An Open Discussion on Open World Design

For this Perceptive Podcast, I sat down with Konstantinos Dimopoulos for another chat about open-world design and creating meaningful spaces for the player to explore in a game. We spoke about how open-world gameplay has evolved and the push and pull between environmental and level design.

Arcade Attack Podcast: Ed Rotberg Interview

The podcast Arcade Attack interviews former Atari designer and programmer Ed Rotberg, creator of Battlezone! His introduction identifies him as the creator of the first FPS. Is he? I do not know for sure, but it seems awfully plausible. I think it’s a little distasteful identifying him by his connection to a genre that, when he created Battlezone in 1980, wouldn’t even exist for a decade yet. Rotberg’s accomplishment feels more profound than that, but Battlezone is definitely foundational!

Arcade Attack: Ed Rotberg interview (an hour 16 minutes)

Grid Force Mask of the Goddess Interview

For this Perceptive Podcast, I spoke with Dan Bernado of Dreamnaut Studios to talk about the release of the game Grid Force Mask of the Goddess, creating the story and art, and more.

Redshot Developer Interview

An interview with Brian Lynch who developed the game Redshot. We spoke about making his first metroidvania, the challenges of using bullet time and building it for speedrunning, and more.

ZOR: Pilgrimage of the Slorfs Developer Interview

For this Perceptive Podcast I sat down with Righteous Hammer Games’s Clint Jorgenson to discuss the work on his deckbuilding survival tactical game Zor: Pilgrimage of the Slorfs. We talked about going from AAA to indie, and the many challenges indie developers face.

Balancing Education and Entertainment With So to Speak

For this perceptive podcast, I spoke with Erik Andersen about his upcoming game So to Speak. We discussed designing a game about learning Japanese and still providing entertainment as well as education.

A Few Dragons Developer Interview

For this Perceptive Podcast, I’m speaking with Keirron Stach from A Few Dragons to talk about the indie studio. We spoke about their games Lightsmith and The Sacred Acorn and the challenge of working on two projects at once.

Genfanad Developer Interview

For this perceptive podcast, I spoke with Andrei Krotkov who is working on the MMO Genfanad to try and bridge the gap between the live service games of today and MMOG design of the past. Due to google hangouts causing problems, my voice is not going to sound right for this cast. We spoke about the design of the game, trying to make a MMOG in 2022, and more.

Video: Its Programmer, On SNES DOOM

I’ve been doing a lot of high-effort posts lately, even for things that should be fairly quick. Working to make this more sustainable, here’s a laid-back post that’s mostly just a Youtube video of a talk between the guys of Digital Foundry and Randy Linden, coder of the SNES port of DOOM, which uses the SuperFX chip to make the hardware push polygons at a rate that, while not stellar by PCs-of-the-time standards, at least not abysmal.

Let’s run down the differences of hardware:

PC running MS-DOS: targets VGA monitors, displays all its pixels in software, but makes up for it with a minimum requirement of a 386 running (if memory holds up over nearly 30 years) at 33 mHz.

SNES: Its processor is a much slower workalike of the 65C816, a 16-bit version of the 6502, running at 3.58 mHz. While it makes up for its slower clock speed with a simpler design, meaning instructions complete generally in fewer cycles, it’s hard to make up for that 10-fold difference in speed.

Their use of specialized graphics hardware was an important advantage, at the time, of consoles over personal computer hardware. Even many standard home microcomputers, like the Commodore 64 and Atari 800, had dedicated graphics hardware that helped games run better than what most PCs could do. Even when VGA came out, the standard had no hardware-level support for scrolling or sprites.

Consider what it takes to scroll a screen without hardware support: something in the system has to be able to move every pixel from one spot on-screen to another. The NES pulls this task off by having a bank of memory that its PPU can be pointed within, meaning the memory could stay in the same place, and the graphics chip would just work from a different region within it. Sadly, this technique is not amenable to 3D graphics, which usually do require every pixel on the screen to be recalculated every frame, either in software or hardware.

The SNES is known for having a rather slow chip for its time, but more demanding games tended to make up for it with co-processor chips included on the cartridges. The most well-known of these are the DSP-1, which functioned as a math co-processor; the SA-1, which was basically a second 65C816 running at around triple the speed and with a few added features; and the SuperFX, which ran at about the SA-1’s clock speed but functioned as a graphics accelerator. (The later SuperFX 2 ran at twice that speed.)

These were far from the only add-on chips included on Super Famicom and SNES carts. Since the SNES had a much larger address space than the NES’s 6502-clone, the need for mapper chips was much less, but these co-processors were used in a number of more notable games to help it make framerate goals.

Hm. Well, I tried making it a laid-back kind of post. Ah well, back to playing Live-A-Live.

DF Retro: The Making of Doom on Super NES – The Original ‘Impossible Port’

Rogue Command Developer Interview

For this Perceptive Podcast, I spoke with Mario who is currently working on the game Rogue Command: combining deck building, roguelikes, and RTS into one game. We spoke about the design of the game and balancing all these different elements together.

World Turtles Developer Interview

An interview with Gideon Griebenow who is the designer of the game World Turtles. We spoke about working on his first major game and the lessons he’s learned.

Hyrule Interviews

It’s a big searchable database of a lot of interviews the people who have made Legend of Zelda games! You can browse by selections of quotes, by game, by publication, by interview topic, or by job rule. It’s a pretty plain site to look at, but there’s a lot of gold to find there if you’re at all curious about this long-running and immensely popular series.

One useful feature the site offers is pre-made images of some quotes (sadly, not all) suitable for including in Twitter posts! Here’s a few:

Hyrule Interviews