Playing games, making stuff and other things

At least that’s what it feels like. I’m super busy, but I’m not really making any progress at all because I’m working on too many things concurrently. Oh well, time for another miscellaneous updates post about what I’m playing, programming and planning to do in the near future.

Now Playing

Why is it sometimes so difficult to find something to play? I don’t have a small selection of games and even the titles I’ve never played before, but are collecting dust in my shelves is unfortunately somewhat impressive. I’ve also severely increased the quality of my gaming selection by getting rid of hundreds of crappy games or titles I’m not interested in anymore. So I can literally choose from countless quality titles from all genres and platforms. But here I am, wondering what I should play for the last couple of days.

Playing now: Blackwell Legacy is part one in a five part series
Blackwell Legacy is part one in a five part series

I’ve started playing a bit of Blackwell Legacy and it’s not bad. But I’ll continue playing this together with a friend, so that’s not an option right now.

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Roguelike Unity Tutorial and Pixel addendum

Work on the fifth Unity 3D tutorial has finally begun. It’s a roguelike game. I’m still in the early stages of the development, but today I want to write a little bit about the modifications I’m planning to do to the default tutorial.

2droguelike_projectheader

This is what the regular game is supposed to look like when it’s finished. This is not a full screenshot. For some reason they’ve chosen a really weird aspect ratio of 1:1 with the game area being roughly 320×320 pixels. Maybe the reason behind that will unveil itself later in the tutorial.

That’s the first thing I’ll be changing: Aspect ratio and resolution. I’ll probably have to modify a number of scripts to work with the new resolution and level size, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

Luckily my half-done tileset is using the same tile size as this tutorial, so I won’t have to work around that. I’ll also change the setting and hopefully the lackluster interface as well.

Because my tileset is slightly more complex I will have to extend the randomization script quite a bit to generate levels that use the tileset correctly. It’s nothing big, but still, I will have to change a lot in the tutorial.

I’m really excited for this one, because it’s the first time I’ll deviate heavily from the default path. Something I should have done earlier, but this time I can mess around with the art, which is a huge plus. With tutorials like the Stealth game, I couldn’t even begin to meddle with the 3D models, textures and animation rigging.

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Pixel Graphics III Finale

So, here we are again. A little refresher for everyone who just joined this small article series about pixel graphics:

In Part 1 and Part 2 I talked about things that really irritate me in a number of current games that use a pixel art style to appear more retro.

Today in Part 3 I’d like to talk about a couple of other smaller things that bug me, examples of games that do it mostly right and thoughts about my own games I’ll eventually get around to creating. *ahem*

pixel garou
Wonderful pixel art on SNKs NeoGeo in Garou: Mark of the Wolves (1999)

Of course everything in these articles is my personal opinion and doesn’t extend to all games that use a pixel-art style.

Pixel Graphics for the lazy

I’m not criticizing small development teams with little or no budgets if they are honest and try their best. Not everyone can afford skilled artists or sometimes a single skilled artist, so the game probably won’t have any good graphics and that’s fine.

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Pixel Graphics Part II

Last time we talked about how resolution and scale, as well as modern effects can make a pixel art games visuals look weird.

For me, consistency is very important. Choosing any visual style is a commitment to stick to that style and try to make all the elements fit together. While you want certain visual elements to stick out, you don’t want them to stick out because they don’t match the overall theme of the game.

Pixel Half Minute Hero
Half Minute Hero is a pretty good example of doing almost everything wrong. Look at the various pixel sizes and hi-res effects and interface. Nothing fits! At least the art isn’t bad.

In Part II of this article, I’ll talk about a couple more things that really bug me whenever I see them.

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Pixel graphics: Do it right or don’t do it at all

For quite a while now it’s been the practice of many smaller/indie developers to feature low resolution pixel graphics. This is both an aesthetic choice and a matter of resources as a lot of developers can’t afford to create the visuals of big budget titles. So they go the pixel-art route instead.

In general, I really like the idea. I grew up with the 8-Bit and 16-Bit consoles and I get a lot of enjoyment out of this style. IF it’s done right.

pixel mario

Now, I assume that pixel graphics are chosen to emulate a certain level of technology, like the SNES, to speak to people like me, who like the style. I’m also talking specifically about games that use lower resolution graphics and not 2D in general.

Another disclaimer: Nobody’s perfect and while this, and probably the next, article talk about “mistakes” when making these games, I’m just speaking for myself and my personal preference. As a developer you can do whatever you like and I’m sure most people don’t mind the things I might complain about or maybe they even like them. A lot of developers might also have legitimate reasons to forego a more accurate style.

Here we go!

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Graphics and Games, “what if” and relativity

These days games are still improving their graphics and everybody involved is doing their best to produce better visuals every year. New GPUs get released on a regular basis, new console generations have much more graphics capabilities than the previous one and developers are doing their best to make games look more realistic by using better textures, shaders, animation, higher poly-counts and more.

graphics now
So…expensive (and pretty)

So far, we didn’t reach a limit yet. Games still don’t look like real life and although it’s become much harder and especially more expensive to create the best visuals possible, we’re still making progress. Slower progress than 20 years ago, but still progress. When (or if) we finally hit the limit and if it’s photorealistic graphics or something else and what will happen then, we don’t know.

I propose a different scenario: What if graphics in games had already reached their limit long ago? Imagine if SNES 2D, Saturn 2D, PS1 3D or PS2 3D would have been the best we could ever dream about? I would like to explore that idea further.

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Unity 3D Stealth Tutorial (Development Day ??)

It seems like I haven’t really posted any detailed updates on the progress I made in Unity from Development Day 16, where I just finished Chapter one of the stealth tutorial. As you can see in the last Unity Post here, I continuously worked through the tutorial and I’m almost at the end. Time to push forward!

unity stealth
Trying to get acquainted with the UI again

I’ll go over todays progress in more detail here:

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Unity 3D Tutorial Update

It’s been a while, but I’m back to my semi-irregular Unity 3D tutorial schedule. Last time I left off in chapter 4.3 [Enemy Sight] and it has been quite a while…I’m noticing it the more I try to re-familiarize myself with the Software and UI. But I’ll just see through it, finish the tutorial and move on to Unity 5 fresh and motivated *cough*

Unity Stealth

Not much going on today, due to space constraints I had to spend most of my free time I use for developing or writing on getting Unity back to a working state and figuring out the schedule for the remainder of the tutorial. Yay!

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Difficulty options in games: Are they necessary?

A couple of days ago I read an interesting article about difficulty in games, which proposed that all games should have an easy mode. You can check it out here if you’re interested.

Games had difficulty options for ages and everybody has gotten so used to it, that it’s not even thought about anymore. But there are a few titles made by the japanese developer “From Software”, that seem brutally difficult in todays gaming landscape and also don’t offer a clear difficulty option.

Difficulty: From Software

Many gamers used to the current, approachable games of today, are arguing that games like the Souls series or Bloodborne are too hard and should offer a difficulty option. The article gives plenty of arguments for including an easy mode in Bloodborne and games in general. While I personally don’t think that the Souls games or Bloodborne are actually hard, and also think that they do offer many options to lower the difficulty, albeit more obscured, that might be material for another article.

In general, I agree. If you like a game/genre/setting and want to enjoy the experience, you should be able to and not be hindered by unreasonable difficulty. An option to make the game easier or harder makes sense in most cases and games are usually designed around that choice.

But there are exceptions where making the game easier would have a significant impact on the experience, for examples the Souls games and Bloodborne.

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