Halloween, monsters and all that!

by Niels Brouwers 25. October 2012 04:33

Hey everyone,

 It's been awfully quiet from me lately but there is a good reason for that. More than one actually! I can't mention them all just yet, unfortunately!

I have been very busy lately porting over my code from XNA to something completely different, it's now running in C++. In the process the whole idea of Carter Jones has been turned upside down: the graphics are different, the controls different, the platform is different. It is a totally different game but it will still feature Carter Jones as the main character. This was my plan all along, to have this one character starring in a series of games. I don't know what the future will bring, but at the moment I can safely say that the Carter Jones Adventures will be available before the end of january 2013 on at least one tablet device.

As soon as I have some screenshots that I can show you I will post them here!

Meanwhile, here's a monster that I did a very, very long time ago. I still like it but it wasn't designed to be animated and that makes it pretty useless for any in-game purposes.

I will be updating more frequently over the next period. For now, although maybe a bit early, I wish you a happy halloween from this place!

Smelly cat

by Niels Brouwers 5. August 2012 08:11

Today I just had to try out a new technique I saw on youtube. It involved making a drawing in Sketchbook and then adding a multiply layer and an ADD layer on top of that to create the shading in the drawing. Great technique, see picture below!

Maybe you remember Friends, Phoebe sang this song for smelly cat...



The math behind platform games

by Niels Brouwers 21. June 2012 06:22

I just ran through a couple of well-known platform-games (mostly 8 bit classics) to find out about their ratios in terms of the differents sizes involved. I measured a couple of things, most importantly: the size of the main character and the size of the screen.

I only checked platformers that were well received with the general public (ranging from Super Mario Brothers to Super MeatBoy) or that I particularly liked and remembered. The results are nothing spectacular but a couple of interesting properties did come up:

1. The main character is usually contained within a square. the size of 51x51 comes up a lot (I scaled everything to 1024x768 IPad resolution to normalize everything), it seems to be the sweet spot size for a character at that resolution.

2. In percentages, we can say that the character ranges between 3% upto 7% of the screen width (these are the minimum and maximum values), with an average of 5%.

3. The height of the screen varied the most, ranging from 56% to 75% of the width of the screen with an average of 66%. The height seemed irrelevant, and is probably mostly determined by the given screensize of the particular device.

So what does that all mean? Let's say you are developing an 8bit styled platformer for the new IPad with 2048x1536 resolution. Your character should then measure 102x102 pixels and the height of your game should minimally be 860 pixels (that leaves a LOT of room for virtual buttons, menu's, or different resolution support for other devices). Ideally the height would be 1013 pixels (average). Personally I would aim for a full-screen game but a little more than half of the screen has been shown to be sufficient as well.

So there, finally a useful way to apply your basic math skills and learn something about the ingredients of a good platform game as well!


Games | Indie Games | XBLIG

Dream Build Play 2012

by Niels Brouwers 12. June 2012 18:01

After my personal debacle with my 2011 DBP entry (when I finally finished one level filled with enemies it turned out to be dead-slow on the XBOX itself - it was too late to change so I submitted what I had) I had to find the time, energy and spirit to re-do everything and this time, do it right.

And I did, I now have a clean 60FPS running multi-directional full screen parallax scrolling platform game on my XBOX 360! And although, game-wise, it still needs a lot of balancing and a story-arc to fleshen out the characters and all that stuff, I am pretty happy with the result so far! Well in time before the deadline, I submitted the Carter Jones Adventures for Dream Build Play 2012 (thank you Microsoft for sending me my password which I, conveniently, forgot).

So, I learned a lot in one year of time about what is important in developing games: testing, testing, testing (yeah, I already knew that but you know, priorities....). Also, don't worry about the lack of updates here recently, I was developing something that will generate a lot more updates as soon as I can fully use it!

My plan is to release the game on the XBOX Live Indie Games (XBLIG) channel somewhere in Q3 2012. Here's a bunch of screenshots from the game that I submitted. For the Dream Build Play submission I kind of cheated with the movie, I re-used the one I send last year. Just don't tell anyone that, no-one will know and hey...it's about the games not the movies, right?

Productivity and stuff...

by Niels Brouwers 6. March 2012 19:00

When you are working at daytime on a 'normal' job and developing games in the evening it is sometimes difficult to get some productivity going on when you get back home from your day-job. Last week I was struck by some virus, causing headaches that started in the afternoon and had me going to bed early to try and recover more quickly. So I got nothing done at all in the evenings! Luckily this weekend things turned around, the illness has nearly gone away completely now and my energy levels are filling up back to normal. Being sick sucks...

Still, I did get some stuf done. I managed to work out some animation stuff (I am trying to build a simple editor using bones), it should enable me to do animations while on the go and I also did some level editing. I actually did some play-testing on games from other people as well, I like checking out what others are working on - it is one of the cool things about XNA / XBLIG development. Too bad many developers seem to be abandoning ship, even I am looking around at the alternatives. Ios, unity 3d, playstation suite - there is plenty to choose from! But first I shall finish the Carter Jones Adventures on XBLIG!

I am hoping to do some more drawing an finishing of stuff on the first level this week (especially enemy explosions need some work right now!).

Different cousin, different dog!