Thursday, 31 May 2012

Broken gaming PCs, working laptops and retro adventure game design - oh my!

As a games player being stuck with an underpowered laptop after my gaming rig decided to go west has been a real pain; as a game designer it's actually been quite helpful. In one way I suppose it's prevented me from spending time on some games because I can't stand the lag / having to reduce the settings to a painful level, but the other side of it is that I can make sure the games I'm developing aren't going to require high system specs. Since (at least right now) I'm working on retro adventure games that's not a great problem, but it's still been a good learning curve – I was used being able to whack up the resolution and detail level to the highest option (at least, the highest resolution that my monitor could handle – need a new one of those too now!), now I have to think more carefully. For indie developers, apart from a select few who are aiming for the cutting edge of technology for their games, creating a game that can run as happily on a 5 year-old laptop as a modern high-spec gaming PC is very important, as it maximises your potential market (although obviously, multi-format developing is really the big thing these days).

Still, this old laptop has kept me going for a few months now, updating my blogs and working on a few games, so I can't complain too much – and it won't be long before I can afford a “proper” PC again! Of course modern laptops and notebooks tend to be much better in terms of power since technology has progressed so quickly – I remember when my 4Mb Atari ST with a 270Mb hard disk drive was an incredible beast with almost unlimited memory capacity – nowadays even the most basic mobile phone would have more. How times change! I guess as a child of the eighties I've always views computers as a fixed-location device – the appeal of having something less powerful but far more portable has never really appealed to me that much. For those of you who aren't entrenched in the stone age and like to use your PC on the go, geeks.com has notebook computers for sale, as of course do many other websites and stores, and although I can't understand their allure tablets are becoming ever more popular.

However if you're old like me, wait until my adventure games come out – it'll be like being transported back to the nineties (because in the eighties, fully voiced games didn't really exist!) The graphics will be fully retro though with 320x200 resolution graphics – just as nature intended.
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