratch, do you grown your own wheat? Then you are using the library of nature/god! Slacker! I create my own universe for every sandwhich, Big Bang all the way or you are just a faker!

Personally I think 64k is to limitting, it was nice some years ago but today, it just isn't realistic anymore, not when your average PC has 8GB of memory PLUS video memory. Go crazy, go a full MB! Make that floppy work!

I can appreciate the skill but it is like seeing someone make a nice statue with a flint... nice... now here is a steel chisel. Enjoy!

Re:And? (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630149)

I can appreciate the skill but it is like seeing someone make a nice statue with a flint... nice... now here is a steel chisel. Enjoy!

That skill is the point of demos, in the demoscene sense of the word.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630447)

64k is massive. In the Java gaming world the 4k contest is a lot more popular than the 16k one. The tighter limit both makes it more interesting and gives you a more realistic prospect of finishing your entry.

Re:Not that impressive (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630093)

third party libraries are available

Oh, then the summary did both of those, and more, in only 698 bytes.

Mod -1 (-1, Troll)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629485)

Not enough deliberately obscure terminology. .

Re:Mod -1 (1)

Georules (655379) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630151)

The terminology is not obscure. You are ignorant.

Re:Mod -1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630449)

The fact these comments appear on a demoscene note on /. says everything: slashdot is dying of ignorance, and the new generations are depressing.

only shows a black dosbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629585)

It only shows me a black dosbox so i won't really believe it . it's so amusing that the 64kb demo comes in a 700kb zipfile to download. or maybe the multimegabyte big youtube stream..

Unbelievable... (1)

RedBear (207369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629593)

I saw a couple of demo files years and years ago. DOS-based stuff. I think they were probably 16k files. I was amazed at how long the animations and music lasted from a 16KB EXE file. The demo just went on and on, for like ten minutes. Had some fairly impressive animations too. But it was all line-based sorts of things, like old screen savers.

But this... this is insane. I can't even believe what I'm seeing. I'm downloading the 720p version of the first video in MP4 format, and it's 91MB. A 91MB full-motion video rendered from a 64KB demo file. That's just nuts. It frazzles my brain to even think about how this is possible.

Re:Unbelievable... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629889)

Demo scene is the perfect example of what real programmers can do. There is a lost methodology of programming that came with C++ and higher level programming languages. the methodology of refining code to use less space and do more using advanced maths and utilizing the hardware, including flaws, to extract the most you can from it. The game 'Mayhem in Monsterland' on the C64 was 68K long, the developers found an additional 1K of addressable memory in each of the 4 ROM chips "where someone had left it".

With the introduction of high level languages came an overhead problem that was easily solved using the Microsoft method, throwing money at it, buying new hardware, and making bulkier and lazier code, after 20 years, code has become so bloated that Demoscene looks like wizardry to a modern software developer.

Re:Unbelievable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630235)

"The game 'Mayhem in Monsterland' on the C64 was 68K long, the developers found an additional 1K of addressable memory in each of the 4 ROM chips "where someone had left it"."

That doesn't even make sense. There aren't 4 ROM chips on a C64, and there aren't additional 1K blocks there either.

Re:Unbelievable... (1)

rev0lt (1950662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630403)

Demo scene is the perfect example of what real programmers can do.

I'd say demoscene is the perfect example of what can be done, software-wise. I'd guess you've never peeked at a demo sourcecode, or you wouln't call them generically "real programmers" (incidentally, there is usually much talent behind the code, but no structure or discipline whatsoever).

Re:Unbelievable... (2)

Shinobi (19308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630823)

Actually, there is structure and discipline. But it's not academic structure or discipline. It's the structure and discipline of hard limitations and necessity. For example in 4, 16 and 64KiB compos, where every single byte matters, pretty much. In the 4KiB compos, a huge focus is on the packers and all the math surrounding that, where the packer is optimized for two things: Size and speed. And since you're not showing just one or two static effects, but animations, preferably with multiple effects, there's a lot of code that needs to go into that limited footprint.

In fact, I think demos should be required study in comp.sci etc, especially these limited footprint demos, specifically to teach the role of creativity in problem solving, instead of just wasting resources to sidestep them.

A prime example is that the demoscene, if we look at it as an entity, pushed the boundaries of real-time procedural content generation before the games industry or academia did, and still continue to do so. The ones in the game industry who do look into procedural content generation often have a background in the demoscene

Re:Unbelievable... (1)

Internal Modem (1281796) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630467)

The files are larger than 64K...

Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (4, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629705)

/. is really making me feel old these days -- I was writing demos in the early 90's. I don't know if its my overall grumpy old-man mentality or not, but as impressive as these are, they're powered by a crap-ton of software running behind them. There's not 64k of assembly pumping bytes into a framebuffer and twiddling the PC speaker port to synthesize digital audio.

One thing I couldn't find in there (and I've been out of the scene for a LONG time, so I don't know how this works on new-fangled fancy computers...) -- do these write directly to the video hardware? Or do they use OS services like DirectX11, etc? When they say 64k, is it a 64k executable using up another dozen meg of OS DLLs?

I have to give it to them, they are very impressive. But are people still getting down and counting clock cycles?

Anyway, for you youngins, this might explain the demoscene a bit better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRkZcTg1JWU [youtube.com]

Re:Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629941)

I'm a partygoing demoscener. Yes, there is more helpful things available directly to the programmer now than there used to be. But it is like any human evolution, the skills required to reach new levels change, and this is still bloody impressive. And, we still count cycles, but now mostly on the graphics card since it usually pulls the biggest part of the rendering job.

Re:Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629971)

Or static via: http://tf.weimarnetz.de/revision2012

Re:Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (1)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629999)

do these write directly to the video hardware?

No, that would be impossible on modern computers (unless you would only run the demo on one gfx card - and maybe even only on one specific firmware version at that). The closest I know of is the 4k demo Elevated [youtube.com] by RGBA and TBC. Everything except audio is done by shaders on the graphics card. Even the camera movements are done there (as the cpu don't even know how the terrain looks).

IIRC they started with an OpenGL initialization to get the shader code to the GPU, but later switched to DirectX, because that used 100 less bytes in the finished product.

But people still make C64 [pouet.net] and Amiga demos, and lft's Craft [youtube.com] and Phasor [youtube.com] is even more extreme, as he does everything himself :)

Re:Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630119)

do these write directly to the video hardware?

No, that would be impossible on modern computers (unless you would only run the demo on one gfx card - and maybe even only on one specific firmware version at that).

Admittedly its been a while, but the VGA interfaces are still on those cards. If you needed higher rez, the VESA interfaces were pretty broadly supported ten years ago. I assume they're still buried down deep on those cards. But I grant you that utilizing more than just the framebuffer, you need to code to specific cards. But during the mid 90's, that was pretty common -- you saw lots of demos coding to specific cards like the early ATI Rage or (much more commonly) the 3DFX VooDoo cards. Same with audio hardware.

So you *can* do it on modern hardware, you just have to want to take on that challenge.

Re:Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630025)

Unless they use their own driver, I can't see how they can write directly to the video hardware without doing so through passing it via DirectX11 APIs. Nowadays it's all a bunch of API calls.

I think it also goes to saying that there's not going to be much involvement with reducing clock cycles per instruction because nowadays CPUs are very well capable. Now the focus on how to efficiently utilize APIs to do your bidding and how to use tricks to compress textures and code as much as possible. So yes, while reducing the code to as minimal as possible would entail some optimization for clock cycles, a lot of the management is no longer done directly via the internal code but through external DLLs supplied by the OS.

Re:Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630037)

Or do they use OS services like DirectX11, etc? When they say 64k, is it a 64k executable using up another dozen meg of OS DLLs?

That was exactly my question. If it's not 64K running on bare metal, it's cheating.

Re:Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630259)

Or do they use OS services like DirectX11, etc? When they say 64k, is it a 64k executable using up another dozen meg of OS DLLs?

That was exactly my question. If it's not 64K running on bare metal, it's cheating.

obviously a 2012 competition would make excellent use of 2012 hardware! Here are the rules for the 64k pc:

Maximum file size is 65536 bytes for the executable. All other files in the archive will be deleted before showing the entry in the competition.

Re:Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630379)

Yes, the executable. Running on what OS, with god knows how many megabytes of libraries? That's not a 64K demo.

Re:Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (1)

Ben Hutchings (4651) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630205)

There's not 64k of assembly pumping bytes into a framebuffer and twiddling the PC speaker port to synthesize digital audio.

Of course. But all the creative work is squeezed into 64K.

One thing I couldn't find in there (and I've been out of the scene for a LONG time, so I don't know how this works on new-fangled fancy computers...) -- do these write directly to the video hardware? Or do they use OS services like DirectX11, etc?

They use DirectX, because that is the only way to support a reasonable range of hardware. (Also, you can't hit the hardware without installing a new driver or exploiting a kernel bug. Neither of which is very friendly.)

But are people still getting down and counting clock cycles?

Cycle counts aren't even documented today. Now it's all about avoiding cache misses and cache invalidation.

Yeah yeah old man (3, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630255)

But in your days it was easy, you could count the clock cycles on the fingers of one hand and if you wanted a bit flipped you just climbed inside the computer with a hammer!

Anyway, you weren't all that impressive, you relied on a blacksmith for a hammer and a miner for the coal to fire your machine. You were just the slave master benefiting from the slave labor of others.

Re:Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630401)

The rule is that the executable must be 64k and not use an data files. DLLs are allowed, however, and all of these demos use Direct X for video and sound.

The objects and textures are procedurally generated with a bunch of pixel shaders thrown in. Often they take minutes to load even on a high end machine as they do all the generation. No-one counts clock cycles because the target hardware is abstracted anyway.

A long way from the way things used to be, hitting the bare metal. In fact the original limit was 40k because that was what would fit on one track of an Amiga floppy disk and thus what most crackers used for their "cracktros", little demos at the start of cracked games. Back then the crack usually includes some cheats too. Somewhere along the line the PC guys decided 40k wasn't enough and moved to 64k.

Re:Damn you kids, get off my lawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630899)

When they say 64k, is it a 64k executable using up another dozen meg of OS DLLs?

Please be so kind and point me to the software synthesizer API, please (And definately not some general midi stuff) :)

Wow! (1)

DJRikki (646184) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629727)

I remember the Fishtro from Future Crew exactly 20 years ago and it was 220k! (http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=1283) this is breathtaking stuff. Magic!

Just don't use more than 10 EXEs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39629819)

Because 640K ought to be enough for anyone.

Personal favourite (1)

cockroach2 (117475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39629875)

My personal favourite is still farbrausch's "fr-08 - the product": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dcrV_7JpXQ [youtube.com]

It was amazing "back then" and even today I still think it's highly awesome. All of that in 64k.

Re:Personal favourite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630471)

> It was amazing "back then" and even today I still think it's highly awesome.

But racist. What's that "The product is white" comment in this demo ? Limited to 64K and some left over for this ? It's procedural, they could just has well have faded-out to any colour they wanted. I'd be glad to hear an alternative explanation to the "The product is white" comment in the demo, but never heard a good one.

Re:Personal favourite (1)

cockroach2 (117475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630625)

Seriously?

and the super Nintendo had 3d (1)

issicus (2031176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630387)

64k? at least it will fit on my ssd..

Files are larger than 64K (0)

Internal Modem (1281796) | more than 2 years ago | (#39630493)

The two files linked in the summary are actually 709KB and 384KB zipped. They are using more than 64KB of data...

Re:Files are larger than 64K (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630811)

No.

Its a screenshot of the intro and a .nfo file, not in any way used in the intro. The .exe is the intro.

Re:Files are larger than 64K (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39630819)

No they don't, it's the screenshot in the zip file which makes it larger. The .exe is only 64KB. Try it, delete all the other files included and it will still run perfectly.

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