Console-Style 8-bit RPG
March 20TH, 2014
Windows, Linux, and OS X
Another Star is a console-style RPG with a fast-paced battle system and a world that encourages players to explore and discover hidden areas as they lead their party on a journey across a fantasy world. While clearly influenced by the style and gameplay of the past, the game also implements innovations and ideas from the present. Random battles are less intrusive than classic console RPGs, alerting the player when enemies have been encountered, but giving them the choice to accept and fight, or ignore and continue exploring.
Inspired by the 26th Ludum Dare competition theme of Minimalism, Another Star uses limited colors and 8-bit style graphics to craft a vast and varied world for players to experience. While some retro games focus on parody and humor, Another Star lets its plot play out on its own weight to evoke the atmosphere of storytelling in an age when storage space was tight and every word had to count.
The game is presented using an optional CRT filter to emulate the look and feel of classic eight bit consoles. Additionally, the game's soundtrack is composed using samples from the Yamaha YM2413, a budget-priced FM that was built into or used as an add-on in several systems of the era.
Tachi is the inexperienced prince of Clan Minas, eager to prove himself as a warrior. Under his father's orders, Tachi is sent on a mission to retrieve a fallen star in the hopes that it will bring power and glory to his clan. But before long, Tachi's quest spirals out of control with clans betraying each other in the hope of getting the star's power for themselves. Thus begins a chain of events that will set Tachi on a journey across the entire planet, eventually learning the true nature of the fallen star he had once hoped to harness.
Another Star is a game by Dale Johnson, who did almost all of the game himself, including the design, story, programming, and music. It began as a Ludum Dare 26 game jam entry in May 2013. The theme was "minimalism". Instead of interpretting the theme as simply "very sparse and crude graphics", Dale drew inspiration from the history of the Minimalism movement, especially in architecture, where designers sought to find multiple uses for a single element within a design.
The idea was to make a game using only a single 128 × 128 pixel sprite sheet for all the game's graphics, divided into a grid of 256 eight by eight pixel tiles, and using only 16 eight bit colors (three bits each for red and green, only two bits for blue). A simple RPG was chosen as the genre because the expanse of even a simple RPG with a handful of maps forces the designer to think about what to include in the limited sprite sheet. Despite countless hours of work, the project was playable but incomplete as the three day deadline neared. But impressed by how much he was able to create with so little, Dale decided to expand the project into a full RPG, eventually leading to the game as it is today. And as of version 3, the original 256 tile limit has been surpassed, allowing for bigger and more vibrant enemy graphics.
The look, feel, and sound of the finished project are inspired by many eight bit consoles and computers of the past, among them the Nintendo Entertainment System, Commodore 64, and especially the Sega Master System. Originally the game's soundtrack consisted of NES-style chip tunes, but because the graphics conformed closer to the Sega Master System, the very distinguisable and unique NES sound felt out of place and was eventually replaced by a soundtrack that emulates the Yamaha YM2413 FM chip. This FM chip has a warm sound and was utilized by a number of arcade games. It was even built into the Japanese version of the Sega Master System, and available as an add-on to the MSX home computer system in Japan.
Another Star is programmed in C# using a custom game engine, also by Dale Johnson, known simply as "The OFE Engine". (For those curious, "OFE" stands for "Open-Ended Framework Engine", making the acronymn recursive.) The OFE Engine utilizes the OpenTK game programming library to interface with OpenGL and OpenAL using C#. The hardware limitations of eight bit era systems were considered very carefully when deciding what the game can and cannot do, and how the game's story would be presented to the player.
The style used for the game's promotional art draws inspiration from the work of artist Yoshitaka Amano. Click on any of the images for a high resolution version.
Click on any screenshot for a high resolution version.
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