E. Darwin Hartshorn: //Boilerplate

Devgame Internship 4: Tiles

In videogames, tiles are used to create large levels with a few small graphics.  Here’s a fantastic example by someone else:


As you can see, you can create a large variety of backgrounds simply by laying tiles, like this, on a grid.

Continue Reading >>

Devgame Internship 3: More Title Nonsense

So, my super clever idea for an intro is this:

You see the moon through branches.  Maybe it’s silent.  Maybe there’s a wolf howl and then silence.

The camera pans down and, meanwhile, the title fades in.

Now, to do this properly, we need to have layers, where each layer scrolls at a different rate.  So I’ve separated my title screen into layers, which I’m working on painting.

Layer 1: Moon and Stars.  This layer basically stays still.


Adding in Layer 2: Mountains in the distance.  This layer moves very little.


Adding in Layer 3: Krag Vargenstone itself.  This is the whole point of the reveal.  Also note it’s not finished yet.


The Krag needs more contrast and more fine details on the painting, but it’s coming along nicely.

Now, at the size I need to work, my CPU and GPU are already choking.  My laptop, on the otherhand, has never even heard of processing power, let alone having any.  So, something simple, like animating an orc, or finishing the title font.

Font finished.



Devgame Internship 3: Title

Here’s my concept:

Title Rough

And here’s the ‘font’ I’ve created in Inkscape just now:


Time to get ready for my day job.

I have a freaking awesome idea for the title screen, which I’m going to try to assemble on my lunch break at work today. Any progress will be added to this post when I get back.

… hours later…

Git wouldn’t let me push the repo onto GitLab and then pull it to my laptop, so I didn’t have anything to work on whilst on my breaks. Git is a git.

So I spent that time coming up with a way to make a quick and dirty Orcish.

  1. Transliterate English words into a set of nasty-wasty Orc-sounding phonemes. E.g “dwarf” → “dvorv”
  2. Invert the order of the phonemes.  “dvorv” → “vrovd”
  3. Clean up any awkward bits. “vrovd” → “vrov”
  4. Arrange words according to a grammar that is an unholy hybrid of Japanese and Cornish.

Here are some sample phrases:

“I smell a dwarf!” → “Dža vrov dremz!”

“Aren’t you a little short for a Red Claw?” → “Už tov Derválk trož ma xon?”

“This is not the dwarf you’re looking for.” → “Zyd tov už küd vrov matán.”

Like every pretentious fantasy language, there needs to be a liberal sprinkling of diacritical marks.  To quote R. L. McSterlingthong, “Everything is better with ümläüts.”

So, Git is being less of a git now.  Perhaps one day Git and I can establish a true rapport.

But, as of today, I have some material to use if I ever feel like spending an afternoon grunting into my microphone.

Medium Must Match Message redux

So here’s my problem:  I’m a half-decent artist.  I need to make art for Bestiary.  But the art has to fit the tone of the game.

The idea, in Bestiary, is you are a Sentinel, one of those people who can bond to and control the native creatures of Theria.  Since the powers of therians are fantastic, human colonists rely on Sentinels to keep them safe, to hold the line against the violent world just beyond their doors.  But those who control the monsters are suspected of being half-monster yourself, so your necessary role is also a curse.

Continue Reading >>

Medium Must Match Message

This is a good article to read.

Auro wasn’t supposed to be “retro.” To me, the “retro game” aesthetic isn’t just pixel art, but an appeal to the specific sounds, feedback, and look and feel of a specific set of old school games. While it’s true that Auro was an homage to my favorite game art, I never intended for it to be “retro.” I just wanted to make great pixel art, yet it inexorably gets lumped in with the retro aesthetic.
But here’s the clincher. It’s not their fault.

“Retro?” Poppycock! I’ll have you know I’m quite jiggy with it!

The Artist’s Responsibility
Though I never intended for Auro to be a “retro-style” game, what I intended doesn’t matter at all, and it’s 100% my fault for failing to communicate in a language people understand.

As a game developer, time is the most valuable resource a human can give you. Nobody owes us their time or attention. As such, when someone gives us their time, an implicit agreement is made and we are now in debt to that person. We owe it to them to deliver value for their time, and to deliver it efficiently.

I am an illustrator/animator. The kind of value that illustrators/animators are responsible for is distinct among other types of visual artists. We must establish meaningful intent as close to instantaneously as possible. By meaningful intent, I simply mean that the audience has to internalize the concept, motion, emotion, perspective, etc. of a pieceright away. The second the audience asks “how can he bend that way without breaking his spine,” or  “Why is he shooting where he’s not looking,” we have failed them. They don’t owe us the time to look at our work in the first place. They certainly don’t owe us the time to squint their eyes and try to make sense of our work.

Meaningful intent applies to medium as well. In choosing to make our game with pixel art, we have accidentally taken on a war on two fronts. My job was to make Auro’s art polished, inviting, and clear to the audience, not to also educate the audience that pixel art is a deliberate style.

My main point dances around Mr. Reynolds’ point.  The consumers of Auro criticized it for its ‘pixelated’ art, not understanding that it was intentional.  Reynolds correctly places the blame on his failure to communicate, but seems only to brush in passing on how he failed.  The quote, “Auro wasn’t supposed to be “retro.” To me, the “retro game” aesthetic isn’t just pixel art, but an appeal to the specific sounds, feedback, and look and feel of a specific set of old school games,” is the closest I see to an explicit recognition of the issue.

The issue is that the medium doesn’t match the message.

Continue Reading >>