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May 6th, 2019

Project Classic TAGAP

Officially announcing: Classic TAGAP

I've been talking about this project on Twitter, but I think it is time to announce it proper.

TAGAP and TAGAP 2 are currently being remastered for x64 platforms.

Classic TAGAP Screenshot 1 Classic TAGAP Screenshot 2
Classic TAGAP Screenshot 3 Classic TAGAP Screenshot 4

I've received several reports of folks having problems in running the x86 originals in modern systems and since Microsoft is starting to drop backwards compatibility, these issues will get worse. So, these games need a re-release for modern systems.

However, the project Classic TAGAP isn't just a port job, as the new versions will carry quite a few additions and tweaks. The games themselves remain as-is, quirks and all, but the games will now also have the following;

  • Modern display support, ranging from the classic 800×600 to 4k, from 4:3 to 21:9
  • Support for borderless windowed mode and adaptive vertical sync
  • Upscaling options – either as-is pixel ratio or filtered mode
  • Sound engine updated from FMOD Ex to FMOD Studio API
  • Use of RawInput instead of DirectInput for controls (no need for legacy DirectX)
  • Completely re-debugged and re-validated with Visual Studio 2017
  • Featuring many of the bug-fixes and stability fixes from TAGAP Engine 3 (and beyond)

And yes, these new versions will be ready to launch on: TAGAP Day 2019 – July 31st!

But, seriously, why?

The biggest reason is, in all honesty, the growing contacts I've received over the compatibility issues. It seems they are on the rise – it could be that my older coding work doesn't play nice with latest Windows 10 updates. Whatever the case, this needs to be rectified. After all, I'm a big proponent of games conservation and maintaining compatibility is a big part of that.

What am I working on now

Obviously Classic TAGAP. While I could've just taken the old code and re-compiled it for a quick, low-effort port-job, I'm going through the entire code-base of both games, line by line. As I mentioned above, I won't modify anything on how things work – all the game quirks will be there – but I will scrub all the bugs and coding errors I come across.

This means I've come face to face with my old programming work and I have to say, I don't know whether to be embarrassed or impressed. Embarrassed, because some of my old code is irredeemable crap. Impressed, because at least I can say my skills have greatly improved over the years.

Big chunks of the first two engines are coded in a way that I can't really subtly improve upon the code base, but it would require a sledge hammer. And using a sledge hammer could cause changes in the game play, which isn't something I want to do with Classic TAGAP. Oh well, you can't have it all. In the end it doesn't matter much; as long as things work, the user won't notice your coding methods.

All this said, it hasn't been all about old TAGAP titles. The work continues on our next game, albeit slower. Actually, re-visiting the old games made me realise the newer engines don't have a proper support for 21:9 monitors, which is something I'm in the process of fixing. Once the next engine has the support ready, I'll add it to TAGAP 3 as well. I mean, not that anyone would use 21:9 display to play a darn TAGAP title, but still.

On the topic of our next project, I assume you have already seen the tease?

The Shape of Things to Come
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And finally, when I get tired of looking at C++ source code, I hop onto my other project – complete re-creation of TAGAP.net. The new version of the website will be done entirely in HTML5 and will have a responsive CSS layout. If you are unfamiliar with the web design lingo, 'responsive layout' means the layout of the website changes dynamically based on the device screen it is viewed on. So, if you prefer to browse things on your phone, the future version of TAGAP.net will be optimised for that, too.

Additionally, the current HTML 4.1 site is fairly rigid and image-based, making layout changes quite a monumental task. As there is a need for such a change looming on the horizon, I might as well go 'all in' and re-do the entire darn website!

So yeah, plenty plates to spin here at Penguin DT HQ!

Playlist

Playlist is a regular feature in our Penguin DT blog; A chance to highlight cool games both old and new that I've been playing. As always, I believe that in order to make games, you need to play them, preferably with a broad scope when it comes to genres, so each day I dedicate at least an hour to actually playing games. The rest of the free time? There is no such thing, it all belongs to TAGAP!

Yeah, that Sony censorship fiasco destroyed my planned schedule good. My intention was to spend these weeks leading to Rage 2 by completing the 'complete Devil May Cry' run with Japanese import of DMC4, followed by DMC5. Since part 5 flew into a trash bin and re-playing part 4 is pointless now, I've been going through my backlog again.

First up; Earth Defence Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair. I've been hearing good things about the franchise for years, but just like with Monster Hunter last year, our paths just never crossed. But now they did and oh boy, I fell in love! EDF is basically Japan's answer to, say, Serious Sam. The main difference being that where Serious Sam thematically throws in everything and a kitchen sink, EDF is laser focused on Japanese B-movies.

While everyone brings up the amount of ants on the screen when talking about the franchise, but what amazed me the most in EDF 4.1 was the sense of scale. While it may not be graphically most detailed a game, it perfectly captures the sense of being a foot-soldier trying to fight off kaiju-sized monsters and alien motherships! The scenes where the EDF squad waits and engages a wave of monsters rising from the sea? Salvo after salvo of rockets flying over head? Just amazing, like being one of those helpless soldiers trying to fend of the landing Godzilla.

I absolutely want to experience more of these! As a physical-copy-guy, I need to look to Asian imports for the follow-ups. That'll be costly.

Another game I played was RIVE, a brilliant twin-stick-shooter platformer with a dry sense of humor and the air flooded with gunfire almost every second. In comparison to, say, TAGAP, RIVE is more a twin-stick shooter than a platformer, but the way the game is balanced, it works really well. I recommend giving it a look, if you haven't already.

Currently I've been re-playing Rad Rodgers, which not-too-long-ago got a meaty update, adding playable Duke Nukem, Lo Wang and Shelly 'Bombshell' Harrison.

What's next?

On Penguin DT front it is all about juggling the FOUR projects, Classic TAGAP, TAGAP 3 and the next project! Currently the focus is on Classic TAGAP.

In games? You need to ask? New game of id Software – Rage 2 – is almost upon us! Vacation days have been booked and coffee pan is on the ready.

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin