Sunday, June 30, 2013

Comic Book Heritage Night

This week of craziness is over and I'm really hoping to get back to some regular posts.  In the meantime, here is a quick look at me and the Rust Belt Monster Collective drawing at Comic Book Heritage Night.  Check it out.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Superman Sketch and Game Update

Just a quick Superman sketch before last Tuesday's Comic Book Heritage Night at Great Lakes Brewing Company.  It was a great night that I really hope becomes a regular thing.  You can see the comic covers I drew over at the Rust Belt Monster Collective blog.

As far as my game is going, I've made some real headway with the carrying mechanic.  I've been able to contain the civilian characters in a "family" in Construct 2.  They walk up and down the street, change direction when they reach any designated "bumpers", and they are easily lifted.  I'm really pretty happy with it.

Its got me thinking about more "civilian states" and randomizing instances of peril.  I mean, if I trigger them to run from danger, there is the chance that the bad guys may never catch them.  Its a horror movie cliche, but maybe they should occasionally trip and fall?  Not all of them, but just a random face plant here and there.  Just so that danger can catch up or give you someone to protect.

My next step is playing with a lifting animation.  Probably something contained within the civilian animation.  Much like the carried animation.  At that point, I should make a Photoshop template to easily line up the civilian with the players head, shoulders, and arms.  Just thinking out loud.  I'd love to get it working this week though.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Civilian Walk Animation Template

I've been itching to fill out my city with the NPC's/Civilians you'll be rescuing.  Knowing that I want a lot of variety in the characters, I decided to start building my animations in Flash CS6 and then exporting the frames.  I then shrink them down and limit the colors to give it the retro aesthetic that I like.  This way, I can just redraw certain assets or swap pallets in Flash.  That way I can quickly turn out a wide variety of different citizens with the same animations. 

The 24 frame walk cycle is roughly 40kb and is the longest animation they have.  My early estimate is that all of the frames of animation will total less than 100kb per NPC.  I've already added him into Construct 2 and its great to see him strolling down the street.  I'm playing with the idea of randomizing each NPC's animation speed and a matching rate of movement.  That should give some nice variety.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Flash Walk Cycle Video Tutorials

flash animation: walk cycle tutorial 1/4 from dermot o connor on Vimeo.

So I'm still dead set on using Flash to animate my civilians and swap out assets to produce a lot of variety.  At least that's the dream.  The problem is that I'm not entirely comfortable in Flash.  I constantly remind myself that it will be a struggle, but I'm greatly reducing my workload by taking the time to do it right on a template.  Then its just pallet swaps and tiny details to give me the NPC's that will fill out my city.  And what with me shrinking down the art (as I've done with the player character) each frame of animation is under a kilobyte.  I'm pretty happy about that.

So I'm in the process of finding a reasonably thorough explaination of creating walk cycles in Flash.  I found one on but was able to find the author's vimeo site which has a similar tutorial.  Hoping this points me in the right direction.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Civilian Scale

So I've taken my first steps towards Flash Animation as the primary tool for creating my citizens.  All and all, its been a little clunky, but I'm sure its just my ignorance towards the program.  I exported a quick Work In Progress shot of my first model template and decided to figure out what pixel height to export towards.  I might end up somewhere between the smaller two.  Hopefully I can get a working walk cycle out of this guy this weekend.  I'd love to see him strolling up and down the street.  Fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

More Civilian States

I think I'm pretty close to locking down the civilian states that I will need for the game.  At this point, I'd like to start animating some of them to see how they interact in the world.  I've been looking at the same hunk of road for so long, it would just be nice to have something on there to interact with.  Then, I'll get back to animating the Hero character.

I might add a few specific death animations depending on the type of predicament the citizen is in.  It seems like a lot of work now, but I'm hoping that having the template set up in Flash first can greatly reduce the time per NPC while giving me the best chance at variety.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tutorial Level

After watching the video I posted yesterday with the player carrying around the little sack man, I started to think about how odd that looks out of context.  I wanted to create something to use as a placeholder for the civilians.  That eventually got me to thinking that a cool tutorial level could be an older character passing the torch to you as you begin your career as a superhero.  Gameplay wise: its a way of teaching the player the mechanics.  

So the idea is that your mentor has created a dummy for you to practice rescuing.  Its dropped from the sky or left places for you to retrieve and then take to safety. Hopefully it will work out the way I have planned in my head.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Superhero Game Update: 6-10-13

Its been so long since I've updated anything on the game, but I finally have a little more to show. While it may not look like much, I've started playing around with filters on the building assets to get more mileage out of my art. I've added a few more in flight animations, but definitely still need to add the rest. I've added attach points to the animation so I can get a feel for how it will look in game. I will be adjusting the art so that its not just laying on top of what I already have. I really just wanted to get a feel for it. To be honest, I think it looks kind of fun. Especially during the running.

Underneath the hood, I've used way more tiles. I originally was just repeating my sprites and pasting them based on a tutorial I read, but that was causing a couple problems. 1) I was getting these gaps between the sprites that were caused by them not being "power of two". 2) Construct 2 wasn't running as fast because with repeated assets, its way more efficient with tiles.

I'd like to fill in more animations next, but I'll probably try and get one NPC in there to get that tested. Subscribe to see future updates which I will try and put up more often. Thanks to Bandicam, I think that will be much easier.

Click the link on the Right side of the page to play the most current build.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Flying Animation Added

Doesn't feel like a huge update, but it sure did take me long enough.  I spent some time on Sunday updating a couple of the flying animations and adding control points for the carried objects to stick to.  I still have quite a few more to add in as well as a new run animation that will work with holding civilians and objects.  Plenty to do and such little time.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Civilian Danger!

I've been doing more thinking about the different states that my civilians will be in.  Its a fun little exercise to sketch out different postures or actions to represent how they are feeling or their level of injury.  I'm leaning more heavily into using Flash for all of these.  So right now I'm trying to visualize how I can pull this off in as few body parts as possible.  I'm hoping that most of the work and variation can be done in palette swaps and maybe switching the head.  The above drawings are to represent a civilian when he is scared and when he is injured/immobile.  Hope to have more soon.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Civilian Concepts

There is one fact about my art practices that is becoming annoyingly prevalent: I am not used to drawing in complete profile.  The side angle is just not something I'm used to.  Problem is that everyone I draw for this game is walking right to left and there is no way of getting around it.  I started playing around with different head and body shapes today.  I'm hoping to get a good "base" animation working in flash and then start adjusting proportions, colors, and all out assets for the different civilians.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the city streets populated with the different characters.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

The white edges are because I'm a fool. I didn't turn off antialiasing  on my selection tool.  I suck.
So I've done, what I feel, is an admirable job in researching the pros and cons of both Brashmonkey's Spriter and Adobe Flash's Bone animation.  I made a real quick test in Spriter and imported it into Construct 2.  Much to my surprise, the blocky pixels where small enough that their rotations weren't terribly noticeable.  I was already beginning to lean towards doing the whole thing in Flash, but now I'm not so sure.

Looks like I'm going to have to test both.  Luckily, someone created a Flash exporter that converts to the Spriter file format: Shporter.

This is kind of a relief, because the thought of rigging and animating the same walk cycle in two separate programs was bumming me out.  I'm studying up on the bone tool and tweening in Flash, so hopefully I can run a test real soon.   

Adobe Flash and Civilian States

I'm starting to get the itch to put a few civilians into the city and see them walk around.  With the need for variety and filling out the city, I'm trying to find the most efficient way of creating assets and NPC's.  I was looking into Spriter, and while I'm sure it will work great for large characters and Boss battles, it will look too weird with the civilians.  

The fault is really my own.  In order to keep file sizes down, I long ago decided to keep my art small and pixelated.  If you attach small, blocky objects onto a Spriter Skeletal system, it will look like garbage.  So it looks like I'm going to try and animate the characters in Flash and then export sprite sheets from there.  I can use the software's built in bone tool to animate character elements and then just draw new elements for each civilian.  Once, the art is scaled down, it should look pretty seamless.  Right now I'm trying to figure out the different states that the Civilians will be in so I can plan my animations.  Looking forward to getting started.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Researching Spriter

The only hand animated character is the player's. The rest are using cut -outs and skeletal animation.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about the enemies and civilians that will be populating the city.  Just considering animating a few of those characters, let alone the variety I would like, is growing more and more intimidating.  A walk cycle alone is a big enough pain.  Doing just that for a few civilians would suck up way more time than I have available at the moment.

After watching the Postmortem on Dust: An Elysian Tail (starts around 3 hour mark), I really started to appreciated Dean Dodrill's use of skeletal animation techniques for his NPC's and enemies.  With Spriter's implementation in Construct 2, it's possible to create stock animations for one character and then transfer those same animations to other ones.  In the past, I had considered doing that all in Flash and then exporting the sprite sheets.  Spriter makes it possible to do the whole thing in-engine.  My only real concern is that my shrunken, pixelated graphics might look weird being rotated.  

So, at this point I'm looking into the breaking apart and rigging of characters.  I also started playing Mark of the Ninja.  That game really does some admirable work with that style of cut-out animation.  I'll be looking at it more closely to better learn how to add variety to my animations.  Hopefully I'll have some tests up soon.

In the meantime, here's a pretty good tutorial on breaking up characters in Flash.  I might end up doing it that way initially and then later painting over in Photoshop.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"Vintage Hero" Commission

I had the immense pleasure of creating the box art for the upcoming release of "Vintage Hero" on Xbox Live Indie Games.  Working with Matt over at Frog The Door Games was an absolute delight as I translated his characters into my style.  If you love your games retro, then do yourself a favor and watch the teaser trailer below.  I'll be sure update the blog when the game is uploaded to XBLIG.  I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Look for work in progress pics in the next few days.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Blog Header update!

I finally got some more assets in there an optimized the billboard animation.  The animation really didn't need as many frames as it had.  Also, I was able to limit the colors to save on file sizes.  The highest quality art is really only necessary on the frames that are stopped on.  The transitional frames have really been pared back as far as size.  All in all, I was able to shave 3 megs worth of memory off of the file.

I might go back and change (or possibly remove) the camera move altogether.  We'll have to see.