I've been working on Tiny Heroes again. I really need to plan out what character classes will exist and what abilities they'll have. Before this is done I can't make too many maps because the maps depend on what abilities your character can have. I don't want to create a dungeon that relies on you having a wall-climbing ability if some classes won't have one.
Still, there's plenty of work to be done. I've been working on enemy AI because it's one of the areas my pixel movement library is light on. I want to be sure that the library gives you everything you need to create AI and so far it does.
I'm still undecided on how heavy I want the RPG elements to be. I like old-style games where you don't know how much damage you do or how much health enemies have, but you learn through experience how many hits it takes to kill an enemy (think Crystalis). Unfortunately I think I'm in the minority there and most people would prefer to see the numbers.
Here are some new screenshots. I'm reusing the tiles from Exordium & Terminus a lot but I also have a lot of new tilesets ready.
Hopefully I can pin down definitions for character classes this weekend and start making more content.
Pixel Movement / Sidescroller
Initially, both of the libraries had support for fractional moves. You could set the mob's vel_x to 3.5 and it would move three and a half pixels each tick. Because it can't display half a pixel, your client would round these (so you'd appear to alternate between moving 3 pixels and 4 pixels), but internally you'd be moving 3.5 pixels per tick.
Unfortunately this created some problems so I had disabled it. A couple of updates ago I added it back. I noticed it caused some issues with the camera. Because of how the rounding is done, there's some jitter - the camera will shift by a pixel when it shouldn't. I'm working on fixing this. When I get a solution I like, I'll update both libraries.
There were also some issues with the pixel movement library's handling of sloped tiles. I'm working on fixing these issues and should have an update ready this weekend.
I'm not sure why people make such a fuss about static lighting. Maybe I'm just pessimistic, but the "static" part draws more attention than the "lighting" part. I don't see the nice shadows, I see a bunch of objects that mysteriously don't cast shadows (makes sense in a vampire game, I suppose). I don't see objects that are light sources, I see objects that should be light sources but aren't (ex: a lamp acts as a light source but an explosion doesn't because it would have to be dynamic).
That being said, I think that something similar could be used to make simple environments look more natural. For example:
I've always said that the graphical quality of a game isn't just dependent on the quality of each individual icon, it's how you use the icons that matters. Both screenshots use the same icons but the second image looks much nicer. With some simple techniques you can get the most out of graphics you make yourself. Before forking over $3 per icon to a self-proclaimed pixel artist, think about what you can do to get the most out of your own icons.
Here's the code for the program used to generate these images. It's written in Java: shadow.zip
It needs some fixing up before you could use it for a game. I'm mostly posting it for DarkCampainger, but other people might be interested.
Here's an example of this being applied to Tiny Heroes:
There's been some chatter about the Flash client lately. Maybe this is another example of me being a pessimist, but thinking about the Flash client always makes me think about the problems it'll create, not the ones it'll solve:
1. I'm not sure why it's needed.
It's a very old mentality that says people won't download and install something to play a game. There are tons of awesome indie games you have to download, and some of those are really old (ex: Within a Deep Forest is 5 years old). Having to download/install BYOND in addition to downloading a game isn't a new concept either. Gamers have been installing DirectX with games for a long time now. Sure, the Flash client makes BYOND games more accessible, but is that a good thing...
2. In some ways, it makes BYOND look worse.
By being just a client, Flash client users must connect to remote servers. This means that any game played in the Flash client will have lag, and it won't be clear to the player where the lag is coming from. Many multiplayer games manage things on the client, so even in times of high network latency the game client is still responsive to user input. This isn't the case with BYOND, everything is handled on the server, but people who don't understand BYOND won't understand that.
It also begs for direct comparisons to be made between BYOND and Flash, and in terms of graphics, Flash wins without a doubt. BYOND offers very little that Flash doesn't.
3. BYOND's strength is that it's not Flash.
By making a Flash client for BYOND games you're saying "anything you can do with BYOND you could do with Flash" - BYOND becomes a strict subset of Flash. BYOND is a standalone piece of software and this should be used to its advantage - make the program fast, make it portable, and make it to things that Flash can't.
4. It creates development problems.
For the BYOND staff to add a new feature they either have to add it to both Dream Seeker and the Flash client (which takes more time than just adding it to DS) or they have to say "it's not feasible to add that to the Flash client" and only add it to DS, in which case the feature is less useful because you can't rely on players having access to that feature. Or, to ensure that both clients have similar features, potential DS features could be scrapped because they can't be supported in Flash, and in this case we clearly lose out.
A Miner Adventure
A very small part of my brain, way in the back, is constantly thinking about the next update for A Miner Adventure. I'd like it to be a new mode similar to the current adventure mode. I'd like there to be more exploration and some re-use of content. In the current adventure mode you progress through a map that's essentially linear. Sure, there's scenery to look at as you play through it, but you can generally forget about things once they're off the screen. You never really need to go back through a place you've already been. I'd like for the next adventure mode to address these problems.