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Should I make a tool for my art designer?


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#1 mychii   Members   -  Reputation: 370

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 12:09 AM

Hi, I am about to create a mobile game for Android and iOS, a 2D side-scrolling game like (https://play.google....me.devil2&hl=en), but with more enhanced features.
The sample game above have the character to jump/slash/throw shuriken to enemies, dodge obstacles, have character attributes such as HP and skill quantity upgrades, item boosts, and 1 map.

I'm sure that many experts here can calculate the rough time of that game could be done say in 1 - 2 people in a team.
Say, based on that game, I want to add more features (this may change of course, but still in the same size scope of work):
- More characters up to 3 protagonists, and up to 5 enemies including bosses.
- More hack-n-slash combo and complex skills (combined skills, attributed skills by levels, etc.)
- Have cutscenes with dialog bar at the bottom with character art show up on it, for example:
http://download.game...3975_ps2_44.jpg
- Have little to no story (one simple plot), with little twists for comedy purposes (which is why there are cutscenes).
- Complex character development. Possibly required animation skeletons/separated body parts to enhance details, and is required
for characters to change weapon, but only one type (one type for example, just a sword; one-handed sword, bastard sword, holy
sword, etc., so no need for other animation style for other type of weapons)
- 2 Maps.

I have only me as a programmer and a visual artist, the rest of the stuff (sounds, marketing, etc.) will be done by both of us.

The game is expected to be done in 3 months, with minimum of 5 - 6 months.

The game will be made using JavaScript using accelerated HTML5 canvas, which means almost no memory management required compared to C++/Objective-C environment. We also use a game engine that is already available, and we've used it before.

The problem:
I have trouble that my visual artist can't really realize how his works going live on the game. The usual procedure is quite traditional; he made the arts, I put it on the game programmatically, and then showed it to him live. Sometimes the results are not desirable as we expected, which end up having me and him to adjust it again (recreating the images and re-adjusting positions/re-create new objects). What troubles me is this procedure might be repetitive and time consuming for this game development, as for us this is bigger than usual (more dynamic entities).

Since we're still in concept phase, I come up with a solution where I think I should make a tool editor so he can just put/adjust/remove the images right away into the game so he can work fast and adjust the arts, animation himself (animation here is not that heavy keyframing tool, just frame by frame and he adjust the timing between the frames), and I can focus more on other problems in the game. And when he's done readjusting the way he wants, he can just port the positions and behaviors of the entities. The tool of course specifically made for the game, not for general use, so it won't have so much feature but only for the game.

The questions:
Based on condition above and your experience, is it possible for me with just one programmer to create such tool along with the game in 3 months? Do you have any other recommendation to make sure the production faster regarding to my problem?

It is important for me to finish the game within the timeline, but I also don't want to sacrifice the quality due to repetitive steps where we could have more time from it to make more details possible. Your opinion is most appreciated so I can decide the production steps required.

Thanks!

Sponsor:

#2 Olof Hedman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2214

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 02:36 AM

If you tell them what folder to put the art in, and the naming convention of your data files, it's my experience that art dudes also can learn how to press the "compile & run"-button in an IDE :)

Another solution could be a special debug build that reads the assets from documents folder (for iphone) or the sdcard (for android), and then the art dude can just put the updated art there.

Very little effort, that should save you both tons of time.

If you need some parameters too, put them in an xml-file, those are easy to parse with any SAX-parser

Edit: Doh, missed that part of javascript and html5, I know nothing about those... I'll let my suggestion stand though, maybe you can do something like that anyhow, or its useful for someone else

Edited by Olof Hedman, 13 November 2012 - 02:40 AM.


#3 mychii   Members   -  Reputation: 370

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 08:08 AM

Thanks Olof, I get what you mean. The Javascript stuff was just to tell how big the scope of the project, which I believe is much higher level than C++ and should be more agile to build (based on my experience). And I do compile the assets that you talk about just to package them in one stuff (.zip) so it could run in the web, but your suggestions are applicable since I never tell my art dude to put the assets on the document folders and learn to compile it so it could run (How silly I missed that), that could really save my time. Thanks again.

Edited by mychii, 13 November 2012 - 08:09 AM.


#4 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3535

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 08:23 AM

It sounds like you guys aren't communicating very well, and your artist keeps shooting in the dark hoping to get lucky. Be very specific with them, and use mock ups and anything else so they no exactly what the requirements are. Then use quick placeholder art, and don't put any effort into polishing it until it's confirmed working.

No need to learn how to open an IDE and use the compile button. Write out a batch file that calls the compiler's command line. Make it fool proof. Because a single keypress in the IDE can and will break the compile!

#5 mychii   Members   -  Reputation: 370

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 10:26 AM

Thanks Daaark, I think I agree with you to be more specific on the requirements. The mockup and quick placeholder arts are the traditional way we do.

About the compiler, yes I do have the batch file, I'll teach him to use that as suggested.




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