Submitted by , posted on 17 August 2003

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The Etherium is a 4k intro created by the Northern Dragons, a mostly Canadian demo group. The Etherium took about six months of work and 7600 lines of code, including 4500 lines of production-quality x86 Assembly and 2100 lines of C++ prototype code. From start to finish, our objective was to create the best-looking 4k intro possible.

To save space, most visual effects in this intro rely on alpha, z-buffer, and backface culling tricks. For example, our reflection technique uses alpha blending and z-buffer clipping, rather than the more expensive env-mapping or render-to texture techniques. We also perform cross-fading between scenes by tweaking the alpha channel on the affected objects, rather than mixing two separate scenes.

The main idea behind this intro is code recycling. By writing generic routines, we reuse the same code in many locations. For example, we have a routine that takes a 20-byte list of key colors, and interpolates a 256-entry color look-up table. We use this routine to color everything, including textures, diffuse vertex components, and stars. As another example, we use the texture generation routine to make a height-map for the island, saving several hundred bytes of code.

You can get The Etherium from

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