The demoscene is a computer art subculture that specializes in producing demos, which are audiovisual presentations that are run in real-time on a computer or other platform. Artists try to push systems' capabilities to the max
trying to make their demos look technically and/or artistically as impressive as possible
while usually trying to have catchy
music in the background.
Originally started as cracktros, which were made by groups who managed to remove Copy Protection
from software and added their own Loading Screen
to brag about it. Simple cracktros were gradually replaced by more impressive ones. Finally, demos started appearing without being attached to games or other applications.
Technical capabilities of older demos and cracktros were limited by graphic and sound chips and available memory... but due to the ersatz programming demoscene authors invented, often to nowhere near the same degree as actual games software on those systems.
Demos are often categorized into different groups based on their size and platform. The most common platforms of demos are PC (meaning MS-DOS until around 1999 and mostly Windows thereafter), Amiga
, Commodore 64
, ZX Spectrum and Atari home computers (both 16/32-bit (ST-compatible) and 8-bit (400/800-compatible)). There are demos for almost any platform though.
PC and Amiga demos are usually divided by size. There are demos which have very loose size restrictions and where the demo is only limited by creator's imagination, then there are demos restricted by size. Size-restricted demos are usually called intros. The most common categories for size-restricted demos are 64 kilobytes and 4 kilobytes, although there are even smaller quality demos and competitions like 1-kilobyte, 256-byte and even demos which take 32 bytes and less space. Smaller demos usually rely heavily on procedural generation where assets such as 3D objects and textures are generated using simple algorithms.
When used as a genuine examination of how well a new system is expected to perform (for attracting interest at trade-shows and the like), such processes are typically referred to as a technology demo. Technology demos are usually made by the hardware companies themselves, however; not the demoscene.
Works that are Demoscene productions: