Since long I have this game idea posted around, including some concept arts and various race designs. The Cheetaan Legacy. It is meant to be a sci-fi fantasy retro style game, of which I have masses of story and design material, but practically nothing worthwhile yet. An other thing I had since long in the making is RRPGE. It is not a coincidence of interests, it is a plan, which hopefully can start unfolding from now.

Cheetaan Legacy title screen
Cheetaan Legacy title screen
An (older) 512x384 main menu design for Cheetaan Legacy

Cheetaan Legacy was not only in the making by concept designs and ideas, exploratory material was also coded for it years before. A lot. The problem always was that I always knew to build this game the way I like, to get it to the overall design quality I always aimed for, that would need massive amounts of time. Maybe even a decade from beginning actually composing the game to finishing it the right way.

Meanwhile technology is always changing. I had seen many new versions of Windows continuously breaking software for earlier versions, changing interface requirements, user interface design changes with the advent of tablets and smartphones, also having new systems once again, making it more and more a nightmare just to pull along old tools and software. If I need to get my ideas composed right in Cheetaan Legacy, I cant afford ventures in trashing, redesigning, and starting over various components falling apart as technology advances instead of focusing on design. After all I want a bloody retro style game, and no matter where these craploads of technologies develop, it is supposed to look and feel just the same. Then why it's software base can't stay put, being the same?

Long time back I started focusing on emulators, those of more common systems which likely stay. Since Cheetaan Legacy needs "considerable" processing power as I imagine it, it can't be made working on old 8 bit machines. Any traditional early 90's game console is also out of question since those are mostly restricted legally in one or another way. With them I might end up designing a game for a decade which then nobody will be able to play without going in the grey zone. So practically only x86 and DOS remained, relying on the very well designed DOSBox emulator.

But that system is a real nightmare to program for. I designed several things for Cheetaan Legacy, but always felt very bound to that system, and it made me uneasy to know how massive emulation infrastructure is necessary to make things going. The whole system (not DOSBox, the x86 system) is a massive heap of quirks and patches over patches, it is simply stupid to work in 16 bit mode when there is no 16 bit processor which would be capable to run what I design anyway (the early plans for Cheetaan Legacy aimed for about 30MHz 3.86: software-rendering most graphics is simply intensive, and required that). Getting the 32 bit mode work and keeping it in operation is a nightmare of it's own.

So the concept was born which eventually materialized in RRPGE.

RRPGE logo
RRPGE logo
The RRPGE dragon logo

This system is truly designed for a purpose: to make everything possible what I wanted to get into Cheetaan Legacy, at the minimal level necessary to get all these without major compromises.

The design of RRPGE is so that it tries to work itself around the problems outlined above. It accomplishes this by defining a system which is possible to realize largely without any reliance on any host system, and strictly separating a very thin interface to the actual host system, so making porting as simple as reasonably possible.

With this in place, knowing it's composition down to the core, having the system as simple as possible to accomplish the task (and any general retro-style game's requirements in this era), I can finally go into actually designing Cheetaan Legacy. It will take ten years? Then it will take ten years. All of it's code will be RRPGE, so no problem, no need to touch it because someone thought how spiffy would be driving IT technology this or that way needing the redesign of every god-damned software to be compatible.

Simplicity and stability, that's the key to get these long lasting projects properly designed and completed.

Rural tram
Rural tram
An old pixel art of one of the races in the Cheetaan universe

A while ago Cheetaan Legacy was planned for VGA's 16 colour mode, in a tweaked 512x386 mode. I simply like the constraint of 16 colours, and the "high" resolution VGA's 4 bit modes offered. In RRPGE of course the game will work in 640x400, 16 colours.

I don't except starting on Cheetaan Legacy in the next year, though. RRPGE has it's own matters to settle. If I invented this system, I got to the conclusion that the same way it could help others in getting massive artistic games done at whatever slow pace they can get it done. Relying on the stability of the system, they can except it to be there and work just right once they get it done no matter how long it takes. But to get there, some popularity for RRPGE has to be established, and that only works by getting smaller demonstrative things done first, and maybe some tools to ease work with the system.

As a side-trip I hoped demosceners would pick this thing up to get this part accomplished faster, but apparently they have no such concerns like I have with Cheetaan Legacy, and are not interested at all in doing anything with a new system, so these are all left to me.

All in all, if I live, and keep having access to information technology and the Internet, this will go on. Although slowly, but Cheetaan Legacy will also take up from now, well, truly even right now as I write this. The generic graphics engines I currently design within RRPGE are of course meant to be reused later in that game too, so truly at last I can say I actually started building the software part of the game!

So risky, but hopefully it will be done one day!

Referred artworks

  • Cheetaan Legacy title screen
  • Rural tram
  • RRPGE logo


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