My Writings. My Thoughts.
Robofish was fun to play, but if it had been multiplayer it would’ve been easily twice as fun. Hanging out with your friends and playing the same game, cooperatively or competitively, adds a whole new dimension to gameplay. I loved playing Doom and Warcraft when I was a kid, but those few times I was able to get a network set up to take on my friends were always my favorite gaming sessions. Most of the game ideas my brother and I come up with are multiplayer because that’s where we have the most fun, which is why we decided to make our next game multiplayer. The problem with that is it’s only our second game, and we have never created a multiplayer game before. Time to do some research!
My brother and I have started working on our new project and I have been spending a lot of time researching different methods of producing concept art. In this post I will be discussing my experience so far on the topic and the steps I have been taking to create my concepts.
When I first started working on Robofish I told myself I need to make some concept art before I do anything else. I had seen plenty of concept art on the internet from other developers and came to the conclusion it would be a good idea, however, I had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t do any research and just started drawing, while this helps to get some of your creative juices flowing it doesn’t end up being to productive in the long run. When I went to create a new enemy or weapon asset in Robofish I would skip the conceptual phase and move straight to the production phase of the asset. This lead to faster “in game” visuals but over time we kept noticing things about the graphics we didn’t like and I ended up re-creating nearly all the assets two or three times before the game was released. If you take the time in the beginning to hash out some concepts and agree upon something before hand it will save you time in the production phase of your project.
Hopefully you’ve read my previous post on the importance of choosing the right game framework. Taking what we learned from Robofish we decided that our next game would be built upon a framework that had good performance, documentation, and ease-of-use. If we stopped at those requirements then we probably would’ve just stuck with XNA since we used that on Robofish, and it meets those requirements. However we decided to throw one more requirement into the mix: cross-platform support.
We’re targetting the PC for our next game, and we hope to get it released through Steam. When we read about Steam Greenlight we were even more excited! Getting your game on Steam greatly increases the amount of people you can reach, which can lead to great success. Steam recently started supporting other platforms like Mac OS X and soon Linux as well. I’ve also read this article on how releasing on multiple platforms can affect your sales. We still haven’t 100% decided to go cross-platform, but it couldn’t hurt to make it as easy as possible to do that if we decide to, right?
Now that we have identified what to look for in a framework we can start evaluating our options. I guess I should also mention that we’re sticking to 2D for now, so we’re only considering frameworks that have strong 2D support. That helps narrow it down a bit. Here’s the list of frameworks I came up with to evaluate:
Good news: Jaret and I have begun work on Sparkrift’s next game! Bad news: it’s going to be a while before you can play it. Good news: the game is going to be awesome! We’ve been using the past couple of months to start laying the foundation for our next game. Jaret is doing a lot of concept art, and I’ve spent a lot of time looking into game engines and graphics frameworks, which brings us to to the topic of this post.
There are a lot of game engines and graphics frameworks to choose from, so how can you pick the right one? Maybe you shouldn’t even pick one; why not just write your own from scratch? That way you’ll have complete control and can tune it to match your needs exactly! Only you can decide what’s right for you, and I won’t go into writing an engine versus writing a game in this post. Here I’m going to walk you through our experience with Robofish.
Robofish is my first real game project and when I started working on it I knew that using sprite sheets was the preferred method for exporting graphics to the engine but I didn’t have a clue how to set them up efficiently. Sprite sheets are basically large image files that tile out each graphic or animation’s frame so that the game engine can read the images in order according to the sheet and display them on the screen when called. That sounds confusing, I am not even sure I understand what I just typed! Simply, a game engine runs faster if it can see a bunch of graphics on one image file rather than thousands of individual images. Jacob, my Brother and the programmer behind our games, and I knew this but our first attempt at sprite sheets wasn’t quite the most efficient. Continue reading to see how first discovered how to make sprite sheets and how we had to modify our entire sprite sheet process about 60% through production, also pictures below!
Check out the latest video displaying a few of the weapon hit effects available in the game!
Hit effects are special abilities that you can apply to projectiles when you create a weapon in the weapon factory. Some of the effects include freezing, life leech, explosion, teleport, and many others. Keep checking back to see footage on other hit effects!
As the graphic designer on Robofish I thought it would be interesting to go over the different concepts of Robofish from the beginning of the project up until now where we have pretty much a solid idea of what Robofish is going to look like when we release the game. Robofish is my first indie game and I have learned a lot during the process, pretty much starting with zero knowledge on how to effectively make 2D graphics in a game environment. I used Adobe Flash for the design and animation of Robofish.
Above you will see the very first few concepts of Robofish. Pretty rough around the edges! My main goal at the start of the project was to try and draw something humorous and interesting at the same time. I wasn’t taking our “hero” too seriously and didn’t want the player too either. After the initial concept I proceeded to create a more refined design with some shading and different colors and cleaner detail. I would say my favorite part of these concept designs is the jet-pack like thing on the right side of him. However the ugly “roundness” of the fin and the head had to go, and with a little help from my brother we slimmed him up and gave him a fresher look below: