"Life is too short to make bad art."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Complete Game - the beginning

After a bit of celebrating the 2 million mark (I hope you got the presents alright - according to the stats it was a success), some work finishing projects that would have stopped proper focus on this series of tutorials and a little bit of time to think about the right approach and order - it's finally time to get started.

Let's begin by defining the goals:

  • make all the art to complete a game (which is stating the obvious...)
  • make it a feasible scope (we are not going for a MMO RPG with sheer endless amounts of art assets)
  • make it easy to follow (there is no point going for fancy sketches and illustrations that require some ridiculous talent - it might look nice but is not helpful for the readers of this blog)
  • incorporate different and new tips & tricks in the process (I wand to use elements from previous tutorials but also explain some new ideas that have not yet been covered)
  • keep it within Inkscape / gimp (and I am tempted to give krita a try for this project) so i all done with open source tools
  • create the art for different platforms (Android, iOS and PC)
  • enjoy doing it (it's a lot easier for me to explain things in my tutorials that I enjoy creating (unlike realistic zombies, blood, gore, first person shooters and a lot of other topics I rather leave to people with an interest and talent for doing those)

So... let's start throwing around some ideas. One thing I learned from forgetting all those 'great ideas' I had in the oddest moments (e.g. while diving the Great Barrier reef and seeing some weirder than weird critters and colour combinations that are totally unreal) is to have a notebook and a pen and preferably my mobile phone (camera) with me at all times. Write things down that would be cool for your game - from the old guy with the funny walk and the cane he's carrying but not using to the colours scheme you see while doing grocery shopping on a kid's chewing gum packaging (that you wouldn't want to buy just for reference sake).
I don't bother too much with archiving these things but rather throw them all into a 'reference' sub-folder in the project.

Another great way to get inspired is by playing games that you enjoy and instead of keeping an eye on the game's objective look for the things that stand out, look cool, feel great and try and work out how they created them. 
With visuals it usually helps when you search in Google images for screens of those games / effects later to see them in still image. Save those right away, pin the, pocket them, bookmark them. It's usually lot easier to find them on your hard drive than search the internet for that 'image that got away'.

A lot of these 'idea sparks' will not make it into the game but might lead to something else that turns into a cool feature.

For this project the initial spark was a cog I did for a user interface. The basic cog is easy enough to create (yet a few tips and tricks on how to speed the creation up would make a nice tutorial).

While working on some variations of cogs in different sizes and varying levels of detail the canvas got a bit of a 'steampunk' appearance to me. Those elements would make a nice background for a platform game. It would probably look great if the background would be filled with animated cogs.

I rearranged the cogs a little and put them in a separate layer. On top of it I created some boxes to represent the platforms to give me a quick idea of what it might look like. 

This defined two aspects - the look and feel: I am going for a steampunk atmosphere (using metal, brass and cast iron) and it's going to be some sort of platform game.   

Next up is the character. 

Note: For me the design of the main character defines the whole look and feel more than any other element. You want it to be unique, recognizable and in most cases likeable, able to perform all tasks set by the game design (e.g. walk, run, jump, swing a sword, fire a gun, shoot a hook, etc.) and .

What kind of character would look cool on a background like this. I think most of us have seen enough steampunk illustrations to instantly jump to an image of the gentleman with top hat and a mechanical limb, a big furnace strapped to his back or a crazy contraption of a weapon in hand. As much as I would like to do one of those, he poses two problems: the level of detail would make it hard to fit into just one tutorial and his proportions would create problems with the level design (he would have to be tall - with the hat even adding more height). Usually game characters for platform games are on the square side for obvious reasons. In the old days you had a limited amount of square 'sprites' in (what now appears to be ridiculously small sizes of 8x8 or 16x16 pixels) and you just get more level on the screen when you don't have huge vertical space between platforms.
Note: I do realize that there is a multitude of very successful games that pull it of perfectly.

The main character needs to be something a little more stout. He needs limbs to make animations interesting (and a bit more work). A flying teapot might be fun but not good tutorial material. He also needs to have big eyes - to show some facial expressions during the animations.
I recently added a robot to the BlockBuddies and I did enjoy creating him. There is also a cute robot in the game 'The Adventures of Shuggy' I did the artwork for a few years back. He's featured on a poster in my living room as I do have a soft spot for him. 

Robots connect fine with the steampunk theme, which makes them a good choice for the main game character. The can be simplified enough to explain the creation process and yet do all the animations and game mechanics needed for a platform game.

In the next post I will get started on a character design with some sketches and creation in Inkscape.  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Milestone Treat - All tutorial assets are FREE (this weekend only)

This weekend all the tutorial assets that are linked to the blog posts are free to download. 

I was a little bit lazy... and didn't alter the prices on the blog pages though. As soon as you click on the buy button you should see the discounted price on the sellfy page - 0.00. 

Thanks to all the faithful followers helping this blog reach the 2 million page view milestone. 

... that's it... another weekend is over and it's back to work... and I set the assets back to their normal prices.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Next milestone... 2 Million page views...

I missed it... with all the planning for the new tutorials, some fun projects and a lot of cleaning up my work files and finishing old tasks... I missed the page view counter hitting the next milestone. 

The blog has reached the 2 Million page views -
thanks to you, you and you. 

I want to thank all of you for taking the time and stopping by and every now and then getting something helpful from the tutorials. 

I am out to go and celebrate... with a nice, cold German beer now... and look for a nice little give-away afterwards... :) 


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

BlockBuddies - update

I updated my BlockBuddies game art assets. :) 

It's been one of thing that I have been meaning to do but never really mustered the energy and time to do. The creation process is fun, creative and quite relaxing... the aftermath of scaling, naming, uploading, adding to the store front, making thumbnails, icon images and posting the blog entry is a different story. :( 

Today I finally sat done - well, until my chair broke (which is another story altogether - and led to a nice new office chair) - and did to boring grind and added a bunch of new characters to the set.  

I am glad it's done... and I will try to remember the extra work these little guys take before indulging in the fun of creating more of them. :) 

Monday, February 23, 2015

The verdict is in...

It looks like the verdict is in... and the Oscar goes to.... wait... stop... different event altogether. 

It didn't come as a big surprise... even though I didn't expect the feedback to be this great... (Thanks, guys (and girls) !) I will get this 'complete game tutorial' on the way (as soon as I come up with a good 'game plan'). 

So far I am set on the main character, changing the screen ratio to a 'more common' size of 1280x720 pixels and splitting the whole project into bite-size chunks. 

I will put my thinking cap on, start working on a structure for 'my newest baby' and keep you posted. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

It's been a while... but I am still around...

It's been a while since I posted a new tutorial ( and I know I still have some of the older ones to fix ) but it's been a bit of a rough start into the year so far. 

Today I felt inspired though and a simple idea for a really quick tutorial on how to make cogs for a steam-punk background turned into something bigger. I would like to write a series of tutorials on one game project - a super crate boy style platform shooter - and cover every element needed to make the complete game (from the main character and it's animations to the logo, the background elements to the UI and the screens that go with it like game over, options, loading, help, etc.). 

I spent the better part of today on a first design and this is what it looks like at the moment. 

I plan to separate the steps into different tutorial posts (in a slightly changed format with larger images) covering aspects like 'creating cogs', 'making pipes', 'creating platforms', 'logo creation to match the theme', etc. 
I will also compile everything into one compact pdf document as download.

Please let me know if you think this could be interesting. I need you feedback before I venture into the biggest tutorial project I have attempted so far. 
In other words - leave a comment!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

WTF is GameSalad thinking...

Here I was working on templates to start the year with some new posts after a not so good end to 2014, a nice holiday season offline and trip to the snow, that was totally unlike me, when a friend pointed me to the Amazon store. 

Some of the games I have been working on over the years with friends in the UK and US were listed on Amazon for the the kindle fire. All free and all without the developers' knowledge.
It turned out that the game engine creator at GameSalad decided to put all games (nearly 800 apps) from their online html5 games showcase and competitions onto Amazon.

Neither of the developers I worked with knew about the deal or the fact that the game was on the store for free, while their own version of the game might as well be up with a price tag attached. 

I have had art stolen, games ripped and redistributed, publishers leaking beta versions before release and endless deals going south but this one even surprised me. How can a game engine creator abuse trust in such a blunt way? Aren't they relying on the community to make games and promote their tool by delivering standout applications? Isn't a game engine only as good as it's popular games to promote it? 

It's been put off as a 'minor mistake' on the side of GameSalad. Well... they have lost my trust for sure now and I had the pleasure of working on some of the featured games with some of the best GameSalad coders. Shame on you, GameSalad!

Anyway... I wish all of you following my ramblings a happy new year and all the best for 2015!