Week of Awesome IV: Initial thoughts

About a week ago I got the regular GameDev.net newsletter email. One of the items was an annual weeklong jam called Week of Awesome. My girlfriend’s away this week which means I can put in a good amount of dev time, so I’m entering.

Slightly ironically, I couldn’t access the account which the GameDev email was sent to so I had to create a new one for the forums.

The themes this year are Shadows, Evolution, Undead and Ruins. I’ve been working a lot of ray cast soft shadows recently (for my oblique project – see Twitter), so I think that’s a good starting point. Confusingly, or perhaps cleverly, Shadows is supposed to be a gameplay rather than graphical theme, but I think my shadows will give rise to unique gameplay, not just be a graphical feature. The scope of the Evolution theme is very broad, but nothing springs to mind so I’ll leave that for now. So I have to pick one of Undead and Ruins. A top down zombie shooter should work nicely I reckon.

Nothing clever with the themes this time, unlike with past jams. On Saturday I tried to take part in the One Hour Game Jam and learn Pico-8 at the same time. Unfortunately the theme was Mouse Only and Pico-8 doesn’t support mouse input, so my game was actually just a mouse on its own. The learning curve was a bit too steep to do anything interesting so I didn’t submit it in the end.

I will be using Monogame for the development, for reasons I’ve discussed in several previous blog posts. GameMaker would be ideal for this sort of rapid development, but I don’t think I could do the shadows as easily. I will be using a voxel map for the world, so I’m going to have to write a voxel renderer which I’ve never done before. That should be fun.

I’ll need to organise my code carefully, because working on it for even a week has the potential to get very messy and I can’t afford to keep refactoring and rewriting code.

Stay tuned for screenshots etc., on my Twitter and here.

Prince of Persia’s Parallel Projection

Prince of Persia (1989) uses oblique projection – the same as is used for furniture diagrams – to give a sense of depth to an otherwise flat 2D platformer.

Prince-of-Persia-11

The problem is that oblique projection, while it gives an intuitive depiction of objects, is not really physically possible, for say a camera.

To do any kind of realistic lighting of a game in this perspective, we need to understand how the light rays are received by the camera.

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Pixel Art vs Pixel Perfect (Part 1)

In the early days of video games – ignoring Tennis for Two and the like – graphics were low resolution images using a very limited palette: first two colours, then 48 for the NES. The golden age of these hand drawn pixel art games, before the move to 3D games and digital painting, was arguably the SNES, which had 32,768 possible colours but could only display 256 different colours on a single sprite. The limited colour choice meant that smooth gradients were not possible, and colours tended to look blocky and contrasting. This, combined with the low resolutions stretched over a large tv screen, gave a distinctive art style where individual pixels were very visible.

Super Mario WorldSuper Mario World (1990), one of the flagship games for the SNES, before 3D games became the norm

Read more Pixel Art vs Pixel Perfect (Part 1)