Antonin Carette

Game Programmer

The demoscene

Posted at — Jul 27, 2022

Among all the computer subcultures that exist, the demoscene subculture is, without a doubt, the one that impresses me the most.
The demoscene is composed by demomakers, a worldwide network of very creative minds involved in the making of (non-commercial) demos, just for fun.

But was is a demo? A demo is a technical and/or aesthetic achievement made by demomakers - most of the time by groups of demomakers -, to show off their programming, visual and musical skills through an innovative computer program.
There are many demoscene productions: games, graphics, music, … all with an idea of solving a challenge, making a new big technical achievement, innovating, while having a lot fun.

There exists a nice file browser in scene.org for 2022, here, that you can browse to look for great and fun achievements, with the only goal of making something “great and fun”.

As an example, this is a demo of a low-fidelity modern cinematic on an Amiga 500, a 34 years old computer, called “Eon” by The Black Lotus:

The Amiga 500 was the most popular computer of the Amiga family, composed by a Motorola 68000 CPU (7,09 MHz PAL, or 7,14MHz NTSC), and 512 KBytes of RAM, which is 16384 times less RAM than actual modern computers. In the 80s, the Amiga offered a beautiful and colorful display, a better sound and a more advanced operating system than most of its competitors as standard.
The Amiga 500 for the demoscene is not an exception: the demomaking computers family that were commonly used were: the Commodore 64, the Atari ST and, of course, the Amiga family.

The Amiga 500

Composed generally between 3 and 8 people, demomakers masterize their tools, and have so much creative minds to push the boundaries of programming, graphics, and music composition.

Another demo from The Black Lotus shows, in 2006, a very impressive demo called “Starstruck” running on an (accelerated) Amiga 1200, competing with the best games of the time on recent hardware:

The demoscene contains multiple contests itself. The most known are:

About video games, a lot of newly created studios come from demoscenes like Starbreeze, Remedy, Techland, Guerilla Games, or Housemarque.