Demoscene – The Concept
Demoscene is a computer art program that helps produce demos. Demos are real time non-interactive audio-visual presentations executed on a computer. The purpose of creating them is to display programming, artistic, and musical skills.
The idea of Demoscene Art appeared in 1980, from the early ‘cracking scene.’ It started gaining popularity at the time of Commodore 64 and the first Amiga computers. Then, it was mainly used for software cracking. During that period, software development was at peak and with the copy protection, such as demo version limit, CD check, serial numbers, hardware key, and embedded advertisements it became even more protected. The purpose of designing the ‘software cracking’ was to remove those protection techniques.
With the emergence of Internet, the cracking became easy and soon gained popularity worldwide. The cracking groups wanted some recognition for their work and therefore they started adding small artwork known as ‘crackto,’ to each of their works.
The Demoscene artists faced large competition among group and against other artists, in artistic and technical superiority. Earlier, the competition was in the form of setting records, such as the number of blitter objects (‘bobs’) on the screen per frame, or the number of different Y Character position (DYCP) scrollers on a C64. Now, these competitions are more organized or ‘compos,’ mostly held in demo parties. However, there are some online competitions too. In demo parities, a ranking list of the best coders, musicians, demos, graphic artists, and other related specialists are selected on voting based charts. In 1990s, the voting based charts also diminished.
The artists or the group had to be present in these party oriented competitions and a public polling among the people present in the party would choose the winner. There were no rules for the voters. They generally voted for the entries, which made the biggest impression on them. Earlier, the artists were selected on their programming techniques, record- breaking performances, and new effects. However, now the emphasis changed from technical excellence to artistic values, like audiovisual impact, overall design, and mood.
In the recent times, an alternative way was found to award the demo artists or group by the name of Scene.org Awards. The concept was introduced to avoid the biased mass voting at the parties and to choose a renowned jury to select the artists or group for the year’s best production on various aspects like Best 64k Intro or Best Graphics.
The Demoscene is still used on many platforms, with the C64, PC, ZX, MSX, Amstrad, CPC, Amiga, Atari, Game Boy Advance, and Dreamcast. 3D benchmark programs also provide a demo, which originate its roots from the old 16-bit platforms.