This is undoubtedly one of the most classic and yet most popular effects with dots, I am of course thinking about the glorious tunnel ! It is a very old effect born in the late 80s, however it has worn so many faces that it has successfully managed to live through a couple of decades as I am going to demonstrate.
It is quite easy to describe this effect as it simply makes you feel like you are trapped inside a… moving tunnel ! 🙂 The basic shape of this tunnel used to be made of dots, most of the time plain white ones. The differences between tunnels depended on the coder’s skills to display more dots or a bigger shape. The most talented coders even managed to display this effect beyond the otherwise limited size of the screen, hence adding overscan, instead of bearing with the black borders.
Once you have seen such tunnel…. you’ve seen them all ! Indeed in the 90s most tunnels looked like this one, with only slight differences in size or colours. Nevertheless we could also spot exceptions like the effect found in 2003 Illusion demo by Dune :
As the new millennium was reached, new techniques appeared and allowed tunnels to change skin and look way better ! Talented coders need be thanked here.
Democrew Dead Hackers Society worked a lot on improving and offering new kinds of tunnels. Forget the oldschool dots tunnel : coming with motion blur, double tunnels with mapping or with bumpmapping to name a few… A new generation was born !
Since then, tunnels were sort of « updated » and looked better and more sophisticated. In short time such examples became your « everyday tunnel ». As a consequence others tunnels, such as the picture right below, may not seen so impressive any more. Yet they look nice as is the rest of the superb 2001 Odd Stuff demo by Sector One and Dune :
Sometimes (cough cough) tunnels are more or less « pre-calculated »… or even are animations… You have to understand that most demos effects are programmed and displayed « real-time ». On the contrary, « pre-calculated » effects are generated before being shown or can even be created on PC then simply replayed on the Atari ST. We can hardly talk about technical treat then but the result looks pretty good indeed.
Even tho you think that you have witnessed so many tunnels that no new one could amaze you, you are offered an example that looks so stunning that all you can think of is « wow ! ». At least this is my feeling every time I see the tunnel featured in 2011 Natrium demo by Rave Network Overscan :
Here’s another example with the astonishing tranforming of the tunnel in 1999 Suretrip demo by Checkpoint. Already it was shown in fullscreen (see overscan article) but that was not enough so it showed more surprises (check the video below):
After this amazing tunnel in fullscreen (refer to the overscan article) we roll back into time until 1999 with the release of the Suretrip demo : maybe not the smoothest effect but not only it is fullscreen but also coming with what we call a module as music (something the Atari ST wasn’t even supposed to be replaying with such effect) :
The tunnel in the Natrium demo may not be exceptional yet the screen is polished to the nail : awesome colors, nice background and a picture on the side of screen, all of these make me find this a perfect effect !
I could possibly not avoid talking about the demo that started it all, as far as modern tunnels are concerned, I’m referring to the Sweety demo ! Note that I strongly suggest you watch this video till the end as the best tunnel only appears at 2″30 :