Enemy art updates

At some point, programmer art must get replaced with something polished or no one will even want to blow anything up in your game. When the solution to every problem in your game is to blow things up, well, you see where this is going. So with that in mind it seemed time to trade in the old Chargebot and laser drone for something new and shiney.

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The Chargebot sprite was literally the 1st animation created for Kite. It was endearingly bad but it did the job. Nine months later the production team has given birth to Chargebot 2.0! It’s a robot!

charge_bot

Shifting to a 4 way isometric view for the majority of unique enemies was a key decision. It cuts down the amount of work by 60% compared to the 8 way.  By drawing and animating the North East and South East directions you can cover the entire movement range (after flipping). Yes the bots sort of crab walk around a little bit, they are only perfectly facing the direction they’re moving when it’s in the true NE, NW, SW or SE direction but it works, specially for melee.

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In contrast the laser drone update was planned to be rendered as an 8 way. Original programmer art was a single sprite that was rotated according to firing direction. Being that it was simply an oval with a dingy, it was fine as a proof of concept, but looked like something out of Atari’s Pitfall (could do worse).

laser_drone

The update follows and meets the new higher standards and style guidelines that have been set for production art.  It could do with a bit more detail but for now it’s looking good and as a bonus has that evil/cute look. Again, the 8 way actually requires 5 unique assets for the N, NE,E,SE,and S directions, the NE, E and SE get flipped while the gun sprite is drawn separately and has it’s own location and depth for each orientation. Also the N and S are easy to produce because you just draw the back of someone instead of the front so it ends up feeling more like 4 uniques. It’s quite an efficient way to render characters considering what you get out of it but it’s still 5 unique angles instead of 2 in the case of the isometric.

As a rule the 8 way representation is favored for ranged characters and the easier 4 way iso style for melee types. Short of rotating the sprite as you would in a pure top down game an 8 way is ideal for making projectiles feel and look right when fired. Otherwise you end up with a blaster pointed in one direction and the shots coming out at an extremely odd angle. With an 8 way rendering the most you’re ever off by would be 22 degrees which is just tolerable for a shooter. Compare to a possible discrepancy of 44 degrees from a 4 way isometric job and the extra work starts to seem worth it. For the melee type characters it’s not as important to look reasonable because there’s not ballistics involved, just short range crushing and slicing which doesn’t give away angles so much.

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Biz cards!

What are you gonna get done without the all important business card?  You think you can make waves in the fast lane without some paper to slap? Think again. If you’re not erroneously filling up someone’s pocketbook you’ll never make your mark.  It’s such a given that it seems like more of a chore than anything else.

Exploring the obligatory vistaprint returned yawn worthy pedestrian fare.  Slogging through the options garnered few palatable results. Adding images was a rigid affair that chewed up and spat out only foul garbled mockeries of pixel art.  No dpi options, no control over compression or filtering – it is truly just hamsters hand keying your .png files in machine language on an Altair over there.

The local print shop of choice has always been friendly, spacey, and slow but eventually they do produce.  With assurances that art given would not be tampered with in any way and faithfully reproduced verbatim, some proofs were ran and it immediately became clear that, well, you couldn’t see shit.

What dark curse had materialized this time? Truly the darkest of all – it was way too dark. The attendant’s best attempt to tweak brightness (that’s right brightness only, no contrast control) resulted in something that was possibly 10% brighter, while they touted it as 95% brighter. Clearly some hunt and peck Neanderthal, there was nothing that could be done on-sight.  The attendant conceited that new, brighter more contrasty pieces would have to be devised, sent back over and then the new proofs would require a real life person to come back down and bless in person before production commenced.

On a side note, the local shop doesn’t have a sign out front for this but it’s twice as expensive as vistaprint.  In the end your two basic options are to buy from a used luxury car dealer or the Borg.

Now for reference please examine the original (far too dark) artwork:

bizcardfront

Feeling generous and somewhat anti-Borg the new much brighter works were delivered via sane methods to the locals and new proofs were ready the next day for the whole song and dance again. Bellow are the brighter and brightest versions, which to the layman may appear to look washed out and like shit but are actually still barely bright enough…

front brightfront brightest

The final ended up being the super washed out brightest one, in printed form however it really popped and was by far the clearest. After waiting a week to account for ‘installing new toner’ the coveted paper was finally burdened with my garish works and the final product was signed sealed and delivered. No it had to be picked up actually.

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It’s a decent reproduction of the original vision. If one were to select but a few choice words to retain from this account they would be that whenever traveling in person to a print shop bring several copies featuring brightness far into the retina burning range :]