Boy, was it nice to be free from school and work for a while. It was only two weeks, but it felt much longer and it was a much needed rest from obligations. The last two weeks, I have worked and will also do so the next week, before school starts again at the end of July.
I’d like to dedicate this post entirely to The Viking & The Ninja. As I wrote last time, I had started on a boss animation and an ending cutscene. However, I put this on hold to make a map of the village, using the program Tiled I mentioned last time here. I don’t know if I can use this program for the actual development later or not (maybe some cool, technical expert guy can answer that?), but either way it’s a good practice. Also, while making maps using the tileset, I can quickly see if the tiles I have made can be built with or not, if any of them are missing, need adjustments or if the palette needs to be updated. Here is a WIP image of the village, with a few cow sprites as an extra meat to the bones:
The map is planned so the most important buildings are placed in the middle, close to each other. I really don’t like it when the level design forces the player to make plenty of unnecessary walks here and there. A game I personally love, but is guilty of this, is Rent A Hero. The first town, which you go to and from a lot and has many important places to visit several times, is poorly structured. Here is a video showing it (apologies if you read this if the video is gone). You start in the bottom right corner. Closest to you is a shop you almost never visit, then further up a hospital you also almost never visit and then at the top the subway you take all the time. The important buildings are the bank and the cafeteria to the far left, and the better shop at the top-left corner (which unnecessarily has three floors, which takes even more time to traverse). This layout forces the player to take so many long extra walks. Instead, I’d put the entrance at the middle of the bottom, then have the subway in the center of the map, like in another town. Then, I’d place the important buildings close to the center and the least important ones furthest back. But I digress.
In the village of The Viking & The Ninja, we have the shop, tavern/inn, guru and the fast travel houses in the middle. These are the most important places, which you’ll go back to a lot. Having them close by each other prevents the player from taking long, time-wasting walks. The fountain is there as a landmark and will serve a point for gameplay too. And as I said earlier, the cows will play an important part of the game.
Moving on, I’d like to introduce the protagonists a bit more, and show some artwork/pixel art. First we have the viking:
His name is Birger and he is the prince of the Viking kingdom. Birger is in his early 20s. He is a lazy and stupid guy, whose main interest is eating junk food, which has given him the physique he earned. It also makes him slow, but his work with the axes is commendable. He is quite a joky guy, who may come off as offensive, but remains good at heart.
This is the artwork I made as a basis for his design. Originally, I planned to have a helmet on him, but dropped it because it was hard to draw and because going without it gave him more character, I think. He wears his Thor’s hammer with pride and the red cape signifies his royalty. I drew the artwork with an ink pen and some felt pens suited for manga. As you can see, I’m not very adept at drawing characters, so I’m gonna have to hire a professional to do a proper job of this later.
Here is his sprite and some animation frames. As you can see, you can walk in 8 directions. There are still many frames not drawn, for example the important attack animations!
And this is his portrait. Highly based on the artwork seen above. It’s 48×48 pixels big, just like the portraits in Pier Solar (I used Pier Solar as a reference for graphics a lot actually). Of course, it uses the main palette, like the sprite you saw above.
And then we have the ninja. Her name is Jackie and she is a body guard in the Ninja Empire. Jackie is in her mid-20s. Her main hobby is training, but she also likes to party. Though physical strength isn’t her best trait, she throws kunais and moves faster than anyone. She takes her job seriously and works hard with a too great pride, something which can backlash against her every now and then.
Like the Birger artwork, this was drawn on paper and then scanned and touched up a bit on the computer (I really suck at that too). Interestingly, I planned to have a mask on her, but as with Birger’s helmet I dropped it to give more character. Those camel toe boots are something I saw when I searched for ninja clothing references. I thought they looked silly and special, so I decided to incorporate them into the design. The kanji on her belt means “shinobi”, which is another Japanese word for ninja. I saw it on the Revenge of Shinobi logo and also in Naruto, and thought it would fit perfect here. Other than that, the colours are distinctly different from Birger, yet still fit in within the main character palette.
Here are the walking animations for the sprite. There isn’t much to add at the moment. I choose to have three frame animations simply because doing more than that will lead to an overwhelmingly large amount of work. I used Dungeon Explorer on Mega-CD as a reference, which also had three frame animations. There are going to be some special animations in the game which will have more frames, but very few will only have two.
And here is the portrait. Same palette and size as Birger’s, of course.
That’s all about the project for this update. But in other news, I started doing QA for another team which develops Mega Drive games. Maybe I’ll talk about it in a future update, if I’m allowed to.
Do you want another update like this one? Drop a comment and I’ll see what I can do! I decided to reveal about 20% of the game content before the release, and there is still plenty of stuff to show. In the meantime, I’ll continue working. Hopefully I’m done tomorrow!
aLL THE BEST,
All the best,