The 4 Elements contests of GameDev.Net were originally a contest to see who could build the best or most impressive game or graphical demo that included the elements of earth, wind, fire, and water.
Since the first few contests, the 4 Elements contests have evolved into something pretty amazing. Rather than the elements of earth, wind, fire, and water, they now are about different elements (for example pirates, zombies, robots, and ninjas for the 2005 contest, or Emblem, Europe, Economy, and Emotion for the 2006 contest). The quality of the entries has skyrocketed from being simple 3D demos like the ones I did to full fledged games.
The first 4 Elements Contest was held back in the summer of 2000. Back then I was just getting into game development and programming, and I didn’t know enough programming to get an entry together. In 2001 I put together my first contest entry:
4 Elements 2
Considering this was my first ever contest entry, and the first time that I ever really did much in 3D, I was quite happy with it.
The 3D chunk of land was taken from the DirectX SDK (with a different texture on it), and the skybox was taken from a Half Life mod (I don’t even remember which one, it was so long ago). I ended up placing in the bottom quarter of the entries submitted. Needless to say, I learned from my mistakes and I promised myself I would get a better entry in the next year…
4 Elements 3
4 Elements 3 was my entry into the 4 Elements contest for 2002. The code was much better organized, and a lot easier to maintain. I learned a lot about setting up a proper code base when making something. Mind you, it looks pretty similar to my entry from the year before. That, and there was something wrong with the Direct Input code, so the mouse lags horribly and the keyboard input hardly works. This may sound bad, but I couldn’t be bothered to go back and fix it, as I really had no idea what I was doing with Direct Input in the first place. Either way, I placed in roughly the same position as the year before – in the bottom quarter. I made the 3D models in Milkshape 3D, and got the various textures from places I don’t remember.