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. 😉

Hopelessness

Okay, not quite as bad as it sounds (the title of the post) – I’m not about to kill myself, but today it’s been exactly 3 months since my last update and I don’t have a lot to show for it. I just haven’t been inspired much to do any big chunks of programming the couple of months. I’ve done a little, though..just not a lot, and it’s frankly frustrating the hell out of me. Still, it’s a creative process and I’m not getting paid for this so luckily I can just lean back and relax. The alternative is to force it but then I wouldn’t be enjoying myself. Better to give my inspiration the time it needs. 😉

However, I have made a bit of progress on my Christmas game in these 3 months, and not a lot is left to do really…but inspiration (and time) only comes in small chunks, but hey – I’ll release it when it’s done – I won’t wait until Christmas. 😉

And the artist I’d hoped would help me out on X-Quest 2 disappeared off to make his own game, but now it seems he’s putting the finishing touches to that and he’s been in touch to tell me that he will have more time again soon, and I have to say that I’m quite exited about that. That game is (also) almost done and would benefit immensely from what he can bring to it. So I’m looking forward to that. 🙂

I’ve also done a bit of Z80 programming lately – but again…not a lot, but I hope to finish a new Spectrum sometime later this year (although I haven’t started on anything yet). I have no specific plans about what to make yet, but it’ll probably be an original game and not a remake.

Basically I just wanted to say that I’m still alive and let you know that I’m still working on my games (or at least trying to ;)). Just keep your eyes and ears open – suddenly there’ll be something new here.

…and because I wanted a picture to go with this post – I found this. It almost fits…but my name is not Sakurah, so it WILL happen. 😉

Don't know who that guy is, but I can assure you - more games WILL happen. 😉

That was the year that was, goodbye 2011, hello 2012.

The year 2011 is almost over and it’s time to look at what happened during the course of it.

Around this time last year I decided that my only (game related) New Year’s resolution would be to make three games in 2011, and now – one year later – I have to admit that I didn’t manage it…not really anyway. I didn’t make any new PC games this past year (how the hell did that happen?), but I did port 9 of my PC games to the Mac OSX platform, so hopefully that makes up for it.

Around november I began working on a new Christmas game (Buggerman: The Xmass Heist) – which would be my third year in a row doing that – but not only have I spent less time programming the last two months than I expected, I’ve also run into problems coding it which has unfortunately delayed it past Christmas. Oh well. I think I’ve figured those things out now and I expect it to be finished in January.

I did make one new game this year, though. After wanting to make a ZX Spectrum game for more than 25 years I finally decided to do it and I chose to make a Spectrum version of the arcadegame Dingo by A.C.G. (aka. Ultimate Play The Game). Not having touched z80 assembler language for more than 20 years I threw myself into it and made progress in no time, which caught the attention of Mark R. Jones who used to work for Ocean & Imagine Software back in the late 80’s, and he offered to help out with with the graphics. And it ended up looking very nice too. 🙂

The game was finished in time for the early November Replay Expo in Blackpool – which we decided would be the release of the game – and I went over there to promote the game and to meet Mark for the first time. We sold a very limited run of the game on cassette – all numbered and signed by the both of us, and the game has been recieved fantastically well and gotten almost only good reviews (like, here, here, here & here).

I’ve been featured a couple of times in Retro Gamer Magazine this year too. In February (I think), my remake of Star Castle was “Remake of the Month” (my second game to earn that title – the first was Omega Race 2009). Later in the year my upcoming remake of X-Quest 2 was mentioned, but that was delayed and I hope to finish it in 2012 instead. Finally Dingo was featured in a two-page making-of/interview feature in their November issue. Dingo was also mentioned in GamesTM Magazine.

So, New Year’s resolutions for 2012? Easy…make (at least) three games. 🙂 …possibly a new Spectrum game too.

So stick around and visit once in a while – I’m sure I’ll have new things to offer. And please do send me a mail if you like what I’m doing.

For now I would like to wish a Happy New Year to all my visitors. May you have a great year full of good experiences.