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...


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.


More Screenshots...

by Niels Brouwers 23. January 2011 23:55

Some game graphics preview

by Niels Brouwers 21. January 2011 05:31

I have been very busy doing graphics for my XBOX 360 game. Here's an image I have done a while ago. It was originally a concept sketch that I turned into a 3d render later on which became the base of my main character in the game.


I actually found a nice way to use this image in the game itself, it will be the indicator for the number of lives. In the game, though, it will look like this:  

So, I make a high resolution image for my game and I turn out using an 8bit like sprite of that image! Still, it was fun to draw, and I might find some more places to use it!