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Character Iteration

Character Iteration

Working on Spherakill has taught me a lot about game design and has helped me refine my process so much. The biggest thing I’ve learned over the past year of development is hugely important though. Iteration. This is a word that if you only typically participate in game jams never usually comes up. Which was definitely where I was before starting work on Spherakill last year. From characters, stage design, and UI. Iteration is a key component to problem solving and the creative process.

As the artist in my two person team it’s a large component to all the work I’ve done moving forward. To kind of keep this post more focused I will stick to character design. Characters will play a large role in the world of Spherakill, they all have their own specific abilities and attributes which will affect gameplay. There’s also aesthetic which is something players will want to connect to that also plays a role. I want to create characters that people will want to play by both design and functionality. As of writing this, functionality is not quite finalized in any sort of capacity.

Our character Kit-Tan has gone through some massive changes since her inception in a game that was not Spherakill but a cancelled project tentatively titled Dungeon Gangstas. Back
then I did not take into account character silhouette or personality too much. Dungeon Gangstas was a 2D pixel art based sprite arena battle game in the same vein as the later
released Nuclear Throne. Her design was quite simple and to be honest not much thought was put into it. I was making characters left and right with no real aim. A lot of those characters
have not made the transition over to Spherakill without a lot of changes. Kit-Tan’s current design may not even be final either. Things will probably change when it comes to animating
characters too. The characters are all 2D in Spherakill so having very complex designs is almost a no-go, because that would just be art overload.
Kit-Tan’s design started very similarly to her pixel art iteration when making the transition over to Spherakill. Keeping her signature sailor outfit and her color palette. I soon noticed she didn’t
exactly fit the style and her features we much too subtle for players to call her out from a distance. Heavy outlines were an important step to the next iteration, and also a big part of the
aesthetic that Spherakill has in its art design.
Then I started looking towards other games for some help. During early development I started playing Overwatch a lot and looking at a lot of the design that went into the characters of those
games. You can tell a lot about a character just by looking at the shape of them. You can also tell exactly who they are. That was something I wanted to explore more for Kit Tan so I started
rethinking her whole design.
This was the silhouette I had ended up with. I went and exaggerated features and made some changes to existing ones so they really stuck out.
This is where I went in and added line art to the shadowy shapes. This is the big reveal. I unfortunately don’t have all the other in-between changes I made to shapes of things and
modifications but in her current design she stands out much, much more than she did before. Giving her larger ears and a much more recognizable tail shape helped a lot. I kept a lot of the
details of her clothing just because that was a large part of her design in the first place. She’s always been an idol pop star so the outfit worked besides a few modifications to the shoes and
gloves. Her hair now has a much more recognizable shape as well, instead of the braided hair that would have went behind her back. Lastly I messed around with color and ended up with
this. Which I think definitely brought everything together.
I did end up cleaning this up even more and ended up with her final design. Well as far as we are right now. I changed some of the colors a tiny bit and simplified a bunch of elements
like removing the shoe laces and making her the tiniest bit stockier. And that’s pretty much the journey so far.
It’s entirely possible that this and many other things will change over time. It’s a great skill to have though and as long as you have time for it I would say it’s definitely something you should
practice on your own projects. Especially if you are working on a project where you are actively getting feedback. For me it has greatly helped my design sensibilities and all of my character
design work in general. This skill can be applied to everything in a game project though.
Josh Grilli is an artist for Spacetronaut, a game studio in Louisville, KY. He has been a part of the Louisville Makes Games community for over a year. You can follow him on social media @JoshGrilli. Look for more updates on @Spherakill!
Odd bug with Unity animator state machine & new character concepts

Odd bug with Unity animator state machine & new character concepts

Kick Bot Dev Log June 26th 2017
-Alex Bezuska

When playing around with new artwork we noticed that the jump animation was only actually playing for one frame, it turned out to be a tricky issue to solve but Eric was able to get that working.  Our animation for the player uses the Unity animator state machine and for some reason, making the jump state the default state fixes it. No idea why.

Unity animator state machine for Kick Bot DX
Unity animator state machine for Kick Bot DX

Eric also worked on some tweaks to the high score screen working like it used to, including setting the “New best” to purple, and hiding the level score when game over screen shows.

I worked on some sketches but I was generally dried up creatively on the character designs, I am only really happy with the astronaut character:

Kick Bot DX character concept art sketches
Kick Bot DX character concept art sketches

Kick Bot DX is being created for the Kentucky Fried Pixels (KFP) game jam which ends July 9th, we will be releasing a pay-what-you-want bundle of games on August 17th!
Sign up here to get an email when the KFP bundle is released

Who is Alex?

Alex Bezuska is the cofounder/ artist for Two Scoop Games and Director at Louisville Makes Games! Alex is obsessively passionate about making games and building the local game development community. He is also an avid lover of ice cream.

Keep up to date with all the latest news and updates from Two Scoop Games by joining our mailing list!

Two Scoop games on Twitter: @TwoScoopGames

 

 

New bots with special abilities in the works for Kick Bot DX!

New bots with special abilities in the works for Kick Bot DX!

It has been just over a week since the Kentucky Fried Pixels game jam kickoff and we here at Two Scoop Games have been hard at work conceptualizing the future of Kick Bot. If you didn’t get a chance to read our last post where I explain more about Kentucky Fried Pixels you can check it out here: Kentucky Fried Pixels!

Kick Bot DX launch plan

    1. Get game up to feature-parity with the current version on Chrome Web Store and release as an update to the existing game. This will be a big improvement in a few areas like performance and responsiveness, but it will also fix an issue with high scores not being saved for some users.
    2. Add new features. We have been working hard during the Kentucky Fried Pixels game jam to include new features (sign up here to be notified of the bundle release!).
    3. iOS and Android release. This version will include unlockable/purchasable new playable characters with unique abilities…More on those to be announced in the future! 😉

 

 

My main focus has been working on lots of concept art while Eric works on getting the game’s main features working. Our new playable character ideas are all based around special moves they can do. There will be 7 new bots in addition to the classic Kick Bot which will be the default starter character.

 

Concept art for Kick Bot playable characters (most likely not going into game)
Concept art for Kick Bot playable characters (most likely not going into game)

Having a constraint like knowing the special ability of the character really helps to create a solid design based around a core mechanic. I am excited about the new focused direction on having 8 total bots each with special moves. The special moves have been brainstormed and the best have been chosen, now I will continue working on interesting concepts for the characters.

Eric has been working on the high score system which will later tie into leaderboards.

 

TLDR;

  • Three-pronged approach to launching Kick Bot DX
  • New unlockable playable characters each with unique new abilities in the works
  • Working on concept art – new ideas for new BOTS!
  • High score system that won’t lose scores


Keep up to date with all the latest news and updates from Two Scoop Games by joining our mailing list! 


-Alex Bezuska,

Game Artist and Animator
Two Scoop Games

 


Who is Alex?

Alex Bezuska is the cofounder/ artist for Two Scoop Games and Director at Louisville Makes Games! Alex is obsessively passionate about making games and building the local game development community. He is also an avid lover of ice cream.