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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!
- 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:
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)
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…
LIVE YOUR DREAMS!
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!
How awesome is this? Our very own Manon demonstrates her skillage with this amazing page of Boss 101 squaring off against Max and S.T.E.V.E.! I can't tell you how happy this made me when I saw it.
I want to see a whole book of it too! GENIUS! #boss101 #indiedev #gamedev
Welcome back to the latest and greatest news on Boss 101. We have a few things on the table. Game tuning and tweaking and BOSS TRAINS.
Let’s get rolling with some BOSS TRAIN talk. ROLLING I SAY!
Well, one of the later levels of the game has one bad mofo guarded a particularly important outpost. This guy will rock you six ways to Sunday and come back for more each time. Boss 101 sent one of his most deadly (and cool looking) buddies to make trouble for you. He’s a giant segmented train with each section representing some of the most powerful boss parts you can face. One section – JUST ONE SECTION of MANY has a powerful lightning gun ready to blast you out of the sky should you get too close.
Did we mention his name is Tom?
Here’s a VFX sample of the gun warming up for a blast.
Of course – you can take this section out but you need to be ready to dismantle the rest of the train too. It won’t be enough to blast once car – you gotta get ‘em all.
Keep on the looking for more updates about this guy as we get closer to release.
Design and Tuning
We spoke earlier about the tuning phase of the game and we wanted to elaborate a little more on that. Thing is – in any game it benefits from some basic game flowchart designs. In many cases your game or any game you are working on, making or playing is made up of a bunch of choice from moment to moment. The better the designers can predict and implement the most fun choices the better you are as the player of the game.
We have sat down earlier and laid out many of the menu choices. These are arguably the easier of the flow charts to make since the choices are all straightforward and don’t really deal with a lot of player variables (unlike game play moments). Here are a few close-ups and larger zoom outs of the game we are working on. Mind you the larger zoom outs are for reference only to give you a sense of the complexity that can spring from a few simple buttons and presses on the menus.
How Guns Work at a basic level
Zoom in (detail)
How Hats work (overall integration with the gameplay)
Zoom in (detail)
How the Pause menu works
Zoom in (detail)
We’re bring you the fun and working to make battles awesome! Check out this snippet!
Some late night gaming - you always knew dinosaurs were birds right? HAAAAAA!!!
That’s all for this week and look for more next week! Thank you again and your comments or questions are welcome.
Remember to Live Your Dreams!
Some late night gaming - you always knew dinosaurs were birds right? HAAAAAA!!! #boss101 #indiedev #gamedev
Remember to live your dreams!
Welcome to the weekly update! Story and Bosses, Two great things that go great together!
Doesn't come up a lot in the updates but rest assured there is entertainment in Boss 101 beyond the awesome battles. Our goal is to give you a glimpse into the universe of Boss 101. We want to show you what is going on and hint at the larger forces in play. We know much of the the game boils down to cool arcade action but that’s not stopping us from plotting out a narrative for you to enjoy and follow. Here’s how we are planning it.
You’ve seen this. Bosses, Steve and Max talk with each other at the beginning of and during rounds. This is the basic stuff to give you the flavor of their personalities.
Making a Boss Room and various Command Center moments:
This is similar to the in-round work where you are seeing the guys and their friends react to various stuff happening in the game. You will hear the visitors call into the Command Center and get to listen to conversations with ROB (their IT robot and part time chef)
This is where you can just hang out and relax between battles. Fly a kite and listen to the guys talk about what’s on their mind. You might learn a few important things about STEVE and his past.
Overall storytelling in and there for a reason. We have a delivery system for these we believe you will enjoy. The idea is to give you narrative as YOU want it with the ability to play and replay as you like it. We’re working on this to make it special and memorable for you the player.
The point of all the above is there will be an underlying reason and motive for the way things are in the game. If you want to play and enjoy the game for pure arcade fun you can do that but always available will be the personalities and the history of the Boss 101 universe.
It sounds crazy but I think it’s as fun to help create the backstory as it is to work on a lot of the bosses and battles. The other day we were talking about the Command Center and why exactly would Max and STEVE have this awesome and advanced place to hang out in. Of course once the light bulb went off it made so much sense and wrapped a lot of the other pieces together too. YOU TOO will find out what’s going on when you play (or maybe read a Wiki article, HAAAAAAAAAAAA).
This time around we are looking at wrapping up another large scale boss. I’m going to put in a couple in progress shots of what you can expect. I’ll leave it to you to figure out what's going on here. Let’s just say it’s going to be pretty epic and we think you will like it a lot. This guy is “on track” to be an awesome boss! GET IT!?!?!? ON TRACK! That’s a hint!
Some regular and destroyed states for part of the boss:
Just know this – we care about Boss 101 a lot. It’s a fun game and a great experience for us. We’re working every day to bring you our best and earn your purchase.
Remember to Live Your Dreams!
Just flying through the sky with our new 1940's style plane-hat-thing. haha
Remember to live your dreams!
Game Loops! Creating the Boss 101 game loop. Let’s talk about this shall we?
Our game loop is the basic or typical game cycle the player will experience when he plays the game. For us this is the actual action round of playing the game (the part where you shoot the bad guys). In making your own game you want to start doing this as early as reasonable for obvious reasons. It’s the cheapest and fastest game development you can do. Mistake and changes are pretty cost free since no one is really working on anything except you on a diagramming program.
The way we started was to lay out all the actions we felt the player would go through from beginning to end in the broadest strokes possible. This is stuff like start the round, read some dialog, see a cinematic etc. and proceed into options like pause the game, get hit by bullets, kill the boss. You can imagine from this tiny list there are tons of things happening in any basic game round. Well, we need to understand and control that so we can actually make the game. Maybe you are working on a game and wonder about this so read on!
First and foremost – this process is something we use on Boss 101 and might not be for everyone – I encourage you to test the veracity of it and see what works for you! Don’t take my word for anything without thoughtful examination on your part.
OK – get yourself something to track all this game loop stuff in. We use Visio and Google docs but you can use anything really. Google docs are free, there are also a lot of free graph and chart making software programs. You can even use paper, old school style.
The main point of your game loop pass is to hit all the highlights YOU think will happen at any point in the round. Just write ‘em all down and collect them on one spot. Do not worry about mistakes or missing things. In your mind you want to just go from start to finish and list all the things you can do. The thinking here is you can always add things in. The important part is to get from start to finish and re-read what you have for errors or omissions. You don’t want to get bogged down at this stage, you want to finish the loop.
When that is done you should go back and arrange things in order if they aren’t already. This is where Visio or charting programs are great. You can draw all those awesome little arrows and flow chart thingos to make connections to various prices of the game loop. Cinematics lead to gameplay, gameplay leads to achievements. All the great stuff happening.
Once you think you have a pretty good overall flow you will then take each item in that chart and start breaking it down HARDCORE. Well, at least as hardcore as you can for the moment. I personally think it’s really important to leave yourself some wiggle room with the systems. Many times and idea will just not pan out and you don’t want to be boxed in with a bunch of unique or inflexible game systems. Ideally – crap that isn’t working you can just take out and stuff that is working you expand on.
Again – the deal is not to turn this into a study in minutia. Rather you want to start asking some obvious questions as early as possible. things like “are we pausing and if so what will the player be able to do?” That sounds incredibly obvious but you want everything out in the open so you can take full advantage of your time and resources. There are few things worse than getting to the end and realizing you left out a ‘return to main menu’ option or an important end of round screen.
OK – so you went through all that and you have a pretty good list. Well, my advice here is to wrap the whole thing up and let it sit for a few days so you can revisit it with fresh eyes. I use this ‘let it bake’ philosophy a lot and it has saved me heartache time and again. What seems genius at 3 in the morning might be absurd on Friday afternoon after coffee.
The basic game loop should cover a typical game round and might be more complex for certain gams (think Civilization and its myriad options in a round). Another thing to remember is you can also put loops WITHIN loops. The basic loop exists within the great game loop and that might connect to other game loops like mini-games, upgrades, achievements, save screens and on and on. Start putting those together after you main loop and you are well on your way to really making a game.
To summarize – this process is about getting you asking questions about your game’s rules. That is it. You are pretending to be a typical player and thinking about all the things they can or might do. You won’t be perfect but each time you sit down and review you will likely improve the loop (any loop really) and thereby improve the game experience.
SideNote: We were in IndieGame Mag this month!
Boss 101 in the latest issue of Indie Game Magazine! Take a look and support a great site!
Link to the site here
Hope you enjoyed and talk with you soon!
Remember to LIVE YOUR DREAMS!