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Digitiser: The Game: Development

Part 18 - 28th October 2020

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So this is Christmas, and what have you done?

Sorry, that's next entry.

Regardless, I have spent a fair chunk of October making stupid pictures for Blocktober, the second teletext gathering to be moved online this year. It turned out to be relevant, because our closing weekend broadcast fell on Halloween - there was a most convenient rumble of thunder as I typed that - which was an ideal opportunity to practice drawing old houses with big pixels.

An exclusive spoiler of Teletext Towers.

The power's still on, but now I'm saving every two minutes.

Making effective use of colour is a new challenge for me, because as you may remember, Super Enquiry Simulator was monochrome. Well, I did use colour in the ancient Found Footage game, but that was mostly when tracing pictures.

The mysterious old house in this game will be somewhat moodier than above, partly because I can use an additional seven half-brightness colours over teletext's eight. However, I will still draw the backgrounds in monochrome first, to make sure that the actors all read clearly in front of them.

Doing all this teletext drawing, including the preliminary paper sketches, has given me the confidence to invest in a drawing tablet. I will still be fine-tuning some pixels in a way that can be done just as quickly with a trackball or mouse, but the broad strokes will be much faster with a pen.

I mean, they would be, because the tablet arrived this morning with no pen. Or power supply, for that matter, so I don't even know if it works. Anyway, it has thousands of levels of sensitivity and millions of colours, which amuses me, because respectively I'll be using two and fifteen of them.

By the way, if anyone knows a drawing package that can show two layers at different resolutions, then please get in touch. Specifically, I want to add a colour underlay at 1/8th of the monochrome resolution, but all that I could find was other people asking similar question. It's not critical, but something that would greatly speed up my workflow at the colouring stage.

Last time I was expecting to get things moving on screen, but having considered how the screens will connect, the best starting point seems to be drawing the whole frontage and grounds as one long strip, then the entrace hall screen. The rules of perspective don't play well at low pixel and colour resolutions, as you can see on the tiled floor above, so there will be some bashing out a set of viewing angles that work pleasingly enough. Foreshortening suits an imposing facade, but not the path-packed rooms inside.

In turn, that means the block-based movement will need reconsidering. It should be consistent laterally, but the mapping for movements towards and away from the screen will vary, depending on the angle at which the background is drawn. Still, at least the video memory layout allows such movements to be done per byte, which won't slow things down too much.

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