Sushi Get

Inspired be the healing properties of sushi, I’ve decided to use these various types of sushi as the health items in Hanami. Eating food to restore health in video games is quite a traditional system. For some reason, eating chicken found on the rough streets of Streets of Rage was perfectly acceptable, and in fact, good for your health. Here’s Axel, eyeing up a yummy looking apple in Streets of Rage 2:

What’s more, finding a fully cooked roast chicken in a barrel was nothing out of ordinary. It’s not really a gaming aspect that has survived, for whatever reason…

Trying to place tiny little pieces of sushi in a game where the character is only 16 pixels tall isn’t without its complications. I started off trying to draw sushi into 8×8 squares so that they wouldn’t look unnaturally out of proportion. Although proportionally this worked, I wasn’t happy with the limitation of how much detail I could put into each item.

These tiny little pieces were also very difficult to place into the game. Either they stood out immensely, mainly because of the colour differences, or they were completely lost in amongst the scenery. So, instead of having somehow healthy pieces sushi just lying around the place, I decided to give them a container. This is the equivalent to chests in adventure games, or the item boxes in games like Crash Bandicoot and Super Mario. Open the box, get an item! It’s a simple concept.

I think if you were to buy sushi in a box, it would probably be a sort of takeaway bento, which unfortunately for me isn’t very distinctive. So, for now atleast, I’ve decided to cheat with this takeaway noodle box. This is much more recognisable, and at least its contents are expected to be food… For those who recognise Japanese kanji in pixel form, I’ve managed to squeeze in the symbol for “life” onto the front of the box.

The idea is that when the player approaches the box and presses the “x” key, the box reveals its contents and that type of sushi is added to the inventory, which I’m currently in the process of making. I’ve decided to use a similar system to the one used for collecting mushrooms in Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. You can’t see it well in this image, but there is a collectable mushroom on the right hand side of this image:

In S:S&S EP, mushrooms can be found which allow the player to see spirit beings, but eating a mushroom will also restore the player’s health. When a mushroom is collected, a mushroom icon appears at the top of the screen which indicates to the player that they are now carrying a mushroom. When a second mushroom is collected, the same thing happens but a quantity is added, so the number 2 will appear next to the mushroom icon. The player can only hold three mushrooms at once, which is annoying as most of the way through the game the player has five hit points, coincidentally the same amount as Hana in Hanami.

So now I have two items, one container item which contains one sprite image of the noodle box. The other is a “sushi” item, which contains 4 16×16 subimages of the various sushi/onigiri. I’m infinitely more happy about being able to draw larger sushi sprites with that added amount of detail.

When a noodle box is acquired, one of these images is called at random to the top of the screen. This indicates to the player that they have acquired a piece of sushi from the box! Calling a random image saves me the time and pointless effort of assigning a specific subimage to each individual instance of the sushi box, but ultimately makes no difference to the player as each item has the same effect.

Looking at this screenshot now, I feel like I could perhaps create extra HUD space to act as a background for the sushi so it stands out a little more? As I currently don’t have an inventory to place the item into, the item disappears after a few seconds never to be seen again. I’ve spent a little time practising making inventory screens and think I know the system I’m going to implement. There are ultimately two methods of creating an inventory in Game Maker- one is have a designated room where all the inventory information is held, and the other is to call an inventory object which sits above the imagery on-screen. I will be using an object, as I feel this won’t interfere with persistent room settings etc. which could get quite complicated. I’m also familiar with temporarily disabling on-screen activity for pause menus, so I kind of know what I’m doing! Before I can really get started, I need an inventory design (or atleast template) which I can work to. I’ve got a few designs in mind, I just need to work out some layout issues mainly.

EMP Countdown 5! 3 More Days…

Apologies for the inconsistent post titles, I can’t ever remember what I used before and nothing seems to sound right.

Day #5: Jonathan Lavigne (& a bit of Paul Robertson too)

Jonathan Lavigne or Pixeltao is a devoted developer/pixel artist who is responsible for the great look of several awesome games. Despite my fondness for exciting, experimental, rule-breaking, risky indie developments, I love Lavigne’s game making rhetoric. On his blog he says:

I love every aspect of the process involved in making video games: pixel art, coding, game design and drawing. I don’t have any pretentions about being original or experimental. What I’m really into is creating simple, fun and well designed games.

Ninja Senki was the first of Lavigne’s games I came to discover, drawn in by its strikingly colourful pixel-art and and subtle retro-references. Just as he describes, there’s nothing unpredictable about this game- the player really knows what to expect. It’s just a rehash which plays like a multitude of enjoyable games. Which makes it successful!

Lavigne’s next big creation was Wizorb, another retro rehash. Wizorb just takes elements from all over the place, from classic RPGs to action and adventure games, and combines them with a classic “block breaking” style main campaign. Lavigne points his potential players towards games they may have played in their past such as Breakout and Arkanoid. Personally, I had a clone of something like this on an early Windows PC! The twist on this clone is that there is a story plot set in a fantasy world, and as well as playing in this breakout style, the player can use items they’ve gained whilst playing to purchase new skills etc. which breaks away from the arcade-style high score objective. In my opinion, by remaking a collection of old games and merging them together, Lavigne has actually created something quite new and exciting.

Lavigne’s biggest success has to be his work on Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Videogame, where his ability to clone really comes to light. The game takes the style of a Streets of Rage style beat ’em up, including many of the same gaming cliches which are common amongst this genre. The game is the perfect accompaniment to the comic series and the motion picture, which use a lot of retro videogaming themes and throw in references all over the place. The game includes the character art and animation of Paul Robertson, an anime inspired pixel-artist with some… strange tastes. Robertson uses frame-based animation to create his 2D game-sprite like animations, however the game itself is not made in a completely traditional way, evident in elements such as the large non-tiled background images.

One of Robertson’s few animations non-obscene animations, depicting the film Attack The Block. Most of Robertson’s images/animations either directly or indirectly reference retro videogames in some way!

Links For Jonathan Lavigne:
Official Pixeltao Blog
About Scott Pilgrim on the PixelDrip Gallery

Links For Paul Robertson:
Paul Robertson on Livejournal
Scott Pilgrim Sprites on Game Set Watch