Yandex Retro Games Battle 2019 - developing games for ZX Spectrum

    Hello! My name is Dmitry Pugachev, I help develop the Yandex Museum, in which our team collects rare and interesting copies of computer technology. Recently, we invited readers of Habré to visit our museum as part of the "Night of Museums" campaign. Frankly, we did not expect that from wanting to come to visit us line up all, "both new iPhones", and two controller and all will go to repair after tournament Mortal Kombat. And it inspired us!

    Today I’ll talk about our new initiative, aimed at the community of fans of retro games, - about a competition to develop games for the legendary ZX Spectrum. How relevant is this? What are the features of this particular device? I suggest recalling and discussing.

    Sinclair Research, where the ZX series was developed, was owned by Sir Clive Sinclair, a well-known British entrepreneur and philanthropist. He comes from a family of hereditary shipbuilding engineers and as a child he dreamed of building submarines. However, he made his career in the production of radio components and electronics.

    The first ZX Spectrum was released in the early 1980s, which was Sinclair's finest hour as an inventor and entrepreneur. The word Spectrum (“spectrum”) in the name should have told customers that the computer supports color. The color icon on the keyboard case hinted at the same thing.

    Actually, the keyboard was a computer. Sinclair was obsessed with miniaturization, so all the key microcircuits necessary for the computer to work were built into one relatively small case.

    In the photo above - a working copy of the ZX Spectrum +2 from the Yandex Museum. It differed from the first model by 128 kilobytes of RAM, supported the RGB format, three-channel sound, and a cassette recorder was also built into it.

    The original ZX Spectrum has gained high popularity due to the best price-performance ratio on the market. As a result, a lot of games were created for the platform, which in turn again helped sales. Moreover, Spectrum has a special highlight in working with graphics: the color is displayed not per pixel, but in familiarity, that is, 8x8 pixels. Talented artists competently used this, and very beautiful art turned out.

    Examples of games for the ZX Spectrum (from the collection of Old Love Games ):

    In the Soviet Union, the ZX Spectrum also became popular. And there were two reasons for this. Firstly, under the Spectrum there were many high-quality games. Secondly, it was relatively affordable. And I’m talking not only about the original English version, but about the numerous cloneswhich were easy to assemble thanks to their simple architecture. Unless with the processor it was not easy - they learned to release its analogue in our country only in the 90s.

    It is not surprising that we not only played, but also created games. For example, how can one not recall the popular games Black Raven and The Adventures of Pinocchio by Vyacheslav Mednonogov.

    It would seem that all this was long ago, now in the fashion of PlayStation, Xbox, Steam and, sorry, Fortnite. Maybe. But interest in developing games for the ZX Spectrum is still maintained by the community. And I know this from my own experience.

    In 2014, I organized an informal Retro Games Battle tournament. Its official site has not been preserved, but there is a page in the thematic database and two referenceson Habré. We had a reward budget. Serious jury. And, of course, the best participants in the world who competed for fun, not prizes. Believe me, enthusiasm has not diminished since then!

    Retro Games Battle 2019

    Now I work in the Yandex Museum, and this year my colleagues and I decided to revive the competition. The essence remains the same. It is necessary to develop a copyright-free game for the ZX Spectrum platform by December 3 this year. The games sent to the contest will be published on the site, where anyone can play them. The winners will be determined by the jury and the audience.

    The jury evaluates each game on a 10-point scale according to three parameters - graphics, sound and gameplay. All three assessments add up to a common score, which determines the three leaders.

    The “Audience Choice Award” will be awarded to the winner of the popular vote, which will open on December 4, 2019 on the competition website.

    More details about the composition of the jury and the conditions of the competition can be found on our website:

    By the way, it is not necessary to have a real device for development and debugging. You can find a cross-compiler and emulator and create a game on the documentation and other materials on the network. It is not as difficult as it may seem. Moreover, the ZX Spectrum in the Yandex Museum is also always open for your projects.

    Instead of a conclusion

    It may seem strange to some that attention is still being paid to the development of retro games. Personally, I do not see anything unusual in this. And it's not just nostalgia. The best developments of the past have influenced our present, showing interest in them is natural. And it’s completely irrelevant when the device came out, if it’s personally interesting for you to develop games for it and share it with your friends. Interest is what the community rests on. And I believe that the new competition will be interesting. Good luck to the participants!

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