When Matt first pitched his idea for The Incident to me some time last year, it was a different world. Lady Gaga was not yet a household name, the King was still alive, Darwinius masillae had just been discovered, we carried iPhone 3GSs in our pockets. The iPad was still just a twinkle in the poison-pill-tooth of a security guard in Apple’s design lab.

I started working on background art in January of 2010. We had agreed on the approximate height of our vertically scrolling levels, and the width seemed obvious: 480 px (or 240 px in our retro, double-size pixels).

So I drew something like this:

(Psst - if you’re viewing this post in Tumblr’s Dashboard, click the photos to enlarge them, or view this post on my website.)

Then April came, and with it, the iPad. And it was sweet, and lo, we knew we’d have to ship a universal app for both iPhone and iPad. 

This presented a slight complication: the iPad’s screen size isn’t a clean multiple of the iPhone’s. The aspect ratios are even different - 4:3 vs 3:2. We tweaked the game’s difficulty to make up for the aspect ratio, but there was no fudging the art. It had to be widened to 256 px (x4 = 1024, the iPad’s width).

We’ve been working on something new for the last few weeks. See, we’d really like to enjoy The Incident the way we first played video games: on our TVs. This is totally doable, if you have an iPad and an iPhone/iPod. We will be releasing this new feature very soon in The Incident 1.3. Read Matt’s announcement!

Modern TVs run HD resolutions, which means that our aspect ratio is once again different (16:9) and we have to once again widen the whole thing. The target is now 320 px (x4 = 1280).

All the background art - and let’s not forget other screens, like the Home screen, Help, About, Awards, menus etc. - is now 1/3 wider. The above example, the Street level, wasn’t too difficult. It mostly consists of repeating patterns, with lots of square elements.

Something like Mountains (level 3) was a different story altogether. This is where I started:

And this is where I had to get:

Phew.

Anyway, perhaps I buried the lede, so here it is again: The Incident 1.3 is coming soon as a free update, and it’ll let you play on your TV, using an iPad as a console and your iPhone or iPod as the controller. Pretty sweet.