The Hard Maths: Elevated

These things pop out of the demo scene competitions all the time, but they’re as seldom impressive as this: Elevation is landscape and music generation in 4k, and it really does blow away any of the mathematically generated cleverness I’ve seen before. It’ll black out your screen for a couple of minutes while it loads. Thanks to Tom for the tip. (Video embedded after the link, in case you can’t get it working.)


  1. AndrewC says:

    So that’s procedurally generated and only takes up 4k? Holy moly. It’ll make current level creation look like making the pyramids by hand.

    How much system resources does it use up while it is running?

    Also the music and light show suggests they are from Northern Europe. No-on else could be so straight-facedly cheesy, surely?

  2. shinygerbil says:

    Saw this the other day. Nifty stuff.

    Shame my monitor resolution isn’t quite large enough to do the high-quality version though. :(

  3. Dominic White says:

    Stuff like this is why I check what demoscene parties have happened and what the competition winners were every couple of months. Technical wizardry at its best.

    I would like to reiterate that the above music video is – lanscape, lightnig and music engines combined – a total of 4096 bytes. 4kb. MINISCULE.

    It’s kinda sad that most people don’t even know what the demoscene is. It’s been around longer than I have!

  4. Albides says:

    Disco mountains. Fantastic!

  5. Robin says:

    Antivir finds a virus in every exes.

  6. ZeeKat says:

    Kinda compensates for uniformly bad level of PC demo compo. Amiga demos were cool tho. And that dude, who soldered himself his own tiny computer off single microcontroller then wrote good demo for it.

  7. Jubaal says:

    Shame, looks like my graphics card (GeForce 7800 GTX) is not powerful enough to make this work. I get the black screen for a while, then the music starts, then every now and again I get an image like a photo of the sun, then it goes black again. Rinse repeat until it ends.

    Pretty impressive stuff if it works though.

  8. Caiman says:

    That is fucking amazing. To think, the code to generate that fits into four times as much memory as my ancient 1K Sinclair ZX81.

  9. Mr Fishe says:

    Wow. That is astonishing.

  10. pauleyc says:

    Very impressive.

    Now imagine this tech being used in EVE or Elite 4.

  11. Frank says:

    Between this method and SpeedTree, the next Elder Scrolls game practically makes itself! Just need procedurally generated people and quests… I hope it fits in 4K too.

  12. Pod says:

    It’s not that impressive when you realise how little is done by the app and how much is done by the directX libraries.

  13. psyk says:

    Robin nod laughs at your false positives

  14. stilgar says:

    My anti-virus found a trojan in each file?

  15. psyk says:

    stilgar comodo laughs at your false positives

  16. Muzman says:

    I only get a slide show. I haven’t got that d3d9_33.dll but my DirectX is up to date (or as up to date as XP can get), or is it?

  17. Psychopomp says:

    I call shenanigans.

  18. psyk says:

    Run the 1920x1080HQ version if you can, when the snow turns to grass it all looks so nice.

  19. Colthor says:

    Bear in mind that the DirectX SDK’s “Empty Project” sample compiles to 123KB. It isn’t the most efficient way of doing nothing, but still…

    It’s updated regularly, latest release was last month (somewhere around version _40).

  20. ZeeKat says:

    Pod: do you think these mountains and music are somewhere in DirectX? Or microsoft hid there spiffy nice softsynth and didn’t tell anyone? Tiny demos with procedurally generated content (including software synths) were produced back in 90s, in DOS, that’s not that new.

  21. psyk says:

    Any suggestions for good demos to check out?

  22. ZeeKat says:

    Just go to, click “prods”, then check windows/4k intro, windows/64k intro and windows/demo for highest rated productions. Lots of awe to be inspired.

  23. Tei says:

    This represent what you can do with a PC, wen you ignore things like standard librarys, bugs and uncompatiblities, rare hardware (these people with puny laptop video cards), netcode, inputcode, support for X, Y and Z, menus, etc…

    This don’t make it a small feat, It make us visualize the cost of these features. Supporting rare hardware cost us Frames Per Second and eyecandy. Having a netcode. Using Direct-X. Etc..

    You can make a engine that support everything, or a engine that fit on the L1 cache of the CPU, you can’t do both. Games are more or less doomed to go the bloat way.

  24. Dave says:

    That’s seriously amazing stuff.

  25. army of none says:

    Dear surs: consider my mind blown.

  26. wat says:

    If this causes your anti-virus software to whine, you might want to switch it for something that won’t cry wolf every time it stumbles upon a generic exe packer… (Which is merely a piece of code that does on-the-fly decompression for the rest of the code, and not harmful in any way)

    Also yes, they do use the DirectX libraries… Which isn’t exactly new when it comes to demos. After all, they also use drivers, microcode, firmware etc. – This remains true even for low-tech platforms like the C64 (still very popular as a demo platform).
    It’s just unavoidable.

  27. lumpi says:


  28. psyk says:

    ZeeKat the fr demos on there rule and there rly old, now to dig through the 2009 stuff.

  29. asdf says:

    This guy is obviously aimbotting. Hax.

  30. ZeeKat says:

    psyk: farbrausch are great, they’re the authors of kkrieger, doom 3 style game in 96 kilobytes. Now we fit profile of this blog I think :)

  31. Overwatch_UA says:

    Wow, stunning. I’d probably shake creators’ hands so much, they’d fall off.

    I don’t follow demo scene, but I do love to watch a few demos once-twice a year. Always love it when I find myself on a chair with a stupid face gasping for air.

    These guys are all so talented! Amazing!

  32. psyk says:

    kkrieger is sweet top notch lighting.

  33. phuzz says:

    For those getting misty eyed about the Amiga demo scene may I recommend this. (Spaceballs’ 9 Fingers was the first time I ever saw a computer playing back recognisable video, and now we can embed it in a webpage and/or watch it on a cellphone)

  34. jph wacheski says:

    You can make full 3d games in 64k or less with the Free Opensource Z Game Editor! [ zgameeditor DOT org ] I have been using it for around a year now, and have released many demos and games,. check it out if procedural content generation and non-bloated file size interested you! or you just want a powerfull free 3d game engine (openGL w/shaders!) to mess around with,. . peace

  35. Thants says:

    Tei: No, modern games are huge because they use high-rez pre-made graphic data, not because of code to support rare hardware.

  36. Cedge says:

    @People who’s antivirs are complaining:
    The reason for that is because demoscene exes are packed and heavily compressed in manners that are also popularly used in viruses. Nothing to worry about.

    Anyways, great demo (seen it already myself, but that’s cause I’m a major demoscene follower), and while I do appreciate when the demoscene occasionally get’s mainstream recognition, I also kind of hate the side-effects.

    For instance, you have a bunch of uninformed people who don’t understand anything about these sorts of apps, who see a demo like this and start dreaming and posting about “imagine this amazing technology being used in Future-game-X!” or “wow, why isn’t this technology being used in all games!” or “man, the programmers of fallout 3 obviously must be idiots since their game is so big and this is only 4k!” and whatnot.

    Sort of obnoxious. I appreciate the enthusiasm, but people often get confused…

  37. psyk says:

    False positive :p

  38. psyk says:

    “Any suggestions for good demos to check out?”

    “(seen it already myself, but that’s cause I’m a major demoscene follower)”

    so nothing new to recommend?

  39. I am a panzer says:

    A few suggestions, psyk:

    link to – brand new, very cool and stylish (check out more ASD-stuff at Pouet, just click their name, they’ve got tons of good demos)
    link to – another great ASD-demo
    link to – good old Andromeda, great demo. also have a look at noumenon (again, click their name in pouet to get their releases)
    link to – 4k demo released at the same party as elevated. classic demo stuff, very impressive that it’s only 4k.

  40. psyk says:

    nice one thanks, watched the lifeforce one earlier is rly nice. Looking like an afternoon is going to be put aside going down the list at pouet.

  41. Thirith says:

    Kind of annoyed that there’s no 1680×1050 version, but apart from that it’s pretty impressive.

    Talking of cool demos – I quite liked Into the Pink, even if it slowed to a crawl in places.

  42. Jetsetlemming says:

    Just want to point out to the people saying this should be used in games- this is a different sort of “procedural” than you’re used to. The mountains in that video are to a vertice all explicitly laid out- it’s not randomly generated. It’s however not stored as a 3d model or level- the geometry, textures, sound, and effects are all generated on the fly by the extremely well made, very heavily compressed code based on internal specifications. It’s not the sort of “procedural generation” that for example makes a Spelunky map or Dwarf Fortress overworld. If this tech were to be implimented in games the effect you’d see personally is that they’d take up far less space, run far slower, and take significantly longer to load since every art asset in the game has to be dynamically uncompressed, generated, and stored when you launch it. Good for Australian gamers of the future, maybe. Not so much us right now.

  43. Serondal says:

    MMmm Dwarf Fortress. Even then Dwarf Fortress uses a seed so it isn’t REALLY random at all.

  44. Inanimotion says:

    My computer found a virus in every file and wouldn’t run it… D:

  45. Tei says:

    @Inanimotion: Your computer as a poor antivirus that thinks a packer for a exe == virus, and that is not true, and more important, a very lame asumption.

  46. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Makes me think of Infinity… That won’t be a 4k demo though.

  47. Idle Threats & Bad Poetry says:

    It ran more like a slide show for me, even on the lowest resolution. Sad days.

  48. grahame says:

    I ran it at 1440×900 and was quite impressed.

    While not really game-related, I’m glad RPS covers the odd demo.

  49. MeestaNob! says:

    Didn’t work for me at all, does its calculations, music starts then I just get small blue and white squares (kind of like voxels) everywhere, and then nothing else much happens.

    Not frozen, just… nada.

  50. Scandalon says:

    Not surprised, but it doesn’t display properly on a Radeon X1950. :( – (Same symptoms as MeestaNob)

    Cedge/Jetsetlemming: (IANAGraphicsProgrammer, but I have a basic/vague comprehension of what was listed in the readme)

    I understand the need to temper the “OMG, this is teh WIN!1! – Fallout 4 will b 4w3s0m3!” reaction, I think you’re shortselling the potential and muddying the waters a bit, esp. as it seems “procedurally generated” is kind of a fuzzy term to begin with. Procedural Content is not the be-all, end-all magic silver bullet, but one more, new(ish) tool.

    “Procedurally generated” doesn’t have to mean “random”, but it can – perhaps “procedurally created” would be more precise for that definition. Some games you wouldn’t want any random world geometry, others, you’d want all random, and most “open world” type games you’d want a mix. (See the developer diaries for Subversion)

    This demo shows very well some of the possibilities of doing much/most of the geometry work on the videocard, which often goes hand-in-hand (erroneously) with what people mean when they start talking about “Procedural Content” – but using the card is one method of doing PCG, not the method itself. (The light-rays in tune to the music was nifty – sure you could do that with most traditional engines, but I have a feeling this implementation was…more elegant.)

    As for the “small but slow” argument – everything’s a tradeoff, but in this case, if I understand the readme, the rules for coloring a pixel are running directly against the mesh, they’re not even generating a texturemap, per se, procedurally. If I’m wrong about that, or for others that *do* first create a standard texturemap…why is that bad? If you can shave a few gigs off my steam download (or whatever) and then generate a texture cache on first launch of the starting area(s), and then generate the textures in the background, do it! (Preferably give me a “small, medium, large” disk space usage option.) Also, don’t forget moore’s law has a way of making previously unthinkably slow things possible.