Demoscene The beginning

A few days ago I made a promise to write some posts on demos. Here’s the first one, where I’d like to talk a bit about the past of the demoscene, and give you some links to demos so you can start appreciating this fine art.

The beginning

Since games have been released, they have had protection so people wouldn’t be able to just copy the games. Of course since those days, people have wanted to copy those games and started cracking the copy protection. After a while, on the Commodore 64, the first cracktros were showed up, which was around 1980.It’s like labelling a release, so everyone playing the game would know who’d cracked the game. It became a competition to be the first to release a game and show off to the world in very, very long scrollers inside those cracktros. Later the Amiga was released where better cracktros were released, because of the ‘power’ of this machine. For an example of an Amiga cracktro, watch this video that has the typical chiptune.

As said, the cracktros advanced, also to show off the programming skills of the cracker. Visual effects, music, pictures… the demoscene was born!

In the late 1980’s the cracktros were replaced by stand alone intros, and much longer and larger intros were released and called demos.

So what is a demo?

It’s a demonstration (hence the word demo), a piece of art. It shows real time drawn/rendered graphics, while playing music and showing (hand)drawn pictures. The better demos had the effects synced to the music, the better developers thought of new effects to show. A lot of others copied the work, added some new stuff, advanced themselves and coded their own new effect.

Anyway, demos used to be state of the art, both visually as codewise. The demoscene was playing with 3D long before the gaming scene took it on, and had much better optimisation of every part of the demo. Until computer got stronger and stronger, and I have the feeling most of the time code optimisation isn’t (that big of) an issue anymore, and people are trying to create really cool, stylish, funny or bizar demos.

So let’s see some!

Okay, let’s try to get you appreciate some stuff. We’ll begin with some Farbrausch demos. This is a group of germans, who have created an awesome tool in which they can add effects, pictures and music as if you’re working in Microsoft MovieMaker. It’s not thát simple, as you’d still have to do a lot of coding, but designing the demo or intro has become much more easier.

Let’s start of with a 64Kb intro. Remember this is only 64Kb, which is 65536 bytes, or characters. If you open up Microsoft Word 2003, start an new document and save it, it’ll be 20Kb! That’s an empty Word document, almost half the intro!

fr-08: .the .produkt

This was one of the first intros to contain a really large number of textures and models, or 3D objects. In a competition of one of the largest parties, called The Party, year 2000, it won first place.

In the end you can see how they’re playing with the space they have left, as Farbrausch people are adding a scroller with text about nothing to fill up the space until they have exactly 65536 bytes.

Download .the .produkt here at

fr-030: Candytron

A lot later, they released this intro, called Candytron. This is a very stylish intro with an actual voice singing a song, although adjusted for style, and probably for size.

There’s also a DivX version, where they show and talk about the version released at BreakPoint (2003) and the final version. They show those next to each other and point out where the differences are. Very interesting to watch.

Download this 64KB intro here.

fr-025: the.popular.demo

And popular it is! This is one of the highest rated demos of all time! It has great models, scenes, visuals, colors and music combined in a very stylish way. You see a character dancing through the demo, in a room full of other dancing characters, etc, etc. You just have to see it for yourself to have a clue how cool it looks.

Download this demo here. Remember that this is a demo, thus larger. (8.2MB)

The end

This was just the beginning. Farbrausch isn’t the only group to make demos, but they sure do make great ones. Especially for showing to people who have never heard of the scene and you want to give ‘m an introduction.

I’ll be showing more demos and intros in the future. Also some older ones, strange ones, as well as oldskool ones that don’t even run in Windows!