I'm comfortable with the basics of building a 2d sprite based game in XNA, where all my objects are simply .png images that I move around.

What things do I need to learn next to be able to develop a 2d game that utilizes an art style similar to Super Laser Racer for example.

enter image description here

Other examples of this style would include Frozen Synapse, Geometry Wars, etc.

I would describe this style "2D abstract glowing geometry" or something like that.

I can see that a lot of the effects in these types of games are achieved via particle systems and also that maybe some things are still just sprites that were maybe drawn in a graphics editor to look all "glowing" etc.

But then the rest is possibly done by making draw calls to DirectX and implementing custom shaders, etc?

Is that right? I'm not really sure of what to learn next to be able to go in this direction or what questions to ask.

  • I just want to throw in that your loss for a description of "2D abstract glowing geometry" is Google-able as "vector display graphics" as seen in Asteroids, Tempest, etc. (don't let MAME fool you; the original, old-school vector display hardware created a natural pin-sharp glowing effect that games like Geometry Wars are simply simulating) (adding this as a comment, rather than an answer, as per Peter Parker's recommendation) – christopherdrum Nov 29 '17 at 1:27
up vote 30 down vote accepted

The simplest way to achieve the effect is to draw a bunch of particles in Additive mode, so when they are superimposed their color values are added up, becoming brighter.

Some samples:



  • 5
    +1, This is the correct answer. It is an additive blend. – Arcane Engineer Oct 17 '11 at 8:02

The glowing effect is probably a bloom filter pixel shader

One simple method I know of is to render once, blur the result, then render the original, sharp object again on top.

This can be done by a bloom filter pixel shader.

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