Xeno Crisis: a new game for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive, Dreamcast, Nintendo Switch and Steam

Created by Bitmap Bureau

Xeno Crisis is a new game for the Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, Nintendo Switch and Steam. It's a top-down arena shooter for up to 2 players that is best described as Smash TV meets Aliens! Run and gun your way through thousands of enemies spread over 6 areas as you attempt to discover the cause of the alien menace.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Progress Update (April/May 2019)
about 2 months ago – Tue, Jun 04, 2019 at 01:32:16 AM

Hey everyone, time to update you all once again with our recent progress! It’s been another few busy weeks fixing bugs and making tweaks to ensure that the game runs smoothly and is as solid / stable as it can possibly be for release. Unlike the modern versions which can be patched at will, we only get one shot at getting the Mega Drive / Genesis version right, so we’re having to be extra vigilant in everything that we do.

Mega Drive

Our bug list is shrinking by the day, which means that the finish line is most certainly in sight! As soon as we have a firm release date we’ll let you all know of course, but fixing a bug in a Mega Drive game is a process that can take a matter of seconds or even days, so it’s hard for us to quantify exactly how long it will be before we wrap up the Mega Drive version, but it should be a few weeks at the most.

The game’s ROM size is right up on the 32 megabit limit, and we’ve squeezed in way more than we originally intended! We did however realise that with some cunning optimisations we could shave a decent chunk ~100-150kb off the ROM size, meaning that we can now include even more sound effects than we originally could which all adds to the experience.

On top of this we’ve also been doing some tests and discovered that we have a little more headspace in terms of CPU time to push a few extra touches which we were originally uncertain about, such as enemies being pushed away by explosions, dog tags getting ‘launched’ upon killing an enemy, and many others - you can see these in effect here:

All of these refinements have of course pushed our release date back a bit, but we thought you would all appreciate these extras and understand that they take time to implement and then test. We’ve also been working on our MD parallel flashing rig, and are in the process of ironing out a few kinks we’ve found ahead of flashing all the cartridges for release.

Anyway, I’m sure you’d all like to see some new Mega Drive footage, so here’s a quick playthrough including the game’s first 3 areas - you might notice the odd bug / glitch here and there which we’re working on right now, but we hope you all appreciate the improvements made since the last video, and you can see just how close we are to finishing:

Neo Geo / Dreamcast

Whilst most of our efforts have been concentrated on finishing the Mega Drive version, Matt’s been keen to keep the Neo Geo and Dreamcast versions up to speed. We’re now able to compile the latest core code-base for all platforms and the platform layers for Dreamcast and Neo Geo are progressing nicely. Fortunately this cross platform porting process also led to finding a few bugs across in the core Mega Drive which are now fixed.

Development and especially debugging on retro hardware is notoriously hard, and we’ve had some fun in the last few weeks beefing up our tooling. Highlights include a custom MAME build for extra debug out on Neo Geo. Some MAME LUA scripts to hook into the Neo Geo (and Mega Drive) device memory and overlay renders of hit/collision boxes for easier debugging.

Progress on version 2 of the Neo Geo devkit for flashing the cartridges is going well:

In the meantime for on device testing, we use a NeoSD (for those eagle eyed readers, we’ve rigged up a Flash Air SD card into the side of the NeoSD to send builds over easier). NeoSD AES/MVS have been great for speeding up development in recent months - thanks to the guys at Terra Onion for all their support:  https://shop.terraonion.com 

To further test and refine the Neo Geo versions, particularly the MVS version, we thought we should acquire ourselves a genuine big red Neo Geo cab from the US (in this case an MVS-4-25) to get the full Neo Geo experience! Here’s a photo of it:

I’m sure many of you MVS owners out there have similar setups and we’re keen to make sure that Xeno Crisis looks and feels right in a cab, right down to the mini marquees, speaking of which we acquired a couple of classics from Neo Geo fan Roger Cantor to make sure that we get the design and measurements down to a tee before they’re printed:

Superwarehouse Indie Gaming Party

Over the next few months we’re going to be demoing Xeno Crisis at a select few events to help spread the word, and the first of these is the “Superwarehouse Indie Gaming Party”, which is taking place at Beach Blanket Babylon in Shoreditch, London on June 27th from 8pm to 1am. Tickets are £10, and there will be several other developers there demonstrating their games including Matt Phillips who developed Tanglewood for the Mega Drive. It would be great to see some of you there! If you’re interested then you can find more details here:

http://www.joypadbar.co.uk/events 

https://www.designmynight.com/london/bars/shoreditch/beach-blanket-babylon-shoreditch/superwarehouse-indie-gaming-party?t=tickets 

SGDK

Some of you may be aware that the Mega Drive version of Xeno Crisis was built using “SGDK”, a software development kit written by Stephane Dallongeville - without SGDK it’s unlikely that we would have even considered making a Mega Drive game, and SGDK is also behind several other Mega Drive titles such as Tanzer by Mikael Tillander, and Phantom Gear by Bits Rule Games. For those who are interested, Stephane has recently started a Patreon where you can donate to helping him develop SGDK further:

https://www.patreon.com/SGDK 

Xeno Crisis customised Mega Drive

The awesome Vadu Amka has started production of the customised Mega Drives that were offered in the Kickstarter campaign - all we can show you for the moment is this teaser of the Xeno Crisis logo printed in 3D. Should have the final product ready to show you in the next update!

Please bear with us as we’re now working flat-out to get Xeno Crisis finished and have it in your hands as soon as possible!

Progress Update (Feb/March 2019)
3 months ago – Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 02:54:45 AM

Hi everyone, we’ve been crazy busy and the last few weeks have flown by! We’ve mainly had to get our heads down coding as we attempt to wrap up the Mega Drive version ahead of release, but there are lots of other bits to update you all on. 

Mega Drive 

The build is now nearing completion with a few minor features left to implement and we are now entering the final stages and QA processes ahead of release. So to optimize our release schedule we have stepped up our preparations and have been working hard to get all of the testing and production infrastructure in place.

QA Testing 

We often get asked about our software and hardware set-ups here, so this is a quick look at our standard test array. This set-up gives us quick access to each of the major region and models of the Mega Drive / Genesis. We rotate device usage daily so the latest build is being tried and tested on different hardware revisions. We will also be using this (and other Mega Drive variants) for soak testing the builds in the next few weeks as we put the game through its paces in QA.

Manufacturing 

One of the key aspects for manufacturing is our ability to flash all the PCBs in parallel as fast as we can once the ROM goes to master. We’ve now put together our standalone expandable parallel flashing rig, which will greatly minimise the manufacturing delay from ROM master to shipping. A big thanks to René Richard, Matt Phillips, Catskull and Derek for their UMDv1 flashing hardware (we hope to expand to ~8 burning units by the time we are ready to flash).

Modern Platforms 

Modern console platform builds have all now passed certification, with just the SKUs for physical release on Switch and PS4 left to go through certification. We’re also excited to announce that Xeno Crisis will be available on GOG, and you can wishlist it here:

https://www.gog.com/game/xeno_crisis 

Dreamcast / Neo Geo 

Whilst the brunt of our focus has been Mega Drive, the core code-base is shared between it and the Dreamcast/Neo Geo. Now that the Mega Drive has matured and we’ve locked down all of its assets, we’ve been able to process them for the Dreamcast/Neo Geo. Fortunately we had previously written most of the tools to do this and we’ve already been able to start compiling more mature builds for Dreamcast/Neo Geo. We expect as planned to rapidly advance those builds once the Mega Drive version is complete.

We’re pleased to say Neo Geo PCBs for MVS and AES are now complete and working well - you can see the prototype AES boards above. We’ve been acquiring various motherboard revisions of MVS and AES hardware too as we look to test these boards out thoroughly across as many variations as we can.

For those who have been waiting, apologies we’ve been belated in sending out the Neo Geo survey for hostage names, we expect to send that out in the next 24-48hrs.

Finally 

We took a few hours out to visit EGX Rezzed last week where we bumped into our old mate Dazz from Did You Know Gaming and also had a good chat with Kim Justice about all things Sega. We’ve not yet exhibited Xeno Crisis as we’ve been fully focused on completing development, but as we release we’ll finally be able to attend more shows, so if you do see us then please come and say hello! That’s all for this month, but as ever, thanks for your amazing support and do get in touch if you have any questions.

Progress Update (January 2019)
5 months ago – Fri, Feb 22, 2019 at 12:50:59 AM

Hey everyone, sorry for the belated monthly update - it’s been another busy few weeks with lots of news to update you all with. 

Mega Drive / Genesis Footage

Progress has been excellent on the Mega Drive version and we now have some new 2 player footage to show you with the game being played on a Genesis Mk1 machine. Apologies for Mike’s phone capture; we were hoping to do a split picture video alongside the OSSC footage but we had a few last minute issues with our SCART splitter!

As you can see in this footage, the Mega Drive version is already very similar to the modern console version. The core optimization work has now been completed and we’re pleased to say it’s running at a solid 60 FPS even with 2 players firing away and hordes of enemies attacking! The last few weeks have seen the key areas of development and technically difficult aspects of the Mega Drive version completed (three of the boss battles resulted in 0, 3, 7 VRAM tiles left respectively!).

We’ve got a few enemy behaviours and boss battles still to complete and then we’ll be onto gameplay balancing, refinements and QA testing ahead of release. We expect to be in the QA testing phase by our next update and starting to ramp up for release. Please note if you pre-ordered on BackerKit before we moved over to our new shop (https://shop.bitmapbureau.com) then you may get an order lockdown notification shortly as we process any outstanding payments ahead of release.

We also hope to have a quick revisit to the Dreamcast version (and if time the Neo Geo version) in the next couple of weeks to ensure that the code base is kept more or less in-line with the Mega Drive version. There’s never enough time to do everything but we also hope to squeeze in some testing of the Mega Drive version on our Mister FPGA. :)

Modern PC/Console Trailer

The modern platforms are progressing through certification and as part of that process we’ve had to put together a trailer, so we thought it would be a good idea to share it with you! The video does show some of the stages and enemies you’ll encounter in the later parts of the game though, so you may wish to avoid watching it entirely - we’ll leave that up to you...

Neo Geo

Anyone who has pre-ordered the Neo Geo version will no doubt be interested to know that we recently received the first prototypes for the MVS PCBs (CHA/PROG). We’re pleased to report (slightly to our surprise) that the first revisions have worked as intended. The boards are currently being put through various tests on a wide range of MVS devices. The prototype AES PCBs are expected to be ordered in the next week or two; we hope they will work out as well as the MVS ones.

We’re making really good progress with the sourcing AES/MVS plastic shells, our MVS mold design is also complete and we’re waiting on some molding quotes for comparison to potential suppliers.

If you ordered the Collector’s Edition for Neo Geo then you will receive a survey in the next couple of weeks to confirm how you wish your hostage name to appear in-game, as well as one or two other details. We’ll also try to confirm serial number allocations for those that requested a particular serial where possible.


So that’s it for this month - the end is definitely in sight with regards to the Mega Drive version, and things are progressing well on other fronts. We hope you enjoyed the update and we’re sure we’ll have more good news to share in the next one!

Progress Update (December 2018)
6 months ago – Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 12:31:05 AM

Here’s a quick mini update on progress - with the holiday break it’s been a quieter month than usual but we’re back in the office and full steam ahead with Xeno Crisis!

Development 

Things are going very well with the modern platform versions (Switch, PS4, XBox One, Steam), which have been through more refinements and have now started to enter certification. Matt’s condition has improved greatly and he’s been able to accelerate his development of the Mega Drive version - there’s still some catching up to do but he’s really happy with progress.

We don’t like leaving any major bugs around for too long, and we finally managed to track down a nasty crash bug that was happening when loading the final levels of the game on the Mega Drive (space on the stack wasn’t being properly cleared and it was gradually running out!). Development setups for retro platforms can be very limiting, sometimes with little to no feedback, error reporting and logging.  If there is enough demand we hope to do an article on our development process after release; showing some of the setups and workarounds and how we can get things like basic debugging working on emulators and on the actual Mega Drive / Dreamcast.

Certification has meant that we’ll have to jump on a few other bits like trailer production and store launch assets, which have to be submitted well ahead of time, so Mike’s getting on with that side of things. We’ve also bought an OSSC so that we can start to capture gameplay footage directly from the Mega Drive, Dreamcast and Neo Geo systems, so we’ll be able to show some of that in the coming weeks.

Neo Geo 

The physical side of the Neo Geo version is moving along nicely, with two of the four PCB prototypes ordered, and the other two designs nearly ready for prototype. We’ve also commissioned the 3D designs of the various molds. We’re half-way through January now which means there’s just two weeks left to order a Collector’s Edition of Xeno Crisis for the Neo Geo, which you can do so here:

https://shop.bitmapbureau.com 

Oh yes, Kotaku were kind enough to include us in their list of British games to look out for in 2019:

http://www.kotaku.co.uk/2019/01/11/games-of-2019-british-games 

Xeno Crisis is very much a European effort though, with Henk in Holland, Savaged Regime in Sweden, Catherine in Slovakia, and Matt / Mike in the UK!

Well that’s about it for this mini update - thanks for reading and please get in touch if you have any questions! 

Progress Update (November 2018)
7 months ago – Wed, Dec 19, 2018 at 12:29:39 AM

Hello again to everyone - hope you’re all well and looking forward to Christmas! We’ve had another busy month both in terms of the game’s development and also the physical production side of things too. We’re a little late delivering November’s update as we were keen to get something very important in place first - our newly opened online store, which you can browse here:

https://shop.bitmapbureau.com

Much like our BackerKit page, you can still pre-order Xeno Crisis for your platform of choice as well as the soundtrack on vinyl or CD, but the big additions are the Neo Geo AES, MVS and CD versions which are now available for pre-order in Standard or Collector’s Editions! We’ve finally been able to take some improved photos of all of our products too - here’s the Neo Geo AES box for example:

Returning to the physical side of things, we’ve also received the Collector’s Edition Silver labels for the Mega Drive version, which you can see here (photo doesn’t do it justice!):

 ...and we also had the modern Genesis inlay and labels reprinted to accentuate the candy stripe pattern:

You might also be interested to know that we received our delivery of the vinyl soundtrack, and it looks and sounds fantastic:

Talking of deliveries we were excited to receive our physical edition of Tanglewood recently from fellow Mega Drive developer Matt Phillips! It’s a wonderfully crafted game that looks and feels right at home on the Mega Drive, and you really should check it out if you fancy some puzzle / platform action!

We haven’t spoken about the Dreamcast version for a while now, but we’re making steady progress with it testing it periodically alongside the Mega Drive core code base. Tom Charnock of the Dreamcast Junkyard was kind enough to personally deliver a Dreamcast Twin Stick (HKT-7500) to us, which we’re looking forward to getting up and running with Xeno Crisis - we’re aware that there’s very few games that make use of the Twin Stick, and I’m sure anyone who owns one would love to see more games support it - Xeno Crisis should be a perfect fit for it!

Following last month’s announcement that we’ve teamed up with Strictly Limited Games to release physical editions of the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 versions, we’ll soon be giving backers of those variants the option to upgrade their digital version to a physical version ahead of their general release, so please look out for more details from us shortly!

Finally, since it’s Christmas, and since it’s been about a year from when we launched the Xeno Crisis Kickstarter, we thought it would be a good time to show some new gameplay footage, complete with music, sound effects, speech - the lot! Matt’s still playing catch-up with the Mega Drive version so it makes sense to show some footage from the modern versions, which are now complete. So here’s Mike doing a *very* quick run-through of the first area with the female marine, attempting to keep the video under Twitter’s 2 minute 20 second restraint - we hope you enjoy it!

Well thanks for reading, and we hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s update - we’ll make sure next month’s isn’t quite so late!