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Once a Bird

The pixels of Twitchy Thrones

Posted by , 05 December 2013 - - - - - - · 1,084 views

Twitchy Thrones is the first game where I'm trying my hand at pixel art. Fold took advantage of Retina iPhone's resolution of 1136x640 by making all the art vectorial and creating resources for both hi and low resolutions. In Twitchy Thrones the pixel resolution is always 568x320, cropped to 480x320 in devices prior to iPhone 5.

Twitchy Thrones is an ultra-fast strategy game where you control knights, sending them to conquer enemy territories or defend your own. This is the first knight pixel art (2x actual size):

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And this is the first knight pixel art in the first map:

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I couldn't see it at first, but the knights were too small and hard to tell from the background. Eventually I went back to Photoshop the drawing board (2x size):

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Some time after the second attempt I found myself thinking it could look better. It still looked too small and the contours were not very defined. So came the third and latest attempt (2x size):

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And a screenshot of the game at the moment on an iPhone 4s:

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The map's landmarks, such as the bridges and the trees were also modified to reflect the knight's size change. Contours were also made more visible with darker colors.

What did I learn from this? Perception changes over time (duh!). A seasoned artist would be able to point the flaws in the first attempt right away, but I could only do it weeks/months later. Obviously even the art I have right now is flawed but for now I reached the point where I don't know how to significantly improve it.

I quit my job...

Posted by , 05 November 2013 - - - - - - · 1,688 views

...To make games full-time.

Yes, this is going to be one of those posts.

My name is Ricardo Moura, Once a Bird is made of myself and my cousin. I do the programming and "art" and he does the music and sound effects.

I quit my job at the end of July but only left it mid-September. It had been making me sick for years and seemed to be going nowhere. The job consisted of programming various pieces of the back-end of a stock-broker / bank, It was well paid but I very rarely did any interesting stuff.

If you have been following this journal, you're probably wondering at this point how can this guy quit his job when all his games so far were commercial failures. If you didn't, now you know all the games we made so far were commercial failures. Posted Image

The answer is, I've been working as a programmer for 12 years now and for about 5 years I've been doing games in my spare time. I consistently enjoyed making games more than programming "corporate" software. When you reach a certain point in life you realize that it's very easy to spend most of your waking hours working on stuff that you don't like (and doesn't really matter much to you) just so you can make a living (this realization probably comes earlier for most people).

Also, I realized I could survive some time with the money I saved. Posted Image

So, games. Fold was our latest and best-selling game, it was released in June for iPhone and sold 1016 copies so far. If you want to take a look, the app store link: https://itunes.apple.com/pt/app/fold/id645248522

Although it didn't sell much, Fold had very positive reviews, including a glowing review by tuaw.com: http://www.tuaw.com/2013/07/13/daily-iphone-app-fold-is-the-most-original-ios-puzzler-in-years/... Posted Image

In September I entered the Ludum Dare 48-hour compo alone and made Twitchy Thrones, a real-time strategy game parodying Game of Thrones. Here's a link to the post-mortem: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/2013/09/12/twitchy-thrones-post-mortem/.

For our first full-time game, we decided to remake Twitchy Thrones for iPhone. Right now I'm doing pixel art for it:

A map:

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A knight's death animation:

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Thanks for reading, let us know what you think! Art critiques in particular would be very welcome. :)

Fold - First Update

Posted by , 11 September 2013 - - - - - - · 571 views
Fold Update
The first update for Fold is out, featuring a new world with new concepts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fold/id645248522?ls=1&mt=8

Here's a couple of screenshots:

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Ludum Dare

Posted by , 25 August 2013 - - - - - - · 502 views

So I actually finished a game in 48 hours for Ludum Dare!

The theme was 10 seconds. The game is called "George RR M&M's Twitchy Thrones" and it's a real-time strategy game where the population grows every 10 seconds, so speed is of the essence.

If you'd like to try it (I'd love it if you did) download it here: http://onceabird.com/ft/TwitchyThrones.zip

XNA Framework 4.0 Redistributable is needed. Download here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20914


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Posted by , 13 July 2013 - - - - - - · 616 views
Soooo....tuaw.com just called Fold "The most original iOS puzzler in years". :)

Also some other quotes:

"You've probably never played a game even remotely like this before."

"If you're looking for a unique puzzle experience that will undoubtedly help you pass the time on a lazy afternoon, a short break at work, or the subway, Fold is a fantastic choice."


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