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Submitted by Kimmo Vihola, posted on February 12, 2002




Image Description, by Kimmo Vihola



The above screenshots are from Orchimedia's game called T-Force Platoon. The game was developed by Badgers in 2001. It took us about six months (from January to June) to make the game. That time includes designing the game (we knew the genre to begin with, though) and teaching ourselves a new platform (Windows CE, that is).

Yes, the game's for PDAs and supports Compaq iPaq, Casio Cassiopeia and HP Jordana. The game has sound, uses 16 bit colors and the resolution is 240x320, so it's a bit different from PC-games, since there's not much horizontal space to use. The PocketPCs have a touch-screen and this game makes use of it: you don't need the pad at all if you don't want to use it. This is even more useful if you have an iPaq: because of an annoying hardware bug you can't press multiple keys in the pad simultaneously.

Programming for the PDAs is somewhat different from your usual Windows-programming. Obviously you have to take into account the fastest PDAs are around 200 MHz and they don't have a graphics chip to accelerate drawing, so everything has to be done in the CPU. There's nothing similar to DirectX, except for GameAPI, but I wouldn't really call it an API, it's just a tiny set of functions. Programming the PDA reminded me of the good old DOS: register hacks, direct access to screen and stuff like that. And we had a 5 MB size restriction for the game. With PDAs, every single pixel matters, so to speak.

A word of warning for those who now got interested in PDAs and think about buying a PocketPC and start programming right away: debugging your game is really really slow! Imagine accessing the Internet with 2400 baud modem, it's about the same. Yes, you can use the emulator for most things, but there are certain "features" (ie bugs) that appear only when running the game on the real thing, for example problems with resources. If your emulator is running on an Athlon with 512 MB RAM in it, it's quite a bit different from the ~10 megabytes you have on an iPaq.

About the game: it's a Scorched Earth -type of game for one or two players. Several different units and weapons, realtime shadows and cool graphics. We put extra effort into visuality, because the concept is pretty simple, so you need visual baits to keep the player interested.

Check out http://pocketpc.orchimedia.com if you want to know more about this game and http://badgers.dreamsave.com for more about Badgers and our other (and upcoming) games.

Feel free to comment and ask questions everyone. And now that I'm at it: publishers who are interested in publishing a GameBoy Advance -title, we'd very much like to talk to you!

Kimmo Vihola


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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.
 
xJazzx

February 12, 2002, 09:48 AM

Awesome graphics! I wish the good old "tank wars" was just as beautiful!

Congrats for finishing your game :)

I'll take a look at your website tonight :)

 
gimbal

February 12, 2002, 10:13 AM

*sniff*

reminds me of my good ol' Amiga 500 and the PD game "tanx". Man did I have a lot of fun with that game. I wish I had a pocketpc to try this out!

 
Jan Niestadt

February 12, 2002, 10:41 AM

Looks like a fun game! Special compliments to the artists. Beautiful webpage, too!

 
The Legend

February 12, 2002, 11:00 AM

I want my tank wars back, but I think my computer won't be able to read much from the disks where I had saved it (if I find those ...).
:(

The Legend

 
stoo

February 12, 2002, 11:01 AM

Do you remember the "ohhh, he's not going to be too happy with that one..." sample when you blew yourself up in Tanx? Talk about destroying your self-esteem... :)

stoo

 
Fil

February 12, 2002, 11:50 AM

That makes me go back to the times when I played scorch width some friends at the same time.. I was VERY fun to have 10 guys playing at once!

That looks like scorch with worms' grafics!

Did it have to be 1/2-player only? :(

I always liked the messy confusion of many-pluri-multi-player modes ;D

 
Fil

February 12, 2002, 12:07 PM

just to make it clear.. I was kidding with that multi-player stuff on a PDA... :))) Imagine how many 'pens' you would have!! :DDD

 
=[Scarab]=

February 12, 2002, 01:47 PM

Scorched Earth lives! :P

 
Daxx909

February 12, 2002, 02:18 PM

This is the world turned upside down! What about a PC port? :-)

 
TheDeathLord

February 12, 2002, 03:59 PM

Nice work on the development but I would like to make a couple corrections to some of your statements. The ipaq was designed to recognize only a single button at a time, it is not a hardware "bug", and the new ipaqs, the 3835 and 3870, will infact recognize multiple buttons simultaneously. Compaq recognized the design choice they made to be a poor choice, and they've remedied it. The ipaq also utilizes a 12-bit display, not 16-bit, unless of course you're talking about the newer 3835 or 3870, which I believe you weren't otherwise you would have stated your opinions on the simultaneous button issue differently. ( I can't comment on the other PDAs as I am not familiar enough with them )

As a side note, the StrongARM processor used in the ipaq has no fpu, and has now taken over the market, as the other chips have been pushed aside.

All complaints asside, good work getting it to run on all the different platforms.

 
Badgers

February 12, 2002, 04:49 PM

Thanks for replies everyone!

Fil: Well, maybe you could have more than 2 players with just one pen. You'd only need to hand the game and stylus (the pen) to the next player when you've done shooting. With a few more players the small screen would be crowded with tanks, though. :)

Daxx909: Heh, I guess it wouldn't be overwhelmingly hard to port it, and even if I wanted to do it that wouldn't be possible, because I can't access (and don't have the rights to) the source code anymore.

TheDeathLord: Oh, it's a feature, that's news to me (I consider a design flaw a bug, though, but that's not important). Someone must've been thinking really hard when they were designing that device, hehe. I recall working with 16-bit color conversions, but I guess I remember wrong (it's been almost a year) or iPaq converts the 16-bit frame buffer to 12 bits on the fly.

Well, anyway, thanks for the compliments and clearing things up.

Cheers,

Kimmo

 
xeos

February 12, 2002, 04:56 PM

Great work. Pitty I don't have that kind of money to burn right now...

I'm just wondering why you didn't turn your game on it's side? It'd make things a lot more interesting, particularly when you can't see the shells above the screen. Although I suppose that would make running it in the emulator a bit awkward :-)

I'll certainly recommend this to others!

 
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