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(UPDATED ON OCTOBER 31, 2019)
HOW TO MAKE A GOLDEN AGE ARCADE GAME (NOT THE CABINET),
(if you're an audio/visual artist like me) without programming:
Use Clickteam's Fusion program (aka MMF2, Fusion 2.5).
It allows for game creation to Windows, Linux(wine) + other platforms (with exporters sold separately).
Games are to be a mix of Pixel Art, Math and FM Synthesis.
They are to have a total of: 224 vertical pixels on screen.
Horizontal resolution can be either 256/288 (classic arcades/NES/SNES) or 320 (SEGA GENESIS or NEO GEO MVS).
For text, use the Arcade font: Press Start, by: Cody Boisclair.
All text characters are aligned atop left inside an invisible 8x8 pixels grid on the game screen.
The game must be in full screen (proportional vertical stretch only) and allow the player to Esc at anytime.
If you use Walrus full screen extension for pixel perfect scaling (use option 1 / download below)
Your game's music will either be performed by the YM2203 or YM2151 chips (via VST Emulation)download link below.
The gameplay must be made up of these 6 essencial elements:
1- An intro
2- In-game counters/timers (some shown/some hidden (game logic)
3- A High Score screen
4- A countdown continue screen
5- An ending/credits screen!
6- A Winners Don't Use Drugs! screen (available on the Arcade Kit file below)
Backgrounds are to be tiles: 8x8, 16x16, 32x32, 64x64 or 128x128, 256x256 or 512x512 (for large worlds).
That is how I am doing it on my (3 years+ in development) game (picture at left) https://aloan.itch.io/akeni
A tile based game not only helps you develop levels faster, but gives its sprites and objects
a mathematically correct place to be, making your art look professional. When you'd like to update, all you do is alter a single tile and all other tiles change with it.
Here are some art screens I made.
Besides the Fusion program, here is what you'll need:
1- A free Paint Program where you will draw all your graphics and save in either .gif, .bmp or .png only!
To give that retro look to your art, use the Color Quantizer program
How to use: Just drag and drop your image in it, choose 16 colors and hit ok.
It is best to stick with a custom palette of 256 colors! which you can decide to go with 32 colors having 8 shades or 64 colors having 4 shades for each color!
Drawing tips for Paint.net:
You may (if using the 16 bit style shades) use up to 8 color shades for your backgrounds,
like in cylindrical shapes such as towers or metal pipes, in case they are of a big size for example.
In paint.net, zooming in at 300% (hit Ctrl + twice) gives you a good preview of how your game will look full screen.
When resizing, always use the nearest neighbor feature, with "keep aspect ratio" ticked.
Here is a 16bit Michael Jackson I re-touched using these principles.
To achieve a retro game color, raise the contrast, so that the black in your image is trully black (rgb 0,0,0)
and adjust the saturation to be nice and colorful. But do that only on sprites or screen pics and titles, not on backgrounds, so that your main character and npcs stand out from the game's background!
Here is a very important much needed paint.net file: An 16x16 grid canvas to draw on top of:
While you are away from your PC, you can draw pixels on paper, using colored markers! Here it is! (made by me): pixel art paper
2- The Press Start Arcade font
Features correct vertical alignment and lower case letters. If you want old school, avoid lowercase.
Tip: For the font to look like the Arcades, set it's size to 6, and toggle Caps Lock.
Graphics and Resolution: A bit more info on the resolutions:
1- 256 x 224 (old school) - gives you 16x14 tiles to work with on the screen...
ex: Bubble Bobble, Pacman, Frogger, Mario Bros, Capcom's Bionic Comando (it's also Nintendo's default res!)
2- 320 x 224 (modern) - that's 20x14 tiles.
Most if not all Neo Geo games like Metal Slug, King of Fighters, Sega's Golden Axe, Konami's T.M. Ninja Turtles used it.
The "Full Screen" extension:
Walrus ultimate Full Screen object allows your game to run full screen in pixel perfect mode (no distorttion to the pixel art) without even changing the user's native monitor resolution.
In Fusion's global event editor, you will need to set an Always condition and an action under the full screen object, which is to choose automatic
adjustments: choose n.1 to max out the 224 vertical res on the screen (pixel perfect) while keeping the horizontal aspect ratio!.
Download Walrus Ultimate Full Screen here
In MMF2/TGF2 - in window properties, uncheck everything except: maximized on boot up and resize display to fill window size.
Note: if you do not use the extension, do tick the "fit inside" (black bars) checkmark!
3- SOUND: You will either need the iconic YM2203 or YM2151 arcade sound. I recommend you use the amazing and free LMMS sequencer
In which to create your compositions. Here is the latter used, free YM2151 VST which is to be loaded inside the LMMS sequencer, using its built in Vestige VST plugin.
For the YM2203, there seems to be no VST plugin out there. So you must use the only YM2203 tracker which is: Shiru's TFM Music Maker
You can also work with a soundfont (easier to work with) - My arcade recomendation is the: YM-FM soundfont
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ARCADE KIT MFA 1 This is the editable game making file that contains all that is taught here! it is the base for your creations.
It includes a splash intro, High Score (made by me),
the Arcade font, the famous Insert Coin feature, a service mode (created by my friend "Daryuss") and my game's Platform engine!
Direct Download here: Arcade Kit 1
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ARCADE KIT MFA 2 This is a second version made by my me and includes a shooter engine + service mode by my friend Daryuss!
Direct Download here: Arcade Kit 2
ARCADE KIT MFA 3 This is a second version made by my friend "Daryuss" and includes a shooter engine, a different high score screen + service mode
Direct Download here: Arcade Kit 3
Valuable Links to more wonderful works by others:
Nivram's MMF2 examples
This site is a treasure chest for learning MMF2 via example editable files!
The company that created the software (MMF2 for short) who brought to us all the dream of creating our own video games!
The Daily Click
Another awesome and large site full of MMF2 love and hundreds of goodies!
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