AuthorTopic: [WIP] Curse of the Caves (EGA DOS game)  (Read 30675 times)

Offline Arachne

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[WIP] Curse of the Caves (EGA DOS game)

on: November 21, 2007, 07:49:37 pm
Latest versions edit:

Title screen


Mockups


Screenshot




I was feeling nostalgic and played with the default EGA palette for a bit.



The two squares at the top show items in use. Red is the weapon currently in use and blue is for power-ups, keys, etc.



The uncut crystals serve as ammo, and you can combine different colors of crystals for different effects. There's also a diary for gathering notes and other pieces of information left by others.

I'm not really sure what I want to do next. Maybe add the remains of an ancient civilization or something like that. Those giant gold coins have to come from somewhere.

(One of these days, I'll actually finish something! :D)
« Last Edit: February 15, 2011, 02:57:44 pm by Arachne »

Offline AdamAtomic

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great start!  all the crystals look phenomenal.  it took me almost a full minute to figure out what was going on with the background though!

Offline Sherman Gill

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Welcome back.

The coins look more like natural hunks of metal then coins, to me.
And yeah, the background is very jarring. Less contrast, perhaps? :-\
Oh yes naked women are beautiful
But I like shrimps more haha ;)

Offline TrevoriuS

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The Coins I did not recognize as coins, I had no clue what they were at all, but figured they'd be one of the gems in the first place.
You might want to lighten up the black and dark blue part of the background a bit, so we can still see the outline on the coins and other items floating aroudn that area.

Offline Helm

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That's wonderful. I'd drop the values in the background as much as possible. It's better if you HINT at stalagtite-shape things with a blue dither on black than what you have going on right now.

Offline madPXL

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maybe for the background you should make it in pure black and put some sorts of cavities on it with blue dither,lighting etc...
I think that it should be better for visibility.

Offline Arachne

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The background still needs work, but something more like this, then? I changed the coins, added some spiky crystals and made a death animation for my mud man.



:D

Offline Helm

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This is much better. What I'd do, further is break up the background to discrete tile clusters that can be arranged in different stalagtite combinations. Don't be afraid of large chunks of pure black for this, the background should not be continuous. Make the one side lit with the dither (as you have) and experiment with no outline on the other side. Let the brain try to interpret the gaps.



Here I made a bunch of stalagtites as 'tiles' and then I arranged them liberally below in pleasing constructions. This is possible in-game by a smart coder since the black is treated as transparency.

Offline Jad

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Haha, you're really obsessed with the 'single pixel' as of lately, heh?

It's looking unexpectedly(wordhelpplz) good though. The brain adds a LOT of new hues that aren't there :O Interesting.
' _ '

Offline Helm

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quite. Especially in limited palettes the POWAH of the pixel is to be taken seriously

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #10 on: December 01, 2007, 08:34:11 pm
Thanks for that edit, Helm. ;D Breaking up the background would definitely be a space-saver, but I'll have to make sure the layer behind it doesn't mess it up, so I need to think about that for a bit.



Worked on the tiles and some of the crystals.


I also drew some kind of idols made of jade, alabaster and lapis lazuli, respectively.

Offline surt

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #11 on: December 05, 2007, 03:34:54 am
Nothing constructive.

Just got to say that it's utterly beautiful. Makes that horrid palette look good.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2007, 04:50:38 am by surt »

Offline ptoing

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #12 on: December 05, 2007, 04:18:06 am
I want to play this :o
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline ilkke

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #13 on: December 05, 2007, 12:42:32 pm
Love the little crystal highlights on the terrain-tiles.
I wanted to add that maybe it wouldn't hurt to have similar kinds of tiles for the BG as well, so you could aesthetically flesh out a level by placing an accented bit of bg instead of a large patch of darkness.
Adds to the non-repetitiveness of the tile-based levels and that in turn adds to the being-there factor.
i

Offline Larwick

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #14 on: December 05, 2007, 01:47:57 pm
Awh this is so pretty.  ^-^

Like-like looking monsters (red ones with the mouth-faces), looks like they need more contrast, if that's possible with your pallette, especially the larger one.

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #15 on: December 07, 2007, 10:05:08 pm
Thanks, guys! :D Glad you like it.



Some minor adjustments to the tiles. I also tried adding another layer, since I thought it was a good idea, but I think it's difficult to pull off without making it too cluttered, at least with so few colors to work with.



Made the glowing moth more moth-like and made some more death animations. Not sure what speed to go for, though.

And, yeah, the worm monsters look pretty dull. I tried adding some yellow or white highlights to begin with, but thought they were too harsh, so I ended up settling for the dry, leathery look. Darkening the shadows would mean using gray or dark blue, and that wouldn't really work, either. :blind:

The shading is what bothers me the most about the worms at the moment. A top-left light source doesn't work when flipping them. The mud man has his lantern hand, and the glowing moth glows, and it's not really noticeable with the rest since they have other details like arms and such that can't really be shaded much and still be readable. I tried changing the shading on the smaller worms a bit. I'm not that worried about the big one since it's not going to be moving much. It'll just lay eggs.

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #16 on: December 15, 2007, 02:34:42 am


Working on some new tiles. I'm going to put some frozen creatures or something in the ice to break it up a bit, like I've done with the rocks and the tiny crystals. The transition between rocks and ice also needs some work, I think.


Walk cycle and some sort of stun effect.

Offline surt

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #17 on: December 15, 2007, 05:02:24 am
Ice looks a little dark to me. I find it looks more icy if you swap the light-cyan for white and push the remaining colours up on step in the gradient.

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #18 on: December 15, 2007, 09:31:48 am


Well, I was thinking the ice would be darker since there's not much light in the cave, but I guess it would depend on how clear the ice is. I added some white to the cyan in the original, but I also made a much brighter version. I'm not sure how the bright ice would work combined with the darker rock tiles, though, and the items won't be as visible. What do you think?

Offline philipptr

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #19 on: December 15, 2007, 09:55:59 am
I actually like the darker version much better. It is no readability-issues at all and creates a nice cave-atmosphere the rest while the brighter version seems to work a bit against the atmosphere.
Ah I would love to play this game fullscreen right now :)
Only thing I might crit is the use of cyan in the green crystals. It looks nice but makes the hues of the blue and green crystals even nearer which might make it a bit problematic in gameplay,and look a bit inconsistend considering the much greater difference between the other items.

Offline surt

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #20 on: December 15, 2007, 11:04:51 am
The dark blue looks a bit too contrasty and textural.
It could also be that it's just too blue for my tastes.

Left large chunk swapped dark-blue for dark-grey (lessens blueness but doesn't increase intensity so much and might also help tie ice to rock).
Right large chunk what I originally meant.

Offline happymonster

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (or another 16-color mockup)

Reply #21 on: December 15, 2007, 11:40:46 am
Here's my take on it (left), a darker version that uses a grey colour scheme while keeping most of the detail:

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #22 on: June 30, 2010, 01:03:03 pm
It's been a while (actually, I had no idea it had been this long :crazy:), but I'm still working on this. I've had a lot of practice working with limited palettes in cramped spaces, so now I have a much better grasp of this palette as well.

I've decided to stick with rocks for tiles, but I'm going to try to add some variation with crystals, bones and the like. I might still need to adjust the tile crystals a bit for consistency.





Some of the items are supposed to be dark, but that also makes them harder to spot. My solution for now is to put them in open, uncluttered areas with a brighter backdrop. I've experimented with adding a cyan outline, but I would prefer a consistent style for all the crystals.



What do you think? ;D

Offline skamocore

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #23 on: June 30, 2010, 02:43:10 pm
Awesome that you're working on this again :yay: I love this mockup. It really shows how awesome the EGA palette can be when placed in capable hands (Actually, I think a lot of it comes down to responsible use of magenta...:P) Those shining crystals look great and I love the font.

But perhaps the text should be placed over some sort of background?
Maybe blacken the inside of the big monster's mouth, that would give it a bit more depth.
Also, have you considered using dark red for the stalagmites/tites? I think that could possibly push them into the background a bit more. Right now there's just a lot of blue going on.

Offline EvilEye

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #24 on: June 30, 2010, 06:56:35 pm
Couldn't you change the EGA palette? I know it was like 16 colors but I thought you could change those 16 colors.

Looks really nice nevertheless. The rock platforms are impressive.

I think you should break up the straight lines on the waterfalls, the straight edges are killing them.

Offline Mathias

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #25 on: June 30, 2010, 07:19:22 pm
Wow, time machine thread!

Looks awesome, Arachne. I was just thinking about you the other day wondering where you'd wandered off to, coincidentily.

Yes, EvilEye, it's a rather large 64 color palette. See an old but not yet extinct thread of mine to the see the palette. It's in the OP there. So, there are options.

Offline Ninja Crow

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #26 on: June 30, 2010, 08:00:29 pm
Hi, I'm glad you posted some updates for this, because I've never seen it before, and it's really terrific!
I love how well you've used the palette (and even if you could change it, the restricted colours do seem to be challenging your creativity - and you are winning!).
I do like the rock tiles over the ice, if you can only have one or the other, but when I saw the ice, I assumed it would be from a second area.
If this underground world has relics in it, suggesting a lost civilisation, then it would be cool to have squares of cut stone, and leftover bits of wooden structures to also 'break up' the rock tiles.  Maybe carved faces, also?
I think the cyan outline looks fine, but if it isn't subtle enough, how hard would it be to make it fade in and out like a soft glow (stepping through darker colours, rather than an alpha, I assume)?
I've been staring at the reflection animation for your crystals with unblinking appreciation - it's amazing!  And is that a little page to fit into the diary - does it have game hints and story-advancing clues?  I wouldn't be able to wait to collect them, even over treasure!
Are you still going to have coins?  I think a stamped image in the center like an eagle or a fish would help them look flat (especially if they had a raised edge).
Is this going to be a mockup, or a working game? (looks pretty convincing atm!)
I like the idea of the alternate layer you showed in this post, which really gave a suggestion of depth and intricacy.

This not only looks really cool, it's also a great concept overall - I can't wait to see more! :)

Offline ptoing

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #27 on: June 30, 2010, 08:37:29 pm
So, there are options.

Kinda. If you use the 640x350 resolution you can use 16 out of the 64 222 RGB colours. If you use the CGA resolutions 640x200 or 320x200 (which most people did) you are tied to the original 16 CGA colours, but you can use them all at once with EGA.

Actually I am not entirely sure. I just checked Wikipedia and the German and English entries kinda contradict each other here. Tho I personally never have seen ANY 320x200 game with other colours than the CGA ones and I see no reason why no one would have used it if it was possible to change colours. It would have allowed for much more varied gfx, esp if you change stuff per scene in an adventure game or something.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2010, 08:42:44 pm by ptoing »
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline skamocore

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #28 on: June 30, 2010, 09:10:43 pm
So, there are options.

Kinda. If you use the 640x350 resolution you can use 16 out of the 64 222 RGB colours. If you use the CGA resolutions 640x200 or 320x200 (which most people did) you are tied to the original 16 CGA colours, but you can use them all at once with EGA.

Actually I am not entirely sure. I just checked Wikipedia and the German and English entries kinda contradict each other here. Tho I personally never have seen ANY 320x200 game with other colours than the CGA ones and I see no reason why no one would have used it if it was possible to change colours. It would have allowed for much more varied gfx, esp if you change stuff per scene in an adventure game or something.

Well actual CGA games almost *always* used the default black as the 4th colour (in fact it seems like most CGA games just used the magenta, cyan, 'dark white' and black palette) even though it was possible to pick any colour out of the available 16. And I would say that many games would definitely have benefited from using a colour other than black. So just because they didn't use other colours doesn't mean they couldn't. Anyway, in terms of this piece, I think it would ruin it anyway, if she could all of a sudden choose from another 48 colours.

Offline Helm

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #29 on: June 30, 2010, 10:43:58 pm
keep in mind IBM compatibility was paramount for the people making those programs.

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #30 on: July 03, 2010, 03:19:32 pm
Thanks for the feedback, guys. ;D

As far as the palette goes, I don't really want to change it since the CGA colors is what I associate with games back then. I was mainly wondering what I could do with the same palette.

I think you should break up the straight lines on the waterfalls, the straight edges are killing them.

Yeah, I was hoping the sparkly effect would hide the straightness a bit.

But perhaps the text should be placed over some sort of background?
Maybe blacken the inside of the big monster's mouth, that would give it a bit more depth.
Also, have you considered using dark red for the stalagmites/tites? I think that could possibly push them into the background a bit more. Right now there's just a lot of blue going on.

I tried the red for the cave background, but the dark blue is currently the darkest color in the palette, so anything brighter adds to the contrast, making it busier. The contrast in hue between the foreground and background was also a bit too harsh. I don't really mind the blue. It makes the cave seem cold and it also serves as a nice background for the text since the yellow really pops out against the blue.

If this underground world has relics in it, suggesting a lost civilisation, then it would be cool to have squares of cut stone, and leftover bits of wooden structures to also 'break up' the rock tiles.  Maybe carved faces, also?
I think the cyan outline looks fine, but if it isn't subtle enough, how hard would it be to make it fade in and out like a soft glow (stepping through darker colours, rather than an alpha, I assume)?
I've been staring at the reflection animation for your crystals with unblinking appreciation - it's amazing!  And is that a little page to fit into the diary - does it have game hints and story-advancing clues?  I wouldn't be able to wait to collect them, even over treasure!
Are you still going to have coins?  I think a stamped image in the center like an eagle or a fish would help them look flat (especially if they had a raised edge).
Is this going to be a mockup, or a working game? (looks pretty convincing atm!)
I like the idea of the alternate layer you showed in this post, which really gave a suggestion of depth and intricacy.

I'll try to come up with some carved, ornamental tiles. I won't keep the coins, since there's no need for currency in the game (i.e. no shops). I also decided to go with a neolithic culture, which rules out metalworking. I can try to add another layer to the background, but with statues or something like that, but I've so far found it difficult to make an additional layer subtle enough with the current palette.

As far as diary pages goes, I was thinking I'd try to combine the story with a tutorial. The pages will describe the discoveries of an anthropologist lost in the caves, but they'll be found out of order so that the items are explained before you find them. The pages that only contain information related to the story will be scattered a bit more, so I guess it would be a little quest in itself to find them all and combine them.

I don't know if it'll actually turn into a game at some point, though. I need to figure out more of the gameplay before I start thinking about actually making something out of it. I also want to give the ecology of the game a bit more thought to make it seem both consistent and sufficiently varied. I'll keep the current monsters, but I think I might need to make them a little bigger.

I like the glow suggestion, so I'll experiment with some kind of glow or sparkle effect. Maybe I'll do something similar to the reflections in the crystals for the other items as well. As a digression, making that animation was a straightforward procedure, so I thought I'd explain how I went about it.



1) First I colored in all of a crystal's planes with each color indicating a similarly angled plane.
2) Then I decided which direction the light would move in (horizontally, in this case). I indicated the planes I'd use for the animation with white and light green going from one side to the other.
3) I made a palette swapped version of the crystal so that the colors were roughly halfway between the original and pure white.
4) I used the image from step 2 as a mask to isolate the brighter planes while leaving the white from step 3.
5) Then I put the resulting brighter and white parts on top of the original crystal.
After that, I tweaked the individual frames a little so that the edges wouldn't be too sharp and to make sure the animation would be smooth.



Here's an attempt to soften the edges of the waterfalls, and also text with a background. The page looks a little crude right now, so I'll try to polish it a bit more and experiment with the colors. It does block more of the player's view this way. I'd rather not freeze the game while the text is displayed since I've always found that jarring, but now it's a bit more obvious where the text is coming from at least.

Offline Olothontor

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #31 on: July 03, 2010, 03:34:04 pm
The dirty journal entry approach to the in-game text is great, stick with it, but it could stand to be smaller, since currently if you jumped your character would disappear behind it, and that's potentially even more jarring than a pause to completely lose sight of your character. Just a thought.

"In a mad world, only the mad are sane." - Akira Kurosawa

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #32 on: July 03, 2010, 05:08:52 pm
True. I guess I haven't really thought about this practically enough. I could do something like put a little icon in a corner of the screen after a page has been picked up, and then the player can press a key to read it.



Better now?

Offline Helm

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #33 on: July 03, 2010, 08:11:47 pm
A suggestion is to leave the new pages on-screen in the background when the player selects them (and if they press the key for journal they dismiss them) but don't pause the game, so people can platform and read at the same time.

Offline Olothontor

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #34 on: July 03, 2010, 11:21:22 pm
Much better. And Helm's idea sounds great, and I think could add to the feel of the game if done right.

Really awesome progress so far. Mockups are always so disappointing, though, because I always want to play them :/
"In a mad world, only the mad are sane." - Akira Kurosawa

Offline PypeBros

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #35 on: July 04, 2010, 12:47:49 pm
True. I guess I haven't really thought about this practically enough. I could do something like put a little icon in a corner of the screen after a page has been picked up, and then the player can press a key to read it.

Yay! My favourite spelunker is back!
I like the idea of "some bonus being harder to read against the background because they're supposed to be rarest, highest valued and require more attention from the player to spot them. The sparkling of the jewels is imho way preferable to outlines, though I find your animation posted on June, 30th a little too slow for that purpose.

Introducing the ancient civilisation and the lost journal promises a terrific quest ... I'm not so convinced of the greyish journal compared to the golden letters, anyway. Tyrian had a nice approach of "data cubes" that you could collect in-game and read inter-mission ... vvvvvvv had the exact opposite approach of short-sentences hints (log entries) that were shown onscreen when platforming, possibly without pausing the action. Tyrian is action-oriented while vvvvvv is exploration-oriented, I guess depending on the core gameplay of your project, the best approach would change.

HTH. Keep it up !

Offline Ninja Crow

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #36 on: July 04, 2010, 08:24:44 pm
I love the little sparkles, but forgot to mention them - they're cool!

I also like what you did with the waterfall edges.

I also really like your crystal animation mini-tute - very clever process!

I assumed when the letters were gold that it was narration or the player character's own thoughts.  When you put the page behind, I realised that it was the words of the lost anthropologist (which is a terrific idea - not only does it add character, it alludes all the way back to Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth!). The gold letter effect is cool and moody, and if I had picked up a page, and clicked a button to read it, and the letters appeared, I would have had no issues whatsoever with understanding that the words came from the page.
I like your idea of having an icon appear up in the corner of the screen that would show that you have an unread page (that way the player is always in charge of when the action pauses).  But if the pages only hold a short gameplay hint, especially if context sensitive, they maybe should pop open automatically.
As for making them look like they are on a page, I think the idea is cool, but it is too jarring to pick up an icon that looks like a page and then see an object that looks like a torn strip from a page.  Any way to make the two more equal? (e.g. blurred top and bottom edges to suggest that only part of it is being seen?)

A background layer probably should be quite subtle, to prevent your focus from shifting from the foreground, but I don't know if a midground layer has to be too subtle because the drama created from the occasional sudden pass-by of near objects adds a sense of depth, as well as visual interest (such as a shipwreck coming into view on an otherwise flat seafloor).  The trick would probably be to have the midlayer be sparsely populated (just the occasional statue, say, as in a game with a city level having a lamppost or a tree scroll by).

Gulp - bigger monsters?

As for game play, is puzzle platformer too cliche? When not a straight Sonic or Mario experience, my favourite excuse to move a character across a screen is surely epitomised by the GBA game, 'Klonoa: Empire of Dreams'.  A jumping block-puzzle game would seem a perfect fit with the keys and idols and so on that you've shown so far. And lots of exploration and collecting, please!

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #37 on: July 07, 2010, 06:32:10 pm
A suggestion is to leave the new pages on-screen in the background when the player selects them (and if they press the key for journal they dismiss them) but don't pause the game, so people can platform and read at the same time.

I think that's a good idea.

I like the idea of "some bonus being harder to read against the background because they're supposed to be rarest, highest valued and require more attention from the player to spot them. The sparkling of the jewels is imho way preferable to outlines, though I find your animation posted on June, 30th a little too slow for that purpose.

I was thinking about making the crystals reflect based on movement, since the light source will have to move relative to the camera to get that effect, but I'll have to see that in motion before I decide on anything. If the point is to make them visible, only making them change when everything else is also in motion might not work very well.

As for making them look like they are on a page, I think the idea is cool, but it is too jarring to pick up an icon that looks like a page and then see an object that looks like a torn strip from a page.  Any way to make the two more equal? (e.g. blurred top and bottom edges to suggest that only part of it is being seen?)

Yeah, I think I'll have to try to find a way to indicate multiple pages. I think I'll need both the pages and the yellow text. The gray for journal pages and the yellow text for internal thoughts.

There will be few puzzles. It'll mainly be basic lock/key, and should be designed to minimize backtracking, i.e. you find the keys first, then the doors. There will be a few categories of things to gather, so I hope there will be enough to do without puzzles.

The main challenge right now is to flesh out the story and tie gameplay and story together. Once I've straightened that out, I'll need to come up with a few incentives to get the player to play the game the way I want. I want to avoid simply forcing the player to do that by introducing arbitrary rules. I might go into more detail once the gameplay is a little clearer to me.

I tried to make statues that were just larger versions of the little idols, but I think they'll have to be more detailed than that. I'm sketching out some detailed designs for the shamans of this ancient culture, and then I'll stylize them to make the statues.

In the meantime, I gave the title screen a shot. I ended up with something much less action-filled than my initial ideas. I first made a much larger sketch, then shrunk it down and grappled with color reduction. I tried to fix the shoulder, but I'm feeling fairly clueless about the whole neck area. I left some room for the title, but I need to decide on a font style first.


This is... going to take some work. :crazy:

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #38 on: July 17, 2010, 07:23:02 pm
I haven't done any big pixel pieces in quite a while, so I decided to finish this before getting back to the mockups. It still needs the title text, but I thought I'd post the scene itself first. What do you think?


Helmet light ref
Skull ref

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #39 on: July 17, 2010, 07:51:38 pm
<3 this all so much. Makes me think of the cave levels in Cosmo's cosmic adventure. Or maybe it was some other game I'm thinking of. Anyway! I like the title screen, but I think the hand that is flat on the ground looks very round and flat, more like a thick pancake with fingers painted on it than an actual glove. Probably just a bit more detailing in that area would help a lot, maybe shorten the little finger and ring finger a bit. I'm also having a lot of trouble telling what exactly the big cyan things in the background are... Everything else is looking really great though!

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #40 on: July 17, 2010, 08:09:49 pm
Wonderful effort so far.

What are the cyan things in the water? Are they some kind of squiddy lifeforms? The leftmost large one is very ambiguous and just looks like a blob to me. Oh. . . and that's a trail of insects headed his way. He's too calm looking for being in a life or death situation.
Aye yaiyai I just realized that's a knife, not a little flashlight in his hand, too. IMO, some readability issues are present.

But what about the overall composition, how will the logo and title screen options integrate?

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #41 on: July 18, 2010, 06:12:04 pm
I haven't done any big pixel pieces in quite a while, so I decided to finish this before getting back to the mockups. It still needs the title text, but I thought I'd post the scene itself first. What do you think?


Helmet light ref
Skull ref


you know what would look great?
conserving the 8x8 4 colors pallet limitation. Something like this:

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #42 on: July 18, 2010, 07:40:30 pm
Just for the fun of it? EGA has no 8x8 block 4 colour limit. It's just the palette.
I don't think it adds anything.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #43 on: July 19, 2010, 12:27:43 pm
Nice mockup !
I did a quick edit for the character proportions, his arm is really small compared to the head, but it can be style you want to convey. Also the knife is confusing, I will work more on it this evening.

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #44 on: July 19, 2010, 09:48:57 pm
I didn't even notice the knife before the edit, so that's bad I guess, but the deformed proportions hint back at the in-game sprites which is very cool.

Also, while on the issue of readability... it's already a bit mind bending to have to make out the fact that the ghosts in the background are actually three headed ghosts and not three separate ghosts, so when you blend two of those together in the foreground... I'm sorry, but it just becomes a mess. I thought he was attacked by a jellyfish/octupus.

But overall, I've never seen the EGA palette look this good. In fact, I've always despised it, but now I may have to reconsider.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2010, 09:52:49 pm by eobet »

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #45 on: July 20, 2010, 05:19:07 am
I was thinking about making the crystals reflect based on movement, since the light source will have to move relative to the camera to get that effect, but I'll have to see that in motion before I decide on anything. If the point is to make them visible, only making them change when everything else is also in motion might not work very well.
Yeah, I like this idea. It's easy enough to implement (see also: those player-tracking eyeballs devs loved to stick in their games in the early-mid 90s) and makes sense since the player has that light on his head. They could shift relative to glowing enemies too, acting sort of like an enemy sensor. Hey, Out of this World did it.

As for the drab paper, have you tried something like dithering the gray with a color like yellow for a faded notebook look? You can play with the pattern a bit for texturing, add yellow/white/gray lines for creases, etc. My quick attempt:

(compare to )

I experimented a bit with the text to see what was most legible on that background. Gray outlines were too much, but a simple gray drop shadow to the right or left works nicely. Nice pixel font, by the way.

If that's too strong, you could try 1/4 tone dithering, or cyan or blue dithering maybe.

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #46 on: July 20, 2010, 05:45:16 am
I would keep a solid yellow background for the notebook paper. It brings the plane forward to the player's attention. The dither can interfere with the handwritten font.

I do notice a slight discrepancy in narrative tone between the title picture and the in-game graphics. The sample message content further contributes to the dichotomy of registers. It's hard for me to imagine this cute little lemming guy struggling to survive in a world of sparkling crystals and cartoony worms.

Don't get me wrong, I love what you've done and they way it evokes a game in my head. It makes me so nostalgic, but I know my old favorite games don't look this polished and pixel-perfect.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2010, 05:49:18 am by big brother »

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #47 on: July 29, 2010, 12:56:55 pm
Thanks for all the kind words. ;D



I hope the glove and knife look better now.

The cyan creatures will be an important part of the story. They are ghostlike, so I thought I'd try to convey that by making them vary a bit in shape, but I can see how that can be a little confusing out of context. I tried to divide the one in the foreground into two creatures to make their designs more uniform, so I hope that helps.



Here's a rough mockup of how they might appear in-game, although I'm not happy about having such large areas of uniform color next to the much more detailed sprites and tiles.

Oh. . . and that's a trail of insects headed his way. He's too calm looking for being in a life or death situation.

If I can make it work, death should be a minor hindrance. He'll find items that can resurrect him, and he must use this to resurrect others who have died in the caves.

Quote
But what about the overall composition, how will the logo and title screen options integrate?

I'll try to put the title in next. Initially, I named it Endless Cavern, but later changed it to Crystal Blast. The latter doesn't really fit the mood as it is, so I think I'll go back to using Endless Cavern. Title screen options might be a bit more tricky to fit in there, now that you mention it, but I'll see how it turns out.

I did a quick edit for the character proportions, his arm is really small compared to the head, but it can be style you want to convey.

I don't see the problem with the proportions. Maybe it's the helmet making his head look big? I'm gauging his upper arm to be roughly 1 heads long and the lower arm plus hand a little less than 2 heads, which seems reasonable to me.

I would keep a solid yellow background for the notebook paper. It brings the plane forward to the player's attention. The dither can interfere with the handwritten font.

I like the idea of yellowed paper, but I think a sudden change from the dark colors of the background to light yellow is a bit too harsh, personally.




I think I found a way to make the items pop out a bit more by adding a bit of red to them. I also made some changes to the player character to make the helmet look more like a helmet and moved his shoulder up a little.


Quote
I do notice a slight discrepancy in narrative tone between the title picture and the in-game graphics. The sample message content further contributes to the dichotomy of registers. It's hard for me to imagine this cute little lemming guy struggling to survive in a world of sparkling crystals and cartoony worms.

I agree. I didn't have a story in mind when I started making mockups for this, since I just wanted to draw something that had the style of old DOS games. Then I decided I needed a story in order to make the world more consistent, but I don't really feel able to write lighthearted stories.

With moves like this, there's a bit more than a slight discrepancy. :D

A larger character sprite would allow for a more realistic approach, I think, but that would also mean more time spent on the animations, and I fear that would take some of the fun out of it for me since I don't really like animating that much.

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #48 on: July 29, 2010, 01:09:20 pm


I wanted to congratulate you on the beautiful clusters in this little item. Tight, seamless. I tried to move some stuff around and it made it only worse. It's truly a valuable compromise between spaces you wanted to represent and visual fidelity.

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #49 on: July 29, 2010, 08:53:59 pm
The cyan creatures did read like ghosts to me, but unless my eyes are playing tricks, then in your excellent title screen they appear to be a reasonable 1.5 to 2x the height of a human character (i.e. just right for a monstrous creature with an emphasis on a hazy, stretched aspect because of their temporal nature).  But in the game mock-up, they're 20 or 30 times as tall.  I don't know if this discrepancy is contributing to your discomfort, but I wonder if these creatures would look better if they were pixelled to be about the size of a large boss, rather than something the size of a background layer.

Oh, and the glove and knife look great!

I also really like what you said about his attitude in the title screen, and had to think (maybe for the first time?) that 'hey, that's right, what would it be like for a person if things like video game rules could actually inform their world view?' - so thanks for that, it's exciting and stimulating to explore!

I also love that he can resurrect earlier explorers - adds a lot of heroism and potential story depth (it's not all just about grabbing as much loot as possible) as well as opportunities to reveal plot details ("here's the key to the next cavern - I couldn't make it but maybe you can...").

I do like 'Endless Cavern', though I think the reason you might have tried to change it is because - despite how it rolls off the tongue - it lacks a good verb for pep (or at least a more descriptive noun) and so 'Crystal Blast' must have sounded very exciting in comparison, but maybe began to feel too exciting (like it was supposed to be some kind of high-energy Columns or Tetris clone...).  At the risk of suggesting something that sounds too comical and throw away, would 'Crystal Caverns' be too alliterative for you?  Then there's also 'Phantom Caverns', 'Crystal Depths', 'Ancient Caves', 'Adventure Mine', 'The Under World', 'Caverns of the Dead', or many other possibilities and combinations of possibilities.  (though I doubt any of this is much better than 'Endless Cavern'. :-[)

I saw no problems with the proportions on the title screen - it was very convincing!  (to be fair though, I do often underestimate just how long a forearm can be, so maybe you can try the pose in a mirror and that may be the only evidence you need.)

I like your heart container!  And your new sprite helmet looks very realistic (though it obscures that cute, wide-eyed expression a bit).

Quote from: Arachne on July 29, 2010, 06:56:55 AM
With moves like this, there's a bit more than a slight discrepancy.

A discontinuity between game art and sprites is - historically - pretty much par for the course.  Maybe even an expected feature if you want to rekindle memories of playing classic games.  For me, a realistic art plate or title screen creates the conceptual coolness for helping me take the game seriously, while the game-friendly sprites add the cuteness that helps me become attached to the game emotionally (this is a way to say 'fall in love with' without sounding too corny...).  This is the kind of cognitive dissonance I can live with!

Offline buddy90

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #50 on: July 30, 2010, 12:22:07 am
Every time I check this thread I wish this game was real. I so want to play it.

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #51 on: July 30, 2010, 05:31:15 am
Like hte previous poster I just wanna gush over how much I love these mockups, especially the title screen. I love how you've captured that monsters in the dark vibe

Also, so I'm not completely useless, I did a quick edit on the suicide animation to add highlighting outlining to the dagger so it's more obvious hte throat is being slit and I added some frames so hte guy wobble on his knees before falling completely to the ground.

« Last Edit: August 01, 2010, 01:16:53 am by crab2selout.png »

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #52 on: July 31, 2010, 03:33:53 pm

With moves like this, there's a bit more than a slight discrepancy. :D

Again, rather difficult to read what's going on... how about a small fountain of blood? I bet you can make it cute as well. :)

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #53 on: August 02, 2010, 05:41:44 am
Just a small edit on the bottom of the rocks. I thought they were a bit too noisy.

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #54 on: August 10, 2010, 09:49:59 pm
Glad to hear all the polishing is paying off. ;D

The cyan creatures did read like ghosts to me, but unless my eyes are playing tricks, then in your excellent title screen they appear to be a reasonable 1.5 to 2x the height of a human character (i.e. just right for a monstrous creature with an emphasis on a hazy, stretched aspect because of their temporal nature).  But in the game mock-up, they're 20 or 30 times as tall.  I don't know if this discrepancy is contributing to your discomfort, but I wonder if these creatures would look better if they were pixelled to be about the size of a large boss, rather than something the size of a background layer.

Oh, good point. I hadn't thought about that at all.

Quote
I do like 'Endless Cavern', though I think the reason you might have tried to change it is because - despite how it rolls off the tongue - it lacks a good verb for pep (or at least a more descriptive noun) and so 'Crystal Blast' must have sounded very exciting in comparison, but maybe began to feel too exciting (like it was supposed to be some kind of high-energy Columns or Tetris clone...).  At the risk of suggesting something that sounds too comical and throw away, would 'Crystal Caverns' be too alliterative for you?  Then there's also 'Phantom Caverns', 'Crystal Depths', 'Ancient Caves', 'Adventure Mine', 'The Under World', 'Caverns of the Dead', or many other possibilities and combinations of possibilities.  (though I doubt any of this is much better than 'Endless Cavern'. :-[)

Crystal Caverns is a bit too much like Crystal Caves, I think. I really like Crystal Depths, but I think it would be nice for something more arcade-oriented, like a Mr. Driller type of game.



Here's the title screen for now, with both title and menu.

Also, so I'm not completely useless, I did a quick edit on the suicide animation to add highlighting outlining to the dagger so it's more obvious hte throat is being slit and I added some frames so hte guy wobble on his knees before falling completely to the ground.


That's a huge improvement. ;D



How's this? Personally, I prefer it without the fountain. Also, magically disappearing knife. I might get to that later.

Just a small edit on the bottom of the rocks. I thought they were a bit too noisy.

Yeah, that looks good. The tiles need some work in other areas as well, so I'll see what I can do. :)


Here are some spelunkers. The player will have to fight spelunkers with backpacks, so I might have to change some of them so they can't be mistaken for the player sprite, at least the one with the pink crystal.




I also ended up changing the skull symbols a bit to make them look more menacing. The skulls are grave indicators, by the way. The contents may or may not be friendly.

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #55 on: August 11, 2010, 06:47:50 am
I thnk hte less blood version looks best. It gets the point across and the blood splurt version is a little too comical. Just delay the dimming of the miners eyes a few frames so that he closes them as he falls and... perfect.

You might try playing with the size of the helmet light to make these mining helmets seems more distinct.

I love the speculars on the miner's helmet in the title screen shot, especially the main white spec. I find each time I look at these pics there's always something new to appreciate.

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #56 on: August 13, 2010, 08:58:21 pm
This looks wonderful! I'm so happy you're still pixelling!  ;D

A few things to say about the title screen:
The caver's attitude is not that obvious (not that it should necessarily be from the viewers side, but maybe some problems you have/had with him are related): is he laying in shallow water, or standing in deeper water, or clinging on a ledge over even deeper water? Is he motionless, or actively trying to climb out?
Is he aware of the ghosts behind him?

The floor is very even for a cave. Quite possibly you don't want it to become too busy. Anyhow, a few links won't hurt [1] [2] [3] [4] (not all show lakes, rather typical uneven cave floors; I thought it would be easier to find good caving pics).

The main light should come from the guy's headlamp (and some from the ghosts), but it doesn't look like the lamp is on, and there seems instead to be some foreground source of light (reflecting on the helmet). It might look more dramatic to have most of the fg lit by the headlamp. Btw, did you consider acetylene caving lamps? (sorry for the lousy image and details, it's the best I could find!)

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Re: [WIP] Curse of the Caves (EGA DOS game)

Reply #57 on: February 15, 2011, 03:30:56 pm

Hey, guys! ;D I haven't had much spare time lately, but I'm still working on this whenever I can.

I have a programmer helping me with it now, and we've chosen DOS as our platform. It's going to be a little more limited by that, but it's also going to feel more nostalgic, and (thanks to Dosbox) it'll be cross-platform as well.

The engine is running nicely in EGA mode on an old 486 at the moment. :D



Firstly, I finally came up with a title I think fits better. The old one looked a bit crowded with all those letters, so I think that's better in this one, and it's also alliterative like its spiritual predecessor.



Here's a concept sketch for the new worm monster and the new worm sprites. I wanted something a little more menacing and thought through with regards to movement. They stand out more than the old sprites without the pink. That shift towards blue made them look more like they belonged there, so I'm wondering if I should try to squeeze a little bit of pink in there at some point. I also changed the darkest skull so that it looks less flat.



Here are the new insect sprites.



I drew new weapon icons to make them more distinct. Shield (stun), arrowhead (damage), heart (healing to player, damage to enemies) and broken heart (damage to player, massive damage to enemies). I liked the idea of a broken crystal having an effect very different from the intended.

I also added a tiny bit of rock to the ammo crystals so that they looked more like they were attached to something. I don't think it adds much to the first two, though.

The skulls are meant to be bronze, silver and gold, which I found a bit difficult to convey in EGA colors. I was thinking I could use them for a level statistics screen or something.



Here's a screenshot with some new tiles. I added a bit more black to the underside of some of the old ones, like Faceless suggested, and I think it adds a bit of depth. However, I still think the rock tiles look flat, but I hope the addition of brighter skeletons towards the center make them pop out a little more. I'm also thinking about drawing some even bigger skeletons for larger sections of solid rock. I didn't want to just keep adding more crystals since I want the crystal items to stand out next to the tiles. On the other hand, it's all very gray at the moment, so I think a minimum of color is needed.

A few things to say about the title screen:
The caver's attitude is not that obvious (not that it should necessarily be from the viewers side, but maybe some problems you have/had with him are related): is he laying in shallow water, or standing in deeper water, or clinging on a ledge over even deeper water? Is he motionless, or actively trying to climb out?
Is he aware of the ghosts behind him?

I wanted it to look like he's clinging to the ledge in deep water, exhausted and trying to catch his breath. As for whether or not he's aware of the creatures, I don't know if it would change much. He knows his death will be unpleasant, but he should know it's not permanent at that point since he should have the means of resurrecting himself.

Quote
The floor is very even for a cave. Quite possibly you don't want it to become too busy. Anyhow, a few links won't hurt [1] [2] [3] [4] (not all show lakes, rather typical uneven cave floors; I thought it would be easier to find good caving pics).

I agree that it looks a bit odd to have flat cave floor like that. It would be better to have mainly square tiles as far as drawing to screen goes, but that wouldn't look very natural in a cave setting. I've tried to vary the edge colors a bit, but I'll try to make some of the tiles a little more uneven to see how it looks.

Quote
The main light should come from the guy's headlamp (and some from the ghosts), but it doesn't look like the lamp is on, and there seems instead to be some foreground source of light (reflecting on the helmet). It might look more dramatic to have most of the fg lit by the headlamp. Btw, did you consider acetylene caving lamps? (sorry for the lousy image and details, it's the best I could find!)

I think it would be easier to make something dark and dramatic if I had more subtler, dark shades for details. I don't know how effective such a modification would be at the moment, but I could experiment a little when I have time. At the very least, I'll see if I can add some light from his headlamp on the cave floor in front of him, as it seems strangely ineffective as it is.

The old fashioned lamp is interesting. I'll keep that in mind for the other spelunkers. :)

Offline Stratto

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Re: [WIP] Curse of the Caves (EGA DOS game)

Reply #58 on: February 15, 2011, 11:48:01 pm
Quote
The skulls are meant to be bronze, silver and gold, which I found a bit difficult to convey in EGA colors.

Hi arachne
I hope you don't mind, but I took a shot at the skulls you're working on:

The metals were definitely a challenge, gold being the most difficult mainly because of that annoying pink/orange. I think the gold one was the worst.
 On the silver skull, I took out a lot of the blue hues which made it look a lot colder and icier (unless that's what you were going for.)
I also changed the width of the skulls, since I thought they were a bit too chubby.

They might not be excellent, but I hope this helps. good luck  :y:

EDIT: after a few iterations, I managed to get this:

the only downside is dithering, which may take away the smoothness of gold.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2011, 02:39:03 am by Stratto »

Offline xegnma

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Re: [WIP] Curse of the Caves (EGA DOS game)

Reply #59 on: February 17, 2011, 03:41:45 am
If you ever want to do a flash port of this project, i'd be more than willing to help(i'm a flash developer). Hell I can even help with the pixel art if need be (big EGA fan).

Offline Gamer36

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Re: [WIP] Curse of the Caves (EGA DOS game)

Reply #60 on: February 19, 2011, 09:12:41 am
You haven't worked on it for a while but, I though I'd bring it up. The ice tile, when it was dark in looked more like a gemstone-ish thing and when you gave it the lighter color it looked MUCH better.
If you ever want to do a flash port of this project, i'd be more than willing to help(i'm a flash developer). Hell I can even help with the pixel art if need be (big EGA fan).


I would love a game like this, great concept but, I don't really see the ghost things fitting in, they look like they are more part of the background. If the player is supposed to fight them or something then they should be smaller, but not too small so they are the same size as the player.
Pixel Art, what (mostly) all of us are here for.

Offline xegnma

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Re: [WIP] Curse of the Caves (EGA DOS game)

Reply #61 on: February 22, 2011, 05:04:57 pm
Any details about gameplay?

Offline xegnma

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Re: [WIP] Curse of the Caves (EGA DOS game)

Reply #62 on: March 22, 2011, 06:07:09 pm
*BUMP* :D

@arachne: So...any progress. If not, would you mind terribly if I were to whip together a flash demo using your sprites...

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Curse of the Caves (EGA DOS game)

Reply #63 on: March 28, 2011, 07:04:49 pm
Hey, guys, sorry about the delay! D:

Diary pages have been implemented, but mainly for testing purposes at the moment.



I'm trying to limit the diary pages to six lines per sheet and two sheets max per entry. I think some slightly wider margins would be nice, and I haven't updated the kerning pairs yet, but that should give you an idea of how big they'll be at most, contentwise. Next, we'll have to see what it looks like when displayed in the background.

Edit:



/edit



This is for the dual page entries. I thought I'd try something a little more natural than some kind of indicator icon. Think it reads well enough?

I hope you don't mind, but I took a shot at the skulls you're working on:

The metals were definitely a challenge, gold being the most difficult mainly because of that annoying pink/orange. I think the gold one was the worst.
 On the silver skull, I took out a lot of the blue hues which made it look a lot colder and icier (unless that's what you were going for.)
I also changed the width of the skulls, since I thought they were a bit too chubby.

They might not be excellent, but I hope this helps. good luck  :y:

EDIT: after a few iterations, I managed to get this:

the only downside is dithering, which may take away the smoothness of gold.

Hey, thanks! I used the tiny skulls as bases, and that made them a little too square. Narrower is definitely better, and I agree the silver skull was too blue to look metallic. I also agree that dithering  should be avoided for smooth surfaces.



How's this?

If you ever want to do a flash port of this project, i'd be more than willing to help(i'm a flash developer). Hell I can even help with the pixel art if need be (big EGA fan).

Thanks for the offer, but I think we're pretty far away from even considering ports at this stage. At the moment, the restrictions on the engine make sense since we simply can't do it any other way. If we'd gone with Java, like our initial prototype (or any other, less limited platform), it would have turned into a completely different game. My main concern as far as graphics go, is that it's going to be difficult to combine the EGA palette and realism to get something that doesn't look drab, but at least now the limitations serve a purpose. As far as the engine goes, I imagine we'll be cutting back on features and simplifying a lot to squeeze into the target system specs. I think a flash game with the same restrictions would seem a bit crippled, so I don't really think a port is a good idea, personally.

If you want some graphics to play with, here and here I have some far less limited Creative Commons art you can use, although the tile sets are a little unwieldy. Otherwise, I don't mind if you play around with the stuff in this thread.

Any details about gameplay?

We have a general idea of where we want to take it, but we're still in the planning stage as far as gameplay goes. The trickiest part is going to be meeting the performance requirements, so I don't really know what's feasible at this stage.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2011, 03:00:49 pm by Arachne »