Six free spritesheets released

After years of wondering if it’s possible to extract spritesheets from Clickteam Fusion, I finally bothered to just straight-up ask the Clickteam forums, and some dude immediately replied with the answer and it’s really really easy fml

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So anyway to celebrate my newfound ability to create spritesheets, I’m releasing all six playable characters from Electra City and Gamer 2 as a free bundle on itch.io! They’re not the prettiest sprites, since they were literally the first fully-animated characters I’d ever created, but they come with idle, running, crouching, jumping, melee attack, ranged attack, taking damage, and death animations, plus two different color palettes. That’s more than enough for somebody to do something with them.

Plus the spritesheet selection on Itch.io is really sparse right now, especially if you restrict yourself to free ones. And most of the others have that ugly RPG Maker chibi style. Who knows, maybe I’ll save somebody from the same problem I had back in the Seska Donitz days where I couldn’t find a realistically-proportioned free platformer sprite to save my life.

 

Final result on them particle systems

The C++ one is now downloadable from the same URL You can get all my other SFML projects: https://aabicus.itch.io/c-plus-plus-projects

 

 

My initial Unity effect, an explosion with shockwave and smoke, is admittedly really bad.

 

I was still wrapping my head around how to do anything, and I hadn’t gotten into the “lets really fuck shit up” mindset that usually leads to creative results. Case in point, the rainbow hellfire I somehow stumbled into after setting enough sliders to bizarre places:

 

 

 

I mean, I’m not gonna toot my own horn, but that actually looks decently cool. I replaced the default texture with my own, added tails, and streeeetched those tails out; they’re actually the majority of the effect. I originally had the camera at a birds eye angle, showing a big circular ‘radiating out’ effect, but it looked a lot cooler when you stuck the camera right in the middle. Looks like you just got nuked by Lisa Frank or something

Dev Diary #0

New quarter, new set of dev diaries! They didn’t actually assign one this week, but I’m writing one anything just for recordkeeping purposes. These upcoming Dev Diaries are gonna have a slightly different tone from the old ones because we need to write them as if they were press releases. So kinda like the “What We Are Up To” updates the Killing Floor 2 devs love to release. And I don’t think a press release would talk about the first (and, honestly, only) hurdle we had to tackle: somehow it wasn’t until our third meeting as a team that I finally discovered none of them played shooters. Like, there were fundamental elements to the core concept of shooters that they were really missing. So yesterday, we skipped our daily meeting and all played Team Fortress 2 together on a server full of bots. They had a blast, learned a lot about the relationship between different classifications of firearm, and I’m hoping I can get them to play Counter-Strike next, even if it probably won’t be as fun and accessible.

And on every other front, we’re ahead of the 8-ball. San Jose University dropped a bombshell that they won’t be sharing their artists with us next year, which affects every team except us because we already have Will and his art degree. Unity decided to restrict free Unity Collab to teams of three or less, which all the teams are freaking out about. Luckily, my team is only four people and I don’t program, so the other three just made a Collab and we’re off to the races. Me, I’ve been working on a design wiki, since I love making wikis and I’ve found it a great way to sort my thoughts out in a clear, understandable way. Enjoy looking at what you see, because my team requested that I port everything to a private wiki so we aren’t forced to commit to everything I write down. A reasonable concern, I just have an uncontrollable urge to publish everything I ever work on so the hypothetical masses can see it. I really need to work on reining that in.

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Had fun making these little filler icons too. They’re not Rembrandt, but I do think I’m getting better at pixel art. 

 

Happy New Year! I drew a box

Last year’s new year’s resolution was to give up sugar drinks and candy. I’ve been doing really well, and I’ve lost a bunch of weight. Down to 210, only ten pounds over what I’m supposed to weigh at my age, and this year I’m taking the next step and doing meal prep Sunday. I need to eat healthier, this is the only life I’m going to get, and I’m not going back to the chronic heart pains that used to haunt me since I finished undergraduate.

But this isn’t my New Years’ resolution: instead I’m spending it learning how to art good. Drawabox is an ongoing art lesson made by a programmer who wanted to apply the same practical and analytical coding mindset to learning art. I’m really attracted by that attitude, so my New year’s resolution is to make progress on drawabox every day. (It was originally 1 lesson a day, but the website stresses that you shouldn’t put solid deadlines and schedules, and instead just focus on never falling completely off the boat.)

That being said, I blitzed through the first lesson because I’m not a complete newcomer to art. It was entirely drawing lines, something I’ve been doing in the margins of my schoolnotes since first grade. I was working in pencil right up until the part where he mentioned you’re supposed to work in pen, and it’s in a lined spiral notebook because I don’t have a sketchbook at my parent’s house. You’re supposed to turn your work into the subreddit, but I’ll redo the lesson on proper blank paper tomorrow and turn that in. I can’t properly do the work until I’m back home in Santa Clara.

But you nonexistant readers can still see it!

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WordPress keeps forcibly rotating the image. It’s oriented properly when I upload it, I promise

 

Seriously took me like five minutes. The hardest part was the “ghosting” lines, where you place two lines and then draw a line connecting the two. I’ll put in more time tomorrow, this is really just to get the ball rolling. No time like the first of January, right?

dev diary #4

Prompt: – Write about the week’s lecture and readings as they relate to your project 
– Write about this week’s industry guest speakers (if any)
-Write a description of your progress (both positive and negative) on your current project
– Must include at least one piece of media:
GIF, link to video, screenshot, sketch, etc.

A few days ago we got an email about a one-hour UCSC seminar on Imposter Syndrome. I was planning to attend before I tried to find the location and realized it was happening on the main campus. Bummer. But that is an issue I feel I’m struggling with at this point in the program, most of it directly stemming from the difficulty I’m having with C++ and my overall fear of programming. I know it doesn’t look great that I’ve waited three dev diaries to start admitting that I’m halfway expecting to get kicked from the program, but there’s this massive C-shaped hole in my skillset that’s negatively affecting my ability to contribute meaningfully to the duo project or to complete my assignments on time for C++.

Pretty much the only thing I’ve done for the duo project is asset creation. I’ve created over a dozen animations and four dozen sprites to populate Tyler’s vision, and as Emily pointed out when she learned this, “the program isn’t testing for that.” You want programmers and Tyler has programmed the entire game on his own. It’s also his concept; as mentioned in my last diary, I decided to withdraw my suggestions on fields and music in favor of going with Tyler’s office space and basketball mechanics because both concepts were equally usable and I figured Tyler would do a better job programming something he was invested in. I don’t have access to Tyler’s dev diary so I have no clue whether he’s pleased with my level of contribution to the project, but he certainly seems pumped about things when we talk. I’m quite satisfied with him as a partner as he’s open to suggestions, flexible with reacting to setbacks, eager to overcome obstacles and an overall hard worker. While we’ve both contributed plenty of suggestions and design concepts to the game, and I’m very satisfied with the final project, I can’t help but feel I’m regressing into my lifelong habits of avoiding programming by filling the void with content creation. I should have taken advantage of the solo and duo projects to learn Unity, even if it would have resulted in substandard products, because the proficiency disparity between me and the other students will only grow as the program goes on.

It’s just so easy to let him do all the programming and insert myself into more of an asset-creation position because that’s playing to my strengths. I can crank out sprites (I don’t think they’re particularly good but Tyler insisted he wanted to use my artwork and not default assets so apparently they’re of adequate quality in everyone else’s eyes) and I don’t know Unity as well as he does, so it’s logical and easy to let him program. But I didn’t come to this Master’s program to learn sprite creation, and we’re going to have an entire University of San Jose to do that for us for the next project. I need to find a way to serve a useful role on a team, especially considering nobody’s games from any point in this quarter have required a writer.

This all boils back to my fear of programming, something that’s plagued the majority of my life. When I was 11, I couldn’t wrap my head around a month-long tutorial of DarkBasic, so I used Multimedia Fusion (nowadays called Clickteam Fusion) to make games. As an undergraduate, I briefly considered switching my major to Computer Science but a terrible experience in a C class squashed those plans and I continued using Clickteam Fusion for my portfolio projects. After graduating, I took an online Unity class but eventually gave up after six months had passed and I couldn’t program anything more complicated than a text-based adventure game. Even in this class, I chose to use Clickteam Fusion for my solo project when I probably should have created an inferior project in Unity. I feel like the metaphorical elephant who learned as a calf that he couldn’t uproot the stake tying him to the ground, so he remains rooted even as a 15000-pound adult who could easily escape that stake if he tried to.

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that I’ve tried my absolute hardest to learn C++. I know that’s Andrew’s opinion on himself, but I feel like I should (and could) have worked harder, instead of constantly distracting myself by putting 110% into my other homework assignments. I love every other class in this Masters’, but I bet if I’d spent less time creating sprites, writing 2-page dev diaries and pulling all-nighters on The Wolf and the Waves I could have probably learned C++ at the same time. Instead my vision just swims when I stare blankly at Visual Studio and I do something superfluous like programming Tic-Tac-Toe instead of Connect Four. I can see the massive potential of games programmed in C# and I’ve wanted that knowledge for years, and this degree is probably the greatest chance I’m ever going to get to learn it. If I fail now, I’ll forever regret losing this opportunity.

Our lectures and reading discussed how the game designer uses the formal elements of a game. As a sandbox-style game, “Explore” would probably fit best as our player’s intended motivation. We found that most players clicked on everything once they were bored of shooting paper balls, so we didn’t to worry as much about telegraphing what items had scripted actions tied to them. (We added a few for the Inbox anyway, since the player misses a huge chunk of the game if they don’t click it.) The thing about ‘Calmness’ is, we had to avoid most of the things that video games use to create challenge because challenge isn’t calming. Our player character has infinite resources, no objective, and no stress because otherwise the player might not feel calm. We didn’t even have a clear ending (everything fades away and you’re now relaxing in the Rockies with nothing to do) until the very last build; we intended to let the player sandbox forever but playtesters didn’t find it calming when the game never clearly ended!

Believe it or not, Andrew Corcoran’s lecture actually helped us in a major way. He discussed dynamically adjusting your game so that it catered to people with different preferences. Originally, we tied the “slacking off” mini-game as calming and the “working” event as neutral. After Emily playtested our game and had the opposite reaction to both mini-games, we realized that some people found work more calming than laziness. So we tied the calmness mechanic to the player’s progress in either mini-game. Now people can finish the game through whichever playstyle they prefer, just like Corcoran’s UI and menus cater themselves to the player.

end sprites

Dev Diary #3

Prompt: – Write about the week’s lecture and readings as they relate to your project 
– Write about this week’s industry guest speakers (if any)
-Write a description of your progress (both positive and negative) on your current project
– Must include at least one piece of media:
GIF, link to video, screenshot, sketch, etc.

Not gonna lie, I’m nervous. I’ve had bad luck with duo projects. I’m far more comfortable either doing everything myself, thus giving myself control of every part of the game creation, or working in a giant team of 40+ developers where I can serve as a tiny cog in a giant machine. Luckily, Tyler doesn’t look like one to fall into the normal problem where one teammate never does any work. He’s slightly coding-focused, (more than me at least) meaning he can bear the brunt of that element. He’s also proven open to hearing ideas while also suggesting his own, a great balance that too many people lack. I can suggest things and know that he won’t smother his own ideas and blindly accept mine, or alternately throw mine out in favor of his own without due consideration.

Our cooperative skills were put to the test almost immediately, when we initially couldn’t decide what angle to take the game. After we missed our emotion of choice and had to settle for Calmness, we both developed different ideas for how to tackle our new direction. He wanted to adapt our ‘Nostalgia’ ideas (a basketball-style minigame in an office setting with crumpled pieces of paper) into a form that emphasized the new emotion, whereas I wanted to scrap the whole angle in favor of a new setting that was tailored for calmness from the word go (a peaceful field where clicking objects adds different instruments to the background music). Ultimately we came to an agreement and decided to stick with doing his because my suggestion was lacking in several elements of what makes a game (more on this in the final paragraph of this diary). Tyler’s idea still works, even if it chose a less obvious setting; we’ll just need to succeed at establishing calmness through gameplay instead of aesthetics. Plus office supplies are quicker to draw than naturey stuff, and I’m singly responsible for all sprite creation so I need to work fulltime on that because nothing else can progress until we have assets to work with.

Update: I kicked ass on sprites tonight! We got all the core sprites now, I’ll work on including more of course, but for now we’re easily on the road for a working prototype come the Friday playtesting.

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The reading and lectures this week were mostly concerned with the elements of gaming as a medium, and they became very important in how Patrick and I chose which idea to go with. Particularly Objective and Conflict; my ‘nature-themed music generator’ idea lacked both of these core gaming elements, and for that reason wasn’t really selling itself as a completed concept. Tyler’s idea, with a stress meter and an element of time management, was more clearly a game by definition, and this factored heavily into why we ultimately chose his idea to move forward on developing.

 

#OccupyDarwinsSoldiers We are the 99%

So we have, like, a follower now. Like, a real person. Who actually followed the blog. Apparently they get like an email or something every time I post. And this terrifies me. Somebody’s going to actually read this? Do I need to be more politically correct? Should I stop describing  all my criminal activity in gruesome detail and posting nude pictures of all my girlfriends and boyfriends I’ve had since September 2012? What are they even hoping to read? I don’t even know, but hopefully this is part of it.

Well, you nonexistent readers are now part of the 99%, and thanks to horizontal resentment I can rest assured that your ire will direct towards the 1% of existent readers and not myself, as the arguable person of power in this metaphor. So idgaf

Today we colored our brick into a bunch of different colors so the game doesn’t look like sad white chalk land. Then we dragged them into the world. Exciting and pretty basic stuff, but since I haven’t watched a video since April, I appreciate him going slow.

Oh, new announcement! So if you’ll recall, I promised myself to bike 20 minutes a day, and unlike my Unity daily goal I’ve been fucking golden at the biking one. The trick came when I discovered that shoutcasted competitive L4D2 matches existed on Youtube and are really fun, so now I watch one of those while on the bike and it’s awesome. To celebrate absolutely nothing we’re adding a third once-a-day to the ole repertoire, and its an embarrassing one so thank god a real person decided to join just in time…I’m going to draw something every day until I’m a not suck artist. It’s the hugest bottleneck in my game development (other than not owning HTML5 exporter for Clickteam Fusion) so Imma just keep doing it until I can do it kinda skillfully. Whatever drawing will be posted here because otherwise I won’t remember. So without further ado, Karl the Policeman.

First drawing on ipad

Don’t occupy Darwin’s Soldiers too hard, or he’ll pepper spray you.

Day 73

Today we made a brick in GIMP, but fuck GIMP I read the comments and bitches used paint.net so im using Paint.net for the following reasons:

  1. fuck gimp
  2. also fuck gimp

See you next video.

day 72

Rewatched the video on Blender art. I really need to get back to those Blender videos. Wouldn’t it be cool to know how to create assets like that? I’ve just been pretty downtrodden these past few days. Hard to get back into the swing of things. But I’ll get there. Eventually. 🙂

So my friend tried to show me Flashpoint and I was legitimately interested in what sounded like an interesting premise for a show. Plus the main character is Nick from Left 4 Dead 2.

[The first episode opens with a hostage situation. A man in a busy street has a woman held hostage, a gun pointed at her temple. Police have roadblocks but are keeping their guns lowered.]
Man: Don’t you come any closer or I’ll shoot!
Police: Don’t do anything rash now etc etc
[Cut to Nick perched on a rooftop. He’s got a sniper rifle and the crazy guy in his sights. But the guy’s waving his arms and making it a difficult shot with the hostage.]
Man: That’s it! I’m gonna shoot her!
Police guy (through radio): Nick, take the shot!
[Nick starts to squeeze the trigger as the music crescendos–]
[Immediate cut to Nick’s happy family eating breakfast with him. Caption: Two days earlier.

Aaand I turned it off. I hate that narrative copout so much, and so many shows use it. I remember first seeing it used in the “Tabula Rasa” episode of Stargate Atlantis when I was 17 and hating it there too. It’s a cheap ploy to start the story with something exciting and then dial it back to the “real” beginning which is boring tripe that would make everyone change the channel were it the actual beginning. In that case, maybe consider writing a decent beginning instead using more creative ways to display the character dynamics and information. Otherwise you’re wasting your audience’s time with the plot equivalent of clickbait “Number 15 will shock you!” titles. They’re riding entirely on the audience sitting through bullcrap thinking “I don’t care what’s happening right now, I just want to see how that forced cliffhanger is resolved!”