DarkTimmy's News

You can wear minion hats and maybe make some friends! #boss101 #pixelart #indiedev #gamedev


Hello and welcome to the Boss 101 update of the week. We have a few things for you so let’s get cracking!

Command Center Main Room

You already know Max and STEVE have a hangout but we recently did some adjustments and touchups to the place. Mostly so you can enjoy it a little better and understand the layout. You see – this isn’t just their home it’s yours too!

First up we have the redecorated main room with a big screen TV, award and basic remodeling. The idea in this room is you have access to all things you have done in the game (like achievements, stat tracking, etc). Additionally you can hang out with the guys and play games – that’s what the arcade matching is for after all. Finally we have a couple places you can go to from here. Kite Hill – were you fly a kite with the guys and the Endless Boss mode – where you can test your skills against a neverending horde of boss baddies. So to break it down you have:

Movies – replay and re-watch movies you have seen
Kite Flying – fly a kite with the guys
Endless Boss – take on endless boss baddies
Professor Mole – consult him when you have questions about gameplay or game elements
Trophies – Stat and achievement tracking
Arcade Games – relax and play games

Check out the images below:

Main Room:


Main Room with selection labels active – same room but with the guides active to show the player some of what they can activate.


A close up of a few of the TV shows playing while you hang out.



Indie Game Battle

How awesome is this! The guys working on Indie Game Battle (http://www.indiedb.com/games/indiegamebattle) put up the latest gameplay preview with your boys Max and STEVE as playable characters! Check out the sweet footage below!

Gameplay of Indie Game Battle on Youtube with Max and STEVE


Screenie for you!

Despite his sarcasm, S.T.E.V.E. does care! He's actually a good teacher!


How to Make a Game - Preview of the next update!

When you are making a game - have you every wondered about the work that goes into it? We have so we broke it down into four basic areas:

What you know you’ve done: This is work you know about. Work you have done. This would be something like the creation and animation of the player and environment sprites. This is stuff scheduled and done.

What you know you haven’t done: This is stuff you know about, is scheduled and has not been done yet. Inserting sounds, finishing the cinematic movies, VFX might fall into this category.

What you DON’T KNOW and you HAVE DONE: This is stuff you needed to do and by sheer luck or fortune you ALREADY DID. This was not scheduled per-se but resulted from a lucky bit of earlier work. An example – you create the UI for an inventory panel a while back. When you go to make the UI for the player store you realize you already had done the base work when you did the player inventory. It was matter of re-using the designs and ideas to quickly make the new store in a fraction of the normal time.
An IMPORTANT NOTE: This type of work must be recognized for what it is when the time comes or you will redo things unnecessarily. Recognizing work you ALREADY did is the way to avoid remaking things over and over.

What you don’t know and you haven’t done: This is the killer category. This is every single thing that has not been done and you just didn’t think about while putting the game together. This category exists in all games no matter how much planning happens. It’s what I call the “bottom of the iceberg”. It might be big, it might be small. I’d like to think on Boss 101 we have a pretty small amount of stuff in here but there most certainly is stuff in here.
Examples: Medals awarded at the end of your game rounds. When those go in it is obvious they need a little something more than the method scoped out (perhaps they just appear with no VFX). Nothing was wrong with the idea planned but the execution gave you a clear picture of improvement. This is a case of the “you didn’t know and didn’t do it”. No one is to blame, nothing is wrong, this is just game development.
Most games live and die on this category: If you want a game that is going to get great reviews and the attention fans and friends you will do well to pay special attention to this category.

That's all for the moment but we'll be back soon with a new update!

Thank you for reading and keep living your dreams!


2015.05.29 Boss 101 Screenshot

2015-05-29 16:01:18 by DarkTimmy

Despite his sarcasm, S.T.E.V.E. does care! He's actually a good teacher! #boss101 #indiedev #gamedev #pixelart


Welcome back to the weekly Boss 101 update!

How do you relay information to the player clearly and at the correct time?

This week we are diving into UI with a look at the Status Icons for the game Boss 101. What are status icons you ask? Good question! Status icons are the visual indicators for effects on weapons and bosses. For instance a boss might have a flame weapon. Well, we would have a status icon for the flame weapon created so you would know in advance what you are facing.

The idea here is we want the Make A Boss room to be a dynamic thing. You roll a boss and see the effects he has and you pull up the equip panel to decide what’s best to battle him with. Maybe the boss is weak versus melee weapons? Well this is where you can choose what to take him down with

The philosophy here is we want the player to really enjoy the idea of rolling random bosses and getting a moment to plan an attack. Kinda like thinking on your feet in the middle of the battle. We designed the game around the idea you get bonuses for clearing out bosses in sets as well as the idea you use certain boss parts to create or develop more tech for your weapons. That is where the Make A Boss equip screen makes its mark. Let’s dive in!

Figure 1: Here we have the regular Make a Boss screen with a couple of red squares representing the effect icons. Notice we are just laying things in for position and to get a sense of space. 


Figure 2: Here’s a layout with everything planned. You see a sample of icons and names in their proper positions. The point here is to create a UI with a focus on the important things. In this case we are giving the player a direct look at not only the Bosses abilities but allowing the player to compare this with his own weapons and armor (hats). 


Figure 3: Here’s a first pass on some various effects for bosses

Figure 4: So the player will have resistances to the bosses effects (like poison for instance). This is a simple layout page with classic video game tropes using arrows to represent the good and bad effects for the player. 


Figure 5: A look at some effects laid on for display on the Make A Boss Screen. This is mostly to get a sense of the colors and the best way to display things. 


OK – that is the highlights for now but comments are questions are always welcome. We hope you liked this high level look at creating a game UI and the thinking that goes behind every part. We will be bring you more looks at UI philosophy and development in the coming weeks!

Boss 101 Gameplay testing

Welp, when the night winds down what better to do than play a little Boss 101 and shake down the latest. Here we are threading the needle during crazy boss attacks! If you don’t have the right hat you better be pretty good at flying! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA


Remember to Live Your Dreams!


Boss 101 Gameplay testing - threading the needle during crazy boss attacks! #boss101 #gamedev #pixelart #indiedev


Thanks for stopping by and welcome back to the Boss 101 weekly update! A smorgasbord of goodies awaits you this week!

Weapons – the Lightning Gun

In the quest to bring you rocking gameplay and boatloads of fun we added this dandy into the player’s arsenal – the lighting gun. Yeah, it is not only powerful but can target nearby enemies automagically and jump around to all local targets. When there is a lot of action on the screen is makes for a pretty sick show.

The player’s version can be upgraded to allow for better targeting and more damage. It’s great for clearing the area of those pesky bad guys. Check it out!


Of course the bosses will have their own version. You might want to give it a wider berth since it can do serious damage. Of course you will be able to mitigate the damage with various upgrades but in the meanwhile – steer clear buddy!


Making Boss Levels

Work continues on the final levels of the game – SUPER BOSS LEVELS! Just a peek at what is going on but we have in progress shots of the before and after art as it is being created.

The setup

Initial layout – we look to integrate new art with existing art. In this case we have a set of pillars we are already using. These caps are for decoration and variety.


The Black and White


All niced up with some fancy art. From here they get colored and prepped for use in the game.

Animations from the Boss Command Center

Looks like Max & STEVE set off alarms at robo HQ. Late night raids do that.


Making a Game – a look at the bigger picture

Occasionally we bring you a look at the How to Make a Game series we’re putting together for our friends at Indie Game Riot. Here is a snippet from the latest this week.

OK, you have your basic game loop and now you want to expand beyond that. Well, what do you do after that? Good question – you lay out the entire game in rough form as soon as possible!

You see, the temptation is always to spend time on things like polishing up this or that specific system but the real thing is you are making a game. A game has a lot of parts and you most likely aren’t a huge team. Completeness is your weapon against forgetfulness and running out of time.

Specifically I am referring to the situation you will be in when you make a cool game loop and a few awesome little gameplay features. You might sit back and thing “All locked down now!” but you aren’t. not even close. You’re making good progress though so stuck with it. Start laying out all the game loops you can think of. For every system. This includes all the UI potentials, all the gameplay modes, all the little things like loading and saving.

Break large areas down into smaller ones but don’t stop at any one area. “But Tim, won’t I just be skimming through a ton of important things?” Yes, my friend and that is exactly the point. You want to get a real assessment of all the systems which are in your game. From years of experience the best way for this assessment is to just make the game. Not plan it or think about it or imagine it will all be OK later. Just make the systems and see how they work.

I do recommend you put the systems in on a first pass level. That means they are working with a UI that is not all temp art. You should always make an effort to put in good art and good code. That is also part of the exercise.

Hope you enjoyed this look and more to come.

As always – live your dreams!


Looks like Max & STEVE set off alarms at robo HQ. Late night raids do that. #boss101#pixelart #indiedev #gamedev



Welcome back to another weekly update! 

We have:
- Pixel Art setups in Boss 101
- Boss 101 and Indie Game Battle
- Camping time with STEVE and Max

**Pixel Art setups in Boss 101**

Let's get right down to it with a look at the pixel art process on Boss 101 or “how we do what we do art-wise”. What you need:

The Basics

Pixel Program – we used Photoshop for the art. It’s not better or worse than many of the other awesome programs out there. It’s just what we use. It’s nice because:
- Layers (ESSENTIAL for rapid art development)
- each layer can have an overall effect applied to it to influence the underlying art. For instance – you can use a layer with a gradient to darken and shadow a layer underneath. Very useful.
- Solid program not prone to crashes. I’ve used Photoshop for nearly 21 years and I think it has only crashed out completely on me maybe 4 times. 
- Animation tools for .gifs are pretty good, I’m hesitant to say they are amazing in Photoshop but they can get the job done well.
- Folders – Essential for separating the various pieces and components of art. Also allows you to store multiple files in the same location for easy reference and referral.

[Cloud] Backup Service – I cannot stress enough how important it is to actually save and back your work up ALL THE TIME. May you never experience the incredible sad panda of seeing your work erased in a power outage. When that happens you cry, you wail, you promise to NEVER let it happen again and worst of all… it’s totally your fault since you should know better. Get a free Dropbox account, Google Drive or something. If you want Snowden level security you will probably have to pay for it but most of us don’t need 4096 bit encryption for our pixel cat art.  

Setting things up

Group similar items:
If you have a collection of similar items (we have a collection of player guns, player hats and bosses that get grouped together) your best bet it to put them all in the same Photoshop file. Saves a huge amount of time and makes the work a lot easier than having 200 little .PSD’s all over the place. This is a shot of our allHatsFile.psd. You can see we store 100’s of hats in one file. 

(sample of our hat working file)


Work on things in batches if possible. 
If you are perhaps making guns for your main character, you would benefit from making all the same types at the same time. They reason for this is you end up saving design time since you are laying out all your ideas at the same time. The avoids pattern repetition, as well as mistakes and lets you focus on the creative but putting all similar ideas in front at the same time. It’s much easier to see outliers and weird things when you have a nice lineup going.

(sample of our guns which were drawn in batches)


Work on things in layers and start with black and white art first
I mentioned this in a prior post but starting with black and white is probably best for a lot of reasons. First and foremost you are probably not that good at color. SORRY! It’s true. I mean you might get lucky once in a while and get some compliments when you bolt right in with color work but unless you’re an art major and have studied color theory trust me on this. Do the first pass of your work in Black and White and it will save you a ton of time. Black and white shows your contrast areas and detail in the clearest way possible. Color will accentuate a strong black and white base drawing but a weak color drawing is normally weak because of bad color choice (obviously) OR it doesn’t have enough contrast. The black and white will let you focus on the important stuff first.

(sample of a black and white starter image)


From there the way to go is put your shading in a separate layer. This allows you to tweak and tune the look 

(sample of a black and white shader layer)


(sample of the shader layer applied to the base black and white – used the ‘Overlay’ layer effect in Photoshop)
Then you can just add in the color layer and play around till you have something you like. 

(sample of color – notice it is all flat shaded)


(sample of color layer applied to the final black and white – used the ‘Color’ layer effect in Photoshop)


All together!


As you can see once you have everything all tidied up in Photoshop, separated in layers, setup for colors then you can dig in and play around with intensity and color experimentation. You will like the fact you can adjust the shading layer but keep the great colors you found. All in all this is one of the most efficient ways I have found to work. It is not the fastest AT FIRST because there is setup involved but the overall effect is a much faster workflow and a strong piece of mind. An added bonus is the tweak and changes are a lot easier too. Of course, if you do everything perfectly on the first try you probably don’t need to change anything so just work as you please! HAAAAAAAAA!!!

Boss 101 and Indie Game Battle

STEVE and Max in Indie Game Battle by Blob Game Studios!

Well we are SUPER flattered to be asked to be included in Blob Game’s Indie Game Battle. We were contact earlier about permission to bring STEVE and Max 9and their trusty machine gun) into the world of IGB and we are STOKED to present to you the first images from their appearance. 

CHECK THESE OUT! Are you excited?! We are! HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

(two shots of the guys in Battle)



More details on their IndieDB page here so check it out when you have a chance!


Camping time with STEVE and Max

Boss 101 STEVE and Max, guys’ night out. Camping time and ghost stories!


OK – hope you enjoyed that look at the process we use and as always…



Boss 101 STEVE and Max, guys' night out. Camping time and ghost stories! #boss101 #indiedev #pixelart #gamedev

Remember to always live your dreams!



Hello again and we are back with UI talk and a peek at how we go about making the UI for Boss 101. 

User Interface (UI) - overall thoughts

The safest way to start is to say UI should be functional and consistent. Functional in that buttons, visual cues and actions the player take all work and make sense. Consistent in that you should keep a theme or look across the whole dad-blamed thing. Nothing is more confusing for a player than having a bunch of random fonts, colors and button sizes from panel to panel in a game. It's a bad way to bring the player into the action of the game and in some cases may prevent them from playing your masterpiece. 

When we work on an interface we normally begin with a sketch in Photoshop or similar program. In most every case we take art from the game and work on top of that. The reason here is you want to look at your work in context. Use the same colors and visual themes. When you have a screencap or the original file at hand you can pick colors and cues while you work and also just get a sense of the shapes.  

The Make A Boss Equip Screen

So - in our Make a Boss room we have a button which brings up an equip panel where you can adjust your current weapon and hat. The idea here is to let you the player kit yourself up the best way possibly to battle the bosses. Since they are rolled randomly we wanted to give you this one last chance before battle to lock in your choice for items. 


So we took this first screen cap here as the base to work with. This is our reference for the colors and look of the area we're working with:


From there we do a quick first pass to block in the area we will be working on and control the space we want to use. This is not intended to be final so we're not exactly looking for artistic perfection. That said - color and general shaping is good to consider. The deal is if you are too sketchy and unrefined then it's really hard to judge what is happening. 


Allright - that came out OK, not awesome but the major movements are there and things are still missing. Control surfaces are undecided but the whole thing didn't take but 30 minutes or so. 

Now with that out of the way, the design was left to sit for a night. The next morning I (Tim) discussed the basic functionality with Joshua (our programmer). Right off the bat he had a few suggestions about ways to improve the look and was able to answer a few questions about how the panel might function. We had a long Skype call and the result was this:


HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!! What the heck! Well, those are meeting notes and I understood what they meant so I went to work. Some of the stuff we spoke about were a control pad type switch-out for the various hats and guns. Up and Down for Hats and Left and Right for the guns. I wanted to explore that idea which lead to this:


Ok - so that looks a lot more like something we would use! YES! Notice we added in a reference shot of Max with some hats and weapons mashed in so we can see how much space things might take up. From here the next steps are to polish up the overall look and add in needed iconography to the page. EASY-PEASY - well you get the idea. The major movements are done and the polish is arguably the funnest and easist part since all the big decisions are made. There may be more tweaks of course after some playtesting but we are good for now!

That's it for today's UI talk so let's take a quick look at the latest in our series of How To Make a Game! 

This week's topic is perspective! Keep it or lose it!
Full article here - How To Make a Game - Part 14

Perspective is simply your point of view toward your game project.  Sometimes you want to zoom that view way in but most of the time you want to keep it far out so you can see what’s happening. There are a lot of ways to make a game and some people advocate things like a vertical slice (which is essentially building a representative portion of the game with all working parts). Others might tell you to work on everything at once. I can tell you from experience anything can be made to work if you have enough time and money. Let’s assume you have limited amounts of both and here’s how perspective can help you finish your game sooner and better.

One thing we do with Boss 101 is constantly pull back and look at the game as a potential customer might. We assess the value of the game based only on the screenshots we have released and the information out there. We put aside for the moment we’re the creators and we already know how wonderful the game is. The deal here is we are looking at it like a real life customer would. This is incredibly helpful. Another obvious thing is to look at similar games and see where you stack up. The intent is to compare the overall polish of a game you hold dear with your current efforts.

There are plenty of times you will want to micro focus on art, mechanics and code. Ideally this all happens after a big picture moment or once the plan has been laid out. Diving straight into machine gun art or character modeling before any prelim deign has happened is risky at best.

Once you have your direction then we are into what most people would agree is the heart of game making. This is where you are doing heavy lifting and getting the game made. Art assets, code, sound and countless other specific game tasks would fall into this realm. You will need to remove all distractions to do your best work.

OK - hope you enjoyed this look at some of our process and join us again next week for a continued look at the magic behind the scenes!

Remember to always live your dreams!