While there are plenty of freely available game engines out there that allow budding game designers to create and self-publish the next big indie hit, there’s a decidedly huge gap if you’re looking to do that on retro consoles. While game engines such as Unity or the Unreal Engine support one-click publishing to PC’s and modern consoles like the PS4 or Xbox One, if you’re instead looking to release a game on say, the Genesis, Dreamcast or PS1, your options are limited. I mean, I guess you could get your hands on something like a Net Yaroze or an original development system for your console of choice, but that requires lots of money and coding – and finding lots of money and coding are both very difficult things indeed.
Luckily, a French chap named Orion might have a solution. Spearheading his own indie development studio, OrionSoft, Orion has developed and released a plethora of games on systems of old, but also more modern platforms like Windows and Android. Check out his wares here.
To spread the love and his skills, his current project is a game engine specifically designed to export to retro consoles. This idea is currently being funded by a Kickstarter, and the planned formats include the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive), Sega Dreamcast, Atari’s Jaguar and the Sony PlayStation. He adds that more platforms are on the horizon too if the Kickstarter is successful, with the Game Boy Advance and PSP specifically being mentioned. However, he’s ruling out both the original Game Boy and Turbografx-16 due to their low memory and slow processors.
As you’d expect, the pledges on the Kickstarter are split into different tiers. These start at €30, which will buy you individual “Amateur Exports” for either the PS1, Genesis, Dreamcast or Jaguar. €60, however, will pay for a pledge where you can export to all platforms. Builds of games created using these tiers will feature a Retro Game Designer splash screen and cannot be sold. If you’re looking to earn some cash from your retro creations, though, there is the alternative of playing €300 for “Professional Export” pledges that also omit the splash screens. And just like the Amateur Export option, you can pay €500 for a multiplatform version.
So, what sort of games will you be able to create using Retro Game Designer? Well, since it is coding free, the games will be somewhat basic and only in 2D. If the Kickstarter is successful, the “2D platformer” game engine will be released. There are stretch goals, though, and if funded, separated “Shoot-Em-Up”, “RPG” and “Adventure” game engines will be made available. Examples of each in action can be seen in this video:
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A working prototype already exists, and you can follow the development of the software via dev logs on his YouTube channel. Be advised that they are in French, but English subtitles can be turned on. As of writing, the Kickstarter has raised €2600 of €15,000 with 44 days remaining – so it’s definitely off to a strong start.