some screensavers & comments
Feb. 2003 (updated in 2004) -
Ever since the first screensavers came out, I've liked 'em. I can't
help it - the odd little world-in-a-world, snowglobe fantasy kind of
behind-the-screen-alternate-reality thing ....
Anyway, after all the slogging around, there are surprisingly few
decent IMHO screensavers out there - and a lot of cheesy effects
I got many of these screen saver URLs from this
thread on the Serene Screen fan board. Many others are the result
of slogging through some Google searches and some humungous download
By the way, if anyone remembers "Seize the Day" Living Worlds from the
early 90's, I think those 12 scenes (by fantasy artist Mark Ferrari, and other coding
by Sofie MacKenzie, Daniel Aldrich, Jacob Feinberg and Joe Huckaby
(according to my copy)) - moving water, moving clouds, day-to-night,
changing weather conditions, lights in windows - would make great
screensavers ... maybe I'm spoiled, but they set the standard in my
mind for the "window into another world" thing, and even in this day
and age, few things beat 'em. (Some of
the art is viewable on markferrari.com.) (If you can get a copy of
the "Seize the Day" floppies, you can run them on Windows even now,
although the animations will run far faster than they should. By the
way, thanks for the working registration codes when I lost mine!)
All material on this page is purely personal opinion. I am not
responsible for any consequences of downloading or registering of
Note to anyone new to screensaver downloads: "register" usually
means to actually buy the software, with a credit card number.
The result of purchase is a new full download or a keycode to unlock
the original download's full feature set (and deactivate any countdown
timers that would shut down the screensaver in a certain period of
WARNING: some downloads are risky. A few unscrupulous places have
bundled spyware with their products. You may even risk getting a
virus. Get anti-spyware products, and keep your virus detection
software up-to-date, and never download anything that looks
Top Three - Marine Aquaria Screensavers
Note: I initially started the screensaver search when I started looking
for something to replace my non-working AfterDark CD. I especially wanted
a nice aquarium screensaver. The first 3 good aquaria remain the best
of the screensavers I've found.
- Serene Screen (Marine)
Aquarium is perhaps the best screensaver out there right now.
This is the demo you'll find on the Windows XP Plus! pack, and I had
to do a net search to find the original. The freeware download has no
expiration - you just need to hit spacebar and type "testfish" to make
the ugly black box go away. This is truly a work of art - the careful
crafting and aesthetics truly distinguish this screensaver as art (if
you're an artist-type you can see the quality). When ordering, check
the security settings though.
- AquaReal (or Aqua Real) by
DigiFish ... almost as good as Serene Screen, though not quite a work
of art. It can even be set as the active desktop, which is cool.
Interactive, configurable, fun to set the lighting colors, etc.
Again, I had some problems with the security settings while ordering,
but it does appear to be a legit company (Formosoft). The free demo
download simply doesn't do the real thing justice in terms of looks,
but it's reasonably fun to play with anyway.
- Sim Aquarium by
Digital Illusions ... the background is what makes this aquarium
screensaver stand out, and the very nice effects of colored lighting.
The fish are OK. The free download expires in a few days. This
screensaver requires a higher end system. Digital Illusions does
other screensavers; however, the few I've looked at are not very
impressive, at least compared to modern MMP game graphics (and in fact
make me sea-sick).
Other 3D and/or Animated Screensavers
- Lifeglobe is part of
Prolific Publishing, and has used some of the Serene Screen technology to
make this goldfish screensaver. It's almost as nice as the Serene
Screen Marine Aquarium... but somehow just a little bit off. Still in
beta, but worth checking up on.
- Alias | Wavefront
(publishers of the Maya graphics package) have screensavers
that are described as "must haves" on the Gizmo listing (below). The
Paint Effects one is, IMHO, particularly cool if you want sort of surreally
generated 3D designs.
- Celestia isn't a
screensaver, but it came up on the screensaver thread on the Serene
Screen fansite (in fact, that's where a lot of these came up). This
space simulation is a free download and it's quite interesting to play
with, though the moon and sun look too small from the earth.
screensavers are fully 3D non-interactive environments with
varying camera angles. I'm of two minds about them. On the one hand,
having been in the cutting edge computer games industry among
Hollywood effects-quality CG artists, some of these graphics look
downright cheesy. On the other hand, if you limit the camera movement
or camera angles, some of these screensavers can really grow on you.
The fireplace one lets you put up a photo in a frame, and the clock
tells time - if you stop the camera from doing its (IMHO) nauseating
dips and close-ups, it's actually pretty nice. The watermill one has
some terribly unrealistic water rendering and the shortcuts taken with
the trees make me cringe, but the scenes from some of the camera
angles are pretty nice, and they do some very nice effects with light
and bird song. Anyway, for all that I'm complaining, these are some
of the better screensavers out there these days.... There aren't any
expiration DAYS on these, but the unregistered ones can't run for more
than about a minute and a half until an annoying message pops up.
- Gizmozone screensavers are
also 3D and screamingly colorful, though some of them (e.g., the
butterly and Christmas tree) feel even more cutsey than 3Planesoft's.
I thought I'd left six-sided jars behind in the cheesier days of MMP
gaming, but if you're looking for a happy-happy-neverland style of
screensaver, I guess these could fit the bill. The camera sort of
does its meandering thing as it takes you around this
world-within-a-snowglobe kind of reality. They have a LOT of
screensavers, though, so it's worth a look over (the screensavers I
tried are by Shortcut Software
Development, but there are other devs too, and they pointed
me to the Maya Paint Effects screensaver).
screensavers (they have a handful) include the fairly cool but
motion-sickness inducing 3D Canyon Flight screensaver, and a ummm
rather stiff "Aqua 3D" screensaver. Try out the canyon flight; I'd
suggest leaving the Aqua 3D, however. Just my opinion.
- Aquatica at
clubaquatica.com is another aquarium screensaver. They recently
came out with a fully 3D screensaver, but it simply isn't (yet) up to
par with the leaders in the field. Meanwhile, their old classic
Aquatica screensaver has 3D fish models that don't swim in 3D - they
swim back and forth in straight lines, much like the ancient fish
screensavers from the early days of AfterDark. The free demo is OK to
look at, and has no annoying messages or complaints. For a low-end
system that can't for whatever reason handle 3D swimming, this may be
one of the best and most user-editable marine aquarium screensaver
around. But once you've seen Serene Screen, there's no going back.
- Ambient Reality
screensavers... well, oddly, these silly things grew on me. I
don't have the money to register, but they are kinda addictive. They
have a cloud simulation that makes clouds roll across various
postcard-like settings, and they also have a rippling water simulation
(the type of Java applet thing on various websites) that ripples water
on various (again) postcard-like settings. Sorta cheesy, but sorta addictive
too. Plus, they have other abstract stuff I haven't gotten.
Unfortunately the free demos expire in a set number of days, oh well.
- Nexus Media screensavers
... there are a lot of 'em. I tried the Winter Wonders Screensaver.
It's disappointingly lacking in features compared to Seize the Day's
Living Worlds (no lights in the houses, no day/night, no moving
clouds), but the scenes are cute and cozy and the snow reasonably well
done, so if I had $10 to burn I might've burned it. I also tried the
"Amazing Waterfall," which unfortunately merely made me compare it
unfavorably with the Seize the Day Living Worlds picture for May
(which was a waterfall with a complex bridge and towers, complete with
occasional night watchman). I've now also tried one of the aquariums...
well, let's just say my opinion on best aquaria hasn't changed.
- QFlux has weird AI-run
screensavers... interesting in theory, at least. Kinda weird to
watch. Worth getting if you're into AI and neural nets and such.
- Atlantis 3D does DiveVisions
and SharkVisions. The former is a marine diving
screensaver (unlike a marine aquarium screensaver). The
problem for me is the graphics - at least in the demo, the coral reefs
are clearly objects that don't rest flat on the ground - they cast a
shadow beneath them! This kind of breakage of suspension-of-disbelief
hurts it badly in my book. However, the sensation of being underwater
with fish swimming by is, apparently, fairly realistic and the demo is
worth that, at least. The SharkVisions doesn't have the same feel,
although the graphics are slightly better(?).
- FP Software Laboratory
has some space-based screensavers and some fire simulation
screensavers. The rotating Earth looks a bit glassy, but the clouds
are their own separate layer, so that looks pretty cool at least. The
unregistered one has an annoying cover-over window. The fire
simulation stuff was apparently pretty cool, but I haven't gotten
- RI Soft Systems
screensavers - another online company with a whole pile of
screensavers - include a number of non-3D animated scenes of nature.
The waterfalls aren't bad except for the very flat 2D birds, which I
didn't like one bit. They have a reasonable free waterfalls desktop
theme for download also. The other nature ones along the "Living
Waterfalls" "living Wilderness" etc lines might be fine for some,
but I personally will pass on them. But they have a whole LOT of
other screensavers to try out, so.....
- Dreamscenes.net is Delfyn
Software, which makes some interesting 2D generated landscapes,
including the snowy landscapes that I tried out. Not exactly
photorealistic, I don't exactly enjoy the time it takes to generate a
snowy landscape, but it is interesting to watch and the idea behind
all this is kinda cool. They have a lot of other stuff I haven't
checked out yet ... maybe I'll check out the dolphins, who knows.
- Seraline ... haven't tried
em, but it's fractal-themed. Fractals are fun!
- I went and looked at Freeze.com, but I did some internet research
first, and I'd rather not deal with registering. They do come bundled
with some adware or possibly spyware programs according to the
- Comment on the screensavers that come with Windows XP, or which
are free from Microsoft: these are somehow even lamer than the ones I
seem to remember for Windows 95/98... maybe I'm wrong, but I thought
there was at least an aquarium screensaver for Win 95.... The coolest
XP Microsoft screensaver has got to be the Bliss one, with the
rolling/forming clouds. The Amazing Windows XP one is starting to
annoy me because it takes a minute to start when you're doing other
things with your machine, during which you think your machine has
Screensavers - Boston Globe photographs in various themes:
lighthouses, New England Patriots, Cape Cod, Boston at Night, Scenic
Boston, Holiday Boston, Fall Foliage, Red Sox, and Tall Ships. These
free screensavers actually feature some nice photography and are
great for anyone who loves Boston.
has a number of simple slide show screensavers, as well as wallpaper.
A sign-up is necessary, however.
Software's Impressionist Paintings are OK. It's a slideshow, with
- Max Taylor Panoramas
... This particular Max Taylor is an Australian photographer. The screensavers
themselves are kinda annoying, what with very slow text (with missing
pixels on my system), but the photographs are breathtaking. I can't
even remember how I found this guy's site...
I must've been searching for "waterfall" and "screensaver"....
- Most Windows boxes come with a slideshow set up program... use
your own favorite pictures (or, say, National Geographic's free
pictures) to set up your own slideshow.
screensavers ... because I figured they'd have some, and because
I'm a little pissed the Nature Conservancy and National Geographic no
longer have any. Nope, haven't downloaded these, but at least they
- The below no longer work:
- Nature Conservancy has this
screensaver with some breathtaking photographs. Well, OK, it
appears to be gone in 2004 :( Oh well.
Geographic free screensaver has 15 pictures but won't install on
Windows NT or XP (sigh) ... but far better is their general photography,
which is often available for download as desktop wallpaper and/or
backgrounds. Worth a look, though their servers can be a bit slow.
(Update: as of 2004, the screensaver download page is gone.)