Design and documentation journal for my interactive fiction (text games); also reviews and other miscellaneous stuff.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Moar Graphics Stuff (Grassland/Weather)

Picture courtesy of sgt fun from flickr (well, I didn't ask, but pic is under creative commons license)
Grassland graphics have been going poorly.  Trees work well as discrete objects - flowers and grass, not so much.  The impression of grass is much more important than actual individual grasses, and I keep missing stuff as I experiment.  The picture above is a good reference; it has about the same ratios as I sketched out for the border - ~1/3 of the way up is the grass line, ~1/2 -2/3 is the tree line, and 1/2-1/3 sky.

It's hard to tell from the original, but I'm guessing that's a field of false sunflowers, or something in that family.  It's really just an impression of waves, in color; I'm hoping if I get enough reference pics, I can get the feel right.  I think the front grasses might be important to give the grass a sense of height, as well; I've been layering "flower" directly over grass, and a front level might help.  Or it might not.  I guess we'll find out.

The flower bit is actually one of those bonus parts; adding it has the *potential* to improve things, but not the guarantee.  Each one of these bonus bits seems barely worth doing, but I'm finding that cumulatively, it's making the difference.  Other such inclusions have included fringes of grass, a glow on the sun, fluffy clouds, and a random bird or two. 

Especially proud of the right-hand cloud.  That is some fine water vapor there.

(Wow.  The sun does *not* look that big in Photoshop.  I think I better dial it back a bit.)

However, as of this moment, there's a moratorium on more pieces until I actually get what I've got working.  No bushes, no flowers, no piles of snow, no whimsical forest creatures - in short, no distractions from what I actually need to be doing.  This decision is made possible by storm clouds that I don't hate with a firey passion.  (It turns out that fluffy white clouds are difficult, but dark ominous storm clouds are impossible.)  The decision is made *necessary* by the three hours I spent creating various lightning layers in an attempt to procrastinate my way out of having to actually knock this thing together.

It is very pretty lightning, though.

I don't even *have* a lightning mechanic.  There is no way for the game to know if it's ever appropriate to display them.  

I am *creating* mechanics in an attempt to procrastinate on working on the game.  

(I believe a wise developer, having recognized this streak of insanity, would have dropped both the graphic and the mechanic.  That . . . was not what I did.  Now there's notes under weather to add a thunderstorm option.)

So this afternoon, Inform willing, I'm going to start layering in summer sprites.  I think it'll be easier to work backward/forward from the summer states, since most of the sprites are pretty constant then, because so many of the trees are likely to be in different spots during the spring/fall, and I'd rather look at green than white, in the case of winter.

Goals for Friday afternoon:
- have the grass layers working for summer
- have all the summer sprites for the trees imported to the canvas editor
- have a case of porter on hand, in case of emergency

I *think* the tree layering will be the most ungodly part of the process.  All the rest - the arc of the sun, the moon phases, the weather patterns - are either things I clearly can imagine the code for, or are already game mechanics.

Trees are tougher, because you've got several different species, each with 6+ layers triggered at different points, and each sprite of those species should have a *slightly* different trigger (or a random trigger within a certain range).  I *think* I know what I'm doing, but if I've messed up anywhere, it's going to be an ugly weekend.

Basically, every species (or subdivision of species - ie, there's four maples, so they each get their own line) is entered into a table, along with the appropriate figure for seasonal subdivisions.  Initially, figure changes are fired by date alone; this mechanic will be preserved in case I need it.  Primarily, this is for testing purposes, but it's got in-game uses as well; it allows for the possibility of skipping large periods of time (ie a month or more) without worrying that half the trees will be transitioning to spring while others are still in fall color.  It also would be useful if I decide to let players pick when they want to start the game; there can just be a blanket graphical set-up, based on the date chosen. 

The other worry with trees is that there will be so many they'll bog down processing speed.  That's not something I'll know until I get in there; it's not easily predictable from the outside.  It could be quick, or I could need to consolidate trees into groups. 

1 comment:

  1. You're certainly making things difficult for yourself, but the results look pretty good!