Homemade RIP OFF cocktail table arcade machine.

Sometimes people surprise you – and this happened to me recently. Earlier this year, Stephan D from Germany, wrote to me to tell me that he loved my remake of Rip Off and asked if he could build a Rip Off cocktail arcade cabinet and use my game and logo for it? Naturally I said yes.

I have always loved vector games and back in 2007 I decided to remake Rip Off (which was one of my favorites) for the PC. It was enormously fun to make and I’m especially proud of the state-machine behind the enemies that decide their behaviour. And nothing beats my sigh of relief when I had to optimise my code at the end of the project – because it slowed to a crawl when there were many enemies on screen at the same time … and it worked. But I digress.

 

Back to Stephan now.

 

Two months passed and he sent me a new mail; “the cabinet was done” and attached 5 pictures. The one at the top with a “Tardis Remakes” logo instead of the Cinematronics logo (the rest are below). And not only that – the cabinet is also made to allow two players playing at the same time. Awesome! It’s only one of two games I’ve made that has a two-player mode, but this was never intended to be placed in a cabinet – especially not a cocktail one, so there is no option for flipping or rorating the screen … but I guess that if Stephan is okay with that, so should I be 🙂

It’s pretty great to know that my game is running in an arcade machine out there. Someone even remade it, LOL, but the best moment was without doubt back in 2009 when I received a nice mail from Tim Skelly (the coder of the original arcade game) calling it a “good job” and taking time out to write a bit more to me than I could have hoped for

 

Here’s the rest of the pictures of Stephans cocktail cabinet. If you click them, a window with open a bigger version of the pictures.

 

 

 

 

Cool, right? 🙂

Project overview – what am I working on?

Argh, things always take longer than you expect. I’m still hoping I can manage to release 4 games before the end of the year, but don’t hold me to it. However, it means that I’m still working on “stuff” and that many of my current projects are in pretty advanced stages of development.

Now, what exactly are my current projects, I hear you ask?

  • First there’s my Doctor Who graphical adventure game (I won’t post any more pictures here until it’s finished, so you’ll have to search my Twitter-feed to see pictures of it). The game is 2/3 finished and hasn’t run into problems or anything, we’re just trying to come up with some good puzzles for the last third of the game (but haven’t really given them much thought lately).
  • Then there’s a vector version of Berzerk. That is also almost finished. The big problem here is coming up with some good animations for the maincharacter. Not a big deal…but of course one has to actually sit down and make them.
  • I’m also working on a game for the ZX Spectrum. It’s a Cybernoid clone and code is basically finished and I could polish it off and release it in a week or so. The holdup here is the graphics which are all temporary. There is an artist attached but he has taken on lots of paid graphics work which means his focus is on other things. I can’t expect a project that doesn’t pay to be prioritized over something that does, so I have to wait until his schedule allows him to finish the graphics for the game. I’m sure it’ll look good in the end though.
  • One exciting thing (for me anyway) is that I’m also working on an arcade game. This game is Speccies 2 but intended to run on real JAMMA arcade hardware. And it does. The game itself is actually finished and has been tested on the real hardware, but there’s a problem with inconsistent soundeffects volumes and I need to figure out what causes that before I release it. To run this game you can either burn the ROM to chips and plop them into a suitable arcade PCB, but it will run happily in MAME as well. I made this game – which is nice and simple – to learn how to code for the hardware, but once I’ve finished these 4 games I have plans for bigger, better and faster arcade games. One thing at the time though. There’s a screenshot of the menu below.

Speccies 2 arcade menu.

On top of these 4 projects I have several other games that I also hope I can finish soon, but we’ll just have to see when me and the people I work with can find the time to finish off the last bits of these games.

I’ll write more when I have more to tell. 🙂

News about new game = less news.

I never thought I would do this, but I’ve removed news about one of my upcoming games from the page. The thing is that the game is based on a well-known franchise and I don’t really want the attention of the copyright holders and risk being told to abandon it and not being able to release it. The game is really too far along for that to happen without it being a huge waste of time. It’s only a temporary thing though – it’ll be back once it’s finished.

So of course I’ll keep working on the game. I’m sure it’ll get a lot of attention once it’s finished, but by then it’ll already “be out there” so I won’t be as worried about being told to take it down again. Removing the news of it is just a safety precaution to make sure that I can develop and release the game without interferrence. Y’know, just in case. 😉

 

 

Widescreen and me.

Not too long ago, on the Retro Remakes forums, I was asked why my games doesn’t support full HD resolution or scale better, and although I answered there I want to put the answer up here as well.

Not too long ago (in 2008) I had a 4:3 monitor that only ran 1024×768 natively, so games I’d made until then were also in the 4:3 format – and I was happy with it, so therefore it didn’t occur to me to  make my games scalable or widescreen-y before then.

By mid-2009 I’d changed to a 16:9 monitor. It wasn’t the best monitor – it was cheap and had a max resolution of 1680×1050. But more annoyingly it didn’t center a 4:3 game in the middle of the screen – it would stretch games to fill out the whole screen so that everything became wider. Actually, I didn’t mind much – I guess I got used to it, but I could see why other people perhaps wouldn’t like it.

I must have bought that 16:9 monitor around May 2009 while working on Omega Race 2009 because I remember starting out in 4:3, but since that game has those silly widescreen options that all my vector games since has had, I must’ve gotten it while making that game. The idea was to let the user set the right format from the options menu so the game could center the game in the middle of the screen, so that, if the game is run in fullscreen it would keep the right aspect instead of stretching the graphics (if peoples monitors was as bad as mine).

Personally I don’t mind much if a game only runs at 1024×768 as long as it fills out the screen when it’s run in fullscreen mode. It’d be different if a game is run in a window – then you’d end up with a small rectangle in the middle of the screen. And all the vector games I’ve done since 2009 (Omega Race 2009, Star Castle & Black Widow) all has the action centered in the middle 4:3 section of the screen anyway, so all that extra room at the sides wouldn’t have been used anyway, so making them fully scalable HD wouldn’t make much of a difference …unless I change the gameplay a lot, but as you probably know – I try to avoid changing my remakes to much compared to the original games.

I was asked: “It’s vector graphics – why don’t you just re-code the games so they scale better?”.

Sure, it would without doubt be better if the games would just scale properly and run at the desktops resolution, but take Black Widow – I started coding that in 2010 and had it perhaps 75-80% complete when I put it aside for more than two years, and when I began working on it again I just wanted to complete it as fast I as could. Sure, since it uses vector-graphics it’s relatively easy to scale up the graphics, but there’s also a lot of calculations and math on which the gameplay is depending and that would have to be changed too, and making such changes to a game that is as complete as it is – well, that’s just too much work and too much can go wrong. Keep in mind that this is old code, it’s for a game that will be given away for free, and I’d want to finish it as soon as possible. Re-working code so drastically this late in development could potentially screw things up badly and make it take even longer to finish (which happened to me on Rip Off which I started developing in 640×480 and changed to 1024×768 in mid-development).

Since then I’ve upgraded to a nice 27 inch monitor that runs Full HD. Unfortunately my current batch of projects that I hope to finish over the next 3-4 months are also all old projects, so they’re not getting a Full HD upgrade either.

But at some point I would like to develop something that scales better and uses my new monitor fully (and yours too :-)). I’ve always had a soft spot for Tail Gunner and might remake that one day. That’s also a game that will better utilize the whole 16:9 screen, so it’s not a bad choice. I’d have to develop some new core routines instead of just re-using old ones, and I’m looking forward to starting from scratch and enter the HD age. 🙂

But all-new stuff will have to wait a while…there’s some old stuff that needs finishing first. 😉