Category Archives: Rant

Top 10 Articles Of 2014

We’re almost a fortnight into 2015 and I hope it’s been going great for everyone. Here at 16-BIT Shock HQ, things are moving along at a brisk pace. Work on game projects resumed early last week, after a short holiday break.

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Before moving on with fresh content for the new year, let’s take this opportunity for a brief recap of top posts on this blog. Several articles proved to be quite popular with readers and it would be great to showcase them again. Particularly for those who discovered this blog, only recently. The following list features a quick rundown of those posts truly, resonating with folks during 2014, and my personal viewpoint of why that is the case.

Just click on the relative heading and you will be taken directly to the article:

  1. Tools Of The Trade – GameMaker : Studio – Certainly the most read article on this site by a large margin, and quite understandably so. With the explosion of indie game development in recent years, everyone is looking around for the best ways to make games. This article gives a brief overview of one of the most popular game engines in existence today.
  2. Project MSG – Early Development – The game project I’ve been working on and has fortunately excited a few people. It’s a 2D retro-style shooting game with a top-down view perspective set within a cyberpunk universe. Many folks loved the logo and the pixel-art style, and in turn generated some interesting conversation between us. I appreciate all the input I’ve received and will be sharing more about this project in the near future.
  3. Developing For Vintage Hardware – It’s a no-brainer why this post struck a nerve, after all the number of retro gaming and computer aficionados keeps growing. Homebrew development is both intriguing and reinvigorating within the game development scene. Vintage consoles and computer systems, with their limited capabilities offer alternative, frankly more interesting roads for creative expression.
  4. Cybermanga – I’m a huge fan of anime & manga, particularly from the 80’s – 90’s. And it seems so are plenty of people visiting this site, even attracting significant traffic from Japan. The influence of these art forms play a big part in my own creative path and this post gives a brief overview.
  5. This Is For Retro Lovers – On the 2nd of June 2014, I wrote this blog’s very first post. Short, sweet and straight to the point – ultimately setting the general tone for future articles. Surprisingly it attracted a far larger audience than I was expecting, considering it was very early days for the blog.
  6. The 16-BIT Shock Design Philosophy – Probably one of the more important articles I’ve written here. The goal was to convey the direction that my game development projects were to take. Worth a read for recent visitors.
  7. Prototyping And Arcade Presentation – A fairly recent article, managing to gain far more traction than I was expecting. I covered an issue in games that I feel should gain more attention, and that’s the matter of how they are presented. Arcade games in particular are a great example of how this could be done.
  8. Anti-Establishment – Another one of those articles that had a significant impact with readers. Further reiterating key points from the 16-BIT Shock Design Philosophy article. Perhaps a tad more cheeky, but still attracting small trickles of traffic several months after it was published.
  9. Tools Of The Trade – GraphicsGale – At one point, pixel art seemed like it was a dying art form. Fortunately it has been rejuvenated recently with all the interest in retro and indie gaming. One of the better, if not the best pixel art editor is GraphicsGale. A personal favourite of mine which I go into more detail in this post.
  10. FM Synthesis & Video Games: Kick Drums & Toms – Last but not least, is this excellent article by Joe Giliver from Ocular Audio. Joe’s vast knowledge in music composition and FM synthesis is a great help in understanding what is substantially niche subject matter. Lately FM synthesis, is enjoying growing interest which is in line with the resurgence of retro gaming, computing and 80’s synthesizer music.

Plenty of reading there, great way to start the new year I would think. Future articles will tread similar ground for the most part. However, there will be a shift in focus around the periods when I’ll be releasing my game projects. Naturally there will be greater emphasis on these as should be expected.

 

 

 

 

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Anti-Establishment

16-BIT Shock was set up for a number of reasons, first and foremost to develop quality retro-style games with a sense of purity. This in itself, is a soft form of revolt against mainstream gaming.

Wonder Boy is a good example of what constitutes a quality game
Wonder Boy is a good example of what constitutes a quality game

You may argue that, there are plenty of retro-style games developed in the indie scene these days. Yes, there definitely are. And I happen to be 100% supportive of this. Yet, it still is a revolutionary act to develop these types of games. The mass market is in no way, shape or form encouraging or even supportive of anything that is purely retro.

This is a good thing. A very, very good thing!

If the mass market was truly backing us, not only would we be incredibly uncool. We would be completely irrelevant. For one, we wouldn’t be able to stick out like a sore thumb. And sticking out is what we should be doing – 24/7!

There really are no benefits to pandering to mainstream tastes – none!

I don’t develop games for someone’s grandpa or for someone’s kid. I don’t develop games that you can play with your wife or girlfriend. I don’t develop games that you can play with your family. I don’t develop casual games. I don’t develop social games. I don’t develop multiplayer games.

I develop games strictly for the enthusiast. Particularly the retro game enthusiast.

The reason is simple. I’m an enthusiast myself and just can’t relate with any of the other types of gaming niches. Other people may enjoy them and that’s perfectly fine. I just won’t do them.

I may have come across a bit condescending in this article. To a certain extent, that’s true. Game enthusiasts like myself, who have been gaming for over 3 decades do have a stake in this. We’ve been supporting this medium for a considerable amount of time, and our opinion counts.

Just the title screen of Operation Wolf is manlier than 95% of today's weak sauce games
Just the title screen of Operation Wolf is manlier than 95% of today’s weak sauce games

Back in the 80’s, popular, mainstream games were: Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Wonder Boy, Green Beret, 1942, Bubble Bobble, Afterburner, Out Run, Gradius, Arkanoid, Operation Wolf, Combat School, Strider and Twin Cobra. What they share in common is that they were all well-made, highly entertaining games and far superior to their modern counterparts.

For the most part, what passes for mainstream and popular nowadays, is a terrible joke. The fact, that games like Angry Birds and that other backroom abortion – Flappy Bird, are a massive success – is telling. No, these are not good games. I don’t want to use expletives, but I will say one thing – these are games fit only for the latrine. 

And that’s what I’m effectively revolting against. And I trust this applies to any self-respecting game creator reading this.

Fight the establishment! Make good games!