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kiwilove

Game design thinktank - Retrogaming

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Although I am no programmer I still like to contribute ideas for game design - and game concepts etc etc...

 

I do like to push the Atari 800 / 5200 hardware as much as possible - but you still have to be aware of what the hardware is capable of - and don't take on something that doesn't turn out as good as expected - because of the amount of time and effort you have put in.

The so-called area of expertise I can fully comment on - would be the graphics design area - seeing that is what I do, when working on a project.

 

People tend not to share ideas on game design - because of the likelihood of someone working on the same idea as you are - and two people (or teams) working on the same game design is usually not a good idea. As you like to work on something that is unique - and it does seem like a waste of time (especially these days) for two similar games to come out, at the same time - roughly.

 

But I guess people don't mind talking about game designs they are unlikely to work on.

 

Anyway I'll start off with some kind of general chat - and see if there is much response...

 

I have always been highly impressed by the coin-op Zaxxon - and would have liked to have seen a decent home version of this classic and innovative game. Ron J Fortier's version had always disappointed me - and Super Zaxxon wasn't all that much better. Although I have to say that any attempt would be difficult to pull off successfully. The graphics designs alone - are very difficult to convert/port over due to that square pixels are not possible. Also the limited colours available are a big headache with work with. Synapse's C64 version did show how it should have been done? Maybe a port of that version would have made a better Atari version?

Blue Max serves as an example of a brilliantly inspired game by Zaxxon - and it's simple small graphics did work wonderfully well. It's a bit sad that Blue Max 2001 was not able to repeat the success of the first Blue Max.

I think the door is open for a game of this type - to be done again - though I don't know how it should be done?

 

Though one could cite Desert Strike (for SNES and Megadrive) as a possible area to venture into? Also Desert Falcon (7800) comes to mind.

I wouldn't say that I would be keen to work on such a project myself - as I can imagine how difficult it would be.

 

Before any project is started proper - of course - there needs to be a pre-test done, which will have to show it is viable. That it has to show promise in it's pre-test form before spending a lot of time/effort on it.

This applies not only to the graphics designs themselves - but also for the programming side too...

 

Harvey

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It just doesn't do anything for me...Wanting something to be at least on par with Blue Max - but perhaps that is asking for too much?

(Was Desert Falcon on the 7800 a good game?)

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A game which I am unlikely to ever work on but I've always wanted to program is an isometric game where the main character is a husband who has a wife who is ill in bed. You have a "virtual" year to walk around a town and collect all the things that she needs to stay well. You then bring all of these items back to her bed and you get a few comments from her.

 

I think that the emotional side of it would make it quite a powerful game. And it would be interesting to see an isometric game in a realistic looking town.

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Yes - a sims / computer people like game could be quite successful maybe.

It'll probably be more like a cartoon town, instead of 'realistic' because of the graphics hardware (not able to lend detail, colours, etc).

You could maybe go for a 2D look (as in Paper Mario - N64) - you could look at the Soul Blazer graphics (SNES) for inspiration / point of view?

Isometric might prove too difficult? Then go for another view...

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What about the XE port of Desert Falcon? It's a fair enough game.

 

No, it's not. The scrolling is nothing less than an eye-strain. Simply terrible.

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Yes - a sims / computer people like game could be quite successful maybe.

It'll probably be more like a cartoon town, instead of 'realistic' because of the graphics hardware (not able to lend detail, colours, etc).

You could maybe go for a 2D look (as in Paper Mario - N64) - you could look at the Soul Blazer graphics (SNES) for inspiration / point of view?

Isometric might prove too difficult? Then go for another view...

 

Well, it depends what we call "realistic"! I imagined a game in graphics mode 8, with plenty of variance in the blocks used for each screen. In my vision of the game, it has inside scenes with walls, windows, doors and a bed. And outside I imagined roads, pavements, grass, trees and building frontages. Maybe something a little like "The Great Escape" on the Spectrum.

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I'm not a fan of B&W graphics but if done well ... it may convert me over. I'd always go for a colour option route, if available.

 

One game design/type that has been overlooked is the Bust-A-Move 2 game, which has you shooting bubbles. It's one of those simple but playable games - I don't know if this has appeared on any 8-bit system?

 

Harvey

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O.K. I was to answer this from the begining but my pc kaboom.

In the meantime I went into other but in a public place so I just acessed YouTube.

There's no way to have Zaxxon like arcade in, at least, the looking.

The C64 may look better but in videos and that, for example, in the space scene it has the planets because C64 can then have all the ships in hardware multicoloured sprites.

There's even a C64 remake with better gfxs...

On A8 the problem is that it uses charmode ANTIC4 then thats why the gfxs are simplified to fit in ours shit charset with just 128chars.

If you see Super Zaxxon you understand this. This one have real arcade looking but because of all the detail they drop it to GR.15 bitmap mode 4colours then no problem with number of chars per charset.

 

 

Of course that there are other ways to get it and more there are today. Probably multiple charsets like two charsets:

-> charline1 = font1

-> charline2 = font2

-> charline3 = font1

-> charline4 = font2

And soo on...

 

 

Our ship and the left vertical energy bar, shots, enemys sprites as hardware or not sprites its other thing and that maybe I also have ideas... But this is when I have my computer working again to show you...

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I think perhaps if you are going to a lot of trouble with a Zaxxon game - that it may be better to do a 'like' version in which you can add whatever you like to it - so that you can exploit the hardware better and your ideas too. I think 4 colours is very limiting. I think Blue Max led the way...

Combing game types is certainly a good thing to try out. A good example of one game borrowing from another would be Miner 2049'er with it's usage of ghosties in that.

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I spent last hour in Google because of Snicklin, so if any coder want to code this the credits are:

Isometric start talking: Kiwilove

Pac-Man Isometric idea: Snicklin

Development, further idea, gfxs and A8 'way of' and gfxs design: José Pereira

 

Now that its already registered lets go into what I come:

Not Spindizzy, more Marble Madness but also same type Gyroscope. Using this sort of gfxs and gameplay you can then translate it to a Pac-Man type of game.

Using a Gyroscope_white as our player.

3 other colour gyroscopes are the enemys (more possible in other lines if you multhplex these).

 

Technically it would be like this:

-> GR.15 bitmap mode (any number of chars/tiles allowed):

BAK_black (borders and countour lines)

PF0_light colour (left side of the walls)

PF1_dark colour (right side of the walls)

PF2_floor colour

-> PRIOR1

-> Our gyroscope and 3 enemys per line are P0->P3 (if it's a gyroscope then it's possible to have them in 8pixels wide and single coloured but with eachone having it's own colour).

-> PF0+PF1 are the pills over the wall PF2

-> In 5th Player mode then geting one more/PF3 colour for the larger pills (exackly like in original Pac-Man eating them turns the enemys in a darker luminance for some time and you can pass/kill them for some seconds).

One large pill per line or maybee 2Missiles on each are enough and then two per line possible.

-> Other things and ideas to improve gameplay welcome.

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I forgot to say that it can be then using an isometric scrolling like in Zaxxon or Blue Max but here we can have it sometimes to the left and others to the right according to the floor direction.

What's your opinion about 'coding possible', 'gameplay', 'adding other features',...?

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I have to admit - I seem to have little interest in game type(s) that just don't grab me - Marble Madness being one. Although I have played it, and the spindizzy game.

It just seems so little to do, and so little is happening in this kind of game. It needs extra phazzazz in it, like application of more physics properties - more other stuff to make it more interesting.

Kirby's Dream Course on SNES comes to mind - that does more --- making it a golf like game with more stuff added to it.

There is of course, going the shooter route - like as in one NeoGeo game - the title eludes my memory at the moment - that wasn't all that successfully translated into a zowie game, but a mediocre one.

 

There is of course Pac man done in this 3D mode - but wasn't a brilliant game.

 

I don't know what you mean by... What's your opinion about 'coding possible', 'gameplay', 'adding other features',...?

 

I just think you've got to end up with something - that's worth all the effort you've putting into it - otherwise choose something else, that'll end up as a better result.

 

Of course - what can happen during a game's development (especially if it's going to be s-l-o-w and over a long period of time) - is that many new and unexpected new things are added to it, such that it's original brief is only 10% of the final result, that it's evolution brought in new and unexpected facets to it. Which is what's been happening with Atari/GTIABlast!

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I find it difficult to design 8-bit era games today. Today's new retro games are usually pretty tricked out to compete in a more modern world, but the games we love from these systems were often quite simple. It's tough to put yourself back in 1982 (or whatever) and design something that would be a classic.

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... There is of course Pac man done in this 3D mode - but wasn't a brilliant game....

 

 

Sometimes glitzing up games gets in the way of the actual game. Some visually extravagant games are disappointing to play. They could be called interactive graphics demos. Probably means the programmer was thinking more about implementing the shiny parts than the actual play mechanics. I could finger quite a few platformers with horrible jumping/moving/climbing physics.

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It can be a very tricky subject to define what gameplay is? How is one game more addictive than another? Tetris showed how ultra simple graphics (has this ever been ported to the 2600?) can have very addictive gameplay - you have to play it, to believe it.

Of all the Tetris variations (which I have not played that many of) - I'd say that Tetris Battle Gaiden for the SNES - came up with the best twist to this game type.

 

Zaxxon had spectacular graphics for it's day back then - and while it's gameplay was straightforward, once you/ve adapted to it's 3D-ness - the elements all came together very well - and that is what a good game does - transport you into it's gaming universe - where everything works in it's favour that puts you there.

 

Such an excellent of any game type - if it's done extremely well - can get gamers who don't normally go for that game type - can grab them and let them enjoy it as well.

 

This of course applies to all other entertainment media - whether it be books, television, films, music and so on... Call it an art form.

 

The human imagination is so vast - I'd say - yes - it's possible to design an entirely original game (or near original) for 35 year old computer hardware - that can be as brilliant as any of the old classics for that system - but the odds are stacked against you of course. Say 1 in a 100 or even lower than that. You'll know it when you see it... if it ever gets to be designed, that is.

The old goldmine analogy comes to mind - there's still gold in thar hills ...

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Todays I am more, most of the times, trying to think in all those old original games, take one or two from one, something from the other,... Mix different things from 2, 3 or 4 totally different type of games then maybe I can create a totally new one.

In the same way as Snicklin said about a mix between Spindizzy and Pac-Man.

I don't know if we really can think in a totally different and never done game on ours 8-bits. Is it us that are here on these machines for more than 30years that have our heads thinking that there isn't anything more to discouver?

Are younger guys that don't saw the born of video-games and home-computer more mind open to create new kind of games?

Maybe most of todays are just modern versions of older ones? Shooter but 3d just because the todays machines can do it? Same for RPGs, puzzles,...

There have been some recent examples on the tablets but aren't most of them using our old games ideas? Wich of these you would call totally new: Angry Birds probably... Super Hexagon? But Flappy or Canabalt probably not?

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If you think innovation is dead and buried - then it is so in your mind. If you think it's no different from any other creative field - then new frontiers can be found - but it is up to you to find it..It is up to what areas your interests cover? Someone musically minded - can probably think of how music can provide the inspiration for a music based game? If you're into cartoons - then you think of a cartoonverse in which your characiatures can come alive and jump off the page - or rather you go into their world. Someone into graphic art - might want to recreate some graphic masterpieces - but fully animate them? Someone into ghosts - might want to develop a ghost friendly game - after all they are made to be the bad guys, when they are not?

Sure you can say - the basics of videogaming appear to be fully developed - you have the scrolling games, the adventure game, the shooter game, the puzzle and so on. That screen elements seem to be known - like missiles, players/sprites, bouncy ball and so on.. But have we missed something somehow somewhere, somewhen?

Have all physical phenomena been recreated within a videogame? Thrust shown innovation - so maybe there's still more to be done there? Anti-gravity with momentum/inertia - you could inject new life into puzzle/block games maybe... You know of 'newton's cradle' (if I think it is what it is called?) to use that in a game somewhere - somehow...

As you say - it is easier to go back and redo what's been done before - but add new variants to it - or turn it on it's head - literally.

As for redoing Zaxxon again - sure you can do it faithfully - better - but you could also do a special version - in which you add to it, and evolve the game further - by adding some extras to it too. Extra weaponry? Bombs? New enemies, etc etc.

Edited by kiwilove

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I quite like the idea of using modern games for inspiration and then creating an 8-bit version of them. Not true originality, no, but it would be new for the 8-bit.

 

Or as mentioned before, mixing games to get a new game dynamic.

 

Here's some mixture ideas:

 

3D football on the Ballblazer surface. (have PMG players around you)

 

Pacman in the Eidolon (yes, I'm a Pac-man fan!)

 

Draconus in the Eidolon

 

A side scrolling beat-em-up game where you have to negotiate with some characters (i.e. adventure game)

 

A text adventure with educational problems in there

 

etc...

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A Megaman or Metroid styled game seems appropriate for the hardware. Of course - there were games already made in this vein - Draconus comes to mind - but I never liked what they did - so I think it could be done far better. Probably better for the 5200 - because of two? fire buttons - as jump and shoot is always a problem for 1 button joysticks (Atari 800 etc computers).

 

While X:8 was superb with it's programming - I'd say that the graphics could be done better? Probably wouldn't mind doing a revamped graphics version of it myself - if I wasn't occupied with something at the moment.

Same with redesigning graphics layouts for iconic Atari 8-bit games that deserve a revisit/reinterpretation - such as Blue Max, Bristles, Fort Apocalypse, etc etc.

 

I'd like to stay quiet about possible things I like to work on...

 

Commenting on the demo scene - I'm always disappointed with what they'd done - they obviously spent a lot of time doing what they do - but they have to try outdoing the Atari Robot walking demo and such things. I always have ideas for possible themes/ideas for demos but have never had contact with people in that area - who would listen to what I have to say, etc on it...

All that text scrolling stuff is very boring - unless they have something intelligent and thought provoking etc to say in it - and I have lots in that area with which to write about - as I deal with ideas and concepts / discussions all the time in my head, etc...

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Probably better for the 5200 - because of two? fire buttons - as jump and shoot is always a problem for 1 button joysticks (Atari 800 etc computers).

 

That's not too much of a reason to favor the 5200. The 8-bits can gain a second button simply by plugging in a Sega Genesis controller, which are dirt cheap. I agree with needing a second button though. Most 8-bit games that needed it have used <UP> for jumping (although I have no idea why Crownland used it, and left the button itself to actually do nothing), which I'm not overly fond of. It works alright from a keyboard, but not from a joystick.

Edited by MrFish

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A Megaman or Metroid styled game seems appropriate for the hardware. Of course - there were games already made in this vein - Draconus comes to mind - but I never liked what they did - so I think it could be done far better.

 

I also think a Megaman or Metroid type game would be good for the system, along with a lot of other games which never made it to the Atari 8-bits. I also think a better SMB type game can be done than what we've seen so far. The unique things about SMB are not just jumping, gathering, jumping on enemies, and roaming around a scrolling world. But being able to morph into different characters, breaking bricks, being able to shoot fireballs, and having extended jumping capabilities. It's also the extensive world presented, and being able to warp to various parts of it from secret areas.

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Anyone working on any game projects these days - ought to add their own twist to it - and not just deliver a standard kind of format game - that you need to add things extra to it, that is your own. Not only in graphics - but in game play and game design as well.

But to do this you need the time available - and this is where the ABBUC yearly contest falls down - that they need to bend their rules to allow for projects that are longer term - say for a special category - if need be - for games still in development which can easily take up to 3 years and more to finally complete or near-finish. You really can't expect much from one year projects - that are done only in peoples' spare time.

As we all know - people have all kinds of time committments these days - and to work on something leisurely is more fun...

 

Harvey

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