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 Post subject: Considerations when designing a game with tate
PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 9:33 pm 


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So, as part of my crusade to get everyone tilting their monitors sideways I wanted to write a few things about getting Tate support in to a game and things you should take in to consideration when designing a proper vertical shooter.

Primarily, I use the XNA framework for my shooters - so you'll have to hunt for the relevant voodoo in your own framework/language of choice. I'm also going to go over why creating assets for games designed with 3:4 in mind requires some special considerations compared to games that use a more end-user typical landscape resolution.

Also, enthusiasts will refer to a rotated 640x480 display as 480x640. For the sake of this article, any time I reference a display resolution I will always be talking in landscape terms. This makes it easier to talk about scaling from 640x480 to 1280x720 and so on - especially important because the aim of this is to get people thinking about how to design their games to run with scaling viewports that do not care about the actual resolution.

Step 1 - Knowing how damned big your game is going to be!
First, you need to decide on your target resolution for the game. For a clean low-res look that really pops on arcade monitors, you'll probably want to speak to Fagin. But seriously, if low res is your thing - you're going to want to design your assets at 320x240 if it's to be played on a 4:3 monitor. Why 320x240? Because of wonderful devices like Fagin's favourite SLG3000, it becomes possible to scale up a 320x240 image and output at another resolution while generating scanlines on top to keep things looking rather authentic. If you're in to that sort of thing, go and ask one of the hardware guys. I'm no expart!

Another option is of course to design at 640x480. But really, you can design at any resolution you like. I had long conversations with Fagin about this sort of thing via Youtube when making Chronoblast, hence the reason for him doing a video on the game - because I lack the physical equipment or the space for it - I can't really see how the game looks on a good monitor.

It's worth keeping in mind that if you're going to do a 3:4 vertical shooter, people are going to expect to be able to play it on their equipment. We haven't yet gotten to the point where we can all comfortably play fullscreen on rotated 16:9 displays without kicking off a global conflict - so for now, 3:4 is probably your best bet to keep the enthusiasts happy.

Why would you not want to design your game at a higher resolution? Well, the answer is simple. Although it doesn't look terrible, to a trained eye - downscaled graphics end up looking a bit poop to. Case in point:-

Chronoblast running on Fagin's setup
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw4jx8wQeh8

That said, not everyone is in to Tate. Gus runs on the most ghetto SD TV setup you've ever seen, Geist plays (afaik) on a regular monitor with an xbox pad... so, there is an argument for keeping things as presentable as possible for those guys.

Anyway, enough of that rubbish - on with the actual tech.

STOP RAMBLING AND TELL ME ABOUT THE DAMNED SIZE!

Well, it's quite simple. Let's assume a 1280x720 monitor for a moment. This is the idiots way of finding your playfield.

1. Open up MS paint! Yes, paint!
2. Create an image that is 640x480
3. Rotate this image 90 degrees!
4. Go to the resize option, maintain aspect ratio and change the vertical size to match your target res.

For 720p - this gives you a 540x720 space to work with. 370 pixels each side for border art.
For 1080p - this gives you a 810x1080 space to work with. 555 pixels each side for border art.

Great, so how do I bloody well make use of this?!
RENDER TARGETS ARE YOUR FRIENDS

Now, a decent Framework will either provide you with a means to do this - or give you the tools so that you can write one yourself. I believe that GameMaker is quite special in the sense that it will just magically support a rotated monitor and scale everything nicely to maintain aspect ratio. Go GameMakers, you cheating bastards. But for the rest of us...

I wont use the words Render target or backbuffer to explain what they are. Instead, I'll put it in laymans terms. Essentially what we do is say to our program, "Hey, give me a 1280x720 texture that I can write to please". Then all we do is tell the GPU to draw everything to that. Simple.

No, it really is that simple. Here's some Pseudo Code:-

Code:
RenderTarget2D mTexture = new RenderTarget(1280,720,DepthFormat.Blah, ColorFormat.Blah);

////////////////////
// Point GPU at the backbuffer
GraphicsDevice.SetRenderTarget(mTexture);

///////////////////
// Draw the whole game to it!
GameDraw();

///////////////////
// Point back at the screen
GraphicsDevice.SetRenderTarget(null);

//////////////////
// Draw the relevant area from that texture to the damned screen!
Vector2 ScreenCenter = Vector2(screen.width/2,screen.height/2);
Rectangle RelevantSection = Rectangle(370,0,540,720);
Vector2 Origin = Vector2(RelevantSection.width/2,RelevantSection.height/2);
float fRotation = Math.pi/2;

sprite.Draw(mTexture, ScreenCenter, RelevantSection, Color.White, fRotation, Origin);


There you go. That's it. You've now taken the central area of your screen, rendered to a backbuffer then extracted the gameplay area and can draw the entire game as though it was a sprite. Apply it to a 3d surface, make it bounce around the screen, rotate it and make it dance - do whatever you like.

The aim of this is to help people separate what's rendered from what actually happens in game logic. It's a bit of a big step but once it clicks, it sticks :)

With this method, you can basically design your game like this:-
http://www.n0rty.com/tateexample.png

Image linked instead of placed in post as it was actually larger than YGW's boner when implementing rank mechanics

In some respects, it's a little inefficient - but it means if you've designed your game to work entirely with screen space collisions and alignment, then you can tate it all with no problem at all.
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Last edited by n0rtygames on Thu Sep 19, 2013 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Considerations when designing a game with tate
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:27 am 


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Joined: 08 Feb 2009
Posts: 4841
Quote:
Now, a decent Framework will either provide you with a means to do this - or give you the tools so that you can write one yourself. I believe that GameMaker is quite special in the sense that it will just magically support a rotated monitor and scale everything nicely to maintain aspect ratio. Go GameMakers, you cheating bastards. But for the rest of us...

A lot of what you're specifying manually is already done by GM indeed (the game view by default is actually in itself a surface, manipulatable via various means). Upscaling is also done automatically but is not always visually the best method, although there are other ways to do this.

In fact, one such GM game does it more or less exactly how you've listed it here, with the horizontal game space on the sides as well, and from there manipulating your "render target" angle and size to cover the sides for effective TATE.

How I do it in GMOSSE is a bit different though, apologies for mixing up terminologies here (not as complex on GM programmer side, similar result, better peformance): the default view size is 240x320 and because of this the window is the same, so no black borders on the sides to rotate your render target with, at least not without doing horrible things and causing issues (like my old system did). Overriding the settings of the views in the rooms BEFORE I go into them however, results in perfect rotation, and because the engine handles fullscreen/window scaling by itself 99% of the time you get the same effect at the cost of having to reboot the game (or at least the room, but I've not trialled this yet myself) first if you want to change the rotation on-the-fly via ingame menu.

Oh btw, adding this to Developer-Friendly Topics page.
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 Post subject: Re: Considerations when designing a game with tate
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:44 am 


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Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 1371
Its pretty easy to do it in opengl from my experience.
Anyway, the tip to seperate game logic from render logic is very much on point. My advice to anyone starting with any kind of game programming is to do the same, plus read this, and this and this(though this one is for collision detection, but easy to implement and fast to process)

For opengl its pretty easy, two ways to do it.

complex but performance oriented way: render all different components (game scene, marquee, other stuff) to different framebuffers, and compose everything after. for Danmaku unlimited style marquee, render game to framebuffer, then render twice to back buffer with different coordinates.

easy but perfomance costly: set viewport to entire screen, draw marquee, set viewport to game area, draw game. to turn tate, just set viewport to entire screen apply a transform like glulookat, draw game and dont draw marquee.

to gain resolution independence, you can set your coordinate system in floats, but you gotta make sure the numbers either remain very small or very large or precision can be lost. also 1024*768 and 800*600 are very good resolutions to support, almost every computer supports it.
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 Post subject: Re: Considerations when designing a game with tate
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:19 am 


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Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 998
nasty_wolverine wrote:
to gain resolution independence, you can set your coordinate system in floats, but you gotta make sure the numbers either remain very small or very large or precision can be lost. also 1024*768 and 800*600 are very good resolutions to support, almost every computer supports it.


*strokes beard*
Surely this is irrelevant? If the correct approach is taken with separation between rendering and physics - then you could quite easily do an int based coordinate system and just scale your viewport when you draw the game back from the gameplay framebuffer

Thanks for the extra info btw - main reason I wrote this is because some people have problems getting their head around the concept of drawing to a buffer before drawing to the screen. So this will all help :)
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 Post subject: Re: Considerations when designing a game with tate
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:26 pm 


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Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 1371
n0rtygames wrote:
*strokes beard*
Surely this is irrelevant? If the correct approach is taken with separation between rendering and physics - then you could quite easily do an int based coordinate system and just scale your viewport when you draw the game back from the gameplay framebuffer


Yeah, if you seperate rendering and logic well enough, it doesnt matter, on opengl you can atleast do glviewport and glortho with the right settings and it will work.

More over, its a personal choice i made to keep things in 3.0f/4.0f format, it works well for me, and i havent had any problems with it yet.
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