• Artists' Alley #2: Inspiration and Learning from the Greats

    These past two weeks I have been drawing inspiration from other side scroller games in order to develop a style unique to Monsters and Sprites!

    I have found Braid to be a particularly good source of guidance because it is a successful game with an inspiring art style. The art for Braid is both as encapsulating as it is functional. Additionally, this is the first serious game I’ve worked on, so it helps that Braid’s artist, David Hellman has a SUPER amazing process blog of his own out. I’ve been using this blog as guidance for how to approach our project here at Anthropic Studios.

    One of the steps Hellman used to create Braid’s art was tracing. He traced scenes from games such as Mario, re-making them in possible Braid styles. I’ve traced a few levels from Braid and other side scrollers with focus on incorporating the color schemes from last post into more functional and stylized “screenshot” scenes.

    Through this exercise, I’ve stumbled upon things I would like to incorporate into the game:

    • Angular “rocks” (which can easily change to suit new color schemes and make variable puzzle pieces
    • Foliage which can be easily made into variable puzzle pieces.
    • A brighter foreground and a dimmer non-interactive area
    • The use of water as an obstacle (I would like to imagine the Sprites would melt on contact!)

    This tracing exercise has also made it apparent there are some things I need to correct/ think more about as the journey of creation continues:

    • While I like the jaggy rocks, I’ll have to make sure the “walkable” areas need are obvious and completely intuitive.
    • The pools are a really fun and aesthetically pleasing. But I’ll need to do some soul- searching and peer review to make sure they are not too distracting.
    • The interactive pieces (gates, teleporters, etc..) need to look a bit more detailed.
    • I think I’m on the right path, but the non-interactive background needs to be developed a bit more!

    Below are some “traced” pieces and the original screenshots:

    Top Image - My Art
    Middle 2 Images - Braid Screenshots
    Bottom Image - My Art

    Top Image - My Art
    Bottom 2 Images - Traced Screenshots

  • Scripting Language Cleanup

    When we built the original Monsters and Sprites demo, we only had 9 days to get it working before the Playcrafting expo we had signed up for, so we had to cut a lot of corners. Since then I’ve been doing bug fixes and working on a lot of miscellaneous engine/language features that I either couldn’t get done in time for the demo, or didn’t realize were important until I started building it.

    We’ve made a few game updates since then (we now have sound!), but this post is specifically going to explore some language updates I’ve made.

    I made a bunch of smaller changes that I’m going to just gloss over here:

    • Adding new compiler warnings
    • Fixing a parser error in compound assignments for structs (e.g. x.y += 2)
    • Fixing bugs in the type checker
    • Supporting a similar struct initializer shorthand to what Rust allows (e.g. @Vec2 { x: x, y: y } can now be written as @Vec2 { x, y })

    And some slightly bigger ones I’ll write about more in depth.

  • Artists' Alley #1: Abstract Palettes and Environment

    Artists Ally is a bi-monthly segment which provides a behind the scenes glance into the artistic process for Monsters and Sprites (M&S).

    This segment is essentially a journal that helps me keep organized and focused. Additionally, I hope these updates will provide insight to other newbie gaming artists, game developers who are working with artists, and curious individuals.

    That said, I am beyond excited about this project! And I hope you all will join me on this journey full of magic, whimsy, and learning <];{D>

    So far, I am happy about the existing color palette for M&S. I have been exploring how this palette can be manipulated to create different environments and moods. This can be done by changing weight on different colors within the palette.

    For instance, when pale pink is the most prominent color, the world becomes a bit bubble-gummy and light.

    While oranges, and deep purple dominating the scene brings to mind more mysterious deep feelings.