Animationtool finished (well, almost finished!)

by Niels Brouwers 17. April 2011 03:25

I was watching a documentary about SKA Studios the other day and noticed they've got a great custom tool to edit animations for their games. As I was struggling with the animations for my game as well, I figured something like what they have would be a solution for me.

You see, memory is a constraint in XBLIG games in the sense that once your game grows over 50Mb you are unable to price it at the lowest price point. Also, being an oldschool programmer I tend to use the most efficient code and memory usage whenever possible. So, if you have a player animation, and he is running then you might just draw a lot of frames for his animation (=lots of memory consumption) OR you get smart and draw his legs moving and leave everything above the chest unchanged (=saves nearly half of the memory required). If you decide to chop the chest off from the lower part of the body you need to take care how these two parts match up against eachother. Typically, the one is draw with an offset to the other. Other things like a glow could also be done in a separate sprite and drawn as an overlay to the main sprite. So you have all these frames to manage for a single character and doing this in-game gets tedious quickly, you know: adjust the offset in code, run the game, move the offset another pixel to the left etc.

So that's why I build this animationtool for my game! It easily lets me handle many frames for one object and adjust the offset in real-time, plays the animation to see how it is going to look etc. Also, by having this tool, it kind of forces me to have the animation completely data-driven and the game-engine just be that: a game engine! It's just good programming architecture, I like that! 

Right now, one small thing is missing: a save button...


Twitter feed fixed!

by Niels Brouwers 8. April 2011 08:24

It looks like I have a habit of only posting once a month, at least there's some predictability in it, but I will try to post more the coming time!

Well, it looked like the twitter feed was broken, so I fixed that. Some progress on my game this week, many control-issues fixed, did some nice lighting and explosions. Also, working on an animation editor. I was thinking I could do without one for this game, but as it turns out it is just too much work entering some change in the code and then running the game to see the result of that small change. So, I am building a windows based animation editor, it's coming along nicely and I will show some screenshots once it's in production.

Oh, in case you are wondering: I have no idea why I drew that image, he looks puzzled as well though....

Work in progress 2.

by Niels Brouwers 4. April 2011 07:42

Last month brought some real progress in the game's mechanics: I implemented inertia for the players movement, parallax scrolling, I added and then removed the energy bar that indicates your energy. Actually that last little bit is something I picked up from an interview that I saw with Michael Gagne, he mentioned that in his game the power bar was eliminated and replaced with damage on the ship itself - in line with the latest trends in minimalistic interfaces. I figured my hero is extremely wel suited to do the same, so his energy can be 'read' from the light on his chest. It's like a heartbeat.

Also, many bugs were fixed, I made some great improvements on the player's controls and last but not least I increased the overall speed with 100%. It plays so much better now! So I am really happy with the progress, but unfortunately for you there are no more improvements to be mentioned on the graphics front. Therefore, althought the game is destined for the XBOX Live Indie games channel, I will leave you with this (obviously photo-shopped) image:



What do you think?

Drawing the in progress

by Niels Brouwers 4. March 2011 07:36


So, in my upcoming XBOX live indie game, there's obiously going to be a hero (that's you!) who does well... hero-like stuff such as saving the world, finding the treasure, beating the hell out of a bunch of monsters and end bosses and all that kind of stuff. But, to make the game more involving, I will try to drag you into the adventure by letting you play the story. So, while you are playing, you will communicate with the headquarters, and you shall be communicating with this lady:



No, I am sorry, but I am not going to give you here name or telephone number :-). But I will explain a little of the steps involved in drawing her:

First I tend to sketch around using Sketchbook from Autodesk. Then once the sketching is done and I am sort of happy with it, I will ink her in the same program. After that, its off to Photoshop to fill out the colors. First just flat out filing up inside the inked lines and last but not least, the finishing up with details and shading etc. At this point, she is not yet finished yet, just the rough shading is in there. She still needs lots of detailing done and stronger lighting etc. Once I finish her I will post an update here.


You made a sale at!

by Niels Brouwers 5. February 2011 18:56

Today, I got a surprise email from Once, a long long time ago, I set up a Cafepress account and a shop to go with it. I uploaded some of my drawings and linked to it from my old site. And forgot about it after a while....

And now I got an email that Cafepress sold a mug with my cute little giraffe drawing on it. I actually made this drawing for my wife's birthday a couple years back but when setting up the shop I figured I would upload it and advertise it as a nice Valentine's gift idea. I am glad to see someone liked it enough to buy it! Thank you!

Here's to drinking from my mug! 1 sale in like....3 years? I guess I'm not quitting my day job just yet!

There's some more stuff (not much really) in the cafepress shop, check it out and buy your honey a mug (did I mention it was filled with love?)!