A donut cannot really be seen as an effect as it is mostly a shape, more precisely it is an object in 3D that looks like a donut (yup, you know a doughnut, the sugar thing). Then up to coders to decide what coding method they are going to use to display our donut : it can be filled with plain colors, mapping or gouraud, environment mapping and so on. By the way this object is officially referred to under the name of torus but it may sound a bit too serious in this article.
Anyway time to meet your first non-eatable donut 🙂
As far as I know we had to wait until 1997-98 before we could see the first donut in an Atari ST demo. Obviously I am talking about the above screenshot taken from the Reanimation demo by Syntax. Since I couldn’t find any video I am mostly relying on my memories and here they tell me that this object was moving pretty slowly and not smoothly at all, yet it was a premiere as no one had dared produce such a complex object before (while you could already find trillions of them on PC).
I guess this can explain why there are so few donut effects out there. Well some people tried to code some such as the example found in 1997 Amok demo by Confusions. Technically speaking this effort can be considered as old as Syntax’s.
But… Yes there is a big « but » with this donut… Soon enough it was said to be nothing more than an animation, in other words a fully precalculated sequence simply replayed like a video. Indeed democrew Checkpoint made fun of it, hacking the demo and making it an ASCII effect, that is to say an effect only made of letters and numbers. 🙂
Back to the real thing with the donut created by Dead Hackers Society as a guest screen to their own Summer 2001 demo. Sure it isn’t so smooth but nicely chosen colors make it a pleasant effect. Besides, even tho I am not 100%sure, I would say that this donut comes with environment mapping. The only minor side is – in my humble opinion – that this donut seems a bit flat (get back to the previous screenshots to make your own opinion).
In 2003 democrew Checkpoint pushed the donut effect into the next level with a demonstration both stylish and technical. In the Posh demo we are offered an environment mapping donut that goes rotating while the background picture morphs into another picture. Do you want some more ? Then wait a little longer and you’ll see our donut reflect in the background, showing dozens of mirrored clones. Not to forget that this awesome screen is supported by a great tune composed by musician 505.
There are a few goals to meet if you want to have a more than decent donut : first you have to be able to display enough polygons to make look consistent, secondly you need to make it move more or less smoothly (the more the better) and last but not least you have to make do with the limited palette of the Atari ST (only 16 colors at once). Harder than it reads !
Actually we were not offered any donut from 2003 to 2011… We had to be patient until a small demo called Natrium by Rave Network Overscan was released, featuring a very nice looking effect as you can see by yourself right below :
Out latest example is the donut that appears in the ending part of 2012 Muda demo by Live! Ironically these last examples both come from small sized productions, namely 96Kb limited demos, as if suddenly it was easy to code a donut (besides needless to say that with such size restriction it cannot be an animation).
Let’s conclude with a few video excerpts, starting with the donut to be found in the Summer 2001 demo :
We cannot miss the technical feat offered with the Posh demo :
Last but not least, let’s taste the delicious donut from the Muda demo :