3 thoughts on “Now playing in Squint-o-vision

  • September 24, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I agree with Aaron that the world needed to know what insults we suffered indeed! Thanks for this great article! 😉

    I would even argue that the topic deserves even more love. I know you limited yourself to a top ten of the worst offenders but as you mentioned this big-hud-disease pattern – as John called it in a recent episode – is too prevalent from games from certain publishers to not investigate deeply the conditions which led to this epidemic. (Yes, US Gold, I am talking about you and your army of servile, mostly incompetent or exploited, subcontractors.)

    Regarding the aforementioned conditions, you ask:

    "It begs the question, why? Were the coders nostalgically attached to the humongous HUD aesthetic? Did they not know how to exploit the computer's full potential? Were they just shoddy programmers?
    It certainly looks like the latter may be true; there is a tendency for games vaunting ludicrously over-inflated HUDs to be absolutely dire."

    Yup, that is pretty much it.

    As you said, there are valid performance justifications to the presence of a HUD: it reduces the amount of pixels that the game has to move/animate during gameplay and thus alleviates the load on the CPU and/or graphic chips, theoretically allowing the game to run at a smoother frame rate.
    And that is the word: theoretically.
    As you mentioned, in many cases alas, the reduction in play-field is not accompanied at all by the smoother frame rate which supposedly justified it. Tiertex games are a great example of games with reduced play areas which nevertheless suffer from horrendous frame rates, Rolling Thunder being the first which pops into mind, the developers even making sure to frame the play area with static vertical bars on each side, thus guaranteeing that the Amiga hardware scrolling capabilities could not be used to (enormously) reduce the load on the machine: a great double fail.

    I could continue for hours and I am pretty sure a whole two hours documentary could be made on the subject but I should probably leave it at that for now. 😉

    Thanks again!

  • September 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    My pleasure, and thanks for filling in the blanks. I imagine lots of people would be fascinated to read a thorough analysis from a programming standpoint, but I'd really struggle to write it personally. 99% of Codetapper's interviews go right over my head for instance.

    For me to get technical I'd have to go straight to the original developers and ask them why they were so useless. Then I think they may get a bit offended and tell me where to go. 😉

    …and may not be able to answer the question anyway. I imagine if they knew where they were going wrong they'd fix the problems and release a decent game.

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