The Gathering 2012 At the end of the universe
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Make a demo already!

Make a demo already!

A well known tradition at The Gathering is the demo compo. It is probably the most prestigious compo of them all - where famous international groups fight for the top positions and the grand prizes. New technology has made it easier than ever to make demos, and we will show you how you can participate in this year's demo compo.

Creative compos

The demo compo has been one of the biggest highlights at The Gathering since the very beginning in the early nineties. This compo is unique when compared to the other creative competitions, as it requires a combination of different skills in order to win. Code, 2D and 3D graphics, music, design, teamwork and plenty of late nights are usually needed to create something that will reach the top.

We Crave Sustenance by PlayPsyCo. This demo got first place at The Gathering 2011.

A demo is a programmed graphical and musical show with the purpose to entertain, impress and show off the team's techinical and artistic skills. This means that your team will need a person with programming skills, since a demo largely revolves around code. There are plenty of different ways to code a demo, but the most common way to do it is by using tools like C++ and OpenGL. NeHe is a classic place to start when you are new to programming 3D graphics. You can also go for frameworks that makes it easier for you to get started, XNA for instance. Unity may be of interest if you are of the adventurous kind. You are allowed to use any kind of tool, as long as the result is an executable program.

New possibilities emerge with web browsers, as they have become very powerful lately. Today's web browsers supports graphics, animation, sound and video out-of-the-box with HTML5. You might want to look at using HTML5 and JavaScript to create your demo if you are a newcomer to programming and graphics. Three.js has a low level of complexity and is aimed towards beginners with little experience in 3D programming. There are plenty of great tutorials out there to help you getting started.

Get inspired by old demos! contains nearly every demo that has been released, and many of them also have the source code available for you to look at.

Numb Res by CNCD and Fairlight. This demo got second place at The Gathering 2011.

Read more on how Numb Res was created at Displayhack: Making-of: Numb Res

Don't worry if you bump into some problems along the way, as nobody are born with a set of good programming skills. Answers are usually found by using Google, and we would like to remind you that our mentors visit the forum on a regular basis. A lot of creative and skilled people can be found on IRC, so this is a good place to be if you want answers quickly. Some channels that are worth visiting are and #tg-creativia on EFnet.

If you want some extra challenges we can recommend two alternatives to the demo compo: Intro with it's brutal size limitations and Fast Intro where you only have eight hours to make a demo that contains three different themes.

Only your imagination restricts what you can create with the countless tools that exists out there. Go take a look at the rules and make something amazing for this year's demo compo at The Gathering 2012! We are looking forward to see what YOU are able to create!

Illustration: Screenshot from Nazareth's first demo "The Beginning", released at The Gathering 2006.