Let’s ramble about pixels for a while.
In the beginning
Indie games are often associated with retro-esque pixel graphics. As we are making a re-imagining of a 20 year old game the style came to us quite naturally. As we began this project I hadn’t really worked much with low resolution pixel graphics. My experience came mainly from working on posters, magazines, student overall patches etc. Basically stuff for printing. I had some experience from modding games like Red Alert 2 and some other smaller games. But it was mostly hack jobs and patching together old assets. So I had no real experience on creating assets from scratch on a project of this magnitude. I spent days researching some amazing pixel work knowing I would probably not have enough time to get stuck on animating everything and drawing every background by hand all by myself. I stormed quite a bit about what I was capable of and what I thought I could learn in a reasonable time. Antti showed me this fantastic little pixel art editor known as Pyxel Edit it has been a perfect tool for me. I also use Photoshop for some various different things that Pyxel isn’t really suited for. I’m not an expert on either program, but they get the job done and I keep learning new stuff daily.
I quickly came up with a palette that was simple to create an unified feel in graphics. Palette is divided mainly by country colours and terrain/structure colours with a selection of some random ones to round it up. Having never designed such a palette before I really like how it ended up. The palette it feels simple and unified on both major spectrums. It’s very friendly to palette swaps and despite the terrain section being quite samey it has a lot of room to play with. I realized that background images needed something different to differentiate them from game objects. I ended up on just putting a gradient overlay on our backgrounds to mute and blend them in the distance, I think it works very well and is very quick to make.
As I briefly touched on an earlier post about our graphical challenges some of our assets are very low resolution and we have to think about two different view distances at the same time. From top to bottom our plane is only 18 pixels tall and as a triplane it has three stacked pairs of wings, that doesn’t leave much room to work with per wing. You would think that if an image has fewer pixels it must be quicker to make. But that is not the case, you have to put much more thought behind every pixel you have at your disposal and sometimes it gets very time consuming. Often though I’m just winging it and waving my mouse around telling Antti I really have no clue what I’m doing, surprisingly often it works very well!
We use very little hand made animations. We do most of our effects with particles which is a quick and easy way to make stuff happen. Having dabbled a little with the smaller animations it feels that I would very much like to do them more, but apart from small waving flags and blinking lights it can get extremely time consuming fast. Pyxel Edit has some nice tools for animations and is extremely simple to use, I highly recommend anyone interested about pixel graphics to try it.
Thanks for reading about my adventures with pixels. Antti is roasting my ass for posting this blog a few days late. Maybe he will write about flogging me, be sure to come back!
Till next time