U for… Unlimited bobs

There comes a time when you know you will have to do something that you don’t really like. Well that time has come as I am going to tell you about an effect called unlimited bobs. But first I need to tell you what a bob is : indeed it is a round and most of the time it has been drawn by a graphician. Sometimes the object used has a different shape then we simply talk about it as a sprite  (as can be seen in the next screenshot).

This very old effect was at the center of many challenges and records in the 80s and the 90s. Yet as far as I am concerned there is nothing really special about it… Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying this is not a technical effect, simply that I don’t like it much. The unlimited bobs usually form a line and – like an endless caterpillar – as they move around the screen new  bobs add to the dance.

A typical endless shape made of ULM logos (ie a sprite). Taken from famous 1991 Dark Side of the Spoon demo by ULM.

 

Same principle without the graphics, only mere bobs

I don’t want to cause any uproar but I am taking the risk to put in the same category these two effects, namely unlimited bobs and sprites records. The former display an endless line made of bobs and soon enough the screen is so overcrowded with these that you cannot tell how many bobs are actually shown and I think that this is mostly a coding trick (see first screenshot).

The latter tho displays a curvy line also made of bobs yet this time their number will not increase as the challenge consists in displaying as many as possible. Usually the number of bobs is clearly announced before the show starts. But to speak the truth, even tho limited, who can say how many bobs there are but the author ?

Furthermore I can easily confess that I find this effect ugly as hell. 🙂 This is mostly what we call a « coder’s effect » in other words something technical but definitely  not stylish nor enjoyable to most viewers out there…

Different sprite but even with a moving background this effect won’t find you interested very long ! Taken from 200 Waiting for the Apocalypse by LoUD.

For a long, very long time coders faced that challenge, breaking previous sprites records again and again tho I don’t think it was of any interest to demo lovers like me (see the screenshots below). Yet this is only my opinion of course.

Time for a record : there are 93 sprites here (or bobs as they are mere balls).

 

This other record brings us 238 bobs, well that’s what the author says at least…

 

Here we reach 271 bobs ! I’m sure you knew it ! 🙂

 

This time we reach the number of  360 yet this record isn’t considered as valid by some coders…

To wrap it up, unlimited bobs can be funny or entertaining for a while but soon enough this effect proves pretty boring and messy as there are too many things on screen. As for bobs in sprite records, there is no way to check how many bobs are actually displayed so I will rather let coders discuss about this topic. Now let’s have a look at unlimited bobs with an excerpt taken from 1991 Dark side of the spoon demo by Unlimited Matricks (note that this example runs in overscan as well !) :

Let’s conclude with the latest sprite record done by Leonard from democrew Oxygene a coder who is mostly known for his huge love for sprites records 🙂

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3 réflexions sur “U for… Unlimited bobs

  1. Well, in fact, unlimited bobs and sprite records are 2 differents things technically.

    Unlimited bobs is a really smart trick, but technically really easy to do. It’s only a a bunch of buffers (usually 8 if I remember…) where you draw an image on buffer 1, then the same image on buffer 2 with a small offset, and so on. By swapping these buffers to the actual screen, you visually get moving images. You can’t change the images ‘paths’ in real time, and apart drawing an unique image per frame and swapping buffers, it’s a really cheap effect. That’s why it’s easy to do in fullscreen.

    Sprite records, in the other hand, is really sprites (moving images). On each frame, the screen have to be fully redrawn, so the time to draw the screen is increasing with the number of moving images. You can change the path of the sprite in real time (however for records, I guess the path is precalculated so it can’t be changed so easily)

    Hope it’s clearer for you now =)

    J'aime

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