I've seen a lot of nice 2d games recently, like Geometry wars that have really nice computer generated graphics.

I would like to know how is it done so game looks really nice even if it is composed only from really primitive graphic objects. All those lights, glowing particles, transformations etc.

Do you have any tips, info, books, articles that would uncover some details about creating graphics this way?

And what about development for all the mobile platforms, any good frameworks for this kind of work?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I assume you're specifically talking about a certain style of vector graphics rather than just "2d graphics"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kylotan
    Dec 3, 2011 at 21:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a reaaaaaally vague question. \$\endgroup\$
    – jhocking
    Dec 4, 2011 at 2:22

1 Answer 1


Most of those flashy 2D games are hardware-accelerated, which allows the developer to take full advantage of the graphics hardware, and apply nicer-looking effects without impacting performance that much. Geometry Wars was most likely made with 2D polygonal lines or sprites, with several shaders for effects.

Shaders can be thought of as special programs that run in the GPU of the video card, that do additional stuff with pixels and vertices that would be much faster than doing it on the CPU. To get an idea of what shaders could do, here are a few examples. The explanations are very trivial and I think are pretty good for a total noob to start playing around with them. With some basic math and shader programming it's possible to get those "warp" or "glowing" effects you see in the background.

Object transformations are usually done with matrix-vector operations, or sometimes using linear algebra.

However, the graphics in that game are also simple to the point that a lot of those objects can be also created as sprites, and then it's a simple matter of blending sprites appropriately to create those effects. If you can reproduce the same visual effects from an artist's point of view, it's usually easier and faster to work that way.

I don't know of any good mobile frameworks, not having programmed for mobile platforms before. However I know that cocos2d is a good one, usually used for iOS games and it's based on OpenGL so it's hardware accelerated.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It looks like those Facewound shader tutorials went offline sometime around 2012-13. The Internet Wayback Machine has a copy but I can't find the same tutorials elsewhere. \$\endgroup\$
    – RJHunter
    Jan 23, 2015 at 1:54

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