As sometimes happens, the SNES got taken out of the attic for some old school gaming this past weekend. It’s pretty amazing that a 23 year old piece of gaming hardware still works flawlessly, and that all the buttons on both controllers are still responsive. It’s also amazing that the video signal that comes out of it is still supported as well. My HDTV still has good old A/V inputs.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said for software. I can’t run Banished on hardware that’s over 20 years old, but I did get a chance to try an older machine that I used for development around ten years ago. I dusted off a machine I built in 2004. It’s a single core Pentium 4 at 3Ghz with an Nvidia 6600GT and 2G of RAM. Strangely, while I could find 9 mice, 13 power cords, 5 VGA cables, 3 DVD drives, 6 video cards, 3 motherboards and 200 feet of Ethernet cord – I somehow don’t have a single extra keyboard. For a second I thought about using some software I wrote back in college to send keyboard and mouse input over the network from another machine. But I was thwarted early on by the hilarious BIOS error ‘No keyboard attached, press F1 to continue.’
While I’ve been touting that the game will run on older operating systems, it’s been more than a few months since I personally tried my game on a Windows XP system. I had faith it would still run as I haven’t changed too many low level interfaces except for the recent video changes. I expected some debugging time for things I overlooked, but I’ve apparently read the documentation correctly as to what API calls are supported and only had to modify a single Windows API call to get the game engine running on XP again.
With the game running, this nearly ten year old machine runs the game just fine. It has to run with lowered graphics settings, but it can still have dynamic shadows at a resolution of 1024×768. It runs between 20 and 40 FPS. Not bad. It’s not going to be a silky smooth experience, and I’m definitely recommending a machine with a beefier card than a 6600 GT, but if you don’t mind the lower graphics settings, it’s certainly a possibility.
Being that a video card that old runs the game at a playable rate, it’s really frustrating that there are newer Intel integrated chips around that support the 3D acceleration feature set, but can’t match that performance of a 10 year old video card. I can’t do much for users of those types of systems. The game starts, but the performance just isn’t there. Banished definitely requires a dedicated Nvidia or AMD/ATI 3D accelerator.
Beyond hardware tests, I’m still working on in game tutorials. They’re taking a bit more time to get right than I wanted, but they are definitely needed for an introduction and to lower the learning curve for the game.
With the SNES in use this weekend, I realized I haven’t played any other games in about ten months in an effort to speed development of my game. The backlog of games I want to play is getting fairly long. Is it time for a break yet?