[stella] Why write for the 2600
Subject: [stella] Why write for the 2600|
From: Glenn Saunders <cybpunks@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2000 01:06:55 -0700
I thought I'd bring up a philosophical thread today.
This was precipitated by a new project I'm working on, and I'd like to take
a pulse here.
I registered the GAMEDEVELOPERS.NET domain and am now starting to build it
out. I'm working on the SQL database structure right now.
The intention of GameDevelopersNet is for it to be a Game Developers'
Net_work_, of course. More specifically, I'd like to build a portal
similar to MP3.COM in which indie producers (as I call one-man-one-game
developers) can have strength in numbers. Sure, you can build your own
site around your game, but that won't get as much exposure as being part of
a collective portal. So GameDevelopers.net would provide a single
meetingplace and distribution point for these games.
It would be like a melding of MP3.COM and CNET Download.com, with some
Shockwave.com thrown in. I know, big ambitions, but it's not a big
investment on my part so I'm giving it a shot to see if it takes off.
Now, one may ask, what kind of games can you write these days where it's
just one person one game? For modern platforms, it would most likely be
Java or Shockwave. Online games like these need to download quickly, so
they can't be very expansive.
Then there are, of course, games for classic systems, which one can play on
emulators or the real thing.
I wanted to throw out the question of WHY to write for a classic system to
everyone and see what the responses are. I think that, by and large,
classic type games are accepted better when targeted for classic hardware
than modern platforms. When you only have a 1.19Mhz processor and 2D
sprite graphics to work with, nobody is complaining. They just see the
gameplay. But even with Java and Shockwave, I think some people are
expecting a lot more because they are driven directly by the host's PC
On another level, when you write for a console platform like the 2600 you
know exactly how the end user will experience your program, right down to
the framerate. The hardware is standardized. When you write a Java game
there is no way of knowing whether the host's machine is fast enough to
deliver your desired framerate, etc... This was recently demonstrated with
the Joust Pong thread on RGVC. You have to write some elaborate frame
skipping or delay routines to accomodate differently powered PCs. This
would presumably also be a problem with Shockwave, with the added issue of
And I also think that the control situation is better writing for the
2600. Java applets don't, as far as I know of, have a way to directly
interface with PC controllers. They tend to just use the
keyboard. Shockwave does through Xtras but this hasn't caught on too
much. And even if they did, there simply aren't very good controllers (for
classic games) available for the PC. It's very hard to find an arcade
style 8-way digital joystick for the PC. Everything is either an analog
flight stick or a Playstation type dual shock clone. With the 2600 you've
got your sticks and 4 paddles. You don't have to worry about DirectInput
or configuration different options for a 2nd, 3rd or 4th simultaneous player.
So I was just wondering where everyone thought the future of new classic
games might lead us.
I've been a strong proponent of a "neoclassical" movement of very finely
tuned _original_ games with a classic feel. We've definitely seen some
come from this list, but only for the 2600. I think the market can support
them for other platforms as well. I'm not really talking about the kind of
programming-exercise Space Invaders or Pac Man java applets which are
ubiquitious these days. I'm talking about mostly original ideas which are
an extension of classic game design sensibilities, with deliberate
constraints on game features, perspective, and scope.
I am hoping that GameDevelopers.Net can be a forum for these sorts of
games, where game producers write within these limitations because they are
in scale with their available resources, and not feel like they are somehow
sacrificing the end product by doing so.
What do you all think of this? Must the game industry scale upwards in
budgets and development effort or is there room for a Blair Witch subgenre
to be profitable? I mean, take a look at Square between Final Fantasy VI
and today. They are the poster boys of out of control game projects. If
this is what gamers EXPECT, then I think we might see a point in the near
future where it is theoretically impossible for game companies to recoup
their development funds.
There must be room for a different kind of game...
Archives (includes files) at http://www.biglist.com/lists/stella/archives/
Unsub & more at http://www.biglist.com/lists/stella/