charts_intro%20copy.jpg[In the latest of an occasional series of demoscene-related posts on GameSetWatch before, AteBit's Paul 'EvilPaul' Grenfell presents a multi-part retrospective on 2009's best demos - continuing with the top real-time rendered intros that fit into just 64kb or 4kb in size. Previously: best demos.]

Continuing our round up of 2009's demoscene offerings, this time we'll take at look at PC 64k and 4k intros. Intros follow roughly the same criteria as demos except for one major difference: size. 64k intros must fit all of their code and data into a measly 65536 bytes. 4K intros take this size limitation even further, and cram everything into just 4096 bytes.

For comparison, the logo on the front page of Google's site is over 8k in size, and just 0.4 seconds of CD quality audio would blow your entire 64k budget. Bear this in mind, then, as you look at what people with the right skills can do in such tiny amounts of space.

64K Intros

The 64k scene still hasn't found its feet after the highs of the early to mid noughties, when the likes of Conspiracy, Fairlight and Farbrausch fought for 1st place on a yearly basis. Since these guys stepped out of the limelight a few years ago there's been a bit of a power vacuum, with no-one really stepping up to the plate to take over the fight.

This year felt particularly empty, with few high quality releases, and even fewer of them particularly standing out from the crowd. As a result, I'm only including my top 5 picks from this category, and I found it incredibly difficult to put them into any order - I was even tempted not to put them into any order at all.

1st: Hotel Bar Heroes by Portal Process

A lovely rendering style and strong soundtrack in this intro from Portal Process. The group have been around since the late 90's but this is their first 64k intro.

2nd: Ephemera by Approximate

Technically excellent, this intro from the relatively new group, Approximate, packs a huge amount into 64k.

3rd: Transform by Ate Bit

Ate Bit's second ever 64k is a massive departure from their first, Pimp My Spectrum, and won the Assembly '09 64k intro competition. You could even say that it's something of a transformation for them.. [Disclaimer: I coded and designed this ;)]

4th: Scatterpillar by Inque

A simple scene, but I love the colors and atmosphere of this one.

5th: Proof of Concept by Evoflash

I have to admit that I'm a sucker for people who do things differently, so I love this really old-school style demo from Evoflash. The twist is that it's written in Flash, and managed to more than hold its own in Assembly 2009's 64k competition -- where it came in an impressive second place.

4K Intros

The 4k scene also wasn't quite as strong in 2009 as it has been in previous years so, again, I've limited this chart to just five places. That's not to say that there weren't some cracking intros this year - Elevated alone should put your jaw firmly on the floor, and Rudebox should keep it there. It's just that there weren't quite enough of them for a top ten.

One interesting thing to note about 4k intros is the amount of sharing that goes on between authors. For example, the synth created by Alcatraz is not only used in their own Rudebox intro but also in Dollop, while the extreme compression library Crinkler, which was jointly developed by members of TBC and Loonies, was used for at least four of our top five intros.

1st: Elevated by RGBA & TBC

A visually stunning 4k from RGBA and TBC, Elevated caused a sensation when it was released back in April. This intro tried and succeeded in doing something that no-one else seemed to be attempting - to render a realistic and believable world rather than one that could only exist inside the confines of a computer. And for an extra treat, you can download the author's presentation about the tech behind this demo.

2nd: Rudebox by Alcatraz

Another stunning 4k intro from Alcatraz. This one showcases multiple scenes and an impressive sounding synth. The final scene alone is more impressive than most other 4ks released this year.

3rd: Dollop by Sqny

Beautiful tune and design in this mostly abstract intro by Sqny (pronounced, I am informed, as "Sony with a Q")

4th: Sult by Loonies

Yet another excellent example of what you can do with modern GPU programming and a bit of voodoo.

5th: Paradistance by Titan

And finally, drink in the ambience of this Titan intro, captured as it was presented live at Evoke. (The winner from this year's 4k competiton at Evoke is also a gem.)