It’s Just A Cool-Looking Racing Game Until Things Get… Weird

The graphical insanity in the video above isn’t part of any game that coming out soon. But it’s an example of what accomplished coders can make on hardware that’s similar to what’s inside next-gen consoles.

“Apocalypse When” comes from a coder named “Smash”, aka Matt Swoboda, principal engineer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. It’s an example of demoscene creation, Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett describes like this:

The “demoscene” is a place where video games and music videos meet. It exists on the periphery of both mediums, but that doesn’t make it any less pretty to look at (and listen to).

Unlike the “demos” you’re generally used to — samples of commercial video games — the demoscene is a place where videos are made that combine computer graphics with an accompanying musical track, the latter often synced or closely related to the former.

PS3 owners might remember trippy interactive art piece Linger in Shadows as a previous example of demoscene. The folks who made that wound out creating the psychedelic dreamscape of Datura. There’s been some discussion as to whether demoscene creators can find a home on the PS4 and Xbox One but such a development will probably have to wait until the consoles come out. But, man, it certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea for either Sony or Microsoft to loan few units to demo creators if it resulted in eye candy like “Apocalypse When”.

Thanks Lars!


  • Am I going to be ‘that guy’ when I say I thought that was completely unimpressive, graphically? The whole first half was plagued with really noticeable triangle flickering, the position of the car seemed to have nothing to do with the dust cloud 20 metres behind it, the scenery was very procedural in appearance. If it was an amateur effort I’d say good job, but you say the guy is the principal engineer at SCE Europe?

    I don’t know what I was expecting, but I hope ‘what accomplished coders can make on … next-gen consoles’ looks better than that.

    • I agree.
      Kudos for a 1 man garage effort, but for ‘what accomplished coders can make on hardware that’s similar to what’s inside next-gen consoles’….so CG on par with cutscenes from Starcraft (1998)?

    • I thought that was the whole point. At first it looks like the dust is from the car, then slowly you realize it is not coming from the car, it is chasing the car.

  • I completely agree, the horses looked flat, their run cycle was crap, the car’s suspension made it look like a toy car with no weight to it.
    I was waiting to be impressed.

  • Was that voxel generated? That would explain the odd flickering in the medium-ground terrain.

    Also, I made Fallout New Vegas look like that with 2K texture maps, ENB lighting and Bokeh DOF blurring. There’s nothing “next gen” about this.

  • Agreed with above it seems quite amateur, the car appears just odd I can’t even say what it is, just quite bad video all round, we have prettier looking things now on consoles, especially in things such as cutscenes (which I know obviously arnt the same as gameplay) but still.

  • I have to agree but what it did do was take me back to my C64 and Amiga days…….Vic20 too, although there really was no demo scene on Vic20. Oh the memories of Sine Wave scrolly texts 🙂

  • Guess that dust modelling would be pretty intensive.
    I think there was probably more dust at the WRC near Coff’s Harbour couple of weeks ago

  • I don’t know if it was the resolution of the video, but I was largely unimpressed. Some of the launch games look better than this?

  • I remember back when the demo scene was in it’s infancy, way back in the 90’s, they were doing cutting edge things with extremely limited hardware. These days its about trying to push the code (well for the good ones), some may not seem that great in the face of talented major companies but most work with very small groups I believe and some of the things you see come from their competitions (mostly with each other) really should amaze anyone. I’ve seen a full 10 minute demo with the most amazing things going on in it (great music, crazy buildings warping everywhere, shadows, lighting effects, funky splines and weird pictures), in a file that is only 500kb. A lot of these guys deserve more respect and notability than what they get.

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