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So I’ve been working on a side project in the style of the old 16 bit SNES JRPGs, and I came across a pretty cool tool called Pixen. If you use a Mac for development like I do, Pixen is a pretty good alternative to Graphics Gale, and you can pick it up from the app store for just $10!

My opinion? A worthwhile purchase, you could do a lot worse for ten bucks. For pixel animations, the featureset is solid although I think the UI could improve in a few key ways (details below).

Pixen

It’s your standard pixel editor with all the usual tools (draw, erase, fill, eyedropper, etc), hotkeys, multi-button editing and wacom support. The preview window can be toggled on and off, and there are various methods of choosing colors based on your preference.

The Features:

  • Preview mode to view your animations in real time
  • Onion skin! (toggled with Animation -> Show Previous Frame Overlay)
  • Color palettes are generated automatically, can be changed at any time and can also be imported/exported, which works super well for palette swapping with some limitations (see gripes)
  • Exports neatly to a sprite sheet (PNG), like so:
  • ChloeSprite

 

The Gripes: (more…)

In an effort to be more visible during development, I wanted to post up some of my latest art on my work-in-progress, Growing:

Check it out! This is the final spritesheet for all the plants in the game and their various stages of growth. Do any of them strike you as representative of certain character traits?

Here’s a concept piece of the final character at the end of the game. I might have gone a little bit overboard with the level of detail, but it does have gameplay significance!

I didn’t realize this at the start of the project, but as I continue drawing I can see myself improve, and there becomes a marked difference between my earliest assets and the most recent ones. In art more than anything, the game has been a continuous struggle against my inner perfectionist. It’s similar to my urge to refactor code, but there I find it easier to adopt the “as long as it works” mentality. Art is just out there for everyone to see, mistakes and all. I think I’ve hit upon the danger of working without deadlines.

I have more to say about the development of this game, including my strategies for finding a balance between full-time and indie. But this is a “show, not tell” kinda post, and so for now I’ll leave it at that!

Hey everyone!

My blog is officially up and running! I’m using the WordPress infrastructure, but the frontend is a custom theme. This is kinda my first “real” web development experience. Well… it was my first time touching PHP, anyway. It’s been an adventure!

I owe a lot to this incredibly handy WordPress Theme tutorial. If you want a quick-and-painless runthrough of the WordPress API, this is your link. This stuff is the Johnson’s baby shampoo of tutorials.

A few nifty things I learned along the way:

  • If you’re making a custom theme for WordPress for the first time, I’d strongly recommend starting with an existing one, stripping it to the bare bones and adding your code. My theme worked locally, but the php wouldn’t execute when I uploaded it. Finally, out of desperation I tried placing it over an existing theme. Worked like a charm. Gooo figure.
  • CSS Sliding doors are awesome! This is what all the buttons on my site are made out of.
  • Similarly awesome, 960 Grid System is a CSS framework that’s easy-to-use and FREE! Oh baby. I am never again leaving home without it.
  • It seems best to test your stuff in Mozilla first, because if you can get it working on Firefox, you can get it working anywhere! Well, except IE I guess… are people still using that thing?

 

So anyway, the focus of this blog is game development! Posts will be anything from showcasing things I’m learning or working on, to linking to cool game-dev content, to just collecting and writing out my thoughts on topics.

Right now, I’m practicing the basics of pixel art! I started with a character I sketched out a little while ago. I started off using this very excellent tutorial by Derek Yu, and I highly recommend it.

We’ll see what happens! I don’t know if I’d ever have the patience to make a whole game in pixel art, and clearly I still have lots to learn. It was fun, though! Something about the process feel strangely scientific, much different from regular art. I kinda like that.

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