>determinism is so beneficial for a program like this
Agreed. I think the 3.x series uses the internal RNG already, at least judging from a few tests I made.
>I think POVRay 3 definitely has a place for scene prototyping
POV-Ray 3.x has certain "quirks" that come to light when rednering 2.x scenes, so I just use POV-Ray 2.2 but with low render settings, this makes rendering quite fast and does the job very well throughout the initial scene design phase... I plan to cover render settings in a future article along with other "good practices" for saving time, but all in good time.
Great insight, and pretty much what I expected to hear. 1980s-1990s consumer PCs were extremely slow, it's a wonder any raytracing was done on them at all. One popular trick to save time was drawing the entire scene by hand on graph paper first, engineering style, then typing all the coordinates into a POV file in one go. It wasn't perfect of course, but it was a good enough hack for the time... I like to do that even today when creating my scenes, but I use "virtual" graph paper on GIMP, haha.
Beautiful. You're on a roll lately!
I see you used boxes to model individual pixels, a better way to go about this is by using a height field. In brief, if you already have a pixel-perfect screenshot of the game screen you intend to model, make it black and white (black=empty & white=object) and enlarge it by x10 without interpolation, then use it as a height map. To add color, apply value propagation to the original screenshot in GIMP or similar, then use the screenshot as a texture.
This may be a bit advanced so don't stress over it too much for now, I'll probably cover all this in depth later on. You did good with your scene anon.