Since I’ve decided to try to stay awake and busy tonight, it’s time for me to check in with another update!
I spent far too long fiddling with my countdown clock – but now I’ve finally moved on and drawn up my lovely test pieces. Behold!
First real screenshot from my game, Half the Time!
I’ve implemented the main mechanics (except for win/loss conditions) and the most basic enemy. I feel like it is going soooo slowly compared to all you guys (been at it for almost 11 hours now). I think it is partly because I was not as comfortable with Flixel as I thought I was. A lot of googling is being done.
I know the art is very boring, but I’m either keeping it like this, or making a last minute art update. I’m still very pleased with the main gameplay idea, though. Pretty sure it’s unique :D. Now I just have to find out if it’s fun…
I’m loving the feeling of finally being part of this (I’ve been a lurker for over 3 years), it’s so great watching everyone’s progress (even if it makes me feel a little bit inferior…).
Good luck everyone!
-The Zeppelin Captain
As I discussed in my previous post, my largest perceived weakness going into an event such as Ludum Dare was my graphic-making abilities. This past weekend, I took my first step toward exercising that particular skill. Prior to this weekend, I had never created a sprite in my life (that wasn’t entirely one color). Heck, I never even doodled in my notebook in middle school.
At first, I really didn’t know how I would go about improving myself. Isn’t the designing of sprites just art? Isn’t visual artistic ability just something you’re born with? My brain is so imbalanced to the left hemisphere that I’m constantly falling into traffic. What kind of fool’s errand am I going on here? However, throwing doubt to the wind, I set out to build a sprite.
The first task I gave myself was to pick a graphics tool. I tried some of the ones list in the Ludum Dare Tools section, but didn’t see anything that struck my fancy. At one point I was on Chapter Two of a PyGTK Tutorial in the hopes to build my own tool. Luckily I shut down that bit of insanity. Eventually, I decided to just work with good ole’ Gimp, which worked better than expected.
Next, I went scrounging for tutorials. I didn’t think I’d actually find anything worthwhile, but I was badly mistaken. If you’re a programmer looking to get started with Pixel Art, you MUST read Derek Yu’s Pixel Art Tutorial. It breaks things down step-by-step, which is extremely helpful. Don’t be afraid by Derek’s amazing looking image, the ideas transplanted just as easily into my practice images.
I started very simple: following the tutorial to create a dead-simple picture (a machete). It wasn’t too shabby, but it was also a pretty simple image to begin with. So I decided to go with something a little more advanced to really test myself. I already had some sprites pulled from the NES Game “1942” to use for graphics in a game I’m screwing around with, but maybe I could replace them with some sprites of my own. So, I would use the tutorial’s lessons to create my own sprite of a fighter plane.
For me, step one was to get an idea of what I wanted to draw. For Derek, this is Part Three (yeah, I’ve purposefully renumbered the steps to make things confusing for you). First, I googled for a top-down view of a plane, and found something to use as a concept. Next, I tried to draw with pencil and paper a likeness of this plane. I’m not really sure why I decided to do this (after all, I already have some concept art in front of me) but it just felt right. Later I decided that this worked pretty well, as the image I drew was something that I knew I could at the very least draw, which gave me a boost of confidence. It also allowed me to customize the image a bit more to what I wanted. Now to be sure, my drawing abilities are very sub-par (and fortunately for you, I didn’t scan the image I drew), but by studying the original image part by part, I was able to get something decent.
I created a new 64×64 pixel image in Gimp, and prepared to embarrass myself. Finally, I ended up with the following:
Some things to note about this:
The next step was to add color. I bucket-filled the areas. This was actually pretty nice, since I have always been under the impression that if you bucket-fill a sprite it’s going to look terrible, and the only way to get something decent is to color each pixel individually. You’ll also see that I decided to add a propeller blade to the front for no particular reason.
These are just three colors that I randomly picked. Some day I might actually learn about color theory and all that, but I’ll save that lesson for some other day. Already, I’m pretty darn impressed. I would be happy with this! However, there is more that can be done.
The next part is what really makes the image “pop”.
I’m not sure if I got it “right”, but I did get… something. Notes on this step:
As you can see, the pixels that I drew for the outline back in Step Two have been dulled down to the colors that are surrounding them. This makes the image less “hard” (or using Derek’s words, “less cartoony”).
It’s by no means worthy of the video game hall of fame, but it’s better than stick figures. Some final thoughts on this entire process:
Yay for programmer art?
Well, I’ve got tiles and movement down. Got a couple issues with collision at the moment because it’s like 6am and I have yet to make me some coffee.
UPDATE: Experience my poor art in a game, thanks to JonathanW!
I get peeved about things for no good reason a lot. One of those things is crappy art in games. I’m not really a great artist so I don’t know how to make good art, but I do know what I don’t like about bad art, so I decided to complain about it in the form of this exciting tutorial! I figure knowing what to avoid is at least as important as knowing what to do, so here is my guide to making really bad art for your game! (more…)
Woot! My article got featured on gamedev.net:
I use a lot of examples from past LD48 games (mine and others), and most of this is stuff I’ve learned through doing these contests. Ironically, in the most recent contest I didn’t have time to replace the placeholder art so it pretty much ignores all of these tips.
Hope this is helpful to the community. Enjoy!