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The 2D action sidescroller Rogue Invader is presented entirely in 1-bit graphics--there is no color the pixels on the screen show other than “on” (white) or “off” (black).

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A lot of people have been asking us about our teaser: why is it in black and white? Why not do color?We think that’s an important question and want to answer that now.

A Bit about 1-bit

One-bit graphics have a long and storied history in computers and computer gaming. For much of the early days in visual computing (where monitors provided instant feedback about user inputs), the monitor could only show two colors: on or off.

I can hear you thinking, “Wait, ‘on’ isn’t a color.” Remember that everything computers currently do is based on two potential states: 0 or 1--off or on. Different monitors showed different colors for on: some showed green (think of The Matrix) and others showed white.

This image does an excellent job of showing both 1-bit green text and showing the clarity of each individual pixel.

Why is Rogue Invader in 1-bit support images

If you look closely you can see the little dots that make up each letter. These are pixels. Most monitors these days have millions of pixels that are super close together, so you rarely can tell them apart from one another.

What does this have to do with Rogue Invader?

Modern computers and monitors are able to show millions of colors per pixel. They can now show different colors and different intensities of each color. (We think this is really cool, because there are some incredibly beautiful games out there, check out the Star Wars Battlefront trailer for a prime example.)

However, we wanted to build on the trend in gaming toward a “retro” feel. Tons and tons of people are doing 8- and 16-bit color for their pixel art games. Some of them look really good and evoke the feel of the games we used to play on NES and SNES.

We wanted to pay homage to the games we first played: games on the Apple Macintosh: games like Brickle and Helicopter--games that had two colors: on and off.

Why is Rogue Invader in 1-bit support images

We wanted to take that move toward "retro" farther back, but we didn't want to regress in a few key areas.

Our twist

But there are some things we love about modern games: pixel density, smooth character controls, pixel perfect collisions. These things mattered to us. And we didn’t want to create a game that felt and moved like a doddering old Pentium 386.

So we took the exquisiteness and nostalgia of 1-bit and have placed it in a set of modern controls. We have merged the best of the old with the best of the new, and we want you to enjoy the nostalgia of the games you used to play without any of the “d@*! it, I wanted to go that way!” frustration.

Your turn

What do you think? Does this bring back fond memories for you? Let us know in the comments.

Nathan and Lee J

As always, hit us up on Twitter: Twitter.com and use #RogueInvader
Give us a thumbs-up on Steam: Steamcommunity.com


The graphics looks to good to be 1 bit (black and white). Either go with lower resolutions/larger pixels or add colour.

Just my two cents though...

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SquishyGamesCo Author

That's a really good observation and a common one. One-bit graphics aren't about lacking crispness. We built the game at 1280x720 (typical 720p resolution) because we wanted to see a similar look to old-school games, but without the clunky interactions. Crisp images is something we strive for at every level: in code, in graphics, in sound, etc.

A note on one-bit for the inner nerd: In one-bit, every pixel is either black or white. There is no grey or "degree of whiteness." This is what defines 1-bit, not how blocky the image looks. Thus a 4k screen could be used to portray an image that looked greyscale, but wasn't because the pixel density is so high.

To be honest, I double took at the waving flag in the flyover scene of the teaser because it looked so close to greyscale, but our artist showed it frame by frame, and I could see the grey was actually pixel density of only black and white pixels, and not "degrees of whiteness."

I hope that makes sense. I guess I wasn't as clear about that point as I thought I was in the article.

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