Ever heard of demoscene? No! Don’t worry. I also did not know anything about it until my father brought a demo on his laptop. But be very clear that this not related to the computer games demos which you play so often. These are altogether different things.
Demo scene revolves around production of demos. According to Rich Thomson, A “demo” is a demonstration of skill in expressive digital art: coding skill, musical skill, graphic art skill or design skill. When I first saw a demo “fr-08″(cryptic names huh!), I was mesmerized by its 3D visuals and the background music. The animation was 18 minutes long. It was very fine to watch but wasn’t unusual, after all you get to see these in movies and games too. But when my father told me that he brought that in a floppy, I couldn’t find my feet. I quickly saw the file properties and found out that it was just 64K. Imagine 18 minutes of full screen continuous 3D animation with background music playing with it in just 64K. This is demoscene. To get a feel of what I’m talking about, click here or just google “fr-08”.
So how do they compress 100’s of MBs of data into 64K? Actually, it is not compression, it is generation. What conventional animators do is that they render the animation and store every frame into the movie. But, demos calculate all the textures (images) in real time. What I mean is that there is no pre-rendering; every frame is rendered in real time. This means, absolutely no pixel data. Every pixel in a demo is determined by predefined algorithms.
To get the feel of demos even more, google “kkrieger” into your browser. It is a first person shooter with a size of just 96 KB. The game play of .kkrieger features 360 degree movements in all directions, fast paced movements, different weapons and enemies and much more. And do not forget that all this is in 3D. Using conventional game design techniques it would have easily taken at least 500 MB. But, the power of demos: .kkrieger is just 96 KB. But this comes with a cost: The minimum requirements are 1.5 GHz processor and a newer generation graphics accelerator such as a Nvidia GeForce 4Ti or ATI Radeon 8500 with 128 MByte memory as well as support for pixel shaders 1.3 and DirectX 9.0b. Well at least first law of thermo dynamics has to be obeyed: Energy cannot be created; it can only be converted from one form to other.