SLOUCHCOUCH

Slouch Couch Game Studios is a game making studio specializing in HTML5 and HTML5 mobile games. We make stuff that we like. We make stuff regardless of what plane our players are on.

Hired an artist!

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I contracted an artist to help me out with color selection, art continuity, and some additional polish assets.  His name is Ryan Malm, an Omaha local, which makes working with him all that much easier.  He’s given me a few really awesome things so far.  Here’s a before and after with the adjusted palette.

before on the left, after on the right
before on the left, after on the right

I’m looking forward to working with him some more on this project, and I can tell from our meet-for-beers-to-talk-about-shit conversation last night that he’s pretty excited about making games.

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sHpere, my entry into the js13kgames competition

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The js13kgames.com competition is a month-long competition to make a javascript/canvas game in under 13k.  It runs from August 13 2012 to Sept 13 2012.  I jumped in around September 5th with a few days left in the competition to see what I could come up with.  The competition seemed pretty laid back and I wanted to also use this time as a short vacation from development on my html5 game using impactjs, Drugbound.

sHpere googles much better than sphere
sHpere, hosted on js13kGames.com

I didn’t really flex my game design muscles too much on this one, but I intended this to be more of an exercise in math for me.  I wanted to see if I could still remember a lot of the 3d coordinate systems and transforms between those systems using matrix math that I learned back when I did physics in college. Turns out if you don’t do matrix coordinate transformations in over a decade you get somewhat rusty.

The two largest sources of issues/bugs for me were:

  • the axes for the cartesian system I learned in college isn’t the same as the one I’ve been using to draw stuff on the screen for the past year. z is -y, x is z, and y is x.  Talk about headache.
  • trying to improve the performance on mobile browsers without having really ever worried about it before on other games.

The biggest performance boosters in mobile browsers were to use requestAnimationFrame() instead of setInterval(), draw to an offscreen backbuffer canvas before flipping/drawing to the visible canvas, and to manually cut down on the number of background stars and sphere vertexes to lessen the number of canvas draw calls (those things are expensive I hear).

You can play the game by clicking the image above.

js13kGames competition

github unminified source (caution: bad variable names, magic numbers, and poor comments)

I welcome any feedback below or follow me on twitter @mrlasertron!

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Screenshot Saturday, School’s Back Edition!

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School is back and the local uni is abuzz with students.  I dedicate this screenshot to all the new freshmen this year.  Good luck with school!

This shot is me working on the boss for the 4th stage of the Drugbound the Game: Ride the Thunderstorm.

"you have a ship?  bring it to me."
boss energy being from stage 4 of drugbound
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ScreenShot Saturday

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not much new. finished desert “boss” flying around shooting at me. click to enlarge.

SCREENSHOTSATURDAY

here’s a link to the process of me making the art asset for this desert boss guy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Drugbound Art Process

shoulderpads that could make a space marine blush
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Being an independent game developer with a limited budget I knew that art was going to be a problem for me.
Talented artists are expensive and I knew Drugbound was going to have quite a few assets. I had already commissioned a talented artist from San Francisco
to do the first set of background images. Her work was great and well worth it, but I realized that I wouldn’t have the budget to have her do all my assets.

I decided to try a new way to get art assets that I hadn’t heard many other people try before.  I hired a very talented local artist, Tim Mayer, who does comic book work to do concept art for me, and from his concept art I would try to create vector images in inkscape or illustrator to export to .png for game assets.  I had Tim whip up some great concept art for a boss idea I had for the very first level where you’re in the desert.  For inspiration I suggested to him the cool road warrior bad guy from Mad Max 2: Road Warrior who would have a jetpack and would Hurl buzzsaws at you the entire level.

Once I had the concept art I spent a day or two learning about vector graphics using Inkscape. I really only had to learn the basics but creating the art went a LOT smoother than I was expecting.  Also my whole process sped up once I figured out that I could add a semi-transparent layer underneath my main draw area where I could put the scanned image and “trace” the inked lines.

Then I added colors.  I spent a day or so reading about color theory and color selection.  I read how some of the other studios mix and pick colors and I tried to do the same.  Especially helpful was the art department write-up from Valve’s Dota 2 Art Guide pdf (thanks Valve!).

The vector art was astonishingly easy to change frame-to-frame in order to animate.  Vector art uses paths and strokes and anchors. If you want to move an arm you just select all the anchor points in the arm, rotate them, touch it up a bit and voila you have a moved arm.  MUCH easier than trying to animate in Gimp or Photoshop on a rastered image/bitmap.

I exported to .png, loaded the asset in my game, and started playing. The. Guy. Looked. AMAZING. I was so satisfied with my work that this is now the process chain that I am using today for the rest of the Drugbound assets.

shoulderpads that could make a space marine blush

jetpack inspired by the nomadic Ork aliens from Warhammer 40k (in case you weren't able to guess).

There are a few things to consider first before going through with this asset production method.

  • Make friends with a good local artist so you can work with him/her in person. Being in person with Tim while he worked was a huge help. I found Tim on the pinboard at a local comic shop in my neighborhood. I’ve also met a couple cool artists on twitter.
  • When designing entities for your game make sure you pick entities which will require fewer animation work or none at all.  It’s easy to trace concept art into assets, but depending on your artistic talent it might be much harder to derive animated frames from a static and motionless piece of art.
  • Spend a day or two learning to use a vector graphics program.  I am currently using Adobe Illustrator because I got a good deal on Adobe Cloud, but I used the open source GIMP up until about a week ago.
  • This takes time!  This road warrior “boss” took about 5 hours, which is 5 hours away from development. If you really don’t want to spend time pushing pixels (or anchors/paths) then maybe paying an artist would be more up your alley.
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Concept Art for Thunderstorm Level

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Also there is a thunderstorm level.

The guy/head on the left is a cloud giant. Or it’s that god-being from Star Trek V “The Final Frontier. Or Zeus. For the sake of simplicity let’s just say it’s Zeus.

On the right is some more work for a different level which includes an orbital bombardment platform. I just like saying that. Orbital bombardment platform.

Also cats and crows.

-dave

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(Video) GAMEPLAY VID plus HOLY SHIT NICE MUSIC

GAMEPLAY VID plus HOLY SHIT NICE MUSIC
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Ok so this is some music i got from this cat in seattle who calls himself Electric Children. he’s fucking talented listen to his music with your listen-holes:
Electric Children

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Here’s a silently screaming banshee pilgrim ghost thing, forever doomed to search this cursed earth for the one who betrayed her to the magistrate.

bansheeSS
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i did this in inkscape. she flies aronund chasing you so fast her animation/art probably doesn’t matter because you can’t see her. whatever, i just had a bunch of beer and can’t think of captions. My wife is next to me reading all the hilarious tweets from this Ken Jennings comedy genius guy.

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Music for Drugrunner! Chip at its best!

sc_twitter_shades
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Drugbound Concept Art

Concept Art. Road Warrior guy is the one on the bottom. Later concept art has him riding a jetpack.
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I HAVE HAD A FEW BEERS RIGHT NOW BUT THIS REALLY TALENTED comic book artist did a bunch of these for me. He’s seriously a badass and I need to get all the concept art from him I can before he gets hired by like DC or Marvel or Jack Chick. anyway here are a couple sketches and inks he did for the desert level.

<3
-dave

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