Monday, April 23, 2012

Work in Progress - Character Sprite

So, I actually simplified my character from the initial sketches I did. But, I think the design has more character now. I've viewed this animated and it looks pretty good. I'll leave you in suspense for now. I have a lot more animation left to do and quite a bit of coding around it. I also need to clean this one up a bit... it's a little hard to maintain a balance between going for a decidedly low-tech and simple look and making things look nice. 

The amount of work I have left to do on the character is a little overwhelming, but I basically know what I need to do. Lots of frames and lots of code making the frames show up at the right times.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Repel" Tiles: A History

The tiles used for objects that repel the player have been through several iterations. Here's a breakdown of all of them so far. Keep in mind that each individual coloured square in each of these splits up into 9 pieces for tiling purposes (top left, middle middle, bottom right, etc.).

Concept 1: Animated diamond tiles
Logic: they point out in every direction, and the animation makes them similar to those boost strip things racing games have (in my head).
Flaw: This doesn't really tile that well, and the animation was annoying to me. Plus individual pieces liked to not be in sync. I'm sure I could have fixed it somehow, but I had already decided not to use this idea by then. I'll spare you the animation, but as you can see above there are two frames for each colour.

Concept 2: Pixely lines
Logic: At this point I think I was convinced I was going to make an Atari-esque looking game, so I went with that. The lines to me seemed to more clearly illustrate "you bounce off this thing" to me than the diamond idea. Plus this one tiles fairly well. This remained my placeholder image for quite a while.
Flaw: It doesn't look good. Doesn't match my current art direction.

Concept 3: Diamonds revisited.
Logic: I was sketching out ideas for tiles with a pencil and I ended up going back to this (sans animation). I wanted it to look at least sort of made-of-stone. I think I forgot how bad it looked when tiled. Here's how bad it looked when tiled:

Flaw: See image above. It would look alright if I tiled it differently, but the way this game is built that would mean a lot of extra work. I was basically faced with the choice of writing several new lines of code and babysitting the classes of all my tiles every time I build an object or coming up with a new idea. I still really like the way these look as squares, so it feels almost like a waste not to use them. I tried just tiling them as individual smaller squares, but it didn't look too hot either.

Concept 4: Zig-zagging bricks
Logic: I basically arrived at this while trying to make the diamond tiles tile more nicely. I really like the way it looks, but...
Flaw: It's just too solid looking. It looks like a wall you would hit and then stop. I tried to use the zig-zagging and alternating colours to suggest motion, but in the end it's still a brick wall. Plus, from a game design standpoint, it's similar enough to the brick wall that it sends the wrong message to the user regarding gameplay. Assuming the player knows that the way the blocks look dictate gameplay and the straight bricks stop you when you hit them, so the slanted ones... make you move in a diagonal line? Well, sometimes... but not always. It also looks like it maybe repels you in the direction the bricks point (which is open to interpretation based on how you look at it), but again it only does that sometimes. So basically, the designer in me hated this idea despite my eyeballs thinking it looks cool.

Concept 5: Jelly blocks
Logic: Once I accepted that zig-zags and diamonds weren't going to work, I had to think about what I could possibly do to suggest an object that will repel the player. Anything involving circles would have the same problem as diamonds. Lines, a la the pixel blocks, felt like they would always look like placeholders to me. I also decided that these blocks shouldn't be stone. So I tried to make them look like rubber. Now they look more like jell-o to me.
Flaw: I'm going to stick with this design for now, but I'm far from married to it. I think it might be slightly too cartoony. They also remind me of something that would be in a Flash game from 1999. If I come up with something better I'll change it. I'm probably going to animate them slightly when the player touches them (either some kind of wobble, or just a blur effect to indicate vibration and make it look a bit more kinetic). So I guess that extra bit of work is a flaw, but whatever. Oh, and it just hit me that the right side will look almost identical to a stick object if it's a larger wall. I need to fix that.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

First prototype level working

I had a breakthrough this past weekend and completely scrapped and rewrote part of my collision code. Solved almost all of my problems, and with a little bit more work I had what felt like a very solid prototype. So I built a level... which caused all new problems. Such is game development, I suppose. Anyway, I fixed most of the major bugs and now I have a complete (albeit short) level.

Here are screenshots.

And here's a look at the editor.