VEC9 Gives Vector Arcade Gaming a Modern Upgrade

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VEC9 Gives Vector Arcade Gaming a Modern Upgrade
photo: VEC9
Photos courtesy of the VEC9 team

If you were a gamer in the 80s you will remember vector arcade games. Whether they were brand new when you saw them, or aging rapidly, they caught all gamers’ eyes. Those crisp glowing lines, from which the game systems gained their common name, “vector games,” were actually a limitation of the hardware at the time. As we developed new and stronger systems, we abandoned vector displays for things that could give us much more variety.

The team, 68 Crew, took a different approach with their game “VEC9.” They revisited the use of a vector display, but the modern hardware driving it allows for some really stunning results.

As you can see in the video, they’re doing things with vector graphics that we really couldn’t do in the past. We previously didn’t have computers strong enough to do truly 3-dimensional games, however now we have tons of processing power available in most computers. VEC9 harnesses that to do vector graphics in ways that are very pleasant to watch. The ship itself is 3D, as you fly around you see the perspective change properly on the ship. When it crashes, you get a splash of little vector polygons. It is truly fun to watch.

The game itself is fantastically designed, but the arcade cabinet really brings it all together. Using an old tank steering wheel and a variety of lit status indicators and buttons, it feels like a piece of military equipment. It was a pleasure to play, though I have to admit that I died all too frequently because I was focusing on the graphics more than completing my objectives!

2 thoughts on “VEC9 Gives Vector Arcade Gaming a Modern Upgrade

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  2. Robert Green says:

    It’s great to see a real vector monitor being used for this project but I don’t think their claims of needing modern fast powerful hardware to generate true 3D vector graphics is accurate. One of the great things about real vector graphics was that you didn’t need a really powerful CPU/GPU. For instance the Vectrex really excelled at 3D using only a 1.5mhz 8-bit processor w/o a FPU and no math co-processor. Vectrex pioneered 3D imaging and was the precursor to what movie theaters use today.

    “The same 3-D effect is in fact possible with raster or film-projection images, and the shutter glasses used in some 3-D theaters and virtual reality theme park rides work on the same principle.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vectrex

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. You can find me on twitter at @calebkraft

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