2023 was a big year for GB Studio Central, and we’d like to take some time to reflect on the year and some of the things we’ve accomplished as well as awesome things around the GB Studio and GB Dev community.
GB Pixel Art Jam
This year saw the launch of our first GB Pixel Art Jam organized by our team and bad_dad. The Jam was simple, in the span of a weekend create a single image with Game Boy limitations in mind following the theme of “An Awesome Discovery”. We then compiled all the images into a Gallery ROM and released that for free. As opposed to a ranked and judged event, we took the community collab approach, having every entry qualify for a draw to win a physical cart of the Gallery, with one special prize of a custom etched aluminum cart from Boxy Pixel. Carts were also put on sale at cost from insideGadgets.
A few months ago, Gumpy Function put out a “bounty” to encourage folks to try and implement easy slope functionality into GB Studio. Currently, collisions are hard coded into every scene and fixed to an 8×8 grid, meaning only blocky steps can be used for any type of collision mapping. Creating a Discord server to facilitate collaboration, developers from both in and out of the GB Studio community quickly came together and built solutions to this problem. What’s more, Chris Maltby also joined in and started working some of the code into the main branch to see if it could be included in a future release. We’ve seen initiatives like this in the past lead to really powerful tools like Platformer Plus, and we’re really excited to see where this goes.
GB Studio Magazine
GB Studio Central came into existence with the hypothetical, “What if Nintendo Power existed for GB Studio?” While it was always in the back of our minds thinking, “wouldn’t it be cool if there was a physical version of our publication?”, we didn’t have the means to create it until this year. Lead by Eric Mack, our first two issues of GB Studio Magazine have sold more than 1000 copies combined. We are solidifying the framework to continue the mag going forward incorporating content from the site along with exclusives, and are very happy with the response.
GB Showdown & Compo
Two GB Jams got a lot of creative juices flowing this year, with GB Showdown being hosted by Yogi (Tronimal) and GB Compo by gbdev.io. Both gave a theme to follow, but while Showdown had a condensed period of time to develop a game specifically, Compo targets a larger audience with categories outside of games like music carts and tools and has a longer development period. Both also contrast in their judging/awarding structure with Showdown relying on Jam participants to vote and Compo using a pool of judges. We saw some really cool submissions from both Jams, and a few submissions in the past have gone on to get full releases. We love seeing the community flex its abilities with these Jams and patiently await Compo’s judging results.
Grimace’s Birthday and other Major Releases
We already gushed about Grimace’s Birthday, but it’s hard to overstate how impactful its release was. The day it came out saw our sites highest traffic ever (by a large margin) and media outlets of all sorts gave it coverage. For what was essentially a “shadow drop”, we saw an explosion in interest with homebrew Game Boy development and showed that there is a legitimate use case for these kinds of games as a marketing tool. The purple shake wasn’t the only brand tie-in to see release this year, with Hime’s Quest for Crunchy Roll also getting a wide release. Both games were made in GB Studio and showcased what could be possible with the tool, and we hope to see more endorsements push the way forward with great games.
GB on Switch
While we love the Game Boy in all its pocket sized glory, it’s still a niche market to cater to and the dream of making a game that gets a larger release on a modern console still lingers on many devs’ minds. Limited Run Game’s Shantae release using the Carbon engine was a great insight into what was capable, but our interest in GB games on the Switch really piqued when Nintendo Switch Online’s service released a collection of Game Boy games. With big N
exploiting embracing its back catalog of handheld offerings, it was only a matter of time before we saw a GB Studio game get the same treatment. And we didn’t have to wait long for 2021: Moon Escape to check that box. Published by Incube8 Games and developed by Mike Yamato, the team at Caracal Games presented the experience of playing the game in a unique way by using a “game within a game” approach. The player is shown in POV a futuristic desk with items, one being a handheld game player they can pick up to play the title. Not limiting to that title alone, Caracal also applied this treatment to Horatio.nyc’s Traumatarium. Looks like we’re entering a Game Boy renaissance, and these developers are making sure these titles are getting accessed by modern players as well.
What’s in store for 2024?
So now that we’ve recapped 2023, what can our community look forward to in 2024? Our first commitment is always to publish well produced articles that cover different topics. And with shin releasing the highly polished GB Studio Lab, there’s even more ways for our community to get high quality content to help elevate their games. We’ll be supporting their efforts as they progress, and are hoping to print some of their awesome tutorials in our coming issues of GB Studio Magazine.
With over 200 articles and traffic hitting new highs, our site is also in need of a revamp. We’re working with different members of our community to get a fresh coat of paint that will hopefully also improve the site’s performance. Some of the article release days have overwhelmed our servers, which is both a good and bad thing, so we’ve got some work to do to make sure our articles always remain accessible to the community.
We are also in the very first stages of developing a GB Studio Text Book. Our experience this year shows that people love physical publications, but even in digital form a comprehensive guide to using the software is something that has been asked of many times in the community. We have the knowledge and the ability so we’re taking on the task of getting that done. This will take some time to complete, but we’ll make sure to keep everyone up to date with its progress once it’s officially announced.
Finally, we want to meet you! Our team has had some amazing interactions through the digital communities, and we think it’s time we had a presence at some conventions. Do you have a favorite you like to attend? One you think a booth for GB Studio would be a welcome addition? Let us know on social media or email us at email@example.com – we’d love to see you there.
All the best and Happy New Year from the team at GB Studio Central!
Audio Engineer, Mac Technologist and Video Game Developer. Managing Editor of GBStudio Central. (he/him)