Thursday, September 24, 2009

Assets: Level 1

With Eduardo I wanted to be able to bring something visually different to games. From the beginning of development where I didn't know what I was doing up until we sent the game to Nintendo, I just wanted to do something different, something aesthetically appealing or interesting. I took a lot of risks--some paid off and others didn't. The way I've always worked is that I have an idea and I go for it. Essentially I work and learn and refine until I'm satisfied. I work as much as I can and learn while I'm creating.

I had this vision of doing something unique with Eduardo's visuals, but I also had to deal with technical limitations. Our total file size was very low, and if I had it my way I would have created each level as layers of unique drawings instead of repeating patterns that have to be used over and over again. I decided to save a lot of space for the finale of the game as detailed in this post, so the challenge was to come up with nice-looking locales using as few assets as possible.

The first level's assets come to a little over 1MB as png files. The way we did the terrain for almost all of the levels was by using a single repeating texture, usually one just 256x256 pixels, and filled in a polygonal mesh. To get the best visual effect possible we had to forgo this method for many of the background layers, even when they were comprised of similar repeating textures. For example, in level 1 I wanted two parallax scrolling hills in the background which needed to have a shadowy gradient, and it looked best when we merged the gradient with the hills themselves. So in some cases we used big images instead of polygonal meshes. In all middleground cases aside from the last level and the shmup levels, however, polygonal meshes were used.

(above: 256x256 repeating texture used in level 1)

I laid out
all of the levels in programs like photoshop. In most cases I could figure out how an entire level would look within a single 854x480 image since we had to repeat about a single screen's worth of images over an entire level. We had to make repetition work, and I think we were able to pull it off successfully.

(above: a photoshop mock-up using assets from the game. click for larger image)
(below: screenshot from the game.
click for larger image)

Here are the assets used for the environment in level 1, layered on top of each other:

I usually had a few parallax scrolling background layers and every level aside from a few used overlays. They were simple gradients and textures placed over everything else for added polish. For the first level we also had petals dropping in the foreground. I show one such petal in the above image but we actually used four images as an animation.

It can be a fun challenge to work within such limitations, so please don't take my comments as being resentful over the process. It was a tremendous opportunity to make a game for a major platform and I always love a good challenge.

Next time: Level 2.



EdEN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EdEN said...

Hello Daniel. Thank you for posting again on the blog. I for one love to know how levels, music, spites, polygon assets and so on and so on are done in a game since it opens a window into the whole development process and gives a better idea of truly how does a game come together.

Looking forward to the rest of your posts, and hope that sales of the game have picked up.

Daniel Coleman said...

Thanks EdEN

Good idea about the music, we should definitely highlight that. The plan now is to create some videos and offer the mp3s for download on the site.

EdEN said...

That would be great! I carry the mp3s of several Wiiware games with me and it would be great if I had a chance to do so with the music of Eduardo.

As always, if you need my help again with any of your new projects let me know.

Daniel Coleman said...

Thanks man, I appreciate your generosity.