How’s about a brand new Neo-Geo game for ya? Adrian & Anthony caught up with FULLSET’s Sascha Reuter to find out more about the exciting Project Neon.
The Kickstarter is live, and really is a must if you are a Neo-Geo collector!
Sascha! You’ve a new game in the works called “Project Neon” for the Neo-Geo. What can we expect from your upcoming title?
Most of the arcade games I own are actually shoot ‘em ups. I somehow never really was a sucker for shoot ‘em ups back in the day, likely because I lacked access to the ones that were really great. I loved SWIV on the Amiga though!
So if there’s a specific genre I mostly collect games for these days, it’s shoot ’em ups. Hence the first game I wanted to work on was, well, a shoot ‘em up. And while the first game I wrote for the PICO-8 and ported to the Game Boy Color was pretty basic (and not just because of the limitations of the system), I wanted to build something more ambitious and sophisticated after that. So developing a game for the Neo Geo was the most natural fit, given my personal interest and that it provides the ideal sweet spot in terms of capabilities for the game I want to build. And yeah, that game is Project Neon. It’s a shmup, surprise!
So about the game itself. It’s a vertical, pretty fast-paced shoot ‘em up. The plot is pretty much about a guy called Melon Usk who abandoned the rest of the human species to go and occupy Mars (LOL – Ed), all by himself. He went away with all the advancements in technologies he made over the last couple of decades, and pretty much left the rest of the human species behind on Earth.. with all of their problems and environment that’s pretty much on fire. And to make sure nobody ever comes after him, he builds up a planetary shield around Mars, spawned across 4 other planets surrounding Mars. So yeah, the game is about two brave pilots being sent to ex-filtrate Usk from Mars, and convince him to save the human race from their extinction.
Where is the best place to keep up to date with your work on Project Neon and your other projects? Besides the Kickstarter?
For now that it’s either the thread on Arcade Projects (https://www.arcade-projects.com/forums/index.php?thread/10194-project-neon-new-shmup-for-the-neo-geo/) or Twitter.
What games/media have helped inspire Project Neon and when do you hope to complete it?
That list is ever growing and pretty much endless. Lots of other shoot ‘em ups I would say like Batsugun, Batrider, Dogyuun, (Do)DonPachi, SWIV, Sorcer Striker.. So yeah, everything Toaplan, Compile, Raizing, Cave and so on and so forth…
But also a bit of other genres, so things like Mega Man and Gunstar Heroes. You’ll notice an influence from lots of things for sure 😉
Tell us a little about yourself and your previous history in the video game industry.
While I’ve been in the the tech industry for over 20 years now, I’ve never really found the time to get back to the reason I started digging into computers in the first place: making video games. Instead I went down the road of system and network engineering and literally choose my first employers by the available bandwidth they had, instead of what they paid.. so yeah, I mostly spend that time working for ISPs. About 8 years ago I switched my focus to software engineering as part of doing my first startup, which is also what eventually brought me and my team from Germany to Australia, about 5 years ago. Long story, but yeah, not really gaming industry related.
I’ve always been a gamer tho since the days of Coleco, Atari and Commodore and also did my fair share of hacks and mods. But I never went after making my own game before apart from maybe some text adventures.
That was still the case until recently, when I started to tinker around with PICO-8. From there things “escalated” quite quickly and even two weeks later I found myself porting my first little shoot ‘em up for the Nintendo Gameboy Color.. which was actually my first C project.
How did FULLSET come about and what is it like on a daily basis?
The initial idea behind FULLSET was to build an app for arcade and retro gaming collector, to discover, track and trade games and hardware. I always found it a bit frustrating that I had to search across 20 forums for arcade PCBs sales and thought there would be a better way to do this. I then spend about one year building the app and necessary services, content scrapers, etc. in my free time. While you can check out the current state here (https://www.arcade-projects.com/forums/index.php?thread/8304-introducing-fullset-discover-track-buy-and-sell-all-things-arcade/), development is currently paused in favour of other projects, mainly Project Neon.
So yeah, instead of one just one thing, FULLSET pretty much became the umbrella for all the different kinds of passion projects I’m working on. The first project that actually just made it out of the door and shipped is a split vinyl record I did with Jeremy Blake from Red Means Recording. If you’re into synth sounds, you can check it out right here: https://fullset.io/products/fsm-1-unbiased-ep-vinyl
The main focus will be around arcade and retro gaming tho. Everything from actual games, apps (like the one I mentioned) or even some hardware projects. Because that’s really were my heart is to be honest and what I spend most of my free time with anyway next to my family.
What inspires you to work within the gaming industry and have you always been a fan of the Neo-Geo?
What inspires me is the idea of actually being able to make a positive impact on the industry, by making things different (again). To be honest, I personally believe that most of the industry in general went down a very unhealthy path during the last decade or so. Everything seems to be about maximising profits instead of the games themselves. From gaming studios and publishers that ship unfinished games or no physical releases at all, to content that’s being held back for selling you DLCs somewhere later on. So you basically get less content when initially buying a game, while often being charged more than ever before. And then they charge you extra for their deluxe editions, early access and what not. It’s insane. But my biggest gripe is likely with that whole loot box thing. It saddens me to see that most FIFA streams these days are mostly about kids spending losing their money on crap gambling schemes, instead of actually playing the game. Not that I’ve ever been a FIFA fan, but you know what I’m getting at 🙂
And there’s so much more still wrong. I don’t even bother turning on my Xbox or PlayStation anymore, as it’s pretty much impossible to just turn things on and play. Forced system updates, tens of gigabytes in updates for a single game.. installation times, loading times. Everything gets into the way of you actually playing a game. Heck, I sometimes can’t even find my games on the Xbox Dashboard 🙂 So yeah, from all that currently out there, I think Nintendo with the Switch are ones that at least somehow got it right. End of rant 😉 On to the second half of your question..
For most people in Germany, and also many other countries, the Neo-Geo was more of a myth than actually something somebody owned or even saw or played with. On top of that, there were pretty much no arcades around where I lived, so me and my friends mostly spent time on the mainstream side of games for the Nintendo and Sega consoles that were available to us. There was of course always that friend of a friend that knew somebody that had one… well, yeah.
So it’s only been like 3 years or so since I got my hands on my very first arcade cabinet as well as the Neo-Geo MVS.
By now I’ve collected like 4 arcade cabinets and dozens of arcade boards. The Neo-Geo MVS, next to Capcom’s CPS2 and 3, became by far my favourite arcade platform.
Was there any particular reason the Neo-Geo was a choice of interest compared to other retro consoles and will you consider realising it on other platforms?
The Neo Geo provides the ideal sweet spot in terms of its specifications/capabilities for the game I wanna build. From all the arcade platforms out there, it’s also the one that’s most explored by now I would say and also the one most tools and documentation around actual software development exist. That’s not the case for other systems like CPS2, hence we’ve only seen hacks and not actual homebrew for that.
The focus for the initial release will stay on the Neo-Geo MVS and AES first with CD a possibility. For AES and CD we’ll also a menu option to rotate controls and maybe the HUD…you know, in case you’re not keen to flip your TV on the side! 😉 (we’ve given it a crack! – Ed)
As it’s written in C it’s generally very portable. People asked if I plan to port it to the Dreamcast further down the road, but I think that’s too much of a common theme already for unofficial Neo-Geo games, so I’m more thinking something like the X68000… but who knows. For now I want all the focus on the game, not exploring other potential platforms we could port it to, even though it’s actually quite tempting.
The Neo-Geo is highly regarded and many of its devoted fans have high standards when it comes to titles. Do you feel that this will be a challenge for FULLSET and the team members to achieve a quality developed game for it?
Yeah, I’m well aware of that 🙂
That’s the reason why I’m not doing this alone and instead pretty much got help for all things gfx, sound, etc. I have two very talented graphic artists I’m working with now, and freezedream on all things BGM and SFX. Furthermore, we’re lucky to get the support from people like Hpman, who’s helping with the heavy lifting stuff, like filling gaps in terms of a sound driver that supports VGM/FM playback on the YM2610, and also the cartridge production side of things. I also have a good friend of mine involved that can help out whenever I should get stuck.
That being said, the game is still in an early but very playable status, with butter smooth performance and no major technical issues. So yeah, we can actually focus on the game instead of fighting with the tech, which is awesome.
After Project Neon, what else can we be expecting from FULLSET afterwards and other genres in gaming?
Games I don’t know yet tbh. I’m just too busy and focused on Project Neon at the moment to think about anything beyond that. Maybe another shoot ‘em up? 😉
That being said, there’s still a lot of other projects I either already started (including the app I mentioned) and also some custom furniture for setting up your gaming console collection in a very neat way, as well as some other ideas around some hardware projects. Remember the things I mentioned going wrong in the gaming industry at the moment and my gripes with the current generation of consoles? Well, it’s about that. But let’s finish that game first!
What are your favourite games of all time and can you explain your top 3?
Impossible. I can’t! Next question, please!
Really? How should I? Too many games! OK, let me try, a wild mix.. Excluding shmups, because, again, too many!
Street Fighter 3 – 3rd Strike
Breath of the Wild (best modern game since Portal 2)
But as I said, there’s so much more … And how can I not mention Monkey Island and all the other adventures from LucasArts and Sierra?
Next question, please!
What’s your favorite video game console of all time and can you explain why?
The SNES, as it’s also what I spend most of my time with back then I believe, next to the Mega Drive.
If you found yourself actually inside the Project Neon universe, which video game character would you choose to help you complete your mission?
Samus, as she knows their way around space I guess.
If you could share a few drinks with a video game character, who would you choose and why?
Anthony & Adrian