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

Monday, August 8, 2011

In Which I Make a Rock

So I've been trying for days to make a rock.  Who would have thought that a convincing rock is so much harder than a convincing tree?

Why are the background colors weird?  I dunno.
It's still not what I would call convincing - there's something non-organic about it, despite the fact that it was more-or-less based on an actual rock.  I do like the moss, though.  And I think I like the snow shading, which looks deceptively simple but actually involved about an hour's worth of gradient tools and blur and smudging and shaping and brushes.  I tell you, I cannot wait to work on a tropical island version of this game, where there are no seasons, no snow, and all rocks have been made by aliens and are *meant* to look like those plastic rocks you can put keys in.

Trying to get the grass looking decent is . . . progressing, if by progressing one means "I have tried a bunch of stuff that didn't work, and then my brain went funny and I don't know if it's better or not."  Also, I did some stuff on the wrong layer, so it's not really reproducable the way I'd like.

Here's one experiment with flowers.  It's TOO MUCH at this point, but I think there's potential in there somewhere.  It's better if I take out a bunch of the middle-distance trees.  On the other other hand, Michiconsota summers are pretty much a froth of TOO MUCH, so . . . yeah.  I dunno.  (I moved this layer down a bunch, because it was too high, and took out a lot of extra greenery, so you're missing a bunch of the effect.)  I do like that suddenly this thing has the feel of looking over hills.  How did that happen?  I wish I knew, because I kind of like it.  And I like that there's some color at midsummer.  There should be color.  Just not sure how to add color without it being all overwhelming. 

Wait, no, that's a lie. 

Just rip the middle-ground trees out, and voila.  (Note to self: Do not think about the hours you spent crafting the middle ground trees.  Just think: better one, or better two?) 

Also that grass color is subtlely wrong.  (Green is one of those really tricky colors, where it has to be just so.  Like brown.  Orange and blue are more forgiving.)  Also tried shifting the background trees a little more blue, to give the illusion of distance, and . . . yeah, that's not working.

In other news: I procrastinated this week.  (Well, not so much procrastinated as "went outside, saw the sun, met friends, drank beer, made bread, put a new video card in my computer, played Fallout 3, searched for help on game-breaking bugs in Fallout 3, marveled at how many there were, and managed to force my game into a semi-workable condition.") 

Whenever I get a little excited about Skyrim, I go watch the video of the guy demoing it and immediately feel better.  There's just something about the presentation that dulls my excitement.  I have a history of getting super-excited about Bethesda's stuff and then having them do B-quality work - enough so that I don't feel totally outraged, but most of the fun is sapped from the game. 


  1. Michiconsota

    I hope and trust that you have a file somewhere with a list of these.

  2. Nah, I just rehash the name every time I post. I gleaned a bunch of data from Saskatchewan for the grasslands stuff, so I can probably throw those syllables in. Wisatchegan? I like that they all sound like particularly vicious sneezes.

  3. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has trouble with rocks. One of the edible vegetation items in my game is a rock (don't ask), and no matter what I try it inevitably ends up looking cruddy.

    One problem is that 'standalone' rocks and boulders never seem to look any good unless they're in an 8 or 16 bit game, and "realistic" rock sprites are poorly cut-out photographs of pebbles. One way around this is to try drawing a collection of 3 or more rocks into a single sprite: for some reason that comes out looking better than a single rock.


  4. Well, at least I'm not alone. Maybe I'll try the rock arrangement thing. I'm just not sure why my brain seems to forgive my attempts at, say, trees, and balk at the rock. I mean, it's not like we were ever stalked by boulder-sized blood worms or something. And rocks aren't terribly complicated - they come in lots of shapes and shades, so you'd think it would be fairly easy to put together some combination of those and have the brain chill. But nooo.

  5. "And rocks aren't terribly complicated - they come in lots of shapes and shades, so you'd think it would be fairly easy to put together some combination of those and have the brain chill."

    Actually, in hindsight, that's probably exactly why they're a problem. Our mind has a very definite symbol of a tree: stem+branches+leaves, and anything that resembles that will be tree-ified automatically by our mind. But our mental symbol for "rock" can't be summed up so easily because they're so variable and lack any consistant distinguishing features.

  6. Could well be. But things like flowers seem more variable than rocks, and I have no trouble with various flowers. Maybe the symmetry helps there, or the fact that they're represented so constantly.