Back in February, I posted about an upcoming arcade shoot ’em up by the name of Skycurser. Developed by a small team under a company name of Griffin Aerotech, they were seeking to create a modern game with plenty of homage to arcade titles from the 1990s. The game now has two missions “floor ready” meaning they can operate at an arcade. Since it is nearing completion, I reached out to the GA crew and they kindly responded with some information to share exclusively with AH readers. First, a video just for Arcade Heroes!
Now for some additional info:
Arcade Heroes: How close is Skycurser to being available for purchase as a kit or dedicated? Can interested parties pre-order?
Griffin Aerotech: We’re very close to being able to send kits off to people. The last major step is to produce an enclosure. Luckily, we’re working with an industrial design student at Clemson University who is a fan of the game. We are likely only a couple months away from having it complete and ready to be prototyped. As for the software, we have two missions completed and the whole package is “floor ready” and able to boot up and take quarters just like a standard JAMMA cab. For operators that want to get in early, additional missions can be sent via a simple USB stick.
AH: What changes have been made to the game since it was first revealed?
GA: Since the game was first revealed, we’ve added Mission #2, “Freeway Frenzy,” which sees our hero flying low to the ground over a city highway. It’s pretty intense. There’s a bunch of new enemies and new bosses. For operators, we’ve added a feature rich operator menu that has everything they’d expect and more. Particularly around play analytics. We’ve also made a lot of gameplay tweaks based on feedback and tons of playtime from us; e.g., improved hit detection, super system, inertia removal and tons of graphic upgrades to backgrounds and sprites. The blood looks nastier now. Could be the nastiest. For everyone that’s surely only reading to hear about the ship size, we’ve got a rework planned.
AH: What type of hardware does Skycurser use?
GA: It’s simply an AMD APU on a mini-itx board that’s fully powered and controlled through the JAMMA harness. Integrated into the system is an audio amp and operator switch. Software is delivered via USB flash stick. Encryption will be important to protect the arcade exclusive experience. Nothing overly-complex or proprietary with the hardware. We’ve used multiple chipsets throughout development but will ultimately pick one based on price/performance. Our goal is to make this very affordable.
AH: Is the output for JAMMA only or does it also have VGA out for anyone that was looking to use a modern LCD?
GA: Chris, the creative director, hasn’t even looked at the game on an LCD. And, we’re all very dedicated to late-eighties/early-nineties pixel art style we grew up on. Therefore, we’re not focused on getting it to work on LCD right now. However, we’re planning to run some LCD tests with scan line emulators so there’s a very real possibility we’ll support LCD in the end. Technically, the board does have VGA out so an LCD can be used. However, it will be buried within the first round of prototypes and not easily accessible. For digital display enthusiasts, if it’s important to you, let us know.
AH: Have you had any other location tests on Skycurser? If so, how did they affect the game?
GA: It’s really fun to watch new people play the game. Different people have different gameplay styles and so new gameplay bugs usually creep up at loc tests. For example, turns out you need to have countdown timers on every screen? Oh, and that if you don’t have an attract mode you burn your screen in. You know, like a real arcade game 😉
AH: With it appearing that development is almost complete for this, are you already looking at the next project? Would project 2 also find its way to the arcade?
GA: We’re really flattered that it appears the game looks like it’s almost complete. The underlying engine is done. The underlying OS is done. Mission #1 and Mission #2 are done. The whole package can sit on an arcade floor right now and make money. However, we still have several more missions to complete and anticipate that they will take until Q1 of 2016. As for project number two, we started planning it before we even started on project number one. Arcade exclusive of course.
My thanks to the Griffin Aerotech team for taking the time out of their busy schedules to provide us with this information. There might be a few more questions and answers, if so I’ll be sure to update this post and alert via our social media channels.
I’m glad they’re thinking about the use of scanline emulation as it has been something a lot of other developers have been ignoring in their attempt to bring retro into the HD era. If it helps, convince these guys to try out an actual scanline generator for video that’s x2 it’s original resolution. This is something I’ve been doing for myself on old gaming consoles.