V for… Voxel

How can I explain a  voxel effect ? Hmm… right. Fancy a chessboard that is to say a surface made of squares. Some of these squares are rising up like columns, some are small, others are higher and so on, hence creating some relief. Each of these squares contributes to generate some sort of a mountain or better said a landscape depending on how high or low it is. That is my own explanation but you can also go for the technical one. 🙂

Anyway, hopefully the following picture should help you see what I mean. As you can guess this effect is mostly used to create landscapes.

Flight over a voxel landscape in the Rumpelkammer demo by Stax.Maybe the first voxel on Atari ST (coded 1993-95 ?).

Even tho I am totally green at coding, I believe this voxel effect requires solid coding skills as you need to handle hundreds – or maybe thousands – of squares and set  them properly onto a grid so that it shapes into a decent landscape… Not to forget that if voxels are pretty common on PC -since the late 90s- they are seldom seen on very limited computers such as the Atari ST.

Choosing the right colors tend to let the « blocky » side of things aside. Taken from the 1996 Magrathea intro by tSCc.

Judging from the screenshots it mostly looks like nothing or like a messy pack of blocky squares but you will see that videos look better than that. 🙂 In the end quite few coders dared create voxel effects and while blocky by nature, these effects are quite nice and I find a flight over a voxel landscape always enjoyable !

Let’s go hiking on the voxel mountain to be found in the 2009  Suretrip 2 demo by Checkpoint.

As far as I know only one production (besides a 96Kb intro that is to say a size limited demo) brought us a different vision on voxels as you can judge by yourself from the following screenshot taken from 2012 Muda demo by Live!:

These are voxels but spawning from the center of the screen like some sort of a flower. Very original and never seen before on  Atari ST ! (check the video at the bottom of this page).

Not so many examples of voxels, being a very technical effect that only skilled coders can achieve but all these examples are quite impressive. Now I wish we could see more of them especially considering the high level of quality enjoyed in the latest Atari ST demos !

That’s it for words, time for action as voxels cannot be fully appreciated but when moving. Let’s start with the flight over mountains experienced in Suretrip 2 by Checkpoint. Sure it is blocky yet very enjoyable, isn’t it ?

And now let’s have a look at the very special voxel seen in the Muda demo by Live!

Let’s end with the most beautiful example I have ever seen. It’s simply awesome ! Taken from 2015 The World According to Nordlicht invitation by Federation Against Nature :

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9 réflexions sur “V for… Voxel

  1. Je me rappelle avoir découvert le voxel avec le jeu PC Comanche en 1992 ou 1993 et à l’époque c’était complètement hallucinant le réalisme que ça permettait par rapport à la 3D.

    Les 16 couleurs du ST sont clairement trop peu pour obtenir un beau rendu réaliste et donc le choix de Live! d’opter pour un look plus abstrait me paraît la bonne tactique 🙂

    J'aime

    1. Moi il me semble avoir découvert les voxels sur PC aussi mais avec le jeu Outcast. Ceci dit, bien entendu je connais Comanche qui est peut-être le premier a avoir utilisé cette technique. Je trouve que l’Atari St s’en sort plutôt bien avec les voxels, mais c’est vrai que pour rendre le relief, 16 couleurs c’est bien peu.

      J'aime

    1. Je dois dire que tes « boot sector intros » sont vraiment très chouettes ! Peut-être que je ferai un article dessus si j’arrive à faire comprendre aux gens l’incroyable limitation de taille d’une telle production.

      J'aime

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