During the making of my Adventure “The Lost Adventures” I downloaded some character sprites from the internet first and used some assets from archived projects. I edited these with Gimp, my normal workhorse for doing stuff. But they looked horrible, and It looked really like developer art, and it took too much of my time. Gimp is good at graphics manipulation but not specifically doing well at the pixel level. A good pixel art tool is all about zooming in out, you have to do this as often as you can. It’s important that you can get direct feedback if your pixel you just painted looks good on the sprite as it will appear in your game this way. An ideal device to zoom in and out quickly is pinching and zooming pixel editor. Tablet has a few drawbacks too, like selecting portions of your sprite and moving them. I have tried lots free and non free. Lets list some of them here (ranked from best to worst, off course after writing this post, some apps can be improved in the meantime): Non Free Pixaki : (cons:resize canvas and magic wand are missing – pros:dropbox export, iCloud import, great pinching and zooming) Pixels: (cons:awkward interface – pros:animation support and support for dropbox) EDGE Touch : cons (only iPhone, but looks ok on iPad, no dropbox or iCloud support – pros : intuitive interface, layers) PixArtist: (cons:no cloud support, not in european store – pros: great pinching and zooming) Pixure:(cons:dropbox,iCloud?,selecting an action is a two way process – pros:watch app, iPhone and iPad support) Pixel Dude:(cons:selecting colors is problematic – pros:dropbox support, iPhone and iPad support) Sprite Something: (cons:non-intuitive editor,dropbox support is troublesome – pros:animation editor, iPhone and iPad support) Free Dottable Make Pixel Art Bitdraw Repin Pixel Art Studio Desktop Apps AseSprite Gimp Pixen Piskel
Making save games is one of the most critical parts of an adventure game. I had a simple ‘save the game when you exit the room’ procedure before I created this. This was sufficient for a while, but I needed more flexilibity. The player will be able to save the game at any time anyway. I have created a draft interface for making save-games. It will definitely be more polished in the future, but I wanted to get this thing coded. I need this badly for testing all the rooms, because it’s more convenient to load certain states by specially prepped save-games. As you can see it shows a small thumbnail scaled down but still pixelated when you click what I call a saveslot. A descriptive date will be shown on the thumbnail so the player knows exactly when he saved it. Players can add a title when they want to. This is not in the game right now. but these features will be in it. As you can see, I can play tictactoe with this screen. So it’s now a game within a game!
I have a lot of rooms (about 10 rooms for each Act) There will be around 40 in total. I need to be able to switch really quick to test them. It’s a typical smorgasbord of buttons to do just that. Such a ‘switch’ screen will not be in the game because that would break the immersion of the game. I really wanted to make this ‘real’ transition room quickly, because it can be part of the game. It is a shown in a special way because it is projected from the side completely. The only thing Dave can do is press the buttons. Depending on the floor the speed of the transition is faster when the floor destination is farther from the current floor. Lang’s building is very futuristic, so such a turbo lift could be expected. The elevator is what I expected too be, I had made the art in pieces long before I made the movement so It was really coding all the movement. A lua script is driving the animation as all the other rooms. Still, this is all not set in stone because I am not convinced the player should see the buttons all the time. I could centre the buttons when the player activates the panel and show some stuff buried in the concrete. The elevator created a new puzzle for the adventure, getting an elevator pass… The elevator above is an animated gif so click the preview thumbnail to look at it. It’s quite hypnotic…!
In anticipation of the animation function in Pixaki I discovered that the updated Pixely app has an animation function that can export to gif. I added the frames of the angry guard character (a small character in The Lost Adventures) and create an animated gif. It really looks if he is about to beat you up! The Lost Adventures engine is almost feature complete and I am about to leave pre-production. There will probably missing some features, but they are not necessary for the main story and adventure gameplay. The adventure engine has the following features : Voice acting support in dialogs Animation system controlled by Lua scripting Game state saving (no saving interface yet!) Follow and zoomcamera controllable with scripting Dialog tree support Scripted background music and sound Inventory management A star path finding for tilemaps All kinds of scripting events , wait, walk to, move to etc.. System describing stuff in the world including voice support Wish list : Save interface Loading screen Character animation for seperate parts, mouth and arm gestures
I had some serious trouble with my arcade true type font. Because ttf only have one color, I pondered about pre rendered fonts on a bitmap sprite sheet. Initially I liked this idea, but I like the true type font because it’s quick and resizes really nicely. But the problem is that If I wanted multicolour characters this won’t do. So what did I do? Well, I made two CCLabelTTF nodes and drew them over each other. One node as an outline and one for the fill. This worked very well, except for multiple lines…. The truetype font node shifted a pixel or so on each row. This is because of the rounding errors in the “how many text can fit in a certain box” calculation in the True Type rendering. Look at the green coloured arcade text. Its the TTF version. Some of the characters are smeared across each other and that sucks big time. So what to do then? Wrestle with bitmaps and aliasing again? No not again! The orange coloured is drawn block for block by Cocos2D primitives rendered on a texture. A sprite for each character is created from those textures. But with this new approach I had to create the “how many text can fit in a certain box” algorithm for my solution too. Plus all the font input had to be made too, so it took me about 6 hours to make this. But this is a very important aspect of the game, so it deserves the quality it has now. On the plus side I can make lowercase characters, making the game even more authentic to the likes of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Another plus is memory consumption, my solution uses less memory than the TTF one. Another plus is that I also aligned every line of text in the dialogs, just because I was on it anyway.