Procedural Generation in 64kb

John Carmack tweeted this video today.

This is no 20 GB video file, painstakingly pulled from a render farm. All of it was generated in real time by one tiny algorithm. And it’s amazing.

Every Easter, the town of Saarbrücken, Germany, plays host to Revision, a demoparty where hundreds of programmers and artists get together for four days of showing off. This year, the demoscene group Mercury unveiled an incredible 64k intro called The Timeless. Since the file size is limited to 64 kilobytes, the graphics and music are all generated algorithmically in real time—this is called procedural generation.

“Demos” are snippets of graphics and music that show off the author’s skill as a programmer. The term emerged in the late 1980s, when a cracked video game would begin with a short intro representing the group who had cracked it. But it’s evolved rapidly since then, and today, demos are more like works of art—a chance to show off your chops. Just think of it as the jazz improv of the programming world.


I want this code!

Give me!

Wow, very impressive

That was impressive.

What impressed me most, for some reason, was the ocean waves clips.

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Same here. I can see how the pillars and windows could be made, but realistic looking liquids in a few thousand lines of binary code is just… astonishing.

Speaking of astonishing, and demos, this is probably my favourite 4k to date:

Not as pretty as what you can get from a 64k, perhaps, but there’s something about knowing that if graphics and music seems to sync up it’s almost certainly because it’s the same code being used to generate both (what with only having a few hundred lines of binary code to work with and all).

That is pretty epic. I’m guessing they must have compressed all the data or something. It’s mind boggling. But that gives me hope that MMOs of the future won’t take up ridiculous amounts of hard drive space.

That was pretty amazing. Definitely great to see people finding creative ways to use procedural generation. Some pre-rendered games are getting so huge these days it’s getting ridiculous, particularly when they need downloading. If this can shrink file sizes, it’s fine by me!

Yeah the caustics were pretty impressive.
I wonder how many kb of API code was used.

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Here’s another 64k Demo …


wow, I just wanted to post this here as well but you were faster :stuck_out_tongue:

@INovaeKeith this atmospheric effects are so neat. Do they use some special trick to do it?

Well, real-time graphics programming is pretty much entirely composed of tricks so yes - I’d say they’re probably using a bunch of tricks :stuck_out_tongue:. Definitely a nice video, they’re doing some cool stuff.