This week was mostly just working on the grass tileset, small tweaks to make the transitions seamless, big tweaks to give more of a sense of light and atmosphere. While I had directional lighting in mind a bit with the previous versions of the tileset, I became dissatisfied with the look of them since the difference between the tiles that were supposed to be facing the light and those that weren’t were so subtle and, well, kind of boring. Pretty much all of the tiles have been redrawn, now, to provide a stronger sense of directional light and dark. One of the interesting results of this is that I need more transitional tiles for one side than I do for the other now, which left me with whole blocks of tiles in the template that are now basically open for me to do whatever I want with, something that will probably be very handy indeed as I create additional tile sets.
To help me develop tilesets, I’ve created a little chunk of level I call the Rude Lemon:
I created this to be a chunk of terrain that contains every different kind of slope and transitional tile, and ended up with a kind of amusing shape just by happenstance. Here you can see the changes I’ve been working on: As I said, much stronger directional lighting coming from the upper right, with cyan highlights that give a kind of surreal otherworldly feeling I rather like. There’s a few seams visible if you look closely, and the repetition of the tiles in the filled in areas is a bit noticeable, but I have some ideas as to how to approach those problems. Now that I’m getting the hang of this light/dark/shadow/highlight breakdown through the tileset, I’m working on copying this style back to the template set so that I can easily maintain consistency through to the other tilesets.
On the more technical side, I used AnxEdit’s new recompiler tool to rebuild all of the main character’s animations into sprite sheets. Unfortunately this didn’t translate into the much faster start times I was hoping for: Though it does mean the animations load faster, it turns out the requests for the graphics assets are just as responsible for the slowdown as the actual loading, and that remains an issue whether it’s requesting a thousand different image resources or requesting the same image resource a thousand times. There may be a way to make requests process faster, or to make it so they don’t all happen at once and the less vital requests can be deferred long enough that they don’t slow things down, or possibly a way to shortcut unnecessary redundant resource requests, but in the meanwhile the game still takes 10 seconds or so to start up – not terrible, maybe, but long enough to bog down rapid iteration when there’s something I need to test.
The recompiler tool is functional, though it seems to be slightly buggy: Some of the created animations are generated with an extra, empty frame. Whether that frame is empty because the data it’s supposed to contain got cropped out of the generated image or because it was created extraneously is something I’ll have to dig in and find out pretty soon, since a chopped out frame is much harder to fix than an extra frame that I have to delete. With that tool basically working, though, I went in and got undo/redo functionality all set up, though it too awaits further testing before I can confirm it as entirely reliable. I had originally planned on having an export to animated gif function as well, but the more I think about it the more that feels like a waste of time, since the only reason I’d want them is to post them online and since I’ll probably be drawing the animations in other programs which can export gifs much more easily, there’s really no reason to have support for that in this tool itself. Since it turns out I don’t want to bother with that shit, AnxEdit is basically feature-complete now. As mentioned last week, that doesn’t make it done: I’ll probably be spending another 2-3 weeks fixing bugs, improving the UI, and testing it out, but it is basically complete. So that’s good.
The next week will be more work on the template to get it to match the lighting model of this grass tileset, some more time polishing and detailing the grass tiles (they look alright now but not quite up to the standard I want to set), and a few improvements to the tile editor that have been burning a hole in my brain pocket. If all that goes well, I may start in on the stone and dirt tilesets as well.