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 toΒ  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. πŸ™‚

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

New release: Black Widow

Nice! I’ve finally managed to finish one of my projects that has – by now – been in development for quite a while…almost 2Β½ years in fact. However, due to a long stay on the WIP-pile the actual development time is “only” about 4 months.

So, without further ado: may I present to you – Black Widow.

It’s a vector arena-shooter that is heavily inspired by Robotron: 2084, but with insects instead of robots. Like Robotron, Black Widow also has lots of strategies for scoring and getting further into the game, but what those strategies are is something only plenty of play will reveal.

I’m very proud of this remake – it plays very well (if I may say so myself) and is absolutely ‘up there’ among the games I’ve done that are closest to the original game in playability and features. The main feature here (probably) being the updated glowing vectors, but also the usual stuff like an online highscore board and normal D-pad and twin-stick joypad control supported.

If you’re a vector-purist and don’t like my style of intense glowing vectors you can either disable the background picture which has been designed to maximise the effect of the glow, or disable the glow completely and use only colored non-glowy vectors.

I don’t normally let people test my games during development, but I did with this game and it turned up several bugs (haha) and improved the overall playability/difficulty of the game, so thanks to them …and of course to Bruce Merritt who is the designer/programmer of the original arcade game, and Atari who released it back in 1982.

…if you like it then please tell me in the commentbox below. πŸ™‚

Nine months without new games. That’s about to change.

After what seems like a long time without any notable news, or new games, I’m finally at at point where I can safely say that “Yes, there will be more games…and soon” πŸ™‚

Over the last month I’ve been working on 4 of my games in progress. That would under normal circumstances be crazy, but they’re all so close to completion, so while I’m waiting for the final graphics, music or some feedback one one game I can usually tweak something on another game.

First game to be finished will be Black Widow. It’s basically finished but I’ll wait the rest of this week to see if I get any feedback that needs attention, then compile the final version during the coming weekend. It should be out next week.

My third Christmas game, Buggerman, is also largely finished – I just need to tweak the music a bit, but as it’s a Christmas game I’ll hold its release off until December.

Hopefully I’ll also have X-Quest 2 done before the end of the year. The coding is mostly done and bar some small tweaks here and there all it needs are new graphics and some better sounds. I can do the sounds myself and I’ve found a guy that wants to do the graphics, but he’s a tad busy at the moment. I’m really hoping he can find the time soon, so I can get this game out there.

Finally I’ve also been getting back into my vector Invaders game, Neon Invasion Earth. The last time I worked on this was in January 2011 when I began adding a “classic Invaders mode”, and I’ve been finishing that over the last couple of days. Yay. That still leaves the main game to be finished, but this is also mostly done with mostly some smal bugs and a whole lot of gameplay tweaking and testing left.

So there it is; my roadmap for the immediate future – two games already finished and two more very close to completion, so check in again soon …there’s a good chance that there will be something new to download. πŸ™‚

I’ve also decided to open up the site for comments again, without registering as a user first, but if the spam gets to bad I’ll put that limitation back. But let’s see how it goes for now. πŸ˜‰