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CarneyVale Creators: Don't Get Carried Away With HD

Talking as part of an in-depth Gamasutra postmortem, the creators of XNA Community Games standout CarneyVale: Showtime have been discussing why, in design
Talking as part of an in-depth Gamasutra postmortem, the creators of XNA Community Games standout CarneyVale: Showtime have been discussing why, in designing for HD, you shouldn't neglect SD and smaller televisions. The students, who created the title as part of a Singapore/MIT game lab called GAMBIT, discovered, in similar with professional teams on titles like Dead Rising and Banjo Kazooie: Nuts And Bolts, that designing on HDTVs can be dangerous. This is particularly true if provisions are not made for lower-resolution and smaller TV-owning players, as subsequent patches for the above commercial titles showed. As the team, which also won the Dream Build Play to top prize with CarneyVale, explained: "When we were building the game, we made sure that it looked great and ran properly on our development machines, not realizing how much influence that would have on our production. Not planning for wide distribution of our game made it much less accessible to other languages, regions and screen setups. Our team had an HDTV in our lab that we used for most of our initial prototypes, and all of our computers were capable of rendering at high resolutions. This led us to work under the incorrect assumption that we were developing the game only for HD displays, and we lacked the foresight to support lower-resolution televisions. In our zeal, we created so many assets that when we finally realized we should cater to lower resolutions, downsizing those assets was an insurmountable task. For example, we had many lines of text that we'd rendered as image files with fancy effects. Although the Xbox Live Community Games reviewers did not reject our submission for this reason, many of them did complain that words were cut off and that some text was too small to read. This was especially evident on CRT television screens that were less than 20" in size. However, due to time constraints and the need to ship, we had to push the title to Xbox Live Community Games without catering to lower-resolution television sets." The full Gamasutra postmortem of CarneyVale: Showtime is now available, including lots more practical specifics into what went right and wrong during the acclaimed XNA title's development.

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