Archive for the ‘Art’ Category.

Questions regarding platformer development

I was asked these questions on Twitter and since Twitter is Twitter with its letter limits, I decided to import the questions here and answer them more elonquently:

What are the key features a 2d platforming game should have?
“2d platforming game” is a fairly abstract concept and defines only a very small part of a game’s design; there are 2D platformers that vary from each other greatly, and most of their defining features don’t stem from being 2D platformers but rather from other things. Technically I could try to find some defining features that 2D platformers should have that aren’t dependent on other factors, but the list of said features would be pretty limited. Let’s try:

Things a 2D platformer needs to have:

  • A playable character
  • Sideways perspective
  • Obstacles that block your way or offer something to stand on
  • Gravity (although even this can be done without)

There are also things that 2D platformers usually have, such as collectibles, goals, failure conditions, enemies, HP, lives, levels, environments etc., but with a strict definition none of them are required to call a game a “2D platformer”. (Note that the list of things 2D platformers need was just something I made up on the spot, I’m sure there are valid arguments to reduce even more things from it!)

If someone were to learn game development via making a 2D platformer, I’d say that using something like Super Mario Bros. as a guideline on what’s expected from such a game could be the best way to go, because it contains all those strictly platformer-related concepts listed above, but also lots of handy learning opportunities in form of those other, less definitive but nonetheless handy things such as coins, score, level progression and losing.

What’s the best art style for a side-scrolling platformer?
This is a very subjective question! The definition of “best” definitely hinges a lot on both the budget and the personal taste of the developer. The game screen should be easily readable, i.e. it should be clear what is background and what is a wall, an interactable object etc., but there’s a huge amount of options to choose from in terms of unique artstyles that achieve that, and whether one of them is better than the others depends entirely on the opinion of the player/developer.

I’m personally rather biased towards retro-style pixel art graphics with stretched pixels (see: Cave Story, Eternal Daughter, Maldita Castilla). It’s important to note, though, that even stretched-pixel pixel art doesn’t have to look retro (see: WitchWay, Fez, Hyper Light Drifter for a non-platformer example) and that non-stretched-pixel pixel art is definitely also an option and can be achievable by a smaller team (see: Within a Deep Forest, IJI). Outside of the realm of pixel art things require a bit more work pretty quickly which might not be worth it for a smaller team, but on the other hand the results can be sweet (see: Saira, Braid, LIMBO). Taking a nonstandard approach to the artstyle might also be a good option (see: An Untitled Story), so nothing’s really that clear. These are obviously just my own personal tastes!!

If I were to suggest an artstyle for someone making their first 2D platformer or aiming to learn game development, I’d probably recommend something like the visual style of the NES Megaman games; stretched pixels, limited colour palette, very high readability, fairly easy to work on, tile-based background art to lessen workload and so on.

What type of music would go well with a pixel art style?
I don’t think I can really answer this properly. “Pixel art style” in itself is such a vague concept that depending on other factors pretty much any kind of music could go well with it. There are good examples of orchestral(-style) music (see: Owlboy, Titan Souls, Gods Will Be Watching), retro-style music (see: Cave Story, Spelunky classic, Shovel Knight), music with more modern instruments that I can’t think of a good category name for (see: Nuclear Throne, IJI) or minimalistic electronic music (see: Within A Deep Forest). Games like Undertale combine stuff from several musical styles very successfully, and some utilize existing music as their soundtracks (see: Space Funeral, Hotline Miami).

Again, retro-style chiptunes might be the easiest way to go, but really the answer to this question is pretty much “anything”.

EDIT: I actually haven’t played Owlboy and added it in because I checked that it has an orchestral soundtrack and pixel art graphics. I’m fairly certain that the musics fit the game but I implied too much up there. My apologies!

Nordic Game Jam 2017!

voittoisuus
(Cool photo & cool cake by my girlfriend, Anni :3)

Nordic Game Jam 2017 was last weekend, and I ended up winning it with my game, Baba Is You!

I went in not really expecting much; I wasn’t initially really in the mood for making new games so the plan was to kinda feel the situation and possibly just work on ESA 2 and/or Snake Game. The theme of the jam was “Not There”, and at some point it got me thinking about “not” as an operator in programming/logic. This in turn made me think of a puzzle game where the game logic is part of the game world, and eventually this idea turned into my entry. I was expecting to run to some really hairy coding problems and not be able to finish, but hey, that very much didn’t happen!

notthere

I’m not totally sure where to take the game from here; during the event my plan was to polish it a bit and release it mostly as-is, but since people really liked it and it even raised some philosophical considerations in some players, I think I’ll be working on it further.
hihi
notthere2

Download the game on itch.io!

 

In other news, Environmental Station Alpha’s second anniversary was also last weekend, and I almost completely forgot to announce the sale that went with that. Oh well! Let’s hope we won’t get to its 3rd anniversary before ESA 2 is done.

Next up in the indie gamedev event schedule will be No More Sweden in June; we’ll see what happens there :O

TURTLES

ITS NAME IS BLOCK THE TURTLE

THANK YOU ANNI

Another student magazine cover

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So, another cover illustration for the psychology student organization’s magazine, Kompleksi. I made this together with my girlfriend (<3), it was great fun to work on! The theme of the magazine was "celebration", so we went with a fantasy party. Click the image to go to the DeviantArt page.

Adventure cards!

cards

A friend requested me to draw some cards for their tabletop game, and here we are. It was a lot of fun to make these, especially since I wanted to try to make those “proper” border patterns etc. Also got to extensively try out these new inks my girlfriend bought me (thanks <3)!! The result is very homemade-looking but I'm very happy with these in any case. The font used is Avara.

Deviantart link to the cards

Two small winter doodles

juuhjuuh2

Took some time to doodle after talking about cold, snowy winter scenery with my girlfriend; it was good fun and resulted in two little scenes I liked. Also resulted in me using coloured pencils for the first (or at least nearly the first) time in years! I should doodle more(?)

Stargazing

stargaze

Painted with watercolours after another long break! I should get back to this hobby; it was fun to paint even though this one is very simple and small.

New watercolour!!

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Woo! After nearly a year of no watercolours I finally got back to it after having a very cool discussion about painting. You can really see that I was a bit afraid of messing it up with how few colours I used, but I’m nonetheless very happy with this piece, especially considering that I made the lineart last Autumn! >:I

I’ve been busy this week and thus been unable to stream but I’ll try to get the stream done someday before the week is over!! Sorry for the delay!!!

Website overhaul

I finally got around to doing it! The main website is as simplistic as ever and possible even more cluttered than before, but the flash applet is out and replaced with a simple viewer. This has the benefit of there being more space for stuff on the game-specific pages on top of the obvious lack of need to support flash, but I think I’ll have to add categories of some sort, as the actual main page is pretty full of text now.

Doing this reminded in a sad way about how times have changed; it’s cool and all to have a personal website with my own games listed neatly, but the indie gaming culture has definitely moved on from people downloading games from developer’s websites, what with the prevalence of Steam and other such services. I kinda miss those days but totally understand why people prefer the ease and security of Steam over downloading various zip files from some site/forum somewhere.

An interesting side-effect, though, is that these days games that you pay money for probably get more players than freeware games, just by the power of being on a site that specializes in marketing the game and making it easy to obtain it! This is great in the sense that it makes supporting the developers the assumed option, but I really hope something like itch.io becomes also favoured by players of games as a kind of bohemian haven for less standard games.

Whatever. I hope someone checks out my older games using this new site to justify its existence, but it’s fine even if not!!

DOES IT EVEN MAKE SENSE TO LINK THE SITE HERE

Screensaver jam!

So, over the weekend there was a little jam organized by JW with the theme of making screensavers. I was really really busy on Saturday and most of Sunday, but I managed to complete a little thing nonetheless:

Island Screensaver!!