Mode 74 platformer thing with dragon

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Jubatian
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Mode 74 platformer thing with dragon

Post by Jubatian » Mon Feb 15, 2016 5:28 pm

No real coding for now, just some theoretical pixelling.

I never did such a complete animation before like this, although did some experiments occasionally with pixelated walk cycles and such. It feels like it turned out fairly well. I didn't use references, just going rather fast to get the pixels pushed, although I remember fairly well of animal (cheetah) walk and run cycles I observed before. Of course needs polish, but I guess it looks decent enough for a game.
dragon_platformer_anim_mockup.gif
Land dragon animation for Mode 74
dragon_platformer_anim_mockup.gif (99.75 KiB) Viewed 1997 times
This is also how Mode 74 would look like displayed by Uzebox (it is 24 tiles wide, the maximal width the mode supports). Of course the backround is just something whacked together in no time from a few sloppy tiles, M74 could have 192 at once on screen. The animation frames are designed so there are frequent reuses to minimize overall tile counts, I also plan to exploit this for making it possible to have the dragon breathing fire and likes while running or jumping (choosing an appropriate head for the torso).

I pixelled and animated with Gimp. For cycles it is usable, for such a complete animation mockup, not so much. I found a way to quickly do it, but it has its limitations (such as there was no way to fix something once placed, except by starting over the frame or sequence).

So maybe I will continue this to get it into a game. Strictly no SD, I want something simpler, that size constraint will hopefully get me eventually finishing it :D

(By the way is there any problem with uploading such as attachments? I guessed this 100K gif wouldn't hurt, but notify me if so)

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Re: Mode 74 platformer thing with dragon

Post by D3thAdd3r » Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:26 am

Wow I like that, usually we just get static concept screenshots. That animation is very fluid, I've watched that loops countless times already just imagining an Uzebox game really having that much temporal resolution for the sprites. For some reason the game "Kid Chameleon" popped into my head, but style wise I like this better. So I think flash limits had something to do with it, but mode 3 has a rarely used flag that allows for multiple sprite banks that would work with anything with a sprite blitter. What you are demonstrating with M74 screams for something like this. Platz was early mode 3 but really well animated for flash constraints, but now crouch,turn around, idle, all that stuff adds up for making the character have life.

I like the style of dragon here and the stuff I saw related to RRPGE. It would be good without even polishing past this so my only critique is the running seems much more cat like than the jumping/idle/laying down frames which are distinctly lizard/serpent/reptile/dragon like. Barely any platformers available and we need one that looks like this.

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Re: Mode 74 platformer thing with dragon

Post by Jubatian » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:30 am

Thanks for the compliments! :)

The animation cycle above has the following frames: 2 laying, 2 sitting, 2 standing, 4 walk cycle, 4 run cycle, 4 turnaround and 10 jump frames, so 28 distinct frames, each using around 10 tiles. Mode 74 can X mirror sprites, so this is all. If I had to put this as-is in the flash, that would take some 9KBytes. But as I mentioned several parts (such as notably the head and commonly the tail) replicate along frames intentionally, which should reduce it to some 6-7K. I hope it wouldn't blow up to more than 12K with every frame necessary for a game. Having 4bpp sprites (versus 8bpp for Mode 3) definitely helps! Not to mention the dragon doesn't gobble up all the available RAM tiles...

Well, it is a cat, indeed! I usually use cheetah as template from memory, but it works for this one. Western dragons (4 legs + wings) are commonly portrayed with mammalian anatomy which I followed here, for which these cycles apply. While dinosaurs evolved a hip construction very similar to quadrupedal mammalian hips (at least for the attachment of legs), they never evolved a fitting front part, thus remained rather clumsy except for the bipedals (like the velociraptor or tyrannosaurus). To get something lizard-like, a Comodo dragon could be used as template (and I sketched up some such for a beast intended for Outcasts).

I remember seeing some game with a lizard protagonist, a small one which could climb walls and likes (maybe a gecko, I can't remember what it was), but obviously that wouldn't be very plausible for a draft-horse sized thing. Big things aren't that agile, and a side-scroller simply needs the capability of jumping or at least moving vertically. A large clumsy Comodo dragon style dragon would rather work nice for a Golden Axe style game, where he would have to move mostly on the ground. It could be a nice idea, but too graphic and animation heavy to be realized well on Uzebox.

I imagine him to have a shoulder height nearing two meters, so castle guards in steel plating could be some 16 pixels tall (utilizing two sprite tiles). Normal indoor areas, rooms would be 3 tiles high which he fits standing. A gameplay idea was that he is graphically just so big that he can crawl (given the necessary animation) through 1 tile high passages, where it is plausible he can't turn around, only back out. That would make him quite vulnerable from the rear. People can easily navigate in an 1 meter tall cave, I visited old quarries whose passages were hardly any taller (just imagine that... what it was like actually working in such a place).

A design idea is to also use tiles for realizing sprite-like content, I am thinking about creating large area fire breaths in this manner. Of course gameplay-wise severely constrained how often he can pull that off, and what resources it needs.

EDIT:

Eh, platformers and big lizards. Just for the laughs.

I guess you would be a lil bit surprised if arriving home you found this little guy on your wall.

Well, the truth is that actually they could probably play platformers. At least this moderately sized tegu shows she can be quite alige when she wants to be (they have rather powerful hind legs).

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Re: Mode 74 platformer thing with dragon

Post by uze6666 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:30 am

Nice! Lots of frames in there and all pretty smooth. Did you use rotoscoping or animation software?

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Re: Mode 74 platformer thing with dragon

Post by Jubatian » Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:11 pm

Nothing, just Gimp and my memory :)

I experiment with such things, digital sketching and likes, and observe things I am interested in purposely for re-creation. The cycles could be better, but they somewhat show I used quadrupedal animal walk and run cycles as sources which I remember sufficiently to get that without actually watching. I was rather experimenting with the pixeling, how to get it look right with the few pixels and no translucency (so no edge smoothing). Later if I really get in trying to make the game, and I see how the memory budget works out, I will revisit these cycles and tweak them further by references (for example if I discover I could get 6 frames for walking or running, that means I would have to drop 2 of the already made ones since I need to space them evenly in time to get a smooth animation).

Its true Gimp is not very friendly for animating, but with the static background, once you get the hang of it, it can be produced reasonably fast. I wouldn't likely do such again though (I was a bit at "now I am really going to seek out something for this" when I was placing like the 100th sprite on that background, not like it took a very long time, rather for the tediousness).

Walk and run mock-ups are fairly easy to make (I mean once you have the sprite). The cycle has some fixed movement speed observable from the placement of the legs (for this dragon, the walk cycle is 3 pixels / frame and the run cycle is 8 pixels / frame), so you simply need to plot the sprites in the proper distance to make it look right.

Designing the sprite had some interesting "quirks", notably that how to reuse parts or create transitions from one to another cycle. For example for the landing after the jump I discovered I can use a run cycle frame to smooth it a bit (even when the dragon doesn't transition to running), and I designed accordingly, basically getting that smoothing for free (since it repurposes a run frame).

The actual game design will turn up other problems to solve. Here most frames are 150 milliseconds, acceptable for a gif, but it would be a let-down if the game was this jerky. However if you move the sprite smoothly as your frame rate permits, the legs would slide around on the ground. I think I will try to negotiate this problem by repurposing that I want to compose the sprite from multiple parts, so I could design intermediate frames shifting these parts around to get it smoother. It will be a fun quest, what I can get out from some 10 kilobytes and the processing power of the AVR (too many sprite parts and I would see a blitter bottleneck... I should keep it so at 200 or so pixels height it can still actually exploit all the RAM tiles for sprites efficiently if needed).

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