Pixelation

Critique => Pixel Art => Pixel Art Feature Chest => Topic started by: Arne on March 29, 2009, 03:13:04 am

Title: GR#004 Valkyrie no Bouken - NES Sprites & Tiles
Post by: Arne on March 29, 2009, 03:13:04 am
Valkyrie no Bouken came out just after Zelda 1, but wasn't released over here. The sprites for the terrain is pretty good, I like the graphical trees and grass knobs. The enemies fell very cardboard however. Zelda 1 has flat enemies too, but at least they rotate. Most enemies in VnB does not. Graphically, they're not very striking, and the game kind of lack striking and clear designs such as Octorocs, Tektites, etc.

Since the enemies come in a variety of colors anyways, I decided to not stay faithful to the color schemes at all. Instead I'm using some of the art as reference. Also, I stay away from palette swaps and just do different versions of the sprites instead.

Some of my sprites have an extra color, or consists of several sprites with different palettes. I used the NES palette, or a version of. I haven't tried the animations out in the cases I made one. I guess mine look to the side a bit, so they could perhaps flip to face the player, but that would cause trouble with the right/left-handedness.


Reference:
http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Valkyrie_no_Bouken/Combat_and_enemies
I also dumped the sprites myself because I don't like StategyWiki's presentation.
Some Art:
http://www.devimension.com/dvp_doc_database/dev_docu000.html
http://www.devimension.com/dvp_doc_database/dev_docu002.html

Edit, old: http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie_no_bouken_remix3.gif
(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie_no_bouken_remix4.gif)

Edit: Sprite & value ref, without the proper colors/palettes.
(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/Valkyrie_no_Bouken_Ref_Arrange.gif)

COMMENTS:

Valkyrie: Double sprite trickery. Couldn't get her hair to work graphically if blonde. She's dark haired on the original sprite anyways. I'm using a fireball gradient palette for the overlay sprite. It can be used for other stuff too, like... fire balls, eyes, whatever. Commonly occurring things. I can't remember how many FG palettes the NES has. 4 or 8. Also, this palette could be changed to choose her Color (you can choose Zodiac, Blood type and sprite color in VnB). I also tried a pure 4 color version. Looks very gameboyish. Maybe I should do something with the wings. The white is a bit flat.

Caveman (Tatta): I changed his skin tone so he looks more alien, because a plain caveman feels a bit... plain. I imagine they are a race of ogre/troll/orks . There's a bronze armour version called Dadatta, but the original sprite it looks little like the Tatta. My Dadatta is just a Tatta edit, but maybe I should pay more homage to the slight 'black-face' of the original sprite.

Jester guy (Quarkman): more striking cute pink with a cute cap with eyes on, like the frog costume worn by that kitten, or Snake man's helmet. My sprite doesn't read well. It's very crowded. Might be clearer if animated, or not.

Kiwi: I don't know what's up with the original sprite. It looks like a skipping Tentacle Kiwi. I used the some later VnB painting as reference.

Fly Drill: I'm not sure how this is supposed to be a flying mandrill. I made a flying mandrill, bird, and Monkey-Gargoyle. Used a blue on the brown Mandrill for the sake of the characteristic nose.

Scorpion: I really liked the one in Legacy of the Wizard, so I tried to make something similar, without swiping it. The Scorpion in LotW (http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/lotw_scorpion.gif) has a really beautiful curved tail, nice values on the hind legs, and a good form on the mouth/head which gives it perspective and volume. Overall, the LotW sprites are great.

Sand Reptile (Sandra): Not much to say. I'm skipping the outline at places to make things feel less cutout (and gain an extra pixel or two). There's a friendly Sandra (Kurino, iirc) which has a lighter green. Maybe I could use another palette for the dark (evil) ones.

Robotian: Gave me some trouble. I eventially made him more black so I could push in the unique color for the face cross. Probably the most fun design in the game. They actually did full 4-dir rotation for the Robotian sprite.

Goat-bull (Talos): Boring enemy. The sprite isn't very fun either. I made mine gray like in on of the art pieces. There's something going on with the tail. I'm not sure how I want to angle the horns.

Croc: Made a few variants. The original sprite is one of the best I think. It's difficult to improve upon, but I made my own version anyways. Actually I made several.

Twin Cyclop Giraffe (Twin-Girasu): I like this design. Not sure if I made it justice. I wanted to add some shading/volume to that black. Ended up using a shared palette.

Scissor head (Shizasu): I'm not sure what's up with this design, but atleast it's unique. Better that than generic. I used a single extra white tile to pick out the eye and belly.

Hovering Wyrm (Enmakonda): Another oddity. I think it's a dungeon boss. I haven't gotten that far. I haven't settled on a palette yet. Head top has another palette than the body. Big nemies look very boring with just 3 colors... well, two, excluding the outline.



Also, FCEUX now has LUA support. This is pretty amazing.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioZsrOfh8CI
I couldn't find the script online, so I made my own. It was pretty rewarding to oogle around in the RAM for stats, positions, health, etc and then have it displayed graphically. It's really simple to write the LUA HUD stuff too. I suppose you can use it for all sorts of things, like making a Mini Map for Metroid 1 (if Samus' global position can be easily decyphered that is).


Edit: Started on a map, but I'm not really following the NES restrictions here. I'm mostly playing around with feel. Tile maps are tricky, because you'd think that it's better to make some variations of the tiles to make it look more random, but everytime I've tried that it has looked... disorganized. I think it's better to use unique arrangements, local themes, landmarks. One way to do that is to keep the tiles simple, but place them in unique groups. For example, sand texture can be local and bunched up, leaving other areas empty. I'm thinking of doing a few big versions of some tiles, like the big tree, the big mountain. Other ideas for landmarks are Wells, houses, ruins, obelisks, a dead forest, towers... Some may be meaningless, but they'd serve to break up the monotony of the landscape.
(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie_no_bouken_remap.gif)
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: JonathanOfDrain on March 29, 2009, 06:56:51 pm
I remember playing this game during one of my NES binges a few months ago.
I think your pseudo-NES style your using is perfectly fine. Ben2TheEdge recently did pixel work for the back of a Scott Pilgrim comic and explained he wanted people to get the feel of NES without having to worry about the restrictions (correct me if I'm wrong). So if you're taking the same route then you're fine.

As for the actually sprites I think you've got everything going in the right directions. A few sprites stick out a bit more than others, like the croc. The first and last ones look the best but I think the solid outline hurts them. Try breaking that up a bit. The trees look a bit goofy, maybe it's the placement of the tree and the leaves.

A problem you could run into is with the Valkyrie. If you continue with the idea of players picking their color (which was pretty awesome for a NES game) then you should make that green change. Maybe that color could be a choice too or maybe the armor could be the complimentary color.

You've obviously done a good amount of research on this and it's paying off. Hope to see more updates.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on March 29, 2009, 08:12:42 pm
Thanks for the response. I can see what you mean about the croc's outline, a few other sprites have none on their top side. It comes down to what BG it will be shown against. I might not need it on the nose.

Kinda croded, cuz I'm playing around. I removed most black from the BG so the enemies pop a bit better (a bit like Advance Wars). I might have to tone down the black on the hills, but I don't think I can remove it completely.
(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie_no_bouken_remap2.gif)

I'm thinking about diagonal turn angles (for the look of the sprites), these kind of views describe the forms better. Pure Side/Front views can be a bit boring. Actually it may or may not look strange, I probably would have to run some tests.
(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/turn_angles.png)
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on March 29, 2009, 11:28:18 pm
Animations. The fat jumping bird isn't so good. Unfortunately Mac CS3 corrupts the palette of my animated gifs (not the static ones), so I need to use another person to save them.

King Kong doesn't quite work either. He's meant to be standing on a big mountain, lobbing rocks. Kinda like a turret. Got lips instead of teeth, cuz the hands have claw dots already. It would be to dotty with teeth too.

The head of the bat penguin vulture needs something other than static bobbing. My attempts failed so I'll let it rest. I think it's better to just throw out a lot of things, then go back and clean up, homogenize.

The Valkyrie turns her head on the original sprite. My head looks a bit static. I think turning is better than bobbing up and down. Turning would also involve the head wings of course.
Also, the weapons (for the striking animations) are separate in the original, so I guess the Valkyrie is about six 8*8px tiles when attacking.

The Tatta's spikeclub isn't too hot. In the original he swings it up and down, but I didn't think I had space for that. Maybe he should turn his head too.

(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie_no_bouken_anim.gif)

EDIT: I think this fixes some of the aforementioned issues. Edit. Also fixed color corruption in Save For Web. I needed to apply a sRGB profile because the Save for Web app thinks it's special. Edit: Actually, it seems like the apple monitor defaults at 1.8 gamma, PC monitors are 2.2. Save for Web probably recalibrates, unless I apply the profile to counter. The question is, sould I start using the darker 2.2 gamma?

Anyways. Image. Most legs are a bit boring, just bobbing up and down. I think the wings need better flapping on the monkeys.
(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie_no_bouken_remix6srgb.gif)

Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Rydin on March 30, 2009, 05:03:25 am
(http://img27.imageshack.us/img27/7361/badtree.png)

It probably goes without saying, but please don't keep the magnified trees.  They don't work in this situation.  :)
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Dr D on March 30, 2009, 05:11:22 am
I think the trees suffer from too roundy-ness, and having-the-whole-trunk-shown-in-front-of-the-canopy-ness. (lol penis) Great work, all of this is, though.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on March 30, 2009, 04:10:44 pm
The scaled up tree was just a reminder for myself to do something like a 'world tree'.

Here are a few screenshots for easy reference. The trees look like that, kinda like a cross section anatomy diagram of a tree.

(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/screenshots/Valkyrie%20no%20Bouken%20-%20Screenshot%20-%20Shizasu%20at%20Night.png)(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/screenshots/Valkyrie%20no%20Bouken%20-%20Screenshot%20-%20I%20am%20sailing.png)
(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/screenshots/Valkyrie%20no%20Bouken%20-%20Screenshot%20-%20Pink%20Portal.png)(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/screenshots/Valkyrie%20no%20Bouken%20-%20Screenshot%20-%20House.png)

Edit: ToDo: Fix downswoop wings on the flying apes. Do a Tatta which is closer to the designs in the later games. Do some terrain chunks which covers all angles of terrain transitions. Decide on a palette. Possibly darken the gray on the coast and dead trees, then use that instead of the gray+black on the hills/mountain/piles.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on March 30, 2009, 09:05:51 pm
The Tatta bronze armour is supposed to have some kind of dotted-mouth black-face, but I the pixels made it too noisy. Perhaps a helmet-less version could help to bridge the designs. I tried to represent the wild hair in the helmet design.

(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie_no_bouken_tattas.gif)

I decided to turn the head in in the opposite direction of the body. Tatta is kinda spasmic now :/
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: crab2selout.png on March 30, 2009, 09:35:46 pm
Hey, Arne, as always itís a pleasure to see your lovely game concepts.

I agree with you on the original sprites. The silhouettes are pretty boring and nearly identical for each enemy. Probably to keep the square hitboxes clear to the player, but it screws up the unique mental image that couldíve been building for each monster.

Some of the creature designs feel out of place/. Iím having trouble seeing how the robot, two-headed eye thing and the clawhead monster fit in with your other monsters. I like the designs and execution, itís just they all feel like alien creatures while the rest are plausible earth creatures like birds, gorillas and cavemen. Maybe Iím missing out on the backstory to the game though.

Do you plan to have any pyramids/buildings that are many times the size of the player like in one of the links in the first post? Or are houses and things like that going to be 16x16 like the player sprite?

I like the monkey sitting on top of the mountain. Itís a nice touch to complement the other baddies randomly walking around. Would something like that be used in multiple places or is monkey on the hill unique for the entire game?

I like that you kept the tree silhouettes. Theyíre a nice take on a typical overworld tree. Is there anything that can be done for the tree bottom? Likea slight curve to give the impression of a trunk with more volume?

Last thing, is there anyway you could post your images at 100% scale instead of 200%. The board tends to scale things up 100% at a time so your images when zoomed go from 200% to 400% and 300% is the sweet spot for me.

EDIT: I like the spazzy animations. They're the good kind of spazzy that adds to an animation and not hte distracting kind.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on March 30, 2009, 10:01:23 pm
Thanks for the feedback.

Local static bosses are common in the game. The twin giraffe and scissor head are like titanic guardians. The mountain ranges and lack of recognizable features on the enemies makes them look huge. Characters with humanoid shapes look smaller because we know humans are small. That's my theory anyways.

I want to do special NPC enemies who have more complex and different behaviour. This rubs off onto the generic enemies. Even though they just run around and attack the player, the player will know that there's some depth to the monsters. I guess I could do stuff like "It's a secret to everybody" caves. It would be fun to have more complex behavior, like, creatures sitting around a campfire, then when the player shows up they attack.

Yeah, the monsters are really a mish mash. That's why I tried to use odd colors on some, to alien them up a bit. I'd rather see unique alien enemies, but including a few local wildlife enemies doesn't bother me. There are some backstory elements, like the beasts of burden (ox/goat) turning into hostile enemies. Perhaps I should make the croc some other color to alien that up too. Most enemies come in Blue, red, black... and maybe some gray/white.

Pyramids, sure. I haven't played through the entire game yet...

The tree bottom bothered me too. It's too much from the side. At the same time I don't want to touch the design too much. I don't mind the trees being very graphical. I want to keep the common terrain stuff simple, then scatter all of these little unique landmarks about, or arrange the terrain stuff in memorable patterns. Woodland paths could be used to give the player a sense of orientation. He'd see a road and know where it leads (and there could be signs.) It would also give the world a sense of history. I want to do ruins too. I think there's a large ruined city near the end of the game, but I'm not sure (not there yet).

I like the Final Fantasy 1-2 houses. I think I'll do them 4 wide 3 high + 1 for the chimney. That's 32*24. I'll see.


As for scaling, I use Firefox and it has shitty blurry scaling. That's why I 2x...
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: crab2selout.png on March 31, 2009, 12:43:14 am
Thanks for the feedback.

Local static bosses are common in the game. The twin giraffe and scissor head are like titanic guardians. The mountain ranges and lack of recognizable features on the enemies makes them look huge. Characters with humanoid shapes look smaller because we know humans are small. That's my theory anyways.

I want to do special NPC enemies who have more complex and different behaviour. This rubs off onto the generic enemies. Even though they just run around and attack the player, the player will know that there's some depth to the monsters. I guess I could do stuff like "It's a secret to everybody" caves. It would be fun to have more complex behavior, like, creatures sitting around a campfire, then when the player shows up they attack.
Like this last idea. Gives the enemies personalities. Some are territorial, others more imperialistic and wandering, and a couple who are just fiercely private.
Yeah, the monsters are really a mish mash. That's why I tried to use odd colors on some, to alien them up a bit. I'd rather see unique alien enemies, but including a few local wildlife enemies doesn't bother me. There are some backstory elements, like the beasts of burden (ox/goat) turning into hostile enemies. Perhaps I should make the croc some other color to alien that up too. Most enemies come in Blue, red, black... and maybe some gray/white.

Pyramids, sure. I haven't played through the entire game yet...

The tree bottom bothered me too. It's too much from the side. At the same time I don't want to touch the design too much. I don't mind the trees being very graphical. I want to keep the common terrain stuff simple, then scatter all of these little unique landmarks about, or arrange the terrain stuff in memorable patterns. Woodland paths could be used to give the player a sense of orientation. He'd see a road and know where it leads (and there could be signs.) It would also give the world a sense of history. I want to do ruins too. I think there's a large ruined city near the end of the game, but I'm not sure (not there yet).

I like the Final Fantasy 1-2 houses. I think I'll do them 4 wide 3 high + 1 for the chimney. That's 32*24. I'll see.
I can't wait to see. I'll take another look through those links and check out the backstory. I keep getting the feeling I've seen some of those baddies before.
As for scaling, I use Firefox and it has shitty blurry scaling. That's why I 2x...
Yeah utter garbage. I reinstalled ff2.0 right over top about 5 minutes after I updated to 3.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: huZba on March 31, 2009, 07:15:15 am
Really nice looking stuff.
Some of them look like they're in a box from trying to use the 8x8 sprites to their fullest. To circumvent the boxyness, i think you can nudge around the individual 8x8 parts.
Like so
[ ][ ]   [ ][ ]    [ ]
 [ ]     [ ]       [ ][ ]
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on March 31, 2009, 09:12:19 am
Thanks!

Well, I've made no progress. I was supposed to play through the game, but I got caught up doing a LUA HUD for Metroid instead. It displays a minimap (filled in as you progress), and also enemy HP and freeze timer, item timeout.  Still got a ton of bugs to work out. You can do almost anything with LUA and FCEUX.
(http://androidarts.com/metroid/metroid1_lua_hud.gif)

Anyways, most enemies in Solar Jetman consisted of small tiles which were individually arranged. I haven't really seen any other game do that... not that I remember at the top of my head. The MSX had some kind of 8x8 px tile thing going on, but mostly for maps. I actually kinda like the grid feel to game maps. I'd almost go as far as preferring square coastlines and tiling showing in the grass texture. It's a bit like... having numbers and dices in RPGs. It's very graspable and unpretentious. Realistic or organic maps can't offer the same level of... graspability. In this case the game mechanics would already be abstracted, so an organic map would feel out of place.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: huZba on March 31, 2009, 10:05:51 am
Oh sorry, for the enemy sprites i mean.

I agree with you about the griddy map. It feels more natural if the look of the world adheres to it's construction, in this case.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on April 01, 2009, 12:34:28 am
I worked some on my LUA HUD for VnB. It's not just to play around. The game doesn't present its information very well. There's a cap on the HP bar for example, so you can't tell how much damage you take. Zelda does almost everything right in this department. That game is very clear with its feedback.

Anyways, I'm thinking of doing perhaps small and larger versions of the enemies, and I mean perhaps 12,16,20 px versions. I think it's important to be clear with size, shape and color coding of the enemies. I just ran into the goats. They had 160 hp and murdered me with fireballs. I couldn't tell that from just looking at the sprite. Perhaps a 20px goat (on fire) would better convey that.

The game is kind of strange. I cheated a bit and gave myself 6m Exp., bringing me up to L68. I actually didn't do a lot more damage, and the low level enemies still manages to make short work of me. A lot of the Valkyrie's might comes from the items working in conjunction with the stats.

The worst part of the game is the thieves. They just appear out of nowhere and steal all your items. Yes, that includes vital key items. I think you can buy them back on the black market though. There are also annoying invisible pits. The dungeons just feels really half arsed overall .Boring boss (the same in every dungeon). There's no theme to the enemies. They're dark by default and you don't want to waste inventory space for a lantern, so you mostly run around against a black BG bumping into things, falling into invisible pits, getting killed by wall hacking enemies. I much prefer Zelda's non scrolling dungeons. They put all the information on screen.

The way many monsters can just move through walls makes the world feel a lot less tangible, and it also puts the loot out of reach. She needs a boomerang. See? Zelda thought of that.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on April 01, 2009, 03:36:01 am
Experimenting with sizes and some degree of color coding.

(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie_no_bouken_remix8.gif)
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on April 01, 2009, 07:40:04 am
Houses and landmark experiments. I stopped caring about color restrictions here, but I think the houses needs more colors, or the ruins need less. The houses with the big round doors are closer to the game, but I don't like them that big. I need to do more house variants though. And the pyramids. The houses have to work with the tree scale I think. I'm also thinking of doing larger mountains (2-4x or larger), and call the smaller ones... hills. Maybe the bad guy made them come out of the ground with a terrible quake, like teeth. So, they're not really mountains.

(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie_no_bouken_houses.gif)
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: crab2selout.png on April 01, 2009, 10:33:50 pm
I love those houses with the sloping roofs. Such a sexy look. When you said you were thinking of 3 tiles horizontally, and 2 vertical, I though you were referring to 16x16 tiles as a base unit. This is such a better fit and I like how they scale with the environment. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but the little garden shrubs you have highlighting the area for a sprite to enter is a good visual touch. Kinda like a landing strip. I'm not so sure about the ruins which feel busy. Maybe if you took the green out of the ruins closest to the top. I think the bottom ruins could work though.

The blue stone and fang both seem a bit flat. Might be the belt/treads stuff on the bottom for the blue stone. I'm not sure what to suggest for he fang, maybe draw it on an angle like your sprites?

I love all the new bigger and smaller variants of enemies. The pink alligator is pretty damn cute. The bat-winged, one-eyed snake boss is pretty awesome in his largest form. I rellly like how you change the expressions for most of your baddies as they grow up.

Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Dr D on April 02, 2009, 01:59:58 am
That's pretty kickass, Arne. Most of all I admire how you put such a great of uniqueness amongst everything you make, especially the sprites, with so many limitations, and they read very well.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on April 02, 2009, 07:10:09 am
Thx! Yeah, the sloped roofs works better, breaking the squareness. I'll see what I can to about the ruins. The most ruined ones works the best, because they have flat grass masses on them. Perhaps I should concentrate on corners. I could also use more busy grass and bush tiles around the busier ruins to build a transition. I'll see what I can do about the landmarks too. I want to throw together a lot of them. In this day and age of the internet, you can't have simple secrets because people use walkthroughs. Some games, like Namcot's Druaga were designed around the idea of people actually collaborating on finding the secrets though. It would be fun to design secrets which are so obscure (and hidden in code obfuscation) that it would take years for people to find them. Valkyrie was designed so a boss, special tile or special arrangement of tiles would mark a secret location, so the player always knew that there was something to find. My landmarks could work the same way, I'd just have a lot more of them, and only make a few of the easier secrets mandatory for plot progression. This would leave people with a reason to play the game some more, because it would never feel 'exhausted'. Something new and interesting could be behind the next corner.



One problem is the indoor/dungeons. The over-world scale shouldn't clash with the dungeon rooms. There are a bunch of statues indoors which would look enormous outdoors. One thing which I could do is not sharing enemies like Zelda 1 did. That's one point of reference less.

I'm thinking about larger mountains, but with the same overall shape, like a fractal, with smaller mountains on the slopes.
I'm worried about the player thinking he can pass between the mountains though, so I might have to put some stuff there. The largest ones are like 4x4 16px tiles now. I'm not sure if I should make 2 versions so I can build 2^(4*4) different mountains. The larger stuff might become repetitive more easily than small stuff which doesn't have as much sub-detail.

(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie%20scan.jpg)

Also, Scorpion sizes. I tried to make it less of a plain scorpion by doing a heart/ceratops shaped head and a cannon on the tail. I really like how Zelda handled the enemy design with the Tektite being a grasshopper-crab-cyclops hybrid. I want to pull the VnB sprites in that direction, while staying faithful in some way. I tried making the Vulture into something strange tall and black, with a graphical circle on the belly.  I think it works better as a 1*3 sprite. Maybe some larger version is flight capable, but I gave this one stubby wings.

(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/scorp_bird.gif)
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on April 02, 2009, 09:55:37 am
I struggled with the mountains before realizing the following:

If I repeat some of the tiles of the slope it gives a more consistent look. Perhaps because it makes the mountains look as if they are made out of 'atoms'. I intentionally made some square edges to keep hte tiles look.

The corners gave me trouble because had to put nonsense filling there. So, I shaped them like a + and that makes it possible to lodge the mountains into each other.

Colors can be used as a height indicator, as well as breaking up monotony. I kept the base brown, as a bridge.

(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie_no_bouken_mountains.gif)

They're still a little rough. I'm not sure how they'll work in action yet. I'm a bit blind to them now.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: tocky on April 02, 2009, 01:03:51 pm
i got this feeling it should be more like:
(http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y13/tocky/arne-valkylrie-hills.png)
but i'm not sure why - maybe just because the hills go to a depth of two tiles.

edit: or maybe like
(http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y13/tocky/arne-valkylrie-hills2.png)
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on April 02, 2009, 08:36:57 pm
I was thinking about the latter solution, but decided that a grey tip would make them look too much like miniature mountains. They're too small and low to have that kind of color detail.

I really like the first solution though, it gives them more perspective while retaining the blocky feel. And yeah, the depth of the brown inconsistency bothered me too. A depth of 2 can make the shadow side appear a little brown as well, reinforcing the of symmetry.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Helm on April 03, 2009, 08:23:11 am
The couple of green pixels inside the hills really look like holes and not like patches of vegetation, I'd lose them, personally.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Xkeeper on April 05, 2009, 12:02:44 am
Quote
I couldn't find the script online, so I made my own.
you could've just asked... :p Also, in the newest release of FCEUX, it's actually included (vnb.lua in the luaScripts folder)

as for actually getting this into the game, well... yeah. here's a quick rundown of the NES limitations for you:

- 64 sprites total
- 4 foreground palettes
- Tiles have a 2x2 resolution of palette choice, e.g. you can only pick different colors for 16x16 blocks. That mountain screenshot (with brown bases) wouldn't work.
- Sprites have 3 colors, + transparency

It can be done, probably, but it won't be easy by any measure. I do like how it looks regardless, though, especially considering the game's... poor visuals before this.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on April 05, 2009, 07:39:29 am
Helm> I agree. I wanted a lighter color in there though. Anyways, it bothered me so I made a test without.

Xkeeper> It's you! I've been enjoying your LUA projects. I do have the latest-ish release, but I guess I missed the vnb file in my excitement of getting my hands dirty with LUA...

I'm somewhat familiar with the NES restrictions. At first I was thinking of just replacing some tiles and palettes, but then the project quickly went into feature creep mode and I decided to just have fun instead. I'll probably just aim for a retro feel and write my own engine (got a rudimentary tile map scroller done). Of course, this is just talk, I never actually finish anything.


I was thinking NDS, 256*196 with map on top and inventory manipulation and stats on bottom. As for the story: the goal is to find and wake up the sleeping Valkyrie so she can save the land from evil, but it turns out the player actually is, or becomes the Valkyrie. Maybe there's a repository for the Valkyrie's memory and armour. It feels silly with special Valkyrie armour bits laying around, being generally available, so with this plot the player would go through different levels of regular armour before finally finding the Valkyrie armour for the endgame.

It would be fun to throw in Tower of Druaga stuff too, at least a little mini tower (more feature creep).

I'm trying with a dark purple for the rock stuff. I might also use 4+1 colors per character, using the final fantasy 1 technique (http://www.mobygames.com/game/nes/final-fantasy/screenshots/gameShotId,31436/) where possible. Overall, I rely on black for shadow and volume.

The Demon and Fire guys are new. The Demon is based on other artwork than the sprite. It uses some extra colors, because I wanted it to be close to the later artwork and not collide with the Sandra types (knuckle head lizards). The fire guy was kinda boring, so I made it into a little robot thing.

Maybe most of the underground stuff is robotic. I also made a big Dadatta but I'm not sure if I should keep that because I already have a Dadatta armour. I also tried making the Eastern Demon Bear Trap thing (Kaox) but I had trouble making something of it. I suppose it could be like a Cocodemon. I wanted to use many colors on it because Eastern demon masks usually have that. Maybe it needs more white though.

I'm pondering if I should give the Tatta some colored cloth, so it's color coded Blue. I gave the Jester an extra color and repixeled it a bit.

I want to see color ranks for the items, like in Diablo, so I tried that on the treasure chests and money bags to start with. Random stats and effects on the weapons is fun.

(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/valkyrie_no_bouken_12.gif)

It would be fun to have friendly NPC monsters. It works with the story in the games where everyone became corrupted long ago but a few remained friendly, like the Kurino (A desert lizard) and maybe Sabine (Jester).
(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/dialog.jpg)
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: xenobond on April 06, 2009, 11:29:57 am
You could pretend to use the MMC5 mapper. Could then have each 8x8 background tile have a separate color assignment from the palettes instead of one for every 2x2 group. With this you also get 16,384 different 8x8 tiles as opposed to the previous 256 (64 if counting them as 2x2 groups).

Reading all this is very inspiring, along with all the other information on the games in this series. Very neat!
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: bengo on April 06, 2009, 11:41:44 am
Just a little nitpicking, the tree just feels..... off, it looks weird to me. Other than that beautiful work as usual Arne.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Xkeeper on April 06, 2009, 08:21:37 pm
Just a little nitpicking, the tree just feels..... off, it looks weird to me. Other than that beautiful work as usual Arne.
Probably because it's a cross-section. :P

I never liked it either. In fact, I didn't like most of that game's graphics >_>
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on April 07, 2009, 10:07:30 am
I think I'm just gonna stick with the following (loose) rules:

+ Stick to my 24'ish color palette.
+ About 3 to 4 (+alpha) colors for most things.
+ Use black for shadow (and not color). Stay graphical.
+ Terrain doesn't use black unless it's important stuff which needs to pop. Also using shadow colors here. No drop shadows though.
+ Chrome and reflective stuff may get extra colors though (speculars or colored reflections).
+ Minimal AA.
+ Lost edges, instead of a black line I use a colored line or no line. Skip lines where ground contact occurs, and at the top of some shapes
+ 14, 16, 20px big enemies. It's just feel good numbers and has nothing to do with hardware restrictions.
+ Heroine gets extra colors.

Playing around with the idea of a Tower of Druaga. The walls are 16*16 and not thin like in Druaga, so I made the sloped walls (like in Valkyrie, Zelda) colored like the floor, it makes the grey bit seem thinner. Druaga-Zouna came out really messy. The idea was to combine the 2 bad guys into one, but it might not work. Skipped a lot of the lines on the slimes to make them feel transparent. Not sure about the knights, they need to walk horizontally and vertically, which is inconsistent with the 45 degree thing I have going on. I might give them full 8 way rotation, like the player. They also need some sensible frames for sword drawn / shield up.
(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/druaga.gif)
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on April 07, 2009, 02:11:41 pm
I'm really not sure which kind of angles and poses will work ingame.
This is Quox and Zouna. I've been experimenting a lot with their design, but I'm not happy yet.

(http://androidarts.com/valkyrie/quox_zouna.gif)

Quox ref: http://www.devimension.com/dvp_doc_database/dev_docu006.html

Oh, the Roper is based on the anime version where they only have 2 arms. 6 is too crowded.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Lee N on April 07, 2009, 02:12:45 pm
First of all, I love what you have done with Valkyrie no Bouken. Really fantasic work here. :y:

But, the tree has been bugging me for a while - and I think i finally figured out why. It reads as if the trunk is overlayed in front of the crown rather than being a part of it, and this might be because the trunk has such a light brown colour. Maybe you could use a darker colour for the trunk and have the crown of the tree cover up more of the extended branches to pull it back in and incorporate it more into a single body.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Helm on April 07, 2009, 04:02:15 pm
Your pixel placements are quite artful. I was going to talk about issues with selout but it seems you're not suffering greatly anywhere.
I wanted to suggest that if you're not going to use the actual NES palettes, then just go ahead and use a 32bit palette and just keep the colors 3+1 for tile elements (with the approrpiate extras where needed). The reason I say this is because I recently played through Retro Game Challenge for the nintendo DS and it really struck me how the only real NES limitation that encourages the retro look is the 3 colors per tile/sprite. # of tiles, or restricted tilemap palettes really don't matter much to get the effect, and there really is so much beauty you can achieve with a full palette evenwith 3 colors per tile. So while what you're doing here is very accomplished, I would suggest even more daring colors. Since you only have 3 per item you won't suffer from 'muddy' close colors or other follies of early 16bit  games where they just went 'I HAVE ALL THESE COLORS!" BANDING AND GRADIENT HELL.

Also I suggest smooth animation if you actually do animations for this project. As if you didn't have capacity concerns. Retro gaming is not dependent on the 2-frame usual NES animations, as long as the few colors, small res and vibrant palette are kept, might as well deliver some eye-candy on the animation end. You can pretend you're using a fancy Konami mapper if it makes you feel more authentic, but I would just suggest tossing these considerations out of the brain-window and just having fun without so many limits.

I agree that pure black is very useful for NES style things especially for character sprites and such. I do not think you should banish it completely from the world tilemaps. Perhaps only the overworld should be mostly black-less to preserve the Zeldaesque iconic symbolism of the map and not convey a real world too much. But if you have a dark dungeon or something I'd throw in black liberally.

The original NES game is pretty tortuous, so it would be nice to see this get made actually but even if not, always a pleasure to look at your stuff.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Arne on April 07, 2009, 06:09:45 pm
Thanks for the feedback.

Lee> I'm probably keeping the trees, because they're the most commonly occurring graphical object in the game, and thus a part of the identity of the game. I've already toned down the flatness a bit, or tried, but I may need to give that root some perspective. There's also pine trees in the game and they look the same. To be honest I'm not that bothered by the trees, I kind of like their whimsical graphical quality.

Helm> Thanks. Yeah, I figured someone would notice the 'selout' at some places. Often I'm just trying to dither the outlines because a full black line would be too much, and none would cause a silhouette leak.

I color-picked most colors from a NES palette. (There's a bunch of them with different temperatures.) Palettes are good for giving the stuff a consistent look, but yeah, some enemy designs should separate and not be forced into using the same palette. I think I will take your advice and just use the colors which looks the best. There needs to be consistency, but it should be for important stuff like in-universe materials, and not hardware restrictions which breaks the fourth wall (e.g. "hey, they had to use the same palette for those things.").

I've been struggling to not use the colors for shadows. In many cases it is completely unnecessary and actually lowers readability. When using just black and a color or two you have to make sure that the design is striking, and you can't go in and try to salvage a bad design with gradients and stuff.

IIRC, Dragon Warrior 3 for the Gameboy Color has excellent animations and some of the best gfx I've seen on that platform. Looking at it now, I see that it only uses black for the characters, pretty much. The NES version was the other way around!
http://www.mobygames.com/game/dragon-warrior-iii/screenshots

Anyways, the reason for my 2 frame animations is that... I have a lot of enemies and angles. Well done animations can really bring a character to life though. I have a Kirby game (mirror something) for GBA which has excellent animations.

I think I need a lot of new darks for the dungeons, since they have... lack of light as a theme in VnB. I need more resolution there. It would be cool to do something like a lantern effect (like in Zelda 3, or the light radius in Diablo).


8bitty> ty. Some of the details is nonsense, but I'm trying hard to make sure that I actually use the space I have for something sensible. Every pixel should contribute. The same goes for drawing/painting, the viewer will always try to make something out of the details you've drawn, and every unreadable confusing nonsense detail will make the design weaker. It's a constant struggle for me to remember to find these problem areas. Sometimes I like my nonsense details even though they are detrimental to the piece! Killing them all off can be difficult, but it is for the greater good.
Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: Conzeit on April 11, 2009, 11:26:20 pm
it might be a little repetitive, but on the dillema of animations here...I suggest looking at Star Ocean Blue...up in the banner. check these youtube vids http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=D594C2C30BBE54FA They have just the right blend of animeish ease-in timing and 8bit restrictions, the whole game in general just feels like the perfect blend to me.

Title: Re: Valkyrie no Bouken - NES sprites
Post by: HughSpectrum on April 12, 2009, 09:39:17 am
Quote
IIRC, Dragon Warrior 3 for the Gameboy Color has excellent animations and some of the best gfx I've seen on that platform. Looking at it now, I see that it only uses black for the characters, pretty much. The NES version was the other way around!
http://www.mobygames.com/game/dragon-warrior-iii/screenshots
It's basically taking where you would normally use black and using a dark color instead.  I think this is because the NES only allows 16 colors on screen at once, making black an extremely useful color, while the GBC allows many more colors at once (somewhere between 50-64, I believe).

The only real danger of not using black is that it's possible to make your characters look like they're "floating" due to the contrast, but looking at the SO: Blue Sphere videos, this seems to actually be a blessing in disguise because it allows a lot of detail to be added to tiles while still having characters separated from the background.