This is undoubtedly one of my all time favorite effects ! It has been here since the beginning of Atari demos in the 80s, yet it was never shelved away, nor considered as oldschool, understand old, nor poor looking yet I have to confess that my love for it may have blinded me :).
To try let you see what dots means you can think of individual pixels as this effects consists in displaying more or less complex shapes made of individual pixels. Most of the time these pixels are white, sometimes colored. The true difference depends on the coders skills which allow them to display bigger objects and larger amounts of pixels. Simple objects can be made of a dozen dots while the biggest can feature hundreds or even thousands ! And of course the best coders can even display huge objects in overscan or fullscreen !
The dotballs that you can see above is the most classic way to display dots yet this effect can be found under a lot of mutated shapes like these two flattened spheres for instance :
The most common variations of dots include flags, landscapes, tunnels (a complete article deals with tunnel, another all time classic effect in demos), splines (also refer to full article) and starfields, but pictures are surely better than mere words so here are some :
Sometimes this effect needs some calculation time before it is displayed. In this case the effect is said to be precalculated as opposed to realtime. As far as dots are concerned coders use as many tricks as possible so that the people watching the show cannot spot waiting time delays. Somehow it is hard to say if a screen is a real code treat or a trick but you can also be content with enjoying what you see. 🙂
This nice little production called Yet Another 4kb intro by Mr Coke (2012) takes about two minutes calculating before showing anything. Looks nice but then you see what I mean when I write about « coders tricks« . 🙂
No such trick here as far as I can see, but a solid and technical demonstration of coding skills. The other effects in this Virtual Escape by Equinox (1999) are very good as well ! Must be why this demo is featured in my coups de coeur. 🙂
Last but not least I suggest you sit down and peacefully watch the following 4 minute long video. As the name of this demo Lots of dots by Acid Maker (2014) hints at, it is fully made of dots and will show you the many sides of this effect.