vrijdag 6 december 2013

Graphics are maybe actually important

It has happened! We finally started replacing those wretched sprites used in the first test builds! As everyone knows there can't be a game without graphics, these can range from very minimal (like rogue) to very complex and high definition (like crisis), with unlimited possible styles in between.

We settled for using 2D sprites, seen this is the most doable within a reasonable timeframe for people who are all new to making graphics and aren't super artistic.

When we started this project we quickly found out that none of us was any good at drawing sprites or any other form of graphics. We were unsure if we should look for outside help on this one, seen without graphics there would be no game, or one with all the random sprites we pulled of the internet or made in ms paint (ooh the horror, all the non-transparent sprites!). But a true game studio doesn’t outsource anything they might be able to do themselves, so before we contracted an artist we figured that at least trying to do it ourselves would be the way to go. And sure thing, the next meeting we decided it would be an inhouse project, after some discussion the group appointed me (Thom) to do the graphics, seen I was the only one who was willing to do so without drawing straws or some other form of picking at random. Quickly I came to realize that I took on quite an important task: making the game look good, which is important for the immersion (which is really important for us).

So now there is a big point: we know what type of graphics we are going to use (2D sprites) but what art style (is it going to be cartoony rainbow unicorns, or realistic), what resolution are the sprites going to be (is it going to be pixel heaven, or eye melting HD) and most important: what will the main character look like?

The art style was an easy one, we wanted to immerse people in horrors of the dungeon, so we went for a grimm realistic art style. It is hard to be scared of what lays beyond the next dark corner when the ground is in all the bright colours imaginable and you are playing a cartoon character.

Choosing a sprite’s resolution seems easy enough, but is actually quite tricky, if you start out with super low resolution it looks a bit bad (to say it in the most polite way possible), if you start with super high resolution it takes ages to make, it eats away at your memory and you will most likely have to downscale it which makes it look like someone stepped on it (not desirable). To not get ahead of ourselves, we stuck with the respectable 64 x 64 resolution for standard sprites (which is the same used in many indie games). This is a very manageable format, seen it looks quite good, isn’t too time consuming to make and doesn’t cause optimization issues.

It is also important to pick a resolution that is a power of two, since some older graphics cards can only handle those types of textures. 32x32 is just a bit too small, we don’t want to force our audience to lean over so they can see what’s actually going on, while 128x128 is evidently a bit too big - the player still has to be able to see his surroundings.

Now choosing who will be the protagonist of this epic adventure down the dungeon is a hard one. And seen we do want to keep some things a suprise I can’t tell you much about the main character yet… Some say it will be a space orc, some say it will forever be Mr. Broke, all I can tell you is that you might get a sneak peak next screenshot saturday, so stay tuned for that.

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