Hey there Gamers and Game Makers!
Last week, I posted a little pixel art character design on social media. I've decided for this weeks blog, I will go through a quick breakdown of how I go about my pixel art. As I'm still quite new to pixel art, expect my methods to change and improve. For now, I think it might be interesting to document my progress with pixel art and various other styles.
For this particular pixel art character, I used Aseprite to create it. Aseprite is a pretty great tool for creating simple pixel art and animations.
When making a character, I tend to have a rough idea in my head of what I want it to look like. I start out by blocking out the basic shape of the character. In this case, I wanted a character covered in rags and a hood. So, I block out the simple silhouette of what I think that would look like.
Next, I define the shape further by creating the legs of the character and deciding more on the pose. Right now, I'm not worried so much about being exact as I can tweak it as I go.
I next start defining the rags using a solid color. At this point, I can now better define the face and arms. I also start to make the rags look somewhat more natural by adding rips at the bottom.
I now start adding some basic shading to give a better sense of texture to the rags.
I add another color to the shading of the rags to add further depth and more sense of lighting.
As I get close to the end of this character, I add a background color and a base for his to stand on. I also make some adjustments to the shading on the rags.
Finally, I make a change to the face by adding a type of face wrap. I think this gives a better look overall to the character.
While this is pretty basic, I hope it has been of some help to someone and if you have any suggestions, please feel free to get in touch!
Hey there Gamers and Game Makers!
So, this week I'm going to take a look at something that we all need in our work, and that's motivation. Whether or not you are making a game, animation or something else on your own, motivation is key to not just getting the work done but also to having a positive attitude towards it. I'm going to talk a little about how I as an independent developer stay motivated to create.
So, how do you stay motivated as an indie game dev? Well, that's different for everyone in terms of finding that key thing that drives you on. For me it's a combination of things. I'm lucky that I'm surrounded by people close to me that understand making games is my passion and that it's something I keep improving at.
They may not all even understand the world of video game development but can see the drive I have for it. That support from people close to me is a huge help to my motivation any time that little bit of self-doubt creeps in.
For self-doubt, there's a few things I try to do to keep it in check.
1. Stop comparing yourself to others!
Seriously, this is one that we all struggle with and it's a huge waste of energy. Everyone lives their own life and everyone's is different. Don't compare your work, your life or your achievements to those of others. Focus on what's good in your life and what you can do to improve it further. Don't feel as if life is a competition, because if you do, you'll lose.
2. Don't focus on what people think of you.
As creatives and especially as indie devs, when we make something and put it out there, we worry about what people will think. That's only natural for a creative person. You made something and on some level, that work is a representation of yourself to some extent and we feel when people judge that, they are also judging you personally. Let me tell you, that's rarely the case. And even if you do get people who judge you on a personal level based on your work, they're not the right people to listen to. Worrying about what others think of you will only hold you back and stop you from creating more and better work. Focus on the constructive criticism that's based around your work and not you personally and use that to get better.
3. Remember how far you've come.
When those times of negativity sneak up on us and trust me they will, remember how far you've come to get to this point and remember what you've accomplished so far. Keep a note of all you've accomplished, even if it's just a page you keep in your desk. Take it out when you feel the negative thoughts pushing you down and read it. More importantly, keep adding your accomplishments to it as they come no matter how big or small so you can see the progress you are making.
4. Take some time.
Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed and we may feel as if we're burning out. The best thing to do when we find ourselves in this position is to simply take some time. Be it a few minutes away from your desk, a few hours or a day. Take some time to clear your mind of all that clutter and noise. Get out for a walk, play some music, do some exercise. Do whatever works for you. Then come back recharged and ready to do something great.
When it comes specifically to making games, there are a number of things you can do to keep motivation and productivity up.
1. Set realistic goals.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to set realistic goals for your game dev project. A lot of people go into it with the one goal of "finish the game" and while that's the end goal, it's not the only goal. Break that goal down to the smaller goals such as "make the art" "make the audio" "gameplay prototype" and even break those down again so, "make the art" has a sub goal of "design the main character". Set goals that you can hit each day and each week. All the while making progress towards that final goal of finishing the game.
2. Avoid adding more than needed.
In games development, it's always so tempting to keep designing features and content that you think would be perfect for the game. Keep it simple. Focus on the core design and story of your game that makes it good. If you keep adding lists of extra stuff to put in game, you'll start to become frustrated and ultimately won't finish the game. You can always build on a finished game that's good. Focus on creating a solid, polished game that you can extend rather than building a buggy frankenstein's monster. Once you make something that's great at its core, you'll feel motivated to keep going! Make short, great games and ship them.
3. Take care of yourself.
The most important one of all, take care of yourself. While we may be creatives and our work is a huge part of what makes us tick. It's pointless if we don't live our lives. So while making games or art of any kind is what makes you happy, do all the other things that bring a smile to your face. Hang out with people you care about, go see a movie, listen to music that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, get active for even 30 minutes in a day, do whatever it is that recharges you so that once you come back ready to create something, you have that motivation and drive to create something great!
Well, that about does it for this weeks blog. I hope this has been of some help to someone out there. So, go do your thing and keep creating awesome things!
Hello Gamers and Game Makers!
"So, how did you get into games development?" It's a question I get asked from time to time and one I never thought about much beyond simply saying, "I've always loved games and I wanted to make them" That's definitely true but, it wasn't until I really thought about why I love making games so much, that it really hit me.
As a kid, I always loved playing games. My earliest memories are of playing Pokémon Red and Blue on my Nintendo Gameboy. I loved the exploration and just the sense of being in this other world. Despite the basic graphics of the Gameboy, I was completely immersed into this fictional world. It wouldn't be until later that I realized just how important this was to me.
Growing up, I was very much a console kid for a very long time. I remember my first experience with a Playstation 1. I was visiting my older brother who at the time had a Playstation 1. I remember as I was getting a lift over, being so excited to see what it was like but, in the car on the way over, he told me it wasn't working. I remember trying to play it cool by saying something along the lines of "Oh, ok. That's cool" To anyone looking at me though, I think the expression on my face was enough to see I was disappointed.
Lucky for me, my brother was just being a typical older brother and messing with me. He sat me down in front of the TV with the Playstation 1 and I swear, I still remember wanting to scream like a little girl. I was so excited. At the time all he had was that demo disk that came with the Playstation 1. I didn't care. That demo of the T-Rex walking around a black screen and you just play its various animation states is still one of my fondest memories of a game.
It wasn't long after until I finally had a Playstation 1 of my own and my love of gaming truly took off. Some of my favorite games of that generation include Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Medievil and more.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Dan, you seem to like fun goofy games but as a Game Dev, you tend to make darker, horror games. Where did that come from?" Well, hush up, I'm getting to that. If you've ever played any of my past games, you'll notice I like to create dark narrative driven games. This came about as a result once again from my older brother trying to mess with me. Keep in mind, at this point I'm still just a kid with a Playstation 1. So, one day I'm at home and my mother calls me. She said something came for me in the post. It was a Playstation 1 game from my brother who was away working at the time. The game was Resident Evil 1. Now, up until this point, my gaming experiences have been on the lighter side and I didn't quite know what to expect. I was however incredibly excited to see what this game was about.
I still remember how impressed I was by the opening cutscene and thinking "Oh man, this is just like a movie!" My first thoughts of the game were of how atmospheric it was. It was quite but not silent. That ticking of the clock still gives me an uneasy feeling. My strongest memory of Resident Evil 1 is without a doubt, that first encounter with a zombie. Looking back, I kinda laugh at myself but at the time, that scared the shit out of me. The cutscene where it slowly pulls in on the back of the zombie as he's eating your team member and he just turns to face you. That moment right there scared me more than anything else had up until that point in my life and as soon as gameplay resumed and he lunged at you, I dropped my controller and turned off the Playstation.
I think it took me a day or two before I could face it again. That's the interesting thing though. Despite how much it had made me run away like a little bitch, I was fascinated by what I had seen and more than anything I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what this thing was and what was going on. So, I put on my big boy pants and loaded up the game once again and returned to face this pasty faced monster. Admittedly, he killed me the first time I came back. On my second attempt, I was victorious and a little shaken. That nailed it for me though. That sense of fear combined with the ability to face down that fear was such a powerful thing. While there obviously was no real danger, my mind still created that real sense of fight for my life. It was after this moment that I no longer felt scared in the same way. Sure, I was scared of what might lurk around the next corner but, I suddenly felt I could face it, fight and win and I had to fight and win because, I had to get to the truth. I had to find out what the hell was going on. It was from this point on that my obsession with horror would take hold. Not long after, I would stumble upon another horror game that would deepen my love for the dark and strange worlds. A little game called Silent Hill.
Silent Hill was an interesting horror experience for me as my only other horror experience up to that point was Resident Evil 1. Silent Hill was a very different kind of horror, a psychological horror. This was something I found very interesting. There was so much fear through the symbolism of the game and the characters. The way the world changed was also terrifying. Not just because the hellish world was so dangerous but because you never really knew when it could change. That sense of never really knowing if your entire surrounding is going to change at any moment created a very strong sense of fear.
My Game Development to date hasn't been shaped purely by horror games from my childhood. One game series in particular that really made me think about how you tell a story is the Metal Gear series. I've grown up playing Metal Gear Solid since the Playstation 1 tittle and the way those games tell a story through its world, characters and music is something special and I don't think I'd view games in the same way had I not played them.
Skip ahead some years to when I started secondary school. At this point I had been playing many types of games and my obsession had gotten to a point where I wasn't happy simply playing a game, I needed to know how it worked. I was curious about things like, why did such a thing happen only when I stood in such a place. I quickly decided, I was going to make video games and that was that. However figuring out where to start wasn't so easy. At this point in my life, access to the internet was very limited due to Ireland being behind in everything.
It wasn't until one day when I was in a newsagents in Kilkenny that I picked up a copy of PC Gamer which had a disc with it with a copy of Adventure Game Studio and a trial copy of FPS Creator. I was blown away by this. It was the first opportunity I had to start creating something. I quickly bought the magazine and went home, installed AGS and FPSC on my laptop and started learning how they worked. I quickly enough learnt the basics of how they worked as they were very user friendly. I made some games and oh boy they were crap but, I was hooked. I had found my thing and I knew this is what I wanted to put all my time and energy into. Not something every parent wants to hear from their son who's still in school. To be fair my mother is a very supportive person and encouraged me to do what makes me happy as long as I kept up my school work.
And so I did. I continued to make little crappy games after school and also continued to play games as much as possible. It wasn't until one particular game released that my view of creating characters and worlds was changed dramatically. That game was The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.
I had heard little bits here and there about the game and thought that it sounds way better on paper than it could ever be. I picked it up on release to see if it would live up to the hype and let me tell you, it was perfect. Never has a game given me so much freedom in creating a story that was my own to tell and a world that was much a character as it was a location. I had found a game that offered me pure immersion. A game that felt like a second home to me. A game that felt real to me for the time I was in it. I knew this was a game from a studio that knew how to create worlds.
Fast forward a few more years and I finished school and am now on my way to college to study Multimedia and later IT. During this time I continued to make small little games that never really saw the light of day. I was also highly anticipating the release of Fallout 3 during my Multimedia studies. A game that once again made me want to better my skills and push myself to make games for people to actually play. I soon moved to devloping games in Unity 3D. A move that at the time was very daunting because it was a very new tool to me.
During my time at college, I began making my first real stab at creating games that would be released to the world. I created Eyesodic Games as my development lable and got to work on some games. Some which never saw the light of day for various reasons. Some which I never expected much from going on to surprise me by becoming quite popular.
While Games Development may be a ruthlessly hard industry a lot of the time, I have to say I've been very lucky in some of the people I've come to know through my work. I've made friends with some of the people whom I respect most of all in the industry and who are among the reasons I got into Games Development. You know, it's a funny thing too. You'd assume the most support I've gotten would have been in terms of a local games scene. Well, no, it hasn't. I've found I've gotten the most support from across the world from people who until they played my games, I never knew. Don't get me wrong, there's some wonderful folks in Ireland who support other devs and are themselves making great content but, the communities the likes of GameJolt and devs both large and small from other parts of the world have been truly wonderful.
To date, I've been very lucky. I've been able to create games that a lot of folks have played and enjoyed. That's the best part of it for me, seeing folks playing something you made and being entertained by it.(I'll put a video of some folks, reacting to my games below) I've also been very lucky to win some awards for games I've made as well as meet some amazing people in the industry. I'm lucky enough to have people around me who are so supportive of me making games. As for now, I plan to keep making games as part of my own indie lable, Dan Kenny Game Design and Eyesodic Games. To those of you who have played anything I've made, thank you for being so very awesome and I hope you all look forward to what comes next!
Hello Gamers and Game Makers!
In last weeks blog, I talked a bit about scope in video games and how to better manage that. This week, I'd like to follow in a similar topic by talking about how Game Designers need to fail as part of the game development process.
If you're anything like me, you get countless ideas a day for what could be a game. Now, 90% of those ideas are usually just terrible and somewhere in the other 10% might be a good idea. Filtering ideas and focusing on what could be a good idea isn't always easy. Most of the time, the best practice is to take the idea most developed in your head and see what you can do with it.
The problem I see a lot of the time is that a Game Developer will spend more time thinking about the idea, trying to perfect it before ever creating actual gameplay. This is the worst thing you can do. Admittedly, it's a mistake I've made in the past and one that on occasion I risk making again. As Game Designers, we spend a long time with our ideas, trying to figure out ways of making them perfect before we present them to the world.
When really the key to finding out if that idea is any good is to make it sooner rather than later. Ideas seem perfect in our heads because we can't see the flaws. The sooner you begin prototyping, the sooner you'll be able to see what works and what doesn't work. Keep it simple when starting. You don't need to worry about final art or sounds at this point. Simple shapes such as cubes and spheres will do the trick. The main goal at this point is to get the basic gameplay working so you can see if your idea at it's absolute core design is actually as good as you think it is.
The sooner you start testing ideas, the sooner you can make mistakes and learn from them. Ideas are nothing without execution. Prototyping your ideas as fast as possible will allow you to try different styles and approaches to gameplay. Also, don't be afraid to let people see your game early. Even if it's just a small group of people, the feedback and constructive criticism you get early on will make for a better game in the long run.
Try not to take feedback personally. I know that can be hard as a solo Game Developer but, take the feedback and remember that the constructive feedback makes you better.
So, to wrap up, take your idea and start prototyping it as soon as you can. Don't be afraid to let an idea fail. Sometimes ideas don't translate to games as well as hoped. Don't be afraid of criticism when it's constructive. Now go and make something awesome!