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DX-Ball 2: 20th Anniversary Edition!

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Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on August 23, 2018 at 8:11 pm



The king of breakout games is coming back in a special 20th Anniversary Edition with new boards, online leaderboards, a boardset editor and more! Add it to your wishlist now on Steam!

Level 4 Human gamer and programmer
Alignment: Good
Location: Belgrade, Serbia
Posted on September 16, 2018 at 10:22 pm

Level 10 Human
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 4, 2018 at 6:23 pm

Oh boy. Am I dreaming?

Level 10 Human
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 4, 2018 at 6:35 pm

Well, now that I actually looked into it, it appears to be exactly the same game, only upscaled and stretched? I was kinda hoping for something more of an HD remaster. 🤔

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 16, 2018 at 8:55 pm

Well, now that I actually looked into it, it appears to be exactly the same game, only upscaled and stretched? I was kinda hoping for something more of an HD remaster. 🤔

We're trying to find a balance between getting the original game up running properly on modern computers while also adding some new content/features for players looking for something new. The update runs in a native 1280x720 (rather than the original 640x480) which works better with most people's current displays but still maintains some of the retro low-res feel. The original boards have all be upscaled to run in the new version while still maintaining the classic look; however, there are also new boards in high(er) res and the new board editor supports higher resolution bricks and backgrounds.

Level 10 Human
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 17, 2018 at 12:08 am

I'm not familiar with the latest advancements of today's computers, but I have had no issues running the legacy version of DX-Ball 2 on my Acer Aspire V5 laptop, just dating four years. What I'm concerned about is that the current version of DX-Ball 2 looks pretty bad on my computer, compared to the legacy version. The picture is stretched out, the graphics look pixelated, and there are flickering horizontal lines across the screen. I have addressed this issue in a separate thread.

I would appreciate if we could get some graphics options in the game, perhaps to run legacy board-sets in their original 4:3 ratio, and an option to switch between texture filters for the upscaling. Then the player may choose whether to preserve a pixelated nearest neighbour interpolation or apply texture smoothing, while everything still runs in the 1280x720 resolution. I would imagine the new HD board-sets could then run in a separate environment, where the original graphics retain their aspect ratio and are simply repositioned on the screen (score, text, lives, etc) to match the aspect ratio of the new HD board-sets. I believe it would be possible to work something like this out?

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 17, 2018 at 8:23 pm

The most common problem we heard from players with the legacy version was that some computers didn't handle 640x480 resolutions very well - some monitors didn't support the resolution at all or displayed the game in a small box surrounded by black. The update we put out a few years ago switched it so that Windows did the upscaling and your monitor continued to run at native resolution. While this improved compatibility, you're correct that it did cause the game to get distorted on widescreens which is what the vast majority of players have now.

The new version still handles the upscaling in software, but will add borders to maintain the proper aspect ratio of the original boards. It also supports new widescreen boards that add 6 extra columns of bricks to make use of the extra screenspace.

Regarding filtering techniques: because the game is still using old-school bitmap code we don't have easy access to the hardware accelerated filtering techniques that you would get in any DirectX or OpenGL game.

I posted a quick screenshot of the anniversary edition running on a 4k screen here. There are still a number of things I plan to tweak, but if there's anything that stands out to you let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Level 10 Human
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 19, 2018 at 2:35 am

Yes, this is basically what I had in mind. Judging by the screenshot, the pixels look distorted for every graphic but the text and the ball. There's also a very thin line of space between the bricks and the wall on the right side. Would these issues be caused by end user DPI settings? My concern is that different DPI scaling levels will make the pixels look distorted, in particular the bricks, as they need to be scaled in proportion to the screen resolution. Is there anything that can be done regarding this? Optimally, I would want a picture that appears smooth and free of any visible pixelation.

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 19, 2018 at 8:25 pm

Thanks for the extra information. I guess it ultimately comes down to a matter of preference. In the screenshot I posted, I was trying to replicate the original look of the boards as closely as possible which meant simply enlarging the current pixels and keeping the hard edges and 256 colour palette.

In the screenshot you posted, I assume it's been resized using some sort of interpolation so that if you look closely there are lots of new blended colours added on all of the pixel edges. This definitely gives a softer appearance, but I think you also lose some of that retro low-res look.

I'm honestly not sure what most people prefer. I'd been leaning towards not modifying the original boards in respect to the original authors who made them, but it might also be reasonable to make it an option to toggle between pixelated and interpolated brick sets. There will also be some options to change the graphics using mods (although using mods affects the ability to post online scores).

Level 10 Human
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 20, 2018 at 12:23 am

I'd been leaning towards not modifying the original boards in respect to the original authors who made them, but it might also be reasonable to make it an option to toggle between pixelated and interpolated brick sets.

I would definitely love to have an option like that available. But I wonder if the upscaling done in Windows would still introduce distortions to the graphics? I'm not sure exactly how the upscaling is handled in technical terms, but ever since I made the switch to my present computer, which runs at 1920x1080 with 125% DPI scaling, there have been instances where I was presented with very poorly upscaled images in Windows, such as this one from the RBT installer. I believe most of the applications I run, like my web browser, handle the upscaling of raster graphics by their own integrated interpolation methods?

Level 1 Human Skull Worker
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 21, 2018 at 8:32 am

If I may ask, for those who have already bought the original game, do they have to buy it again?

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 22, 2018 at 9:06 pm

If I may ask, for those who have already bought the original game, do they have to buy it again?

Unfortunately we don't have a good way of offering discounts to those who bought the original version; however, we're expecting most people interested in the anniversary edition will be returning customers so we're planning on pricing it accordingly i.e. more like an upgrade. We're also trying to pack in enough new features and content so that hopefully players feel its a good value even if they have the original.

Level 1 Human Skull Worker
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 24, 2018 at 6:54 am

If I may ask, for those who have already bought the original game, do they have to buy it again?

Unfortunately we don't have a good way of offering discounts to those who bought the original version; however, we're expecting most people interested in the anniversary edition will be returning customers so we're planning on pricing it accordingly i.e. more like an upgrade. We're also trying to pack in enough new features and content so that hopefully players feel its a good value even if they have the original.


Thank you very much for your response. I'm sure it will be worth my money.

Level 10 Human
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 29, 2018 at 7:28 pm

I have to pardon in advance for my hazy understanding of screen resolutions and compatibility in the scope of today's computer displays; but it just dawned on me that a 1280x720 resolution will never be able to correctly scale a 640x480 raster picture. I realised this would be the cause of the pixel distortion present in the new screenshots, as a result of the picture not being a perfect multiple of its original resolution. So in order to eliminate the pixel distortion and render a properly upscaled picture, the engine would need to run at a resolution that is an exact multiple of the native 480 pixel height, such as 960 or 1440. Is this something that would be possible to incorporate?

I think it might be unrealistic to aim for a pixel sharp picture with the combination of raster graphics created for a 640x480 resolution and today's display technology, considering the issue of inevitable pixel distortion at any resolution that is not a perfect multiple of 640x480. But I would like to see an effort to get the proportion of the height rendered correctly, as a display option for screens that support resolutions with a height of 960 pixels and above. It could allow for the option to either play the game in a framed box of 1280x960, rendering perfectly doubled pixels, or let the display stretch the picture to fill the height of the screen. If the stretching is done by the display itself rather than Windows, it should also be interpolated automatically by the display. I think this may be the best option to preserve the quality of the picture on today's display devices?

Level 10 Human
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on October 29, 2018 at 7:47 pm

Another thing that came to mind was to apply a simulation of CRT scanlines to the picture. I tested this in a graphic editor, putting a layer of faint black lines on top of a few upscaled screenshots. It's the closest thing I've seen that compares to how the game looked on a CRT monitor, and I think the result is very pleasing to the eye. These images were first upscaled to 1280x960, without any scaling filters, and then stretched out to 1440x1080, with bilinear filtering. It gives a sharper picture than stretching 640x480 to 1440x1080, at the cost of some slightly visible pixelation; but with the appliance of the simulated scanlines, the slight pixelation is filtered out. I also added a bit of extra brightness, to compensate for the appearance of dimming.

Level 4 Human gamer and programmer
Alignment: Good
Location: Belgrade, Serbia
Posted on November 8, 2018 at 11:28 pm

The DPI scaling in Windows is pretty bad, I don't think there is much we could do about it. The screensots look quite nice, although the simulated scanlines do make the game look a bit too oddly dark to someone who has grown used to seeing the game on LCD screens. I can pretty much ditto to what you said about the 4K screenshots, they look nice, although the bricks still look a bit distorted, though I'd say they're still a bit nicer than in 1.34

Level 10 Human
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 7:20 am

I just had a look at the new screenshots on Steam, and I have to say these look far beyond what I thought was possible. I see no visible artefacts in the pictures, and these are displayed in 1920x1080 with the appropriate 4:3 aspect ratio. Very nice. The new high resolution bricks and backgrounds look slick and true to their original counterparts. Keep it up!

Level 10 Human
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on November 17, 2018 at 5:10 pm

I suppose my excitement was a little too soon. After running the beta code in full screen, having completely forgotten that I had immediately switched to windowed mode at first launch, I realised the game is still being upscaled by Windows from 1280x720 to my laptop's native 1920x1080 resolution, which causes all kinds of graphical distortions. The screen still flickers, this time by the appearance of vertical lines, and ten times more of them. It's almost like watching an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy. On a less comical note, it does look great in windowed mode. But seeing how this is the case, I have to urge again that we do get an option to toggle full screen upscaling by display device rather than Windows.