Sunday, 9 June 2013

The 8-bit childhood returns in glorious CG...

As much as I tried, I hoped to post regularly to this blog...  However after a few weeks, I'm back with another post.

A couple of weeks ago, I'd decided to purchase some cartridges for my old Atari 600XL I've had lying in storage for 15+ years from eBay.  The reason I'd not used the machine at all (yes, 15+ years of storage and about 30 minutes of usage mucking about, eh, 15 years ago) is purely because I didn't have any software for it.

So - I bought 3 game cartridges for three classics : Pacman, Dig Dug and Defender.  I gotta say, I love the amount of stuff available on eBay - and traders like Linda1170 who have great quality second hand gear, and process for fast delivery (compared to some previous purchases I'd made a few months back from other traders)

After digging out an old Joystick (also in storage) and fixing a minor fault with it, last Saturday I spent around 5 hours just chilling out with memories of my long-lost childhood.  Some may say its sad that anybody could even spend over 5 hours playing games that are over 30 years old, but back in the 1980's the whole 8-bit era was what I remember the most.  The days when some kid could write a game at home and then actually sell it...  It was also a time where you could stick it to your maths teacher who wouldn't let you near the Apple ]['s at school because you weren't at the top of the maths class (Apparently you had to be good at mathematics to understand how to operate a computer back in 1979)

Now, I'm not one to let inspiration go to waste, and since my students were in an assessment to produce a photorealistic render I figured that I'd just have a little fun and build a realistic 3D cartridge.  I was already in that particular mindset, and I'm always after ideas for personal projects...  This one just seemed to be the right thing for me.

Then it just went from there.  I didn't have any manuals or instructions with the cartridges, but luckily there's a great online archive with loads of materials available at  I used the images on this website to produce a CG version for the Defender game manual...

Here's the final render - after a touch of grading in Photoshop, I'm fairly happy with how it all came out.

Its one of those projects I could spend forever refining - a texture update here, a tweak here - but at some point there has to be a finishing point.  Of course, hypocritically I'm likely to keep coming back and tweaking, but hey, that's what makes this stuff so much fun - almost as much fun as playing Pacman.


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