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Finland adds the demoscene as a UNESCO intangible world cultural heritage (demoscene-the-art-of-coding.net)
1210 points by adunk on April 15, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 129 comments

This is fantastic in so many ways. As a demoscener going back to the early 90s, I know myself and other people in the scene enjoy the extraordinary value the scene provides us. I think just as important is that among other intangible assets around the world, the demoscene is particularly vibrant -- with tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of people participating, enjoying, or at least knowing about the scene.

It's a big source of innovation, an amazing social activity, and has quietly just done things for years that were thought to not be possible, or to be very very hard. It definitely has it's own culture, way of doing things, ideas, ethos, philosophy, and most importantly, is constantly evolving. It's amazingly aware of what's to come as well as effortlessly incorporating its own heritage.

Believe it or not it's around half a century old and going strong!

Old scener here. But those are days past, and I prefer it that way. Did learn C64 and Amiga inside out. Was there at Assembly to see Second Reality when it won the compo. Good times. :-)

Demo scene parties are ongoing globally. They are not past.

This weekend I was lucky enough to witness Revision 2020 demo compos on Twitch. It was really a warming experience, as I'm an old-gen scener myself. Still some familiar names (e.g. Jogeir, Romeo Knight) out there producing top-notch stuff!

Didn't suggest so. Although I have to say I prefered how it was back then. No gaming apart from floppy throwing compo. :-)

I can see how your statement could be misinterpreted, it was slightly ambiguous. I did, upon careful reading, realise you probably meant that it was in your past and you were happy not to go back, but saying "in the past" rather than "in my past" made it sound a little as if you were dismissing the scene in general as being in the past - and possibly irrelevant.

Hope that helps clear up the misunderstanding between yourself and previous poster :-)

Thanks, you're right. I do still occasionally follow 8-bit and 68k Amiga & Atari demoscene. https://pouet.net FTW!

Sadly I no longer own genuine hardware. Maybe I'll buy C64 and Amiga once again one day...

Still you're off. There is no gaming on real contemporary demoparties.

real party is outside

I know Assembly now has the reputation of primarily being a gaming party, but the only games I've ever seen at other demoparties have been compo entries for oldschool hardware.

It's not correct. Half the room is dedicated to demo scene and gaming is not tolerated. Assembly itself is many things now, with world class eSports arena, sales fair, boothbabes, demo scene arena, temporary TV broadcast studio and so on.

For other demo parties, smaller demo parties there is no gaming and the experience is exactly the same as it was back in the early 90s.

The year you saw that must have been when Assembly was still held at a school?

I was one year too late to be there, but saw it at the next Assembly when someone I met there was in disbelief upon hearing that I hadn't seen it and insisted he show it to me immediately.

Yup. It was held at a school in Kerava, near Helsinki Finland.

Wow, I wish I could see the crowd reaction.

I found the demo here if anyone is interested: https://youtu.be/rFv7mHTf0nA

Amiga demoscene has introduced me to the electronic music, cutting-edge 3D graphics, and generative art. And it's been inspiring that such cool things can be written by small groups of amateurs.

I'm super happy it has got recognition.

I loved being part of it in the early days, have most of hugi collected somewhere, the endless hours with Protracker made me a fan of electronic music, during the .com day Nectarine was my online streaming radio, and it was my path into graphics programming.

Great community!

Cool, what was/is your handle?

I used moondevil, not sure if anything from those floppies survived, it was just done in these small get together parties during Amiga/MS-DOS heyday.

My bible was "PC Intern: System Programming : The Encyclopedia of DOS Programming Know How", as I happened to be the only one in the gang with a PC.

Man, RIP necta :( I loved it so.

> It's a big source of innovation

that's enthusiasticly true, it is somewhat big and it is the source of some innovation, maybe. But it isn't a research center by any measure.

People working in research might contribute, and that's nearly always awesome when it happens. But the roots of the demoscene are slightly more humble, between game producers, the cracking scene, teenage engineers and bed room musicians, the scene remained rather conservative. Oh I like to ramble, like the lamer that I am. I don't even know what the scene!? The scene is dead!!1

Also, "intangible" by definition means it never produced tangible results ;)

It's very different from academic research, yes. But the demo scene produced things that were at the very limit of what computers were capable of at the time, and they were/are every bit as 'innovative' as some of the top academic research. Some of the techniques used would be top contenders at CS graphics conferences around the time they were produced. That were 'published' as executables rather than papers, but that doesn't make them less 'innovative'. That they were produced by people working on them part time doesn't make it any less innovative in my view, nor were the results worse than those produced by full timers (in academia or elsewhere).

There are also lots of research centers that don't as much innovate but rather just chew through grants.

Finnish Demoscene is the origin of the current Finnish game industry with lots of world class studios (Remedy, Supercell, Rovio, etc etc) . If that's not innovative enough I don't know what is.

Yes, it is not mentioned enough. The demoscene in Finland (or the people there) pretty much created a 2 G$ dollar game industry from scratch.

I was under the impression that 'intangible' means 'not physical'.

it does, the other definition is not an accepted definition

It was a pun, I'm sure.

Hilarious. I wouldn't have expected that ever to happen.

So much talent in the Finish scene and they were so good at advertizing their accomplishments in a way that was energizing to fellow nerds.

It was the biggest reason I ended up getting so deep into computer graphics -- I wanted to be as "cool" as they were. How else could you be "cool" by sitting at your computer BBS chatting all night doing math and algorithms? Such an awesome time.

I know that mrdoob of three.js also got into coding via the demoscene.

(My old 1990's era demo scene stuff: https://benhouston3d.com/#High_School-Era_and_Earlier_Projec... https://hornet.scene.org/cgi-bin/scene-search.cgi?search=Azu... )

I always had a man crush on mr doob as I spent years on three.js hoping he would notice my stuff but I never got around to publishing any of it I even spent 5 years on a three.js game Im still hoping to release

Care to share any if your progress?

Yeah! I want to see! :D


This makes me so happy. The demoscene is what made me want to learn to program in the first place. The first demo I saw was Heartquake by Iguana (Asm 1994) - http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=364 . I can still hear the credits music in my head. Jare and team, if you read this -- thank you!

Never did get around to making my own demo, but I owe finding my career path early in life to the demoscene. So many fond memories (esp early 90s through 00s).

I have and will spend countless hours coding to demoscene music (good and bad). To me, the unique thing somewhat lost in my avg day to day development life is that this is a fundamentally self driven challenge that can cross many CS disciplines combined with the art of practice. A demo pushes one in many directions at once: art, math, graphics, data structures, optimization, mechanical sympathy, sound, etc. (There's a reason there is a lot of game dev <-> scene crossover.). You can work in isolation, or as a group. However, a group is more common since most people can't do it all.

Digression aside -- Could we use the demoscene as a gateway for future engineers? A STEM + demo style toolkit?

You made my day, thank you for the kind words! I learned so much from so many people in the scene, and made great friends to this day, I'm happy and lucky I could give some back. :)

Oh man, the ending credits to that demo blew me away. This was only 3 years after Michael Jackson's Black & White, and a couple after Terminator 2 and here was basically kids doing the same special effect on commodity PCs in real-time. (not to mention commercial game quality 3d terrain)

As for your question: coding used to be really viewed as a creative activity, akin to any other art form. Now it's just data plumbing and CRUD apps. For the people who really still view coding as an art, the demoscene can absolutely be a gateway.

I think the most important thing being in the scene taught me was how to do teamwork on a complex technical project with vague and ambiguous requirements. I didn't encounter another environment like that until maybe grad school and professional development work. It prepared me in ways I still rely on, decades later.

The competitive nature of the scene also prepares people well to work in non-academic/commercial places where the only proof of success is winning. Academia has nothing quite like this.

Note that when we released Heartquake, many people in the group, and definitely the programmers, had college degrees, several years of professional experience, and/or multiple commercial videogames published.

It was quite a shock when I first entered Assembly 93 (my first demoparty ever) in Kerava, and saw all those teenagers installing Linux or programming or making music or being awesome. Already well in our 20s, we were kind of old for the scene already. :)

That’s a really good point about preparing for industry. So many people don’t get much experience starting from a blank slate.

I think for me, the question is how to make it a more obvious gateway. As a child we had things like the spartan C64 or logo. There are some modern equivalents but most are simple. Hard to inspire kids with that compared to what they see (vs an 80s kid). Perhaps on online repl (like shadertoy) plus a demo 101 lib with pre baked effect routines and simple graphics primitives?

I think the two places I'm seeing this right now are in the Processing/P5 community (https://editor.p5js.org), and interesting things built on top of Glitch.

Hydra is fascinating -- I sat down with it for a couple hours and was having lots of fun layering transformations on top of webcam input. https://github.com/ojack/hydra

Made my day too, much love! (Yann/Iguana) :)

I think we can still use it as gateway, specially if we introduce younger generations to coding in ESP286, ESP32, Arduino, Microbit based game consoles.

Lua, MicroPython, TypeScript, JavaScript can play the introductory role of Basic in those days.

Followed by .NET (micro), TinyGo, C, C++, Rust, FreePascal as the next level.

Finally the hardcore kids can deep dive into Assembly.

The real gateway to get into programming is by letting your child play a game and then teach it how to cheat with cheat engine. Start with a simple memory scan and work your way up to using the code debugger to see how asm is executed. (There is no need to actually learn it in detail, just understand what types of instructions exist: test, jump, call, add, etc)

Once your child has an intuition of how a computer works its pretty trivial to teach programming. There are still lots of language specific gotchas though.

Agreed embedded is probably a good way to go. Much simpler to understand systems, along with simpler ASM.

Many schools in the US have organized robotics programs, but those are expensive and require a lot of support. Making a demo is know how, and some HW.

Probably the main thing missing is the the materials. I've been skimming through the links here to find good starting points. Its a lot to collect -- many of the entry level techniques are so old, they're not always written up (or the target audience is different).

This is awesome. A great way to bring attention to and protect humanity's cultural heritage - especially in these times of self isolation.

I thought this list of other Living Heritage items - referenced in one of the article links [1] - was pretty cool:

  Playing and building the kantele
  Playing and building the jouhikantele (bowed lyre)
  Playing the musical saw
  National Culture Days of the Deaf
  Ryijy tradition
  Making of Tommi knives
  Bedtime story tradition
  Living Christmas Calendar of Käpylä
  Horsemanship of the Roma
  Kalevala bone setting
[1] https://www.museovirasto.fi/en/articles/demoskene-sahansoitt...

While all those in the list are great, the list itself is a worthy match for Borges' Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge in which animals are divided into:

    those that belong to the Emperor,
    embalmed ones,
    those that are trained,
    suckling pigs,
    fabulous ones,
    stray dogs,
    those included in the present classification,
    those that tremble as if they were mad,
    innumerable ones,
    those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
    those that have just broken a flower vase,
    those that from a long way off look like flies.

I hadn't seen this since high school. Thank you for reminding me. :)

Impressive list. Isn't it up to future civilizations which parts of our culture become heritage? What is the benefit of defining it as such? Protecting the culture? At what cost?

I don't mean to downplay the importance, I'm just wondering if it is up to us, and if it is worth it. Heck, can we even reasonably decide if such is worth it? Does it matter? I don't know.

Well, all the items in the list are already "heritage" (you can include the demoscene too, which at >20 years old can also be considered "heritage" in our fast-moving field). Generally things which get on these UNESCO lists are those which a country considers to be particularly important/unique/characteristic of the country, and the benefit is attracting attention to them and thus contributing to their continued existence/protection.

One random example: there are lots of Roman ruins, but if the 4th-century palace of a Roman emperor is almost continually inhabited and turned into a medieval city, that's pretty unique and worthy of the UNESCO list (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/97/).

> 20? More like > 30...

For comparison, it’s as “heritage” now as WWII-related items were in 1980 - i.e. quite a bit for sure.

The UNESCO World Heritage site system drew international attention to historical sites that otherwise would have remained unknown. The intangible culture list does the same for the arts and other traditions. It isn't meant to say "You must like and perpetuate it" as much as "Look, this people has something cool which you might want to check out."

I was introduced to the demoscene via Future Crew's (Finnish) Second Reality. It made my computer do things I didn't know it could do.

That also coincided with my introduction to the Gravis Ultrasound (GUS), a sound card with (patch-based) MIDI capabilities vastly superior to Sound Blaster 16's tinny FM synthesis output at the time, and which was extremely popular among demo programmers.

Growing up, I had this notion that all the best (close-to-the-metal) programmers in the world were either Danes, Russians or Finns. Every Linux boot screen back in the day displayed the name "Hannu Savolainen". And SSH I've always associated with "Tatu Ylönen".

I always thought of Ylönen as being pronounced something like /jʌ'loʊnɛn/, but then when I went to Finland I learned that it's something like /'ylønen/. (The stress is on the first syllable and the y is purely a vowel, not a consonant.)

Protip: In Finnish the stress is almost always on the first syllable.

Only exceptions being some expressive words "juma'lattoman" "päin'vastoin" (' for where the stress is).

came here to totally mention Future Crew, so fitting for this recognition to come out of Finland. Legends.

This is nice, I guess, but I'm still not sure how this has any benefit for anybody except that demoscene now shares a list on Wikipedia with some folk dances and knitting patterns.

I think it's much more newsworthy that the Revision Demoparty happened last weekend despite the corona pandemic. It was fully online but still a 72-hour non stop event. Many of the releases are mind-blowing, check https://pouet.net

They were even able to run the Shader Showdown competition online!


For people who don't know what it is: it's a live coding competition where 2 competitors have 25 minutes to code a graphical effect (using shader language) in front of a live audience

They use a tool called Bonzomatic which you can get for various platforms.

It's official recognition that makes it easier to justify activities that preserve this heritage. Schoolteachers have an argument for spending time on it. Museums have an argument for including it. At the micro level it might become easier to use a community hall or similar space for a demoscene event.

It's not going to be a day-and-night change. But it can make a lot of small things go better.

More specifically, this is the compo results.


Cool stuff. But why aren't there more videos? Even if I wanted to download and run random executables Vivaldi (and probably Symantec, too) blocks the download.

The party is just over. Give it a week and many more prods will have youtube links.

Capturing a demo properly for youtube is non-trivial (especially on other platforms than PC), and a couple of people have specialized in this. Expect a whole bunch of uploads soon enough.

The twitch stream from the party is archived here for now


Lots of game developers and companies have their origins in the demo scene

Looked up the winner in the 64k competition and it seems to be this:


To be honest, it looks like a techno video from the 90s to me.

I'd like to submit a small correction: the PC 64k winner.

Eg there's this in the Amiga 64k compo: https://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=85248 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s66OgcwqalA)

It also looks like a techno video, but a good one :-)

The 64k compo was particularly weak this year. I'd recommend checking out the 4k intro and 4k executable graphics compos for some stellar work.

There's a mind-blowing 256byte entry as well.


The awesome commented code can be found in this Reddit thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/fzzs4u/memorie...

I think Assembly eliminated 64k years ago, because 4k for all practical purposes had become the new 64k, and 64k entries had been scarce and not super impressive for a while.

Things come and go.

At Revision 2015 to 2017, the PC 64k compo was absolutely insane, with production values exceeding pretty much every other category, including unconstrained PC demos. If 4k is the new 64k, 64k at that time became the new PC demo.

256 bytes is the big (hum...) thing now. With one ridiculous entry that managed to pack 8 different effects, with music and transitions https://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=85227

The 4k category was blown wide open in 2009 by rgba/tbc with Elevated [1] (live reactions: [2]). It demonstrated that 4k was more than sufficient for impressive effects and music -- suddenly, 64k was no longer an interesting constraint.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB0vBmiTr6o

[2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ro5grR_efG0

I wish I had grown up in Finland! The demoscene was a faraway oasis of pure geek fun I never reached as a younger and thristy programmer.

The good news is that it's a global activity. If you live anywhere in Europe, there's like to be a party you can attend. Australia and North America has a few, and some great competition has come out of Japan in the last few years.

More importantly, anybody can host a competition and have a party. The local party scene is really the heart and soul of the scene. Get 20-30 people together, hang out in somebody's basement for a weekend, and at the end have a competition with whatever people have had lying around on their computers.

1 - https://www.demoparty.net/

The parties might be not happening for a while now, but it is true that Demos are a very democratic activity and caters to a great breadth of programmers.

Yes, there are hyper-specialized groups that can cram a full 3D-shooter in 64k but you don't need to do that. You can play with something simpler.

Right! There was actually a pretty great Java demo at Revision this year.

Not only Finland, as mentioned on sibling comment, it was all over Europe.

I was into Portuguese demoscene, one of the guys in the group was trading floppies over post, we had another doing ProTracker sessions, and we had coding weekends with "bring your computer and do group coding".

I think many European countries could do the same, Denmark also had its fair share of the demo scene back in the day.

I still remember names such as Kefrens and Dexion and it’s a bit amazing to find a detailed account of a demo event that took place in 1990, http://janeway.exotica.org.uk/party.php?id=92

Link to Megademo 8 by Kefrens with a runtime of almost an hour: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Megademo%208+Ami...

I was at that party in Falster in 1990. I remember we rented a video camera in a local hifi shop and documented the whole thing. The tape has unfortunately been lost as far as I know. Could be fun to watch it again. Do have some photos and possibly the original invitation lying around somewhere.

Are campus party events similar to demoscene? In Mexico (Guadalajara) they were renamed to talent land, but still have the same vibe as campus party.

As i recall a demo scene event could be called a copyparty (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoscene), but that was before there was a focus on stopping pirated software.

Those demo scene events i attended was a mix of creating demos, but also LAN gaming as we know it today.

I do not remember campus party events that well, but i think the focus was more on gaming and hacking and not so much on presenting demos and having prizes for the best ones.

Talent land sounds like you want to reach out to a less nerdy audience, but for me the nerdiness is the charm of these events :)

The demoscene was one of the things that got me into programming in the mid 90's. I think it is awesome that it is being recognized in this way... youtube link to Future Crew Tribute for pure nostalgia:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yzzg19MvHA&list=PLE_ArT5Ajr...

This is wonderful. Reading a WIRED magazine article on the demo scene when I was a early teen was what got me into programming in the first place.

Thanks for reminding me about this Wired article from 1995:


Web version is missing all the screenshots and crazy '90s print design, unfortunately.

Here's the full original print version too:


Wired Magazine during the years 1995, 1996 and 1997 had something a bit magical about it, the way I remember it. You could sort of feel, while reading it, that it was a harbinger of great, great things to come, both from technology in general, and the fusion of personal computing and the internet in particular. It generally was a pleasure to read the magazine in those days.

this recognition gives me lots of warm feels. The number of aspects that the demoscene brought together: programming, art, music, an online world of connection, and community - was incredible and had a huge impact on me when I discovered and learned more about it as a young kid in the early 90s.

All I can think of to commend this occasion is Future Crew 'Second Reality' :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iw17c70uJes

Yeah, good. "A Mind is Born" is an intangible world cultural heritage IMO: https://linusakesson.net/scene/a-mind-is-born/

Bravo Finland. I remember attending Assembly'94 in Helsinki. So many good things came from the demoscene, including Tran's PMODE...

What is a "national UNESCO list"? I can't tell if it's a bad translation or just a misappropriation of UNESCO.

I think that UNESCO members maintain their own lists of cultural heritage, and then they can also nominate some of those to be on the UNESCO international lists.

The linked article from the linked article says

> The Ministry of Education and Culture has inscribed 12 new elements on the National Inventory of Living Heritage. The National Inventory, which adheres to UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, currently comprises a total of 64 elements. The Finnish Heritage Agency is responsible for the implementation of the Convention in Finland.

So I think the idea is that under this treaty, each country does have its own lists, which are maintained following rules and principles created by UNESCO, but where the content doesn't have to be approved by other member states.

What I saw elsewhere in this thread is that Finland is currently nominating sauna culture to be added to the international list at the December UNESCO meeting. But I think that requires a consensus of other countries, where these twelve additions (including the demoscene) don't -- the Finnish government concluded on its own that they meet UNESCO's criteria for being significant enough in Finland to be publicly recognized and protected.

From the country whose anthem is Darude - Sandstorm. This vid is fucking AWESOME https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db5f-A-vSyw

I wonder if this means one can now obtain a grant from Ministry of Culture to cultivate this officially recognised tradition/heritage activity. Imagine a career not stemming from what one learned creating demoes, but in actual creating demoes. Even if it was lousy money, just the concept is mind boggling.

Plus, there would be no shortage of potential donors, from broadly speaking the same field, that would be happy to sponsor this culturally important organisation (aka demo group).

Never would have crossed my mind typing my hands off on good old C64...

I love the demoscene. I’ve been trying to get into it for some time now but it’s actually hard in terms of that are very little if any resources aimed at beginners and demo examples and tutorials.

The resources I’ve found are either incomplete or assume one is already familiar with the domain.

I understand graphics to the extent I’ve written a raytacer and a “semi-caster”, but can’t find my foot in demos, especially translating my existing graphics knowledge to ASM.

Anyone have any resources or information I may have missed?

Praise the Lord, I found https://in4k.github.io/wiki/win32 to have useful links. Particularly Compofiller studio is quite easy to get started with and rather well done. To make a final compressed executable takes a couple of steps, where you have to switch the mode and minify the shader code which is on the Compofiller UI before creating the executable. If you can do some coding on shadertoy.com it is rather easy to transfer to a production here.

For the music, a suggestion would be to download the free version of renoise.com which is full featured and works fine for making demos. It is a good piece of software and worth the amount they ask for the full version if you can do it too i think. And then download the http://4klang.untergrund.net/ 4klang vst and use it with Renoise. You set up multiple instruments that link to the same instance of the VST instead of multiple instances of the VST and use different channels for each instrument (basically use the version that shows up top after you create one instance) and you can start by loading one of the preset patches included with 4klang. You record the songs in the 4klang vst and then put the generated files in the compofiller studio project directory and once it recompiles it has your new song.

I played around with this for the release i helped make for revision 2020 ( https://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=85364 glsl source included ) Glory to Jesus, After this you can go lower level with the other 4k tutorials learning how to integrate with other assemblers or perhaps C++ compilers including Visual Studio community edition. It is possible to make even 4ks in C. If you want to get started in assembler i would recommend starting with the 256byte intros in a freedos installation. While I included source code in a 256byte that was presented at revision, i would start out with other tutorials.

Start out by researching some basic instructions to be able to set memory in a loop to a pointer in es:di. The basic instructions to set memory and registers, increment, compare, jump. Look a little bit into interrupts to be able to detect a keypress, or set graphics mode with 256 colors.

So for a freedos program you can do this with "mov ax, 13h; int 10h;" at the beginning of the program, set a label for the frame_loop_aleluya, then a label for the pixel_loop_aleluya (praising God in my code makes it more enjoyable) write to 0xA0000 for 320*200 bytes in the pixel_loop then detecting if a keypress has been made with "mov ah, 1;int 16h;jz frame_loop_aleluya" and then back to text mode "mov ax, 3h; int 10h" at the end of your program with ret. You can play around with that to make your first own little asm intro. Compile it with nasm to a .com. This is included in freedos.There is a little more boilerplate that goes into a .com as well, put "BITS 16; org 100h; section .text;" and a start: label . This works if you have no memory variables of your own, which is fine for a first step.

Sorry, this is my first hacker news comment so i will see how this looks and make corrections if needed, and post a small full sample program as a reply. God guide us and bless you in Jesus name

Praise the Lord! https://gist.github.com/loveJesus/29b85c3d8d6f4fa5cc85d4f33c... is a verbosely commented simple intro that compiles to 44 bytes. The source is just over the length where I think it would be better to visit the link than post it directly. If someone else could tell me their thoughts on proper protocol here i appreciate it. God guide us and bless you in Jesus Holy name

Perhaps you could also make a YouTube video showing what the intro does, installing Freedos and nasm is not that simple.

May I recommend to add some breaks into your text for easier reading. You have to insert an empty line for it to work. (Press return not just once but twice.)

God be praised, thanks!

I feel like the inevitable outcome of this is that in a few years we will start seeing some seriously next-level Finnish demos dominating the competitions, all of which give thanks to one government art grant program or another in the middle of their ending shout-outs to other scene groups.

Which sounds totally awesome IMHO.

Yeah, I knew I wasn't wasting my time. I have made two (maybe more) projects that involves generative art:



the first one I'm thiking about adding more stations. It used to have a few more, but chrome wont allow a page served over https to link content that is not served as https, so I had to remove a lot of radios. =(

Couldn't you just have proxied them over your own host Don't know what gear you're on but with e.g. Hetzner you get 20 TB for 3€/month

I used to be a demoscener, and watching other do amazing things is what inspired me to learn computer graphics and write my own demos. It was not only that, it was the amazing people that took the time to teach me and encouraged me to do better. Still nowadays that same spirit of being amazed by tech and willing to replicate what I find fascinating is still burning in me, I hope I will stay this way for many years. Thanks Demosceners!

The demoscene did motivate me in the '90s to start to create real-time video effects that I could synchronize to the music.

It led me to create my own company and it's still there 25 years later.

While I was never part of it because I had an Apple II and then a Macintosh that was never used by the scene, the demos were for me a technological demo of where we can go with a tool to be used by artists or musicians.

Anybody still miss the Atari vs Amiga war? I think it's probably still raging somewhere. Good times! Thank you for all the great demos! :D

Not ever since Amiga won. ;-)

Kidding aside, I do love to see new Atari ST(e) demos. Don't care much for Falcon or accelerated Amiga demos, just about great 68000 demos.

Asymptotically, much like every San Francisco laundromat will be historical, every Earth location will be a world cultural heritage .

Lovely. Enjoying scenedemos is the main thing I do with all my Amigas, Atari ST, C64, A8, and even Apple Lisa. Great to see this!

Future Crew demos got me into programming. Scream Tracker set me on a life long love of making music. The demoscene significantly altered the trajectory of my life.

For those that didn't know what this is (like me):

> Demoskene is an international community focused on demos, programming, graphics and sound creatively real-time audiovisual performances.

Just registered to say this: That's awesome!! <3

Now that I am here: do you know of any resources (books, tutorials, repos) that explain the techniques used in the demoscene?

Denthor of Asphyxia's tutorials taught me quite a bit years ago http://archive.gamedev.net/archive/reference/listed82.html?c...

Dave Brackeen's VGA Programming in C tutorials also show off graphics modes and optimizations for things like primitive drawing, bitmaps, etc. I used this to create a game years ago http://www.brackeen.com/vga/index.html

There also used to be a site called ProgrammersHaven (later renamed ProgrammersHeaven that seems to have dumped all of its original content). This site had a collection of random programs and source files, many of which showed off demoscene techniques (parallax, plasma, 3D, bumpmapping, etc)


That reminds me the nehe tutorials: https://nehe.gamedev.net/

Now there's a name I've not heard in a long long time...

I completely forgot about NeHe! Such a cool group

The demoscene operates very differently from other software communities in that it's inherently competitive. That means that different coders, or groups, try to keep what they're doing (and how) a bit secret so as to gain a competitive edge.

Most of the coders I know who produce for the scene honestly start with books on graphics or sound and work their way up from there. It takes years to produce a collection of effects, techniques and code that you can pull from to make a great production. Early productions by people new to the scene are usually fairly simple with only a few effects or scenes, but if they keep at it will grow from there.

That being said there are some scene "tutorials" that can help:










This is largely not the case anymore. Lots of democoders include their sources or put them on github. Plenty even do in depth write-ups on how they made it.

In particular, nearly all PC 4k coders are super active on shadertoy and most of their tricks appear there first, all in the open, before they roll a full-fledged 4k with it. It

And I dare say that in the past, the competitiveness as a reason for not sharing code was mainly a cheap excuse. The real reason was that everybody was ashamed of the terrible messes their codebases had inevitably become.

> The real reason was that everybody was ashamed of the terrible messes their codebases had inevitably become.

Haha true, especially for code written at the partyplace in a rush.

I agree with you as well, the scene is definitely opening up and sharing more than in the past. There's some pretty good talks that occur at parties these days, not quite an academic conference, but getting there in some ways.

If you're talking about the past-past (say up until the mid-nineties) IMHO you're wrong. Pre-mass-internet there wasn't really anywhere to share code. People were swapping floppies, or dialing bulletin boards. The competetiveness was absolutely real.

Also, pride.. If you wanted to figure out how an effect was done, either you reverse engineered the binary, or you figured it out on your own, based on your own experience and the occasional hint.

You have to remember that the demoscene largely grew out of the cracking scene (well, that + Compunet) in the mid-eighties, where _being first_ to release a cracked version of a game was of great importance. Likewise, being first to create a new effect for a demo.

That piece of culture was extremely short lived, maybe just the late eighties and the early nineties.

Already in the mid to late nineties people started mocking this culture, eg the MFX Transgression intros which were just 3d polygon renderers but with some uglifying post processing and then they claimed it was super impressive real-time raytracing (which, for no context, was basically impossible to do full screen on computers of the days).

Some stuck up kids blamed them for cheating but generally everybody laughed at the prank. The demoscene has been open, friendly and collaborative much much longer than it was properly competitive. It's really a minor origin detail, not a key part of culture and ethos.

People do still like to make fun of it, i.e. pretend is still current. Eg common proclamations such as "Kewlers suck", or demos like "Regus Ademordna" which IMO is a particularly splendid example and worth checking out.

lodev has great oldschool tutorials: https://lodev.org/cgtutor/

Oh this is such a good move! I love the demo scene, and it is cultural heritage for sure. Long live the scene, and we all really should participate at least once.

Love this thing, well done Finland. If a guy plugging a banana in a wall is a form of art... why not the demoscene? Of course it is.

Makes me wonder at what point will they put the entirety of YouTube under the protection of their cultural heritage umbrella?

"Demoscene" is like "informatics", an ostensibly English word but used primarily by non-native speakers.

I don't think this is going to be a popular opinion, but what is the use of designating something as UNESCO world heritage? Doesn't the protection it would require keep budget away from other things, like COVID? I understand that its nice to get recognized though.

Whatever helps keep people at home is a good investment right now.

Problem with generalizations is that they generally don't hold up to concrete examples.

hopefully this will help w/ things like this:


I'm curious to what degree Codepen^1 is considered to be part of the "demoscene".

1. https://codepen.io/popular/pens

I used to own an Amiga ... good times.

Someone has to do it:


yeah, i am happy about this as well!

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