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Chronoblast is a vertical scrolling shoot ’em up game that I made back for the XBOX 360 and released around 2013.

Unfortunately you can’t buy it on the store anymore, as XBLIG as a whole has been deprecated. However it was really the first big stepping stone for me in terms of the red tape surrounding releasing a game.

XBLIG regulations back then were quite tight. Of course being a console, the games had to “Just Work” on any TV they were plugged in to. So this was a first hand lesson for me in writing a game to support any TV set.

The game went through a few iterations. At first it started out as a full widescreen game with letterboxing if the TV was too old. However, the more I delved in to and learned about the genre, learned more about arcades, how they worked I became fascinated by that sort of thing.

One of my proudest moments (back then..) was actually getting the game to work on rotated displays just like in the arcades. Many people on the forums I would frequent (shmup related) would say that it was too much work or required extensive redesign in order to make their game a 480×640 experience.

Not to be deterred I set about learning how to capture part of the screen and squirt it on to this magical thing called a Render Target. But this still left the problem of the widescreen letterboxing for the true “Rubbish TV” experience. But again, undeterred – I set about researching that sort of thing. A few days later and proudly, I detected the resolution and dropped the XBox 360 in to proper native 640×480. Hurrah, I had done it.

Then I found out that shoot ’em up people were all sorts of crazy about high scores. So this meant leaderboard support. But XBLIG didn’t have leaderboards! This presented another problem, XBLIG didn’t allow you to talk to the outside world, outside of an established Xbox Live Party. So to cut a long story short, a hack was employed using Xbox Live Party names/tags and transmitting scores that way. Everyone would publically announce that they had a session up and running and in that session information were the top scores for that player. They would cycle through scores that they owned, creating a sort of bizarre peer to peer system for any players that were online. Oddly enough this worked for a good while and the game saw some competition among small online communities.

Now, I’m older, wiser and we’re moving on to Chronoblast 2 – better graphics and instanced renderers await. Come back for more info on that later!