Submitted by , posted on 12 February 2002

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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 if you want to know more about this game and 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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