Archive for January, 2011

Here’s a rough of the ninja doing a wider dodge.  I don’t know if this’ll actually make it in, I just needed a break from re-sizing art and looking at numbers and filling out forms all day so I doodled this quick haha  I’ve got Camtasia and I tested it out and it doesn’t slow my laptop down so I should be able to record some actual drawing when I get to making new art for this game down the road.  Looking forward to putting some of that up because I always like watching those videos and seeing how other artists draw!

Today I got the major workload of the old animations all set up.  This has been kind of a pain for me because I’m not just doing it, but I’m trying to come up with an efficient repeatable process I can use for the future.  You can ALWAYS slog your way through grunt-work, but if you can come up with Macros or use a certain order of steps, etc. to speed it up, it’ll pay off in the future even if it means the first time you do it takes longer while you figure that out.

I’ve got a bit of a process going now…I’m planning to put my game on iPad, iPhone 4, and iPhone/Touch, so I’ve got 3 different screen resolutions to worry about.  In my old days of doing mobile game dev for old crappy phones where we’d have to port a game to like 8 different screen sizes, and I learned the hard way that it’s always fastest to do your art on the biggest screen first and scale it down.

So even though I think the iPhone 4 version will be my favorite and is the one I want to focus on the most because it’s the system I play games on the most myself, I’m exporting the art to iPad size first.  That way I can just copy all the art and use a Batch process to shrink it down :

iPad to iPhone 4 = 93.8%

iPad to iPhone = 46.9%

Bam, done.  I think HUD/UI elements will have to be re-arranged a bit for each screen size, but at least the core game elements can be easily converted from screen to screen.  I’m going to do the HUD/UI with that portability in mind, so they’ll probably be floating elements.  I actually haven’t given much thought to that stuff yet, haha  I’m going to have to pick fonts and a general UI “theme” at some point.  I think it’ll be something bamboo/tree-ish…wood and leaves and all that jazz.  I’d like to have seamless transitions where the UI pulls away and reveals the game screen and such…not sure if that’s possible with load times and all.  I’ll come up with something!

- Quickdraw

I played an awesome game today called Pro Zombie Soccer by Chillingo.  It’s got some hardcore polish to it, I think visually it’s amazing.  I’d love to put out games of that quality.  A friend and I compared how long we played it for, and both of us moved on after maybe 15 minutes of playing.  It’s not the game’s fault, I think it’s new features and levels and plot are well-distributed…you get to see all 3 of your special attacks really early on, and there’s cutscenes with a really cool story every few levels.

But I swear, playing iPhone games has given me gamer ADD or something.  I never sit and play for an hour+ on my iPhone.  It makes me wonder if this next generation of gamers will have a shorter attention span than the first few generations.  When I was a kid, I’d crash at a friend’s house playing some epic 80 hour RPG all week long.  But all we had were big long games…The Dig-Dug, Pacman, etc. days were short-length games, but I was born just a little too late for those.  My childhood was more Super Mario, Final Fantasy, Castlevania, etc.  If you bought a console game for $30+ and it didn’t have a jillion levels and hours to it, it’d feel like a ripoff.  And you made it an event, sitting down in front of the TV, having snacks nearby, calling friends over to play too or watch…

But now we can buy a game for $1 and play them when we’re taking a poo, or waiting for someone to get ready to go out, or riding the bus.  It’s a quick ADD kind of mentality the game industry is heading toward on some platforms.

If you’re making a game where the gameplay is based on “go as long as you can until the game gets too fast/chaotic for you to survive”, I think the optimal play-time is around 90 seconds.  I’ve played some where you can survive for like 5 minutes before it starts to get difficult.  That’s a lot of time to invest just to get to the point where it’s challenging.  Same time, if the game is so hard you die every 10 seconds, it’s just going to be frustrating.  90 seconds is just long enough that you feel like you got somewhere, but short enough that you’re not bored of the game and if there’s an instant “Retry?” button (as there SHOULD be), you’re likely to tap it and try again, determined to show the game who’s boss.

If your game has 3 logos, a title screen, tutorial, continue screen, choose your save slot screen, configure some options, etc. that’s like a minute just to get to the gameplay.  When you’re sitting down at a console, that’s not a big deal, you munch on some Doritos or shoot someone a text on your phone.  But when you’re hoping to get some quick playtime in, you want the game to start up as quick as possible.

My first game is one of those “go as long as you can” games, so I’m going to try to balance it so that the average person lasts somewhere between 70 and 100 seconds, and have an instant “Retry?” button…I’ll probably even let the player skip the logos and stuff.  I want them to be able to get into the gameplay quick as possible.

On a semi-related note, if your gameplay is a simple concept, don’t put up a 5 minute trailer.  Just show some brief clips, keep it to like 30 seconds max.  I can’t count the number of games I’ve looked up the trailer for, only to watch some guy playing the game for like 8 minutes straight, and it’s like well shit, I don’t need to download your game now, I know everything about it!

hmm, maybe I’ll do a whole post on trailer-making tips sometime haha I’ve got a lot of ideas ’cause I love watching them.

- Quickdraw

Game1, Day 14 – Re-doing the throwing stars!

Re-did the throwing star today!  I want to keep things hand-drawn/sketchy but a little nicer than before.  I’m working pretty randomly here…my plan is to finish the art before I hire a programmer to put it all together, so I’m just working on what I feel like working on on any given day.  I should probably be a little more organized, but it’s easier to motivate myself when I get to work on fun stuff in-between the boring stuff haha Here’s a mock-up of the original throwing star and the new one side by side:

I put a hole in the throwing star because I have a feeling I’m going to end up making it glow in SOME way, and holes look cool when you’re making things glow because it breaks up the solid silhouette with little glowy bits.  To make the star I just used the Photoshop star-shape brush, made it spin, shrunk all the frames vertically 50%, then duplicated the frames downward a few times as black silhouettes to get the 3d ridge on the bottom sides.  Bam, throwing star done!

I think the other things I do will be a little more complex because I want them to spin and flail around whereas the throwing star is just supposed to go in a straight purposeful line.  Something like the explosive might pop up and spin around as it’s rising before it explodes.

- Quickdraw

Game1, Day 13 – Catching up on sleep!

No work done today! Had to go to class haha The business course I’m taking is down to just one class a week on Wednesdays followed by a coaching session where I update my coach on how the business is going and set some goals and such. I’m pretty beat from lack of sleep lately, so when I got home from class I just crashed and caught up on a jillion hours of sleep.

The nice part about the entrepreneur thing is that I can take a day to recover and recharge my batteries without worrying I’m going to get fired, haha My boss rules.

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I’m converting old art from the crappy Flash version of my game I made way back in the day, but I was rushing it out super fast back then because I was just messing around so when I look at some of it now I’m like “aghhh, that looks terrible, I want to redo that!”  At the same time, I don’t want to make it look perfect because I think some of the style comes from the sketchy look the main ninja has…if I tightened up his line art and cleaned him up, I think it’d lose some of the flair.  Yet if I have a perfectly painted background, realistic looking weapons, etc., and then a sketchy main character, it’s a clash of styles.  This is the old background:

I don’t mind the foreground roof or the tree, I think I’ll keep those as they are or very similar, but man do I hate that background haha  I just pooped it out in a minute to get something back there.  I’m happy with the color scheme of it all, but I’m going to have to redo the background entirely.  Unfortunately I picked a city-scape to show, and I’m not a fan of doing perspective stuff. So what I’m probably going to do is model a few house types in 3d and arrange them, then render them out as line-art, so the perspective is right.  I have a feeling the perspective I’m currently using is impossible though, haha  So I’ll figure that out later.

I’m also going to retrace the 3d line-art by hand with sloppy lines to match the style of the rest of the stuff so it all looks coherent, and I’m going to stick to cel-shading.  Originally I did this art in Flash where you can pretty much ONLY do cel-shading and I’m tempted to paint up the background stuff in Photoshop instead but again I think that’ll ruin the style the game has so far.  Maybe I’ll do the next game more painterly.

My original plan was to do all my art in Flash because it has great fast tools for doodling game art as vectors (VS placing pen points and messing with bezier curves in Photoshop), and I want to be able to scale my art up and down for porting my games in the future (the iPad 2 is going to come out someday and might have double the screen size of the iPad so I’d need to be able to scale my art up massively).  But doing it that way means I have to export the art from Flash as .PNG files for the actual iPhone and that’s a big chunk of time for a grunt process and I’m running into issues where I scale it up to what I think it’s supposed to be and then when I check it afterward it’s a little bigger or smaller than the math suggested it would work out to…not sure what’s going on with that, but it’s kind of a pain in the ass.  Also, Flash limits me to purely cel-shaded art which is fine for character sprites, but I’m sure down the road I’ll want to have some painted backgrounds.

So the other option is to do the art in Photoshop, which I love, from the get-go but if I do that I’m going to have to do it HUGE so that there’s no chance I’ll ever have to scale it up since scaling Bitmaps up gets all pixely and gross.  So then I run into problems with having massive .PSD files of the art…my laptop is fast but I don’t know if it’s THAT fast, haha

I figure it’ll take me a couple games to settle into a rhythm with this.  When I hire a programmer for this game, I’m going to be hiring them to make iPhone, iPhone 4 retina, and iPad versions.  By the end of this game I might decide that the Flash process is worth it just because of the scaling potential.  I’d love to put my games on a ton of different platforms down the road if possible so I’m trying to plan long-term from the start!  Capcom is still releasing NES games on new systems, no reason I couldn’t be porting this game to the iPhone 10 down the road haha

- Quickdraw

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