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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Battle Gem Ponies DevLog #176 (Summer Makeover)

     Notice a bit of a facelift? I worked on some of the Ultra Pony designs this week, just filling in those gaps in design I was drawing a blank on for the longest while. Now I can say I'm satisfied with how everypony looks and can clearly see them animated in my head.

     Actually animating the sprites is a step to come much later in development, but I can roll with these for now. 

I kinda just needed to stop and think about what basic pieces to the silhouettes were missing.
Everything I do is for reactions like this.

  • Notes on Ultra Pony Sprite Redesigns
  • Improved Ultra Sprites
  • This Code Snippet for Grid Movement by Eric Haines Got Me on the Right Path
  • This Helpful Video Showed Me How To Bypass That Annoying Tile Tearing Effect
  • Bought Super Tilemap Editor
  • New Grid-Based Movement System (no more stuttering followers or weird collision detection!)
  • 2D Toolkit Broke Somehow, So Those Title Screen Assets Were Converted to Standard Unity Sprite Renderers
  • New Tile Sheet Pipeline (more organized and quick to tweak them)
  • Created More Tile Animations
  • Studied New Unity Prefab Workflows
I've decided to be more organized about what gets drawn onto each tilemap layer while I'm at it.

     Lessons Learned:
  • For Tilemap Sheets, ugly gaps and tearing between them while moving around can be completely removed if instead of leaving the padding between each sprite blank, you extend each sprite instead. 
  • Now I finally understand what the "Extend" parameters in the 2D Toolkit Tilemap were about. Come to think of it, why waste an entire day restructuring my thousands of tiles again when I'm sure somebody out there has made a less convoluted tile system?
  • And then I remembered a dev at Magfest recommending Super Tile Map Editor.
  • Patreon continues to save the day.
  • When doodling out designs best to go with simple geometric shapes to get the silhouette I'm looking for and pieces I know I'll be animating separately.
  • Also draw small enough to not get carried away with details.
  • Developing with the broad strokes approach (basic game loop, then build small features on top) makes each day feel way more rewarding.
Everyone is Here!

     Some of the Ultra Pony updates were more subtle, but just about everypony's had their sprite tweaked and now they all look lovely. 💘

See if you can spot the differences yourself. Here's what they used to look like: 

So the basic ideas were always there, I just felt that some finishing touches were missing.
Like I said in a post long before, some of these ponies were rushed.

      I kinda think about it like drawing something while half asleep, then waking up later to try and figure out what I meant to create.

Trying everything to figure out Tile Grid Systems again.
Different plugins, my own code, and random pieces across troubleshoot forums.
     Then onto the topic of creating a Tile Map System and Grid-Based Movement all over again. Wanting to do it right this time since my previous results had stuttering issues, tearing artifacts, and collision bugs out the wazoo. I messed with Grid Framework, Unity's new built-in Tile Map Editor, a nifty script I found linked on a forum, and I tried cleaning up and adjusting the code I had working before. 

     Nothing was giving me the clean results I was looking for. Spent about two days trying to figure this out before I remembered there was a super powerful & popular tool out there and I bet whoever made that figured all these issues out ages ago and makes bank off of it. So I looked up Super Tilemap Editor, saw it was $35 and hesitated, but then I read the reviews saying it did all the right things and then the words "it does pathfinding too" caught my eye and it was a done deal. 

It's a lifesaver I can't believe I didn't pickup sooner!
     That's another task I just KNOW was gonna take me more than a couple days because the cheap hardcoded version I put together in the last BGP Demo was a major headache to deal with. I can just reimport my tilesheets as they are one last time into this thing and paint away, all set to go. 

    So long story short, I bought a level editor. I can make the game faster now.

Neat bonus! I used to spawn a ton of overworld objects like NPCs & pickups.
With this I can just place them around like tiles and setup each one's parameters in a less messy way!
If you look at the black lines between the tiles on the right half you'll see what I mean about tearing.
My tile maps look like for for split seconds at a time when moving around.
Padding, Snaps, & Extensions can get rid of that. This plugin saves me from doing all that by hand 7,000 times.
Also, this neat brush feature smoothly connects my 9-slice (and a bunch of other kinds of) tiles.
So I just drag the brush around and it draws the appropriate corners for me.
     Exciting times as it's all coming together. Bigger and better than ever before.

    Interesting Reviews:

     Got some more noteworthy reviews for Unicorn Training I didn't put in last week's post cuz I didn't want to overdo it and flood the page with tiny app store text. I just kept finding old ones I missed and they're all fascinating to me. So many have similar requests and criticisms that I really want to execute on with the next one.

Hmm. To me it's more parody than spin-off, but the feeling gets across. It's a brony reference either way.
     There's just something so satisfying about coming across people talking about my game. Can't imagine how great it'd feel to see a forum full of folks chit-chatting about my games, making theories, speculating on what's coming out next, sharing art, and talking about what parts are their favorite and all that jazz. 

     It'd be nice...

     This image and the roster sprite collection further up both help a lot. More than ever, I can visualize the final product and picture fans latching onto each pony for different reasons. Currently, I'm right in the middle of creating some placeholder tile animation sheets, and practicing using the new map builder system so I can make some really cool stuff with ease.

     Time to bring this all together. I better have a fully functional Pinto Island again before this time next week.

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