Fixing Loot, and Graphics

Hey Folks! A little bit of loot work today as I fixed the issue mentioned yesterday, and a lot of graphic style discussion.

First, the loot. It turns out the issue I was having was that none of my Condition Owners (COs, basically all active objects in the game) had their containers setup when initialized. Any time I tried to add a CO to another CO's inventory, it would silently fail because there was no container installed. After making each CO have a container by default, I was able to spawn a fridge with a random number of yellow food packets inside. So far, so good!

Obviously, I'll need a more sophisticated system in the future. Not all COs will contain other COs, and there may be rules involved. But for now, this lets me get back to testing.

The other major thing going on today was a discussion of art style with my contract artist. We talked about a number of things, such as:

  • Camera point of view
  • Rendering style
  • Tile size
  • Complex Ship Parts (e.g. non-cube/non-square)
  • AI Mesh Setup
  • Font size and style

All of these variables are up for negotiation, but each comes with a trade-off. For example, straight top-down vs. isometric or skewed top-down is a big decision. The former is easier to support and mod, but it looks a bit flat. The latter looks awesome, but makes the art more complex and harder to maintain/mod.

That said, even the top-down perspective I have now is starting to run into issues. Things with complex shadows will still look a bit odd in this camera angle, since the sides of the object are still a cube. Imagine a chair, for example, with a light nearby. Or a jail cell door. Each would cast a detailed shadow in real life, but the game would only allow for a single blob shadow. Not a game-breaker or anything, but also not ideal, and maybe distracting/inconsistent with the rest of the art style's fidelity.

We also discussed whether the 32x32 tiles might be too big, with too much detail. Looking at some other games out there, lower res can actually appear nicer since the detail level is easy to maintain. It's not exactly "uncanny valley," but pixel art suffers from a similar issue. If the sprites are too large, it becomes really hard to make them look nice.

And the subject of fonts will come up soon, as we figure out resolution. If the fonts are super crisp against a gritty pixel art style, it can look weird. But if the fonts are too pixelated, that can be hard to read.

Both of us walked away from the chat with questions unanswered. But they're important questions, and we're going to do some experimenting to see if any solutions come up. Hopefully, we can arrive at a nice compromise between awesome-looking and sustainable!


Malacodor's picture

I don't really understand your arguement, a higher resolution doesn't mean you have to add more details. It can have the same detail level as lower res, but simply look a bit smoother.

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

dcfedor's picture

Smooth may not be desirable, though. At least, not to me.


The left options in each of these imply more detail than the right (ignore the middle 2 Yoshis), even though the right has more pixel density.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Malacodor's picture

I disagree, for me the right options show exactly the level of detail the left ones imply.

The left options only look good due to their massively oversized heads and high contrast. For realistic proportions their body sizes had to be doubled or tripled which would require a higher resolution. Grey/brown characters without outlines in front of grey/brown backgrounds don't look as good.

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool