Just in time for Ludum Dare #26, I’m releasing a beta of Spritely, a tool I made for autogenerating placeholder art. We have lots of tools for automatically making music (like Autotracker) or sound effects (like cfxr) – these tools are great for adding in temporary content when you’re rapidly developing a game, or for generating content that you can’t make yourself just yet (I have no musical sense, so Autotracker often comes in handy for this). Why don’t we have one for art?
Spritely is my attempt to make one! It uses image sources like Google Images, OpenClipArt and Wikimedia Commons to generate sprite-sized art automatically. It comes in three flavours – an easy-to-use GUI (which is really ugly), a command-line interface (in case you want to automate things) and a Java library (for building right into your game). Best of all, the code is public domain so you can hack it and extend it to your heart’s content.
What can you use Spritely for? Well, it’s handy for generating art to fill gaps when you’re prototyping – you don’t have to stare at coloured rectangles any more. I’m hoping lots of you will find that useful when you’re coding like crazy in a couple of weeks. But why not think more experimental?
For the #7DRL competition this year I tried to make a roguelike generate itself. One of the things I added was enemies, player icons, items and skills that had their graphics generated on-the-fly by Spritely. The player said they wanted to be a dog… or a walrus… or a trumpet… and Spritely made a picture to match. If you reduce Spritely to just searching for one or two images at a time it can do it quite quickly (not quick enough for realtime, but I’m sure you’ll find a creative way around it – in my roguelike I just searched in the background and added the icons in when they were ready).
If you use Spritely for anything, from placeholders to a new genre of games, let me know! You don’t have to, of course, but it will put a smile on my face and also let me justify spending time on making it. I want to create more tools like this that spin off from my day job (where I research techniques for automatic game design). If I get lots of feedback I can show this off to people next time the funding nightmare comes back.
Good luck in Ludum Dare 26! If you have any questions please leave them below. I’ll do my best to update Spritely when I can, but no promises – feel free to make your own extensions and fixes, the code is free!