Posted July 31, 2011 at 5:57 in Colors, Games, Graphics, Inspiration, Photoshop - Say something

What serendipity.

There I’m sitting, at work, the time is 03:22am and for some reason I’m googling pictures of the old boardgame HeroQuest when one image catches my eye. It’s by this guy; Mattias Gustavsson, posted over at RetroGameDev, who has made a pixel shader for a project he’s working on. The shader makes your images look like tmhey are viewed on an old worn-out TV. As it happens, Mattias made an executable of his filter, but unfortunately, it’s for Windows only…

As I’m in love with (or, at least, very fond of) all things retro, this was right up my alley. Clearly, nostalgia is the proof of that you’re getting older.

The picture above is from the Amiga version of HeroQuest, borrowed – without permission – from Kim Lemon’s wonderful site LemonAmiga (also check out his Lemon64 site, if your old enough to remember that one). I ran this image through Mattias’ filter and merged the result with the original as a comparison. I find the latter, with its smoother appearance, much more pleasing to the eye. It’s also more how I remember it looked back in the day when I used to play this game on a crappy old 15″ TV. Not at all those crisp, but dead, pixels you get on a new LCD display.

I would love to have his pixel shader as a Photoshop Action so I could combine it with Philip “Pepto” Timmermann‘s C64 Palette for that full-on, ultra-high, retro feel of 8-bit games.

Above; first one is a guesstimated C64 palette, the second is rendered with the “real” C64 palette (mentioned above), the third one is the same as the second but have had Mattias Gustavsson’s filter applied to it. Now, if that doesn’t take you back, I don’t know what does!

I don’t know how he made it, but if I was to venture a guess, I would say that he first applied a layer of interlaced scanlines on both axis as the picture is twice the size afterwards. Then it seems that the picture is somewhat blured to imitate the not-so-sharp image of a CRT television as well as some color correction and/or color cast. Finally, there is a fair amount of RGB shifting by offsetting the three color channels in different directions. Then again, he could be doing something else entirely. It is, however, one of the more authentic looking effects I’ve seen in a while.

And, while we’re at the topic of old displays, check out Secret Geometry‘s beautiful terminal emulator made as a monochrome monitor. Very Pipboy-ish…