2008 demo retrospection

(January 1, 2009)

Like last year, I’d like to give some recommendations what demos of 2008 are worth watching. As usual, this reflects only my personal opinion. That means if you totally love MFX demos, you won’t like my selection ;)

Demos

Generally, this year has been pretty different to last year. In 2007, there were two ├╝berdemos that became instant classics on release and overshadowed pretty much everything else released in that year. This year is different. There are numerous top-notch demos, but no real revolutionary ones.

  • Stargazer by Orb & Andromeda is certainly the most important demo of year. It shows a lot of fresh new-school effects, but the design is very oldschool-inspired.
  • Masagin by Farbrausch & Neuro is a seven-minute journey through worlds of elaborate 2D vector graphics.
  • Into the Pink by Plastic is a typical Plastic demo: it combines high-quality graphics and design and an orchestral soundtrack to a truly breathtaking experience. Unfortunately, it seems that the computer where this demo runs smoothly at highest quality needs yet to be invented ;)
  • Only One Wish by Fairlight & TBL is even better than Stargazer in terms of content and effects, but suffers a lot from its uninspired soundtrack.
  • Falling Down by UKScene Allstars might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you don’t hate it, you’ll love it.
  • Raiders of the Lost Art by Outracks & Nazareth & Kvasigen is a perfect example of how a good modern demo needs to look like. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Metamorphosis and Midnight Run by ASD are 2D demos with a very interesting concept. It’s typical ASD style, which means it’s not typical at all :)
  • Shad 3, Nazca and Retrofitting by Cocoon all share the typical Cocoon style: Very good textures, decent models, nice soundtrack, game-like design, but still they fail to fully conquer my heart.
  • Echoes by Anadune is my personal »coup de cœur« demo this year: Beautiful graphics, even more beautiful soundtrack, but as good as the quality might be, the quantity is lacking.

64k intros

2007 was a very, very bad year for 64k intros. 2008 would have been even worse if there wasn’t Panic Room by Fairlight, which is the only decent intro this year. The comback demo of Smash and Reed is in fact so good that it raised the bar for 64k intros by at least a mile: The sheer amount of high-quality textures and models and even voice samples was previously unseen in this category.

4k intros

In the previous years, 4k intros made huge steps in quality. This year, there were even some that came close to what used to be decent 64k intros a few years ago:

  • Atrium by TBC & Loonies started the new 4k revolution at Breakpoint. On its release, Atrium was by far the best 4k intro ever.
  • Texas by Keyboarders is the first Vista- and DirectX-10-only demo. Other than that, it’s quite MFX-ish and thus boring like hell. I include it here only because …
  • Nevada by Loonies is a pun on Texas, but other than that, it’s got nothing to do with that. It has much more content and much lower software requirements (read: it runs on Windows XP).

4k executable graphics

The procedural 4k graphics competitions are very new and don’t have a long tradition in the demoscene. In the previous years, the images generated from the 4k executables were rather simple. However, in 2008, this category made a huge step forward, which is mainly the work of a single person: IQ of RGBA created the awesome procedural graphics Ixaleno, Slisesix, Organix and Leizex.

Alternative Platforms

Aside from the PC, there were some stunning demos made on underpowered hardware this year:

Animations

Apart from the awesome ETA by Junk, this was the year of the new group ½-bit Cheese: Donuts, Elemental Square Garden, Bullet Time, Field Trip, Treadle and Pumpernickel are really cool animations with a typical yet unique style.

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