The first time a PC seemed magical to me was when it dozed off and colourful lines twisted across its screen. I'd launch Windows 3.1 just to watch screensavers, marvelling at Mystify and staring at Starfield. How wonderful that our computer needed to dream as preventative medicine! I relived this today with a new collection of customisable 3D screensavers, watching shoals of fish, taking a road trip through a museum of global electricity pylons, watching housing estates rise and fall, and seeing so many swirly colours.
Made by Jean-Paul Software (aka our very own RPS commenter, "Godwhacker"), The Jean-Paul Software Screen Explosion launched this week after a few months in early access. It packs 11 screensavers including a swirling shoal of fish, procedural models of housing estates coming together and breaking apart, a clockwork countdown to your estimated time of death, a vast warehouse run by Father Christmas and his reindeer, and a wild warpspeed starfield. Some have options to customise colours and such, and some even let you add your own custom models (or download others' through the Steam Workshop).
My personal favourite is Pylons Of The World, an endless drive along a colourful road criss-crossed by electricity pylons from around the globe. Yes, it tells you the origin of the pylons you're seeing. And yes, it drives on the left side of the road where appropriate.
I've not used a screensaver in years. They're not needed anymore, and my monitors automatically turn off when idle to save power anyway. Running 3D scenes which make my computer use more power when idle is the opposite of what I want. And yet. While I won't start using a screensaver now, I did enjoy playing with screensavers today.
I enjoyed restarting screensavers to see them with new colours or new patterns. I really enjoyed that drive past international pylons. I enjoyed watching colours. I felt the childhood magic of screensavers again.
The Jean-Paul Software Screen Explosion is out now on Steam for £4/€4/$5.
The second time a PC seemed magical to me was the cascade after I won Solitaire for the first time.