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Submitted by Bas Kuenen, posted on March 08, 2002

Image Description, by Bas Kuenen

I graduated in computer graphics, by building an editor, on top of my improved 3D engine, that enables us to create screensavers by a click of the mouse. Our first screensaver created with this new program is the Universe Screensaver you can find at

Some engine specifications:
  • Textures (with alpha layers) loaded from JPEG. Mipmapping, wrapping and all usual settings are supported.
  • Materials define colours, texture ptr, rendering layer, fog, blending, depth functions etc...
  • Mesh models imported from 3D Studio Max. Possible LoD settings.
  • Objects in tree make up the world
  • With camera objects and paths (animated by B-splines, Catmull-rom-splines), scenes and a timeline control we can virtually create movies.
  • Sphere-frustum culling and Level of Detail at the core of the engine, speeds up rendering of all the objects.
  • Some other objects: geosphere, quad, cylinder, quadtree, particle sphere (stars), particle cylinder (smoke), flame (shuttle exhaust), font, light, viewport...
  • With the solid OO structure it's easy to add new objects (like the landscape for our next saver). These new objects already take advantage of the basic object properties (frustum culling, material use, matrix orientation, ...). It speaks for itself that in the next project we can concentrate on these new objects, and already have the existing objects at our disposal. Lensflares, paths and camera animations are a few that are always useful!

    The result can be viewed and edited in real-time in the editor by using the mouse. Now it's fast and easy for the graphic designer and managers to tweak the world for the desired result. A world can be saved and loaded via the engine. Because the saver is also based on the same engine, I can save a 3D world to file, and load that same world in the screensaver. There's too much to name in this small description, so feel free to ask any questions.

    You can find and download the Universe Screensaver at Please try it and let us hear what you think if it,

    - Bas.

    Image of the Day Gallery


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    Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.

    March 08, 2002, 02:18 PM

    That's what i call a nice image! Impressive!


    March 08, 2002, 02:21 PM

    Holy SH-T!


    March 08, 2002, 02:27 PM

    Just tried it; took ages to install.

    It looks really great. But actually, what's the point in releasing a screensaver under shareware license? You don't expect anyone registering it, do you? I doubt anyone will pay a cent for a screensaver.


    March 08, 2002, 02:30 PM

    Okay, questions:

    1. Is this a whole-planet engine kinda like over at

    2. How are you rendering your terrain? Bezier patches?

    3. Are the clouds just in a sky box or are they 3D objects?

    4. How are you doing that atmospheric effect around the edge of the earth when viewed from space?



    March 08, 2002, 02:37 PM


    Fokken bakgat!

    Er... I mean, impressive!

    Blindsheep, if I were rolling in money I would pay for this.


    March 08, 2002, 02:41 PM

    Yeah, and if i were rolling in money i would pay Claudia Schiffer for... cleaning my room.


    March 08, 2002, 02:42 PM

    ...and i would pay Kurt Miller for allowing me to show my signatures.


    March 08, 2002, 02:45 PM

    As a response to "Who would ever pay for a screen saver?" Can anyone say After Dark by Berkeley Systems? Just some food for thought.

    I would believe that there would be a market for a bundle, similar to the After Dark concept of many, high-quality, screen savers. The only difficulty with such a venture would be the wide availibility of freeware screensavers.

    Oh and about the images, they are great!

    El Wolf

    March 08, 2002, 02:45 PM

    Nice work!! what did you use for those terrain shots?


    March 08, 2002, 02:56 PM

    Oh yeah, and:

    5. How are you fitting all this geometry, textures and 10 minutes (!) of music into 1.4mb!

    Good job!

    Jeff Kiah

    March 08, 2002, 03:02 PM

    Whoa, these are the best screenshots I've ever seen...

    Neil Edelman

    March 08, 2002, 03:27 PM

    Very purtty. I love the clouds and the atmosphere. The lens flare even looks nice . . . and so does the ground and most eveything else. Could use some denser stars in space... How do you handle the transition from far away to close up on the surface / what techniques do you use for rendering whole planets, landscapes, sky, objects, etc.? Can you go onto the night side and have different light sources? Awesome screenshots.


    March 08, 2002, 03:28 PM

    Looks f***ing amazing! Best screensaver I've seen yet. Masterfully done.

    I'm not keeping/buying it though, I just shutdown my monitor instead of using screensavers.


    March 08, 2002, 03:31 PM

    You'd be surprised, I know a friend that still makes about $1500(USD)/mo off of some screen savers he wrote.


    March 08, 2002, 03:33 PM

    AfterDark preceeded Windows including screen savers as part of the OS. I imagine their popularity fell off sharply once Windows came with screen savers by default.



    March 08, 2002, 03:46 PM

    It's called "synthesis".


    March 08, 2002, 03:53 PM

    Hey, are you still alive?
    /me points to ;)

    Anyway, the saver looks great, and I really like the silky smooth animations!


    March 08, 2002, 04:04 PM

    I got an erection.


    March 08, 2002, 04:08 PM

    "Lensflares, paths and camera animations are a few that are always useful!"

    i tend to disagree on the lensflare part :). nice image however.


    March 08, 2002, 04:31 PM

    Well, a lenseflare can, if very tastefully implemented, add crispness to the scene.


    March 08, 2002, 04:34 PM

    Why didn't that occur to me!??! I used to be WAY into the whole MOD scene a LONG time ago. This is a very high-quality one at that.


    March 08, 2002, 04:39 PM

    I like the lensflares in this shot. They are very subtle.


    March 08, 2002, 04:46 PM

    Excellent work. I too am curious about the landscape you're showing in the bottom frame of screenshots. Does your engine maintain that level of detail during real time rendering? There looks like an immense number of polygons being pushed in those frames. If so that's very impressive. Is the terrain procedurally generated on the fly, or do you do it beforehand?


    March 08, 2002, 05:07 PM

    >How are you fitting all this geometry, textures
    >and 10 minutes (!) of music into 1.4mb!

    Some of the geometry is generated. Textures are just compressed the 'old fashioned' way (well, using a reasonably smart jpeg encoder). But since we've got quite some powerful texture generation stuff ready to use, you can expect much better compressed products from us in the future :)

    However, most of the size gain in this screensaver is due to the music, which is 100% generated with our IXS sound synth algorithms. The whole tune is procedural (as with all ixs tunes in our screensavers), which certainly saves sh!tloads of space. At the cost of some installation time, as someone mentioned above :)

    Greetz, Jace/TBL

    Mark Schmidt

    March 08, 2002, 05:17 PM

    I bought the serene screen aquariam screensaver. One of the best $20 I ever spent.


    P.S. And the only time I ever bought a screensaver.


    March 08, 2002, 05:29 PM

    >Why didn't that occur to me!??! I used to be WAY into the
    >whole MOD scene a LONG time ago.

    Hehehe exactly... Well actually, the music in this screensaver is an .IT (Impulse Tracker)

    But the biggest difference between a mod/xm/it and our ixs format, is that the module formats are based on raw samples, while the samples in our music are all generated. So, it's kind of, the 'trackdata' (notes and stuff) of the module + a bunch of formulas which create the sounds.

    Matt P

    March 08, 2002, 05:49 PM

    what machines are you guys running this on? dual athlon GF4...?

    its runs about 1 fps on my Vaio laptop p3 600 with the screensaver set to minimum on everything...



    March 08, 2002, 05:53 PM

    I'm guessing there's no 3D acceleration on your laptop? If not, what did you expect?

    I get really high framerates on my Matrox G450.


    March 08, 2002, 06:01 PM

    >what machines are you guys running this on? dual athlon GF4...?
    >its runs about 1 fps on my Vaio laptop p3 600 with the
    >screensaver set to minimum on everything...

    Hmm, exactly what Vaio model do you have, and especially: what kinda video card is in there?

    We certainly didn't use any 'heavy' or new-card-only OpenGL features, as was tested on machines like Celeron 333 with a TNT1 (it ran quite ok on that one, actually!). So your card or drivers probably don't support hardware rendering, causing OpenGL to do everything in software - and yep, that's slow as hell :)

    If you're sure that your video card is capable of hardware 3D, try and update its drivers.

    Cheerz, ~Jace


    March 08, 2002, 06:09 PM

    I noticed some of the asteroids being culled to early at the left border.
    Apart from that: Well done!
    If I would have had this thing last Xmas, I bet it would have saved my screen from burning out! ;)
    Refering to the shuttle being in the landscape scene: Will there be smooth transitions of the terrain from space to the close-up view, or is that an "ordinary" finite patch?
    (Hope the bottom pictures were not already in this screensaver, at least they were not in the 15 minutes I watched..)

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