Trying To Fly

This was a demo I wrote way back in 2004. It runs against the .NET Framework (version 1.1 back then). Wow, it’s been a while…

In the demo, I tell a story of a wooden cuckoo bird trying to fly. All the shapes were rendered using primitives such as spheres, cuboids and 2D planes. Textures were generated using a 3D renderer (Bryce 4). The sounds were downloaded from 3D Cafe, and were listed on the “free” page. While I can’t remember the exact licensing (which wasn’t a big deal back in 2004), I went to the Wayback Machine and checked. There were no licensing terms, either to credit the individual or 3D Cafe.

You can download the demo here.

I wrote a 3D engine called Visionary for my own purposes, which was used to render the demo. It generates 3D primitives (spheres, planes, cuboids) with or without texture mapping. The engine also had support to play sound and music. And I lost the source code to it. The DLL is Visionary.dll, so if you have a good .NET decompiler, I give you permission to use it. I’d appreciate it if you could also send me a copy.

Note that some of the sounds will be loud. Take care of your ears. I tried to edit the sound files, but apparently they were so old that I can’t edit them with Audacity. I can only play them. Maybe I missed something…

Dream Equations

I’ve finally found the physics demo!

The demo was written by Maciej Matyka aka MAQ. There are Newtonian physics, partial differentials of wave equations, cellular automata and cloth simulations involved.

It’s also where I learned of t.A.T.u. the Russian singers and their song Nas Ne Dogonjat. I sang a little of this song here.

Here’s a sequel (of sorts) to the first Dream Equation:

Featured demo – dopplerdefekt

Today’s featured demo is dopplerdefekt (video link) by farbrausch. It’s about 47.8 KB and 3 minutes in length. (download page at Pouet)

The demo’s prominent feature is the 3D effect; you need 3D glasses to watch it. The technique is called stereoscopy.

The entire demo has two copies of every object, one for each eye (or colour). With the help of 3D glasses, you’ll see objects popping out. Which reminds me, I’ve got to go get one of ’em 3D glasses.

Enjoy the demo!

Featured demo – the.popular.demo

Today’s featured demo is the Popular demo (video link), by Farbrausch. This is one of my favourites, and is one of the few demos I’ve seen that has vocals in it. It’s about 4 minutes in length and 8.2 MB in size (download page at Pouet).

Why is called the popular demo? Because there’s disco. *smile* The central object of attention is a 3D figure model textured with disco ball bling. The music track is upbeat, and I found myself moving to the groove, if you know what I’m saying. You should watch this demo to listen to the music if nothing else. It’s that awesome.

Here are the lyrics to the vocals:

Tonight tonight, it’s all in motion,
Can’t feel the gravity.
Tonight tonight, what is this potion
That makes a fool of me?
Tonight tonight, I’m seeing stars –
I’m blind with love.
Tonight tonight, we’re Venus and Mars
Winking from above.

Tonight tonight, I feel like moving;
Like flying endlessly.
Tonight tonight, the city’s grooving –
They’re dancing all for me.
Tonight tonight, the perfect night,
The only one.
Tonight tonight, I’m holding you tight;
Tomorrow you will be gone…

I was surprised that I understood the lyrics differently. Yes I have my very own Mondegreen! Actually thought I was correct on at least the first verse…

Anyway, remember the 3D figure model? Animating the figure requires some logic. You know, where the feet go, where the elbows bend and so on.

For example, at the start of the demo, the figure is revealed and comes out of the lift/cylinder and walks down the stairs. That should be one “action sequence”. Then the demo smoothly transitions to show the “fr-025” title and the figure is moving again, this time on another action sequence.

Question: In the entire demo, how many distinct action sequences do you count?

Featured demo – Lifeforce

Today’s featured demo is Lifeforce, by Andromeda Software Development (ASD). It’s about 24.6 MB in size and 9 minutes in length (trust me, it’s worth watching). Download page at Pouet.

This demo was also featured in the demo reel presented at NVISION 2008 (the last parts).

Some highlights:

Notice the rendered lines that form picture frames at about t = 1:00. How would you go about animating them?

The mural of scribes about t = 4:15. If I’m correct, the effect is done with bump mapping. What you see is modelled as a flat surface. Bump mapping is used to create the illusion that there are carvings and protrusions. You can see the flat edge of the mural when it flipped over to the other side at about t = 4:44.

The music starts to pick up at about t = 5:30, the bathroom scene. This is actually my favourite part of the music. The tempo is quicker. It’s sort of repetitive yet still interesting to the ear. Maybe it’s just me… *smile*

This is the part where the demo is portraying the coming of the end of life. It’s like trying to grasp at something, anything to hold on to this life. The quickening beat has done what ASD wanted:

create a feeling of anxiety before the revelation of the last scene

There’s a shadow of a man reaching upwards with his hands at about t = 5:55. Notice the faint shadow of that shadow of the man cast on the walls at about 6:00.

Now for some trivia. There are 3 instances of a pachyderm in the demo (where are they?). The city landscape background is used thrice (where?).

And there is a model of a shark skeleton at the beginning of the demo. The shark model is like a trademark of ASD. Didn’t see it? Go watch the demo again carefully. Powers of observation, people!

Read the readme file in the downloaded demo for the back story of the demo. It’s awesome.

Featured demo – Panic Room

Today’s featured demo is Panic Room by Fairlight. It’s about 4 minutes in length and 151 KB in download size.

If you don’t see the video in your feed reader, please click through to the post.

First, some warnings. The demo executable requires a fairly capable computer with great graphics card. Watching it in video form is recommended. I had to use a low resolution setting in windowed mode so I could watch it run on my computer. After starting the demo, it takes a while to do precalculation work, so just wait a bit.

The one thing that caught my eye was how realistic the water was when it flowed through the wall cracks near the beginning of the demo. You could see the columns of water expanding and contracting, mimicking how a real-life water column would ebb and flow in volume.

And the water ripples! That’s just awesome. Remember, all this is calculated and rendered in real-time.

The explosions and the smoke trails of the aeroplanes are done with particles. Search for “particle systems” for more information.

So, enjoy the demo!

Featured demo – Inflorescence

Today’s featured demo is Inflorescence by mfx. Download it here. It’s about 4 minutes in length and 19.5 MB in size.

Since I’ve discovered Capped, I am happy to announce that you can now watch demos even if you have a sucky, I mean, graphics-card-challenged computer.

[Update: If the video doesn’t appear in your feed reader, please click through to the post or go direct to the source. If you know how to embed a video from Capped into an RSS feed so it shows up, let me know.]

My first impression? Very X-Files…

The demo makes heavy use of a technique called bump mapping. It allows you to create detailed surfaces with less polygons. For example, we have here a curved surface:

Surface without bump mapping

Perhaps we want it to be rougher in texture. Instead of pulling and pushing vertices out of alignment on the curved surface, we could use bump mapping. Tada!

Surface with bump mapping

Recalculating vertex normals so that light falls on the surface and create shadows correctly (due to physically shifting the vertices) is expensive. The cheaper way is to use the same 3D model, and add a processing step before the lighting calculations. Thus it looks like the vertices are physically changed, but aren’t.

Featured demo – The Seeker

Today’s demo is a special one. It’s titled “The Seeker” by Still the demogroup.

It’s special because it’s the most thought provoking demo I’ve seen in a long time. First, some administration: Download the demo. It’s about 9.67 MB and 4 minutes in length.

I understand that to run the demos on your computer, you usually need a high-end graphics card and the latest card drivers. You also need to download the demos, which in some cases, can be pretty large.

So I’m delighted to tell you that there are online video hosts for it! I’m actually quite surprised myself. Now you can forget about pesky computer settings and just watch the video for it. Here are two links:

Capped.TV is a video host specifically for demos, and I only just found out about it. Still, running the demo on your computer is the best way to get the full experience.

About the thought provoking part, while you’re watching the demo, ask yourself these questions:

  • what is the ribbon seeking?
  • what does the black substance wrapping the ribbon represent?
  • do you identify with the ribbon, that is, you’re seeking something too?

And the music is awesome. Full of longing and suspense and triumph. You should watch the demo even if it’s only for the music.