It doesn’t take two cups of coffee on Sunday morning to figure out why the screen saver market never bloomed into a full blown industry. Screen savers were, and are, a tool which is intended to do something while YOU AREN’T THERE. There is a fundamental contradiction in paying for something which assumes your absence.
Like most kids of the 80s, After Dark was the shit with the Flying Toasters module leading the charge. As I think back, what they really demonstrated was the evolution of graphics moving from blocky pixels to photo realistic toasters with wings. Tuck in there a variety of other visually entertaining modules, a couple of reasonably entertaining games whose name I’ve forgotten, and you’ve got a niche market which must have made some money for Berkeley Systems… well enough that they had some breathing room to create the You Don’t Know Jack series, sell off to Sierra On-line and just plain vanish.
I have two meager requirements for my screen saver:
First and foremost, it must take advantage of my hardware. I really don’t care if the processor time involved in rendering 3D fish is wear and tear on my system. My screen saver must be stunning. The built-in Flurry screen saver in Mac OS X is a good example. The Marine Aquarium from SereneScreen is another.
Second, make the planet a better place to be is not the responsibility of my screen saver. Find aliens on your own time.