The above is the output of a 4KB intro by Rgba that uses purely generated data to render a
nice creepy landscape scene. To give some perspective: the same image compressed into a JPEG of similar size would look crap. And it still needs code for displaying the compressed image. You can try and run the program yourself, it can be downloaded from the Rgba site (32-bit Windows binary)2. It takes about 10 seconds for the image to appear on my Athlon XP 3000+. Let’s hope they will make a screen saver of it, with random parameters for the scene.
Things like this make me think of how much things have gone forward since I first looked into ray tracing. It used to take many hours for a similar image to render in POV-Ray (not including the time used for modelling!). Nowadays, you can optimize for size (as opposed to optimizing for speed) and still have a reasonably fast ray tracer. It’s not too far fetched that the above landscape could be rendered real-time on a fast processor and probably with some speed optimizations.