Demoscene — Alive and Well

I grew up on the demoscene, though I never participated. When I was 13 years old, I would dial in to a BBS that had ftp capability so I could download demos and songs off hornet.org. In its most basic form, a “demo” is an executable file that shows off the graphics/programming/music talents of a group of people that form a “demogroup”. It can be any visual effects/themes imaginable, synced to music. Demos have been around for over 20 years on all platforms of computers. About a week ago, I was curious to see if the demoscene was still alive, and it is still alive and well (mostly in the EU, just like when I was a kid).

Demos were always “cutting edge” as far as technology was concerned. People were programming 3d effects in their demos well before computer games were using 3d textures and shadowing effects. The average user could not run the current day’s demos when they were first released due to not owning the most current model of CPU/graphics card. Nowadays, the visual effects/animation world has completely caught up to the demoscene as far as visual effects go. Special effects producers can now do all the things that programmers could do. This has really made the demoscene less relevant, in my opinion.

One thing that continues to be fresh about the demoscene, though, is the file-size limitations. There are categories for 64k, 4k, and 1kb filesizes. This places a limit on the total size of the demo (including textures, music, graphics, and coding). For instance, this demo has a file size of 1k:


Untraceable by TBC (2009)

That entire video, including the song, is generated on a PC from a .exe that is 1024 bytes (smaller than the size of this post). These days, it’s all about exploiting tricks in people’s graphics cards. Even though it has a very small file size, it has very steep system requirements to run this file. There are even competitions who can make the best PC Game at different file sizes. All downloads are free and can be found at pouet.net.

Some more demos with small file sizes:

4k – Elevated by RGBA and TBC (2009)
4k – nasa by Still(2010)
128bytes – spongy by TBC (2009)
32bytes – matisse by orbitaldecay (2010)
1k – Tracie by TBC (2007)
4k – Sincere by TBC (2008)



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