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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsYear In The Trees
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Luno
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« Reply #60 on: September 30, 2017, 03:26:38 PM »

Thought I'd share a process breakdown of how I created the falling leaves effect I posted earlier this week. I actually did all of this on stream, so if you're reading this before 2017-10-09 you can watch the archived version before it disappears at https://www.twitch.tv/lunoland. It took me about 4 hours total.

The very first thing I did was look for other falling leaf effects from similar pixel games to see what was out there. I googled around for a while, but all I could find was Stardew Valley. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I haven't actually played this game (or really, any games since I started this project). Given its charm and success with fans, I think it makes for a good baseline.



There are a lot of things that I like about how Stardew Valley treats this effect. The animation has both a lofting part and tumbling part, which, when combined with the individual leaves having slightly different speeds helps to keeps things varied. The very best part about the Stardew leaves, which isn't demonstrated in the above gif, is that the wind speed picks up sometimes which makes it look real blustery.

Right away, I had some ideas for how I would implement and improve a similar effect. First off, I wanted to make sure I could vary the color of the leaves to help break up the same-ness. I also knew I could use animation curves to show gusts of wind and have the individual particles seem to behave more dynamically. Finally, I had to make sure there was some kind of parallax: Without the parallax, when you overlay an effect like this across a 2D scene that sorts along the Y-axis, it breaks the illusion of depth and flattens everything in an unattractive way. For example, if I pay too much attention to the leaves in the Stardew gif, the fences start to read as train tracks to me.


Once I knew what kinds of things I wanted to try, I sketched a few ideas and then began animating a single falling leaf point to point. Since I already knew the leaves would need to be different colors, I decided to rely on multiply blending and set up the second darker color to have a bit of a purple tint to it to hue shift the final color.



When colorizing with multiply, use a touch of hue in the shadows/highlights.

It always amazes me, even at this very-low resolution, how quickly adding animation makes something come to life. These sprites are only like 2x3 pixels and two colors, but that's enough information to show rotating, falling leaves!

I ended up creating three of these animations, and implemented them as separate particle systems with different color ranges, speeds and curves. By layering them on top of each other I was able to get an effect that looks dynamic and interesting.



This first animation only needed 4 frames!


The shortest animation is a golden yellow to act as an accent


The little loop-the-loop helps add a bit of interest


The final effect blends the three together with fewer particles

Putting it all together, I dialed everything back so as not to be too distracting from gameplay. I'm pretty pleased with the finished result, but if I have time to come back to this effect later I would love to try automating changes in the wind speed!

PS I've been doing a bunch of web-dev work recently to switch the game website over to HTTPS (thanks Google) and to use a responsive design...so you can hit me up if you need any info on that stuff. It's kind of a bummer because I know I'll have to completely re-design the site again once the game is further along. This week though I plan to return to regularly scheduled game updates!
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 04:29:01 PM by Luno » Logged

Josh Bossie
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« Reply #61 on: September 30, 2017, 06:04:03 PM »

oh man, I've been following you on Twitter since forever and didn't know you had a topic here

Really love the falling leaves - it looks real, real good. I'm such a sucker for weather effects, and you have a great eye for color
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Luno
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« Reply #62 on: October 02, 2017, 07:32:55 AM »

oh man, I've been following you on Twitter since forever and didn't know you had a topic here

Really love the falling leaves - it looks real, real good. I'm such a sucker for weather effects, and you have a great eye for color

ah thanks dude...yeah, i never update ^^
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #63 on: October 02, 2017, 07:53:24 AM »

I like the visuals. I'm a real sucker for tall, thin pixel characters you have like in Sword and Sworcery or Gods Will Be Watching.
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Luno
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« Reply #64 on: October 02, 2017, 10:00:47 AM »

I like the visuals. I'm a real sucker for tall, thin pixel characters you have like in Sword and Sworcery or Gods Will Be Watching.


thank you!~ ya, sword and swocery is a major influence...but my characters aren't quite that tall ._.
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Luno
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« Reply #65 on: November 20, 2017, 04:19:29 PM »

Lately I've been refocusing my efforts on creating some marketing art that shows the breadth of the game world. Here are some progress shots of my latest effort, the old water mill!


Here's the finished artwork that I posted this Saturday. This took me a disgusting amount of time to finish, like, over 2 weeks. Happily, the next piece from this same area is already halfway done. Things are going much faster now that a lot of the design work is complete.

This mill is located in what has come to be known by outsiders as the village beyond time. It's a human settlement nestled along the banks of a peaceful river, and was once the location of a central trading hub for an ancient people. Forgotten machines deep underground power a magical field that surrounds the area. Inside this field, the land is especially fertile and the seasons do not change. It also seems to ward off malevolent forest spirits. The villagers enjoy the relative safety provided by the magic, but lately it has become unstable. They do not understand this magic, but perhaps if you can find a way into the caves below, you may be able to find the source of the disruption...

You can join me on my Twitch stream Mondays at 8 CT (tonight in 2 hours!) at www.twitch.tv/lunoland to see more in-progress art!



Here's my original sketch where I worked on composition and colors. A big challenge here was the design thinking about how the watermill could be functional while still fitting into the layout I planned for the village.



Next I worked on the details of the house. I had been referencing a ton of old houses, watermills, and charming villages and trying to combine all the aesthetics I liked. I went through about 4 different variations of thatched roofs before settling on this one.



The water wheel itself took a fair amount of iteration for me to feel confident about animation and to get everything to read right in the game's perspective. I ended up wasting a lot of time making a hand-illustrated tree-line (not pictured) that I ultimately threw out in favor of the cut-and-paste approach you see in the final image at the top of the post.


Rationale
I also wanted to add a few words to this post to explain why I'm postponing work on my demo in favor of creating this marketing art. My thinking is that I've spent a lot of time describing what will be in the game and demoing features, but in order to spark player's imagination I need to show people, "Hey, these are some actual pieces of the world that you'll be exploring".

I need this sort of art to find any kind of funding, so now seemed like as good a time as any. I finished a lot of features, but I'm still not growing my audience very well and without that I don't think I'll ever be able to finish the project. At first, I naively believed that I would be able to split my time 50/50 between working on impressive art for a finished scene and more gameplay, but it has quickly taken over 100% because:

1. More so than high res, I think, pixel art backgrounds require lots of time to paint in all the details.
2. Drawing a new area requires additional concept and design work.
3. Even once you have the design for a new scene, the minutiae of how you'll draw any new objects the scene requires takes additional iteration and design (e.g. "What does an ancient stone staircase look like in my game's art style?")
4. I'm slow at art.


An additional stumbling block time-wise is that I'm really trying to invest a high level of polish into this stuff (I mean, I'm always trying to do that, but yeah). I've been thinking a lot about crowdfunding lately and I've recently convinced myself that if I try it, I'm only going to get one shot: If I fail, what publisher will be willing to take a risk after I've already shown that the project doesn't have an audience? Since it's still one of the primary avenues I'd consider for funding, I'd have to go all out.

Initially I was hoping to only create scenes that will definitely appear in the smallest version of the game to avoid wasting effort, but I'm almost three pieces in and starting to rethink this. To build an audience and refine a pitch, you need to show your game has a lot of a possibility. I think players need to see your pitch and be able to imagine what it's like to play the game, but also to feel like the game world is much bigger than what you actually show. To get folks engaged and also provide an opportunity for them to project a bit of themselves and their hopes into what the final product might be. It's a hard target to hit.

Having an audience and hype early on doesn't guarantee success, but neglecting it seems a surefire way to fail these days. My goal has always just been to make something awesome that I can be proud of, but if I want to finish it in less than a decade I'm going to need more time than my current job allows.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether or not I'm thinking about the right things, or what sorts of areas you'd like to see me take on next.
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Voltz.Supreme
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« Reply #66 on: November 20, 2017, 08:53:21 PM »

Looks and sounds quite nice!
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Luno
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« Reply #67 on: November 21, 2017, 12:19:40 AM »

Looks and sounds quite nice!

thank ya
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Luno
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« Reply #68 on: November 21, 2017, 10:30:54 AM »

Have some more!  Toast Right





No story spoilers this time Smiley
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Logan Hart
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« Reply #69 on: November 21, 2017, 01:29:26 PM »

Hey man! I was one of the guys you met at the meet up a few days ago. Glad to find your work on here, and I stand by what I said--everything I've seen is absolutely stunning. Keep it up!
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Luno
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« Reply #70 on: November 26, 2017, 11:08:19 AM »

Hey man! I was one of the guys you met at the meet up a few days ago. Glad to find your work on here, and I stand by what I said--everything I've seen is absolutely stunning. Keep it up!

Thanks man, that means a lot. I'm sure I'll see you around at indie city or whatever. Also, I was bored so I made you another heart container...use (or not) wherever

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« Reply #71 on: November 26, 2017, 11:54:45 AM »

Diggin' the color palette and the atmosphere in the trailer you put together.
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Luno
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« Reply #72 on: November 27, 2017, 04:06:01 PM »

Diggin' the color palette and the atmosphere in the trailer you put together.

thanks! that trailer is already so out of date, it still has the old UI. I'll need to make a new one soonish Smiley
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Luno
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« Reply #73 on: November 30, 2017, 03:26:26 PM »

hello again you wanderers who traverse these woods alone

here you'll find a small cottage, and perhaps some respite before the full scene appears this screenshot saturday ^^





i've also built the UI for interacting with objects that have more than one behavior



you can vote on the animations in this tweet

these assets and animation also form the basis for controller-supported interaction (i.e. one of these pops up when you get near something you can interact with). i have been thinking about controller support for a while now as something i should dooooo. although i haven't started adding much, at least now i'm actually trying to account for how it will need to work in the future
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Luno
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« Reply #74 on: December 01, 2017, 07:47:09 AM »

oh yeah! forgot to post this scene. there's a way to reach a secret cave behind that waterfall
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« Reply #75 on: December 01, 2017, 12:56:57 PM »

Man! Amazing work here  Gomez
Lots of love and dedication to this Smiley
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Luno
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« Reply #76 on: December 02, 2017, 11:53:45 AM »

Here's a cottage from the village area in-game!






The reason why the fence changes in the GIF is a nod to a poll I ran to decide which fence to use. I posted images of the fences in isolation and it was like 160/180 votes in favor of A. Seeing it next to the actual house though I kinda like B better.



What do you think?
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Devi Ever
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« Reply #77 on: December 02, 2017, 12:33:58 PM »

I like fence A.  Fence B feels too busy.  That's my gut reaction.
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Devi Ever
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« Reply #78 on: December 02, 2017, 12:34:38 PM »

Though I think fence B would look nice if it was more organic looking, like the posts were offset from each other vertically a tad.
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« Reply #79 on: December 02, 2017, 12:40:44 PM »



Quick and dirty edit and I realized too the back fences could benefit from a little darker shading for contrast.  Sorry for the weird scaling artifacts... so if you don't like the rickety up and down look, maybe just add that darker shading on the back ones?
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