N for… Ninety Six Kilobytes (96 Kb)

There are different kinds of demos size-wise : the usual demo can be as big as the authors want it to be, it doesn’t matter much. Yet some people are still interested in facing another kind of challenge : bringing the best quality within a strictly limited field of size. Remember that the Atari ST used to support 720Kb floppies yet demos could cover one, two or even four of them.

Smaller demos belong to various categories, some I already covered such as 4Kb or 128 bytes. Today I am focusing on an inbetween genre namely 96Kb prods.

If I tell you that a single picture such as this takes 32Kb, you will easily understand that you theoretically cannot build up a very long show within 96Kb . Yet, as usual, coders managed and still manage to squeeze a lot of cool things into such a small box !

panorama
2012 Fading Twilight Dual Layer DVD intro by Rave Network Overscan and tSCc  may not be impressive but nicely done and shows a lot of style ! Enough to make it a pleasant 96kb.

I was recently told by Lotek Style of tSCc that this kind of size limited demos first appeared in 1995 at the Fried Bits demoparty as a counterpart to PC and Amiga scene already having such categories in compos. However the first 96Kb were done on Falcon, the Atari ST’s big brother being more powerful. Unfortunately these small demos haven’t been not so numerous on Atari ST, well at least, they are still cool 🙂 Must be the reason why Again by Paradox (2008) and Muda by Live! (2012) are already featured in my coups de coeur, also you can enjoy 2014 Lots of Dots in my article about dots.

Quite a lot of these small demos released in the 90s are of very limited interest, let’s be honest here. I mean that a single screen with a picture, some sound and scrolling text isn’t too exciting, is it ? Things become nastier and obviously more captivating when we are offered a real demo with various effects and pictures.

Take the example of 2006 96 shades of grey by Paradox : here the show barely lasts more than one minute but it’s enough to enjoy particles, a rotozoom , bumpmapping and sometimes all mixed up at the same time ! Short but nice !

 

With their 2003 demo called Mind Rewind, Reservoir Gods offered us quite a lengthy trip showing oldschool but pleasant effects such as rasters, a distorter or keftales. Later MJJ Prod and Checkpoint gave us their Lavalamp (2006) which was quite nice thou mostly based upon a single kind of effect.

panorama
On the left, the groovy rasters of Mind Rewind and on the right, the bubbly Lavalamp with its odd inhabitants.

With time, 96Kb have become as consistent as full size demos ! It is quite common now to see several effects for a very nice show lasting from 2 to 5 minutes (Again, Lots of Dots, Muda, Mind Rewind, Lavalamp….). I still don’t understand how coders manage to squeeze some many things within such a limited size !

Let’s end with two great examples of modern 96Kb demos packed up with music, pictures and great effects ! We shall start with 2011 Natrium by Rave Network Overscan :

And another one to feed your eyes and ears, called Arsenite and created by Dekadence (2016) :

 

 

 

 

 

 

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