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Messages - eishiya
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Giving an option seems good! And yeah, I can imagine that slicing up the shadow with so many objects on screen would be a nightmare. There might be ways to optimize it (for example, pre-calculate every shadow frame at startup, store them in RAM along with the sprites and just blit them as needed without calculating them every time), but you probably have more important things to focus on.
Third alternative: bad weather. Add some dramatic rain and dimmed colours, and there, a perfect excuse to not have any shadows ;D

Further on the subject of shadows: your shadows stack, which looks weird. By that, I mean if something casts a shadow while standing in a shadow, the part where the shadows overlap is darker. Shadows don't stack unless they're shadows from different light sources, which is why it looks weird.
This should be fairly easy to fix: when calculating and drawing your shadows, render them as a solid colour onto a separate layer instead of rendering them right onto the game screen. That way, when they overlap, it won't make them darker. Then, once you've drawn them all on that layer, draw that whole shadow layer at the appropriate opacity and blending mode. Depending on how rendering is done in your game, it might even help boost performance since the shadows only get blitted onto the screen once, all the other drawing happens off-screen, as pure math.

Everything looks better! I still feel that cool greys feel a bit too clean for farmer/redneck types though xP

Would it not be possible to skew the shadows by offsetting each pixel row slightly (by 1px for 45 degree shadows, offset every other row by 1px for 26 degree shadows, etc)? If you keep the angle low (e.g. add 1 pixel of offset for every 3 rows, instead of every row), the shadows would still look pretty good, I think. It wouldn't look any worse zoomed in than anything else does, as long as the angle is kept low enough that features aren't distorted into unrecognizability.

In my opinion, if you can't do skewed shadows to your satisfaction, it might be better to not have shadows at all, and instead have some simple small shadows as part of each object.

Pixel Art / Re: [WIP] Polishing things
« on: November 18, 2015, 04:39:41 pm »
Thanks for the feedback and the photos! I have plenty of boreal forest photos of my own, as well. The sketch isn't a mockup, it was me working out the scale and colours, and trying to get an idea of how many layers I'll need to get enough trees in the background xP I have been using colours from it as background colours to work on, but not putting my trees in because it's too much of a mess to be of real value. Once I have some more assets drawn, I can put together a "proper" mockup to serve as context for future assets.
The terrain will definitely be more varied and defined, there will be mossy rocks, bilberry shrubs everywhere, dead trees, slopes, tree roots just begging to be tripped on, etc, as much as I can figure out how to do in-engine. Ground cover in particular is something I went out and got a lot of ref of, because that's always missing in other people's photos, no one stops to photograph the ground they're standing on, everybody's always looking forward and up (quite the opposite of how people act in vidyas xP).

Pixel Art / Re: Player hud for space-ish game
« on: November 18, 2015, 03:58:04 pm »
The reason I don't use Flux at all is because I'm afraid it'll mess with my ability to work with colour and I don't want to have to turn it off every time I do anything xP

The text is definitely more readable now! I think a simpler O (without the corners filled, or with ALL corners filled) might be more readable, at the expense of stlishness, but I'm not sure.
I like the new HP bar. I feel like it might look better with the highlight only being 1px instead of 2, it looks rather pale as-is.
The exp bar (yellow?) works better with the diagonal stripes since precision isn't very important there. I don't think you need the dark brown in there though, it blends into the background. Or is it just there to serve as the boundaries for the empty version?
I think with the green bar being concave and with two segment sizes, you have too many textures going on in the HUD as a whole. It's good to rely on more than just colour and position to set things apart, but it's starting to look a bit noisy. I think the old, convex, simple segments worked better. Since the segments are wider than the ones in the HP bar, it would still have a distinct texture and thus be readable, without overcomplicating things.

Pixel Art / Re: Player hud for space-ish game
« on: November 18, 2015, 04:03:43 am »
I think the old helix was better. The new one looks more like a helix, but it's more distracting compared to the simple flat shapes of the old one. This one might also make it harder to see one's HP level, since it's so skinny. The bright red is the only clearly visible part so it's the part that'll be conveying the important information (how much HP the player has), so it should be as close to being a solid bar as possible, while still being interesting.

The text is very hard to read. I think if you make it all the highlight colour, it'll be more legible. I think it might also look better to have the name be on the left rather than centred, since everything else in this part of the HUD is aligned to the left.

Pixel Art / Re: [WIP] Clouds
« on: November 18, 2015, 02:48:04 am »
180 degrees facing the clouds, does that mean it's lighting from the front (that is, the moon is behind the viewer)? That would explain why you're having a hard time, front lighting is the hardest to make look good, since it flattens the forms. If it's an option, I recommend having the light some from somewhere to the side, so that the forms can be more clearly shown. That would probably help your foreground too.

I forgot to respond to the previous image - I think it looks better, it reads much more like "here are lots of clouds" without any mysterious features. I think your 3rd lightest colour could stand to be a little lighter. It contrasts too much with the 2nd lightest colour, but has almost no contrast with the 4th lightest. That may make it easier for you to produce smooth gradations.

Pixel Art / Re: [WIP] Clouds
« on: November 18, 2015, 02:23:11 am »
Well, if you cut out the light entirely, you'll be left with a full black screen. You should have a light source and you should know what it is, even if it's somewhere off the canvas.

Pixel Art / Re: [WIP] Clouds
« on: November 18, 2015, 01:25:47 am »
Where is the light coming from? The sun, the moon? Magic? Where is the light source? It seems like you've been so focused on making nice a nice cloud texture, you haven't given enough thought to the light that makes that texture visible.

Pixel Art / Re: [WIP] Clouds
« on: November 18, 2015, 12:00:58 am »
It's not that you should darken it, it's that you should make it clearer what that shape is meant to be. If it's glow from the moon behind the clouds with some thicker clouds in the middle of it, then I'd recommend having the outline of the moon faintly visible, and making the clouds shapes more clear.

Pixel Art / Re: Player hud for space-ish game
« on: November 18, 2015, 12:00:19 am »
I don't think it's out of place, it actually matches the red on the character pretty well, which makes for a nice visual connection between them and their HP.
If you want to make the HP bar more vibrant without going back into eye-burn territory, try using orange instead of red, maybe make it "glow" (have yellow fading out to red instead of solid red).

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