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1373426 Posts in 64864 Topics- by 57056 Members - Latest Member: FluxCap

February 27, 2020, 07:25:12 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsAnother Star 2 - a console style RPG with pretty pixel art
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Author Topic: Another Star 2 - a console style RPG with pretty pixel art  (Read 13887 times)
velocirection
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« Reply #100 on: September 08, 2019, 02:25:36 PM »

Wowie impressive work!!! You're really doing some game magic here, I saw the previous post talking about the FM music stuff, damn like that's crazy to me... So much effort to be authentic. I love it. Keep up the good work!
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« Reply #101 on: February 11, 2020, 03:31:50 PM »

Dev Log #24
Speak Your Mind



My day job makes it difficult to set aside time to work on projects like this. I have to be careful to budget my time, or else I'll end up getting a lot of work done for awhile but then quickly burn out. Still, over the past month or so I've managed to get about thirty minutes to an hour of progress a day. It doesn't seem like much (and really, it isn't) but it does add up after awhile, so long as I'm good about where I spend those precious minutes each day.

I've been messing around with the battle system for a long time now, and that makes sense. The battle system tends to be what really engages people when they play an RPG, and it's where they're going to end up spending a lot of their time. But a video game is more than the sum of its parts. A good RPG needs more than just a battle system. It needs a story to frame the battles you're fighting and give you a reason to fight them. To that end, I've switched gears for now and am plowing ahead on changing the game's scripting engine from mere partially-programmed ideas to a reality.


Previously, I'd mentioned wanting to make a "vertical slice" to show the game off, but I've never really used that method before. Instead, I've fallen back to the same work flow I used on the first Another Star: starting at the beginning and working my way to the end. The first cut scene is scripted and plays, with characters moving to their cues and going through their dialog. After so long, it's really amazing to watch play out, especially since the last game's scenes were so simple. I'm working hard to make sure that the game's custom scripting language makes it easy to generate and tweak the content very quickly so that I can make the absolute most of my time.


One of the things that I've done during this process is move the character portraits up out of the dialog boxes. This allows room for a few more letters to be visible in each line. As you can see, the portraits aren't static. The mouths flap, and when they're not talking they even blink in sync with their sprites!

I also made the portraits bigger. Much bigger. I was inspired by looking at Shining Force II which had these huge, vibrant character portraits. I wanted the characters in this game to be able to be likewise endearing, even though there wouldn't really be quite enough room in the system's VRAM for portraits this big without sacrificing some of the area graphics. I'm not 100% committed to it yet, and the first few portraits are in need of tweaks, but I kind of like how they look so far. My only worry about the size is that they're going to obscure what's going on beyond them. The characters on screen have various actions that play out with their dialog, and I don't want their portraits to always be in the way.

I'll share more from these early areas of the game as I make progress. In the next dev blog, I plan to write about the often overlooked process of nailing things down to avoid working on them forever.
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qMopey
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« Reply #102 on: February 11, 2020, 05:55:45 PM »

really happy to see more of your posts!  Well, hello there! Hand Money Right
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TheGrandHero
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« Reply #103 on: February 11, 2020, 07:31:34 PM »

Glad you're enjoying them! I'm hoping to be able to make them more regularly.

I may also start posting smaller updates that aren't the main "dev log" entries. There were a lot of little things I did over the past few months that didn't really warrant a big entry, but I still could have shared a screenshot or two for them.
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velocirection
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« Reply #104 on: February 11, 2020, 07:47:20 PM »

I didn't read any of that yet because fist I wanted to say WOW looking really great :D
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Ishi
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« Reply #105 on: February 13, 2020, 09:52:16 PM »

Ooh nice to see updates on this! I just went back and relistened to the gorgeous music in your post about the FM synth system - still a huge fan of that sound.
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telltaletypist
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« Reply #106 on: February 14, 2020, 12:18:10 AM »

Having character portraits blink in sync with their sprites is such a wonderful touch. I don't know why, but I love it.
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TheGrandHero
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« Reply #107 on: February 14, 2020, 06:07:01 PM »

One of those mini-updates I promised:

Something I worked the past few days to add just to see if it's worth the trouble is 8-directional sprite facings. Only a very small handful of 8-bit and 16-bit games actually did these, so it's really stretching the aesthetic. Earthbound is the only RPG I'm aware of that used them in that era, and that's an SNES game. It's also doubling the workload right out of the gate. Not sure if it's going to stay.

But it does look pretty.



I also implemented subpixel tracking for entities. This was more common; Super Mario Bros. on the NES even used it, although tricks like dropping movement on certain frames were how it was usually handled. The subpixel movement makes it easier to deal with things like slower-than-1-pixel-per-frame entities and it really smoothed out how diagonal movement looks so it's very likely staying for sure.
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qMopey
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« Reply #108 on: February 14, 2020, 08:46:52 PM »

Breaking the old limitations as long as the underlying aesthetic remains in-tact is, in my opinion, very smart and I think you should keep doing it!
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airman4
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« Reply #109 on: February 15, 2020, 12:30:22 AM »



Awesome work there
sounds legit !
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TheGrandHero
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« Reply #110 on: February 18, 2020, 01:28:21 PM »

And here's a test with an NPC to see how it looks when they have 8-directional facings and track the player's movement.


Still like the way it looks, but it may be a bit too much for the aesthetic, and I'm extra worried about the workload creep it'd add to the project.
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Ishi
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« Reply #111 on: February 18, 2020, 04:20:07 PM »

Still like the way it looks, but it may be a bit too much for the aesthetic, and I'm extra worried about the workload creep it'd add to the project.

Is it something that could be reserved just for the player character, or for specific important NPCs, to reduce workload? The additional directions look like a really nice addition for the player character particularly.

The GBA Golden Sun games did something smart with the character directions. Player characters had a full 8-direction set of sprites. NPCs had only 6 directions to reduce the amount of variations needed.

There are some examples in this post: http://forum.goldensunhacking.net/index.php?topic=2735.0 The important bit of text refers to the compass diagrams in the image: "Generally, PCs use the red, blue, and purple directions, while NPCs use red and green".

And a screenshot here, where the NPCs are using their slightly-diagonal directions, while the two player characters (bottom middle) use their upwards and diagonal-down directions.


I think this 6-direction system for NPCs is really smart. For an old-school 4-direction NPC you'd draw three unique sprites: up, down, and side (which is mirrored to achieve left and right). A 6-direction NPC still only needs three unique sprites - diagonal up, diagonal down, and side, but all three are mirrored to create the 6 directions. So doesn't really require any more work or memory compared to 4-direction NPCs. I also think it can look more natural to have the characters angled slightly off-centre rather than looking directly up or down.

This may not fit the aesthetic you're going for, but may provide some inspiration on how to approach the problem!
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TheGrandHero
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« Reply #112 on: February 18, 2020, 05:49:15 PM »

The Golden Sun solution is one I've considered before; I've always thought it was a pretty smart approach to how they handle their NPCs. Not sure how much of a difference it would be for straight pixel art versus the pre-rendered sprites that Golden Sun used in the GBA games.

It's also not something I think I've ever really seen in another mainstream game, let alone one from the era I'm trying to emulate. No single game in the 8-bit / early 16-bit era would do everything I'm trying to do all in the same game at the same time--RAM would become a huge issue at some point. However, I'm trying to have at least one "forerunner" game I can point to for each effect I use. In part for the faux "authenticity" of it, but also so that I have something to study to see how the developers of that era tackled the issue and came up with a workable solution.

(That said, I'm not above tossing the old ways aside for the sake of the greater good.) Wink
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qMopey
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« Reply #113 on: February 18, 2020, 08:58:39 PM »

I think it's quite smart of you to be able to selectively move beyond old technological limitations Smiley

An aesthetic is about taking inspiration and crafting a particular style according to your taste. It's not merely copying, as you've already demonstrated. Keep it up! These are very exciting to see!
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