In-game art for the prologue

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In-game art for the prologue

Postby Roots » Sun Jun 20, 2004 11:07 pm

Felix has agreed to start work on some game art (terrain tiles, maybe character sprites), which is a very good thing. *applause* Before we get started making tiles though, we need to decide how large they are going to be.

Now then, for a simple start lets assume we choose 80x80 pixel tiles. This means that the screen will be so big at the following screen resolutions (which by the way, we can set one or allow the user to choose multiple screen resolutions from the title screen):

For 640x480 - 8 tile horizontal and 6 tiles vertical
For 800x600 - 10 horizontal, 7.5 vertical
For 1024x768 - 12.8 horizontal, 9.6 vertical



80x80 pixel tiles and 800x600 sound like the best 'default' to me. The only thing though, is that it seems strange to me not having a perfectly square field (like you did when you played FFs on the NES/SNES on your TV screens). Do you think we should make some sort of status sidebar, or black out the sides, or do nothing at all and just deal with horizontal always being wider than vertical? Post your opinions soon please so we can start getting this baby rollin'! :hack:
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Postby gorzuate » Mon Jun 21, 2004 12:30 am

ehm...so some questions are appropriate. what's a sprite exactly? is it a character piece like they have on wesnoth (or, for that matter, Civilization)? if so, how exactly is the layout on the screen going to look? is it going to look like those screenshots you posted in um i think one of the public threads? if yes, i'm not really sure how those sprites would work. unless of course, that's just for battle, so in that case we'd have closeups of the characters? so when they're not in battle, they'd be walking around a map, right, like in final fantasy or zelda? but then, are there going to be enemies visible on the map or not? so that if you're walking along and you step onto a certain tile (a random tile every time you play i suppose) you're all of a sudden drawn into a battle? i dunno, i've always felt that the maps/worlds for those types of games have always been a little sparse, since the only thing on it is you're characters and some terrain? otherwise, i'm up for giving the user a choice on resolution. the only thing it would change would be adding more tiles onto the end of the world right? or would we have 3 identical maps for each of the resolutions? that might be easier i think, then just load up the correct map based on the user's choice at startup. as for the rectangular vs. square thing...i say this game is based for the pc right? so might as well make it rectangular. i dunno, i'm having trouble picturing this.
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Postby Roots » Mon Jun 21, 2004 1:09 am

Phil, you need to re-take RPGs 101. :heh: Go fire up a SNES emulator and download some of the Final Fantasy games and Chrono Trigger and such. That is generally what the game will 'feel' like. I shall now explain what a sprite is, please see the image below.

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See the three guys standing there? Those are character sprites. They have a transparent background so you can view the terrain and they walk around and stuff. Cool isn't it?

I think character sprites in our game would look best if they are one pixel icon wide and two pixel icons tall (like in FFVI, the game in the above picture). It looks more realistic that way I think. The above picture is how the game will look when the character is walking around in town, a dungeon, and probably the world map too.

In battle, I think we'll make bigger character sprites (maybe) and the background to battles will probably be a static image, not a tiled map. I had not intended for enemies to appear on the map because that takes a lot more game artwork, more programming (putting them there and making them move around and regenerating them every so often), and thus more time. I don't think it's a feature worth adding. The random encounter (Final Fantasy-like) system is what I had planned on using, but tell me if you guys have objections to that.


As for having 3 identical maps for each res, as Martha Stewart would say that's a badidea. Why do you want to use 3x the file space for something that we don't need to? When the user chooses a different res, all we have to do is set it and use the existing map just like we normally would. Its no big problem (I think). All we have to do is make sure that for the max res the player can't make their character go to the very end corner of the screen and exceeds the bounds of the array (which contains the map tiles in the background). Otherwise that would crash the game I think.
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Postby Balthazar » Mon Jun 21, 2004 5:37 am

I think that the half tile problem will go away if you make the dimensions perfect squares, ie 64 x 64. For reference, FFIV map sprites are 20 x 20, and damn those guys packed a lot into those pixels.
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Postby Roots » Mon Jun 21, 2004 6:01 am

Balthazar wrote:I think that the half tile problem will go away if you make the dimensions perfect squares, ie 64 x 64. For reference, FFIV map sprites are 20 x 20, and damn those guys packed a lot into those pixels.


But at 64x64 at the following resolutions we get:

For 640x480 - 10 tile horizontal and 7.5 tiles vertical
For 800x600 - 12.5 horizontal, 9.375 vertical
For 1024x768 - 16 horizontal, 12 vertical

How does that make the half tile probelm go away? :huh: Although I think I like these dimensions better. Hey Felix, can you make a simple (read REALLY BASIC 5-minute hack job) character sprite and some generic tiles (green, brown, gray, etc). And then piece together a map using both 64x64 tiles and 80x80 tiles? Then we can view the images on our own monitors and make a decision about what looks better.


Wow, I didn't know that FFIV was 20x20! :twitch: That's crazy !
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Postby Balthazar » Mon Jun 21, 2004 7:52 am

Maybe I should have tried the math first :huh:

And the 20 x 20 was only the overworld. The battle sprites were larger.


EDIT: As far as sprite dimensions go, they need to be finalized and constant. It makes a big difference when it comes to animation and collision detection.
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Postby Roots » Fri Jun 25, 2004 8:36 pm

Balthazar wrote:EDIT: As far as sprite dimensions go, they need to be finalized and constant. It makes a big difference when it comes to animation and collision detection.


I agree with you here, we need to start making a decision soon because I don't want to write code for 64x64 pixel image tiles and then later we decide to convert to 32x32. I'm talking about the dungeon / world exploration more than I am talking about battle sprites. I think the battle sprites, like I said in the battle animation and layout thread, should be bigger and they can be variable sizes too without much of a problem I think. There won't be any image tiles in the battles.


Now then, I've done some research and found a site that has a collection of sprites from some of our favorite SNES RPG days http://www.videogamesprites.net/. I looked at a couple of the front-face standing still sprites and noticed the following dimensions:

Locke (FFVI) - 32x48
Crono (CT) - 32x70

So it looks like in FFVI they used 32x32 pixel tiles. Thus I am pondering if this is an option as well. So now are options are:

80x80 Tiles
For 640x480 - 8 tile horizontal and 6 tiles vertical
For 800x600 - 10 horizontal, 7.5 vertical
For 1024x768 - 12.8 horizontal, 9.6 vertical

64x64 Tiles
For 640x480 - 10 tile horizontal and 7.5 tiles vertical
For 800x600 - 12.5 horizontal, 9.375 vertical
For 1024x768 - 16 horizontal, 12 vertical

32x32 Tiles
For 640x480 - 20 tile horizontal and 15 tiles vertical
For 800x600 - 25 horizontal, 18.75 vertical
For 1024x768 - 32 horizontal, 24 vertical

I know these numbers don't really mean a lot, which is why I'm going to work to build a basic test image for each tile set and resolution so we can see how things would look.


On another note, I'd like to discuss screen resolution size and choice, but I don't feel like making a new thread out of it. First of all I pop up the question: Do we need to allow multiple resolutions? Is it that necessary? In all the other RPGs I've played that was never an option (at least that I can remember). The problem with having multiple screen resolutions is that we have to test the game to make sure it works under each res. If we make a map of a town and the screen is always centered around the hero, then we need to make sure the borders of the town extend far enough to support the biggest resolution. Do you see what I mean? I dunno, its something I need to think about some more, and I'd like your opinions on the matter so we can :argue:. :)
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Postby gorzuate » Fri Jun 25, 2004 9:14 pm

Would smaller tiles give us more detail?
Maybe we should just go with one resolution, 800x600? At least for now...
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Postby Roots » Fri Jun 25, 2004 9:19 pm

No larger tiles would give more detail because as opposed to a 32x32 tile a 64x64 tile gives the artist 4x the number of pixels to work with.
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Postby gorzuate » Fri Jun 25, 2004 9:20 pm

But then there are less tiles on the screen, right? Less tiles = less details? :huh:
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Postby Biohazard » Fri Jun 25, 2004 9:29 pm

Larger titles are better, actually. A larger space allows me to make the titles more detailed. Of course too large titles would make the game looking like running on a craptacular low resolution. smaller titles would mean less details. :approve:
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Postby Roots » Fri Jun 25, 2004 9:47 pm

Yeah, I'm starting to really think that we need to keep a set resolution and tile set so things look like the way we intend them too. Looking up at that FFVI shot, it looks like the screen is 15 tiles wide and 13 tiles tall (I'm estimating).

To get the screen centered on the character, we'll have to create the tiles from the center outwards, rather than just laying them down left to right (hope that makes sense. If it doesn't trust me, I know what I'm talking about). If we don't want partial tiles we'll have to create a black border or something for the game, but I don't think its really necessary.

Do we want to make the screen square by using a black border, or is it ok if the horizontal stretches noticably longer than the vertical? :huh: I think it should be ok, because it will give the game a more 'movie-screen' type feel :D
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Postby gorzuate » Sat Jun 26, 2004 2:34 am

Why would we have to do everything from the center outward? That seems like unnecessary work. Here're my thoughts.

Once the initial map has been loaded with Claudius standing there (I assume, right?), then, if he moves right, just move all the tiles left by one column, and add/draw in a new column on the right side. This works for every other direction too, of course.
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Postby Roots » Sat Jun 26, 2004 2:38 am

gorzuate wrote:Why would we have to do everything from the center outward? That seems like unnecessary work. Here're my thoughts.

Once the initial map has been loaded with Claudius standing there (I assume, right?), then, if he moves right, just move all the tiles left by one column, and add/draw in a new column on the right side. This works for every other direction too, of course.


Because the character/object in question wouldn't be entirely center in the screen since we don't have a perfectly odd integer number of tiles in either direction in most cases. By drawing from the middle out, we can make sure that the main object of interest is always centered, and then we can of course use the shifting left/right/up/down feature for the tiles as you had suggested. Of course we CAN draw from left to right as long as we make sure the tiles are setup so there is a clear center (this might require us to set the column/rows of tiles on the edges to have coordinates that are negative or exceed the max screen resolution, but hopefully SDL can handle this without blowing up. I'll investigate).
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Postby gorzuate » Sat Jun 26, 2004 2:52 am

Roots wrote:Because the character/object in question wouldn't be entirely center in the screen since we don't have a perfectly odd integer number of tiles in either direction in most cases.


We could create a perfectly odd integer number of tiles in either direction...but I'd have to see what it looks like. I think I'd rather go for visually appealing/more programming versus the less visually appealing/less programming.
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Postby Biohazard » Sat Jun 26, 2004 1:55 pm

The character wont always be in the middle of the screen, i guess... I would make it that the character moves without screen movement when the screen hits the border of the map, if you get what i mean.. may be harder to program but i think it would be worth it.

And yeah, it might be good if you people would program a little map editor. While it looks for more work on the first view, it will be great help later. The whole team could contribute maps, we can view them better and yea... i think it would be neat... It doesnt have to be a godlike one, maybe something where you move a ghost like character that can move everywhere and set the titles below you with a-z buttons .. *shrugs*

anyways alot of games make a map editor for making their maps, instead of programming the maps directly :approve:
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Postby Roots » Sat Jun 26, 2004 4:52 pm

I thought before about not having the screen always centered on the character, but I just don't think I like the idea. It's not a big deal to program, but I just think it would be better if we centered everything. I dunno, let me know your opinions on this.


Battle for Wesnoth has its own map editor and since the code is open source I think it will aid greatly in writing a map editor of our own. :D
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Postby Balthazar » Sat Jun 26, 2004 6:43 pm

In the Tegoma game I made, we had the player's character centred on the screen. And we didn't have to draw from the middle. Granted, we weren't using map tiles either, but I think our solution might help here.

No, wait. I lied, the focus wasn't the character, but the midpoint between the character and the mouse (target) cursor. But still, it will work :!:

What we did, was create a camera class that does the math as to where the top left of the screen should be in regards to the map (we had a 1024x768 res and maps that were double that). It also took into account whether or not you were near a wall, so it wouldn't start drawing the "outside" of the level (most of the levels were a box style).

I think that if we implement some camera code, we can still draw from the top left, and still have the character centred.
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Postby Roots » Wed Jun 30, 2004 3:12 am

Balthazar wrote:What we did, was create a camera class that does the math as to where the top left of the screen should be in regards to the map (we had a 1024x768 res and maps that were double that). It also took into account whether or not you were near a wall, so it wouldn't start drawing the "outside" of the level (most of the levels were a box style).

I think that if we implement some camera code, we can still draw from the top left, and still have the character centred.


That sounds like a good idea to me because then we won't have to make sure that maps are sufficiently large so the 'outside' doesn't get drawn. :approve:


Now then, I wrote some code today to test what resolutions and pixel tile sizes would look right. The sprites I took from other games and scaled them to fit the appropriate tile set. The tiles I made myself because I needed something to test out this code, so don't expect the map to be beautiful. I don't feel like taking 12 different screenshots, so here is the code and images you can use to see it for yourself.

http://expert.ics.purdue.edu/~olsent/allacrost/hoa_map.cpp
(the next images should go in subdirectory: img/tile)
http://expert.ics.purdue.edu/~olsent/allacrost/tiles.tar.gz
(the next set of images should go in subdirectory: img/sprite)
http://expert.ics.purdue.edu/~olsent/allacrost/sprites.tar.gz


To compile and run the code:

Code: Select all

g++ hoa_map.cpp -o map_test `sdl-config --cflags --libs` -lSDL_image
./map_test


You will of course, need to have the SDL libraries installed to get the code to compile. The code is not commented because it is just a test case to see what res's would look good. Make sure you put the images in the right folders and don't rename them. Otherwise you will get a seg fault :D

Basically this code selects a random tile from a choice of 3 and draws a map. Then it takes 6 sprite images and places them somewhere on the map. It does this for multiple resolutions and pixel tile sizes. You will see 12 fullscreen images that cycle through in the following manner:

640x480 resolution, 32x32 pixels
640x480 resolution, 64x64 pixels
640x480 resolution, 80x80 pixels
800x600 resolution, 32x32 pixels
800x600 resolution, 64x64 pixels
800x600 resolution, 80x80 pixels
1024x768 resolution, 32x32 pixels
1024x768 resolution, 64x64 pixels
1024x768 resolution, 80x80 pixels
1200x1024 resolution, 32x32 pixels
1200x1024 resolution, 64x64 pixels
1200x1024 resolution, 80x80 pixels

After observing these screens I came to the following conclusions:
- 640x480 resolution is just too low to make things look nice.
- 80x80 pixel size is too large.
- 64x64 pixels are too large except for the 1200x1024 resolution

I think my favorite is 1024x768 resolution with 32x32 pixel tiles. 800x600 works with 32x32 tiles too, but at 1200x1024 things start to look a little small. I'm thinking of trying out 48x48 pixel tiles too, but I dunno. Tell me what you guys think about resolutions and tile squares and stuff.


On one last comment, I was playing around with the GIMP earlier and made a fireball explosion image. I built it using 3 frames so it can hopefully be animated well. I won't be butt hurt if you guys think it sucks and don't want to include it in the game, but I at least have impressed myself with it :D

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Postby gorzuate » Wed Jun 30, 2004 4:42 am

I vote for 32x32 at 1024x768...or 1200x1024, but 1024x768 is better.

And that fireball explosion is cool, but it looks more like fire bubbles. It needs more umph behind it to be a fireball explosion. But hey, for a first try that's pretty good! :approve:
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