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Pixel → Tile → World

If an RPG falls in a forest, but the trees suck, does anyone care?

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Pixel art, Design 13 November 2015 - - - - - - · 2,552 views

My game, Of Stranger Flames, takes place in a fictional French colony settled in a heavily-wooden bit of terrain.

Forested areas appeal to me greatly, so it makes sense to set my game in a forest.

There's just one problem...



I can't draw trees

That is to say, I couldn't previously draw trees. But I've gotten better over time. I've made some new tree art yesterday! It makes my old art look like trash.

For comparison, here's my previous trees:

And *bum bum bum baaaaa!* here's my new trees:

Still not amazingly fantastic, but still alot better than previously. Hurray for relativistic comparisons. Posted Image

So yeah, it makes my old trees look like trash. An artist friend assures me that this is the way it's supposed to be, saying, "Every five minutes I think 'man, my work from 10 minutes ago is junk'". I'm having exactly that same feeling! Except, it takes me over a year to improve instead of five minutes. Posted Image

The trees have also apparently quadrupled in size. Posted Image
This should hopefully make the world feel more raw nature with a few towns nestled inbetween, rather than some cultivated garden. I'll need alot more "forest debris" as well. I have some shrubs and such, but I'll need fallen logs and other things, dirt forest floor, and etc... We'll see if I can eventually pull it off.

Workin' on the editor

Posted by , in AdventureFar 05 March 2015 - - - - - - · 1,878 views
editor, rpg
Progress is picking up again on my 2D RPG game. I never stopped working on the game's engine/editor, but progress was mostly non-visual and slow-moving progress.

The engine uses 'layers' (and 'floors'), and there are different types of layers. The biggest one ofcourse being the Tile layers (temporarily disabled due to a pending refactoring), and I've implemented Backdrop Layers and Decal Layers. There's several other important types of layers I need to implement, but most of them are simple enough I don't expect much complexity. Theres one or two layer types that'll require a decent amount of work, though. Posted Image

Anyway, I got 'backdrops' implemented properly now, and there's alot of cool features in it.
  • First, and most obviously, they can be used as backgrounds. And, since each Backdrop is a separate layer, you can layer multiple backgrounds together if desired - for example, if the upper layer was partially transparent.
  • Second, they're optionally parallaxed, so you can move the Backdrops at different speeds when the player is walking around. This allows for potentially some interesting effects I intend to use to make the game more visually pleasing (light rays when outdoors is one I have in mind).
  • Third, they optionally scroll (and at different speeds), so I can use Backdrops for slow-moving mist or clouds. And if I have different layers of mist moving at slightly different speeds, I think the effect would look rather nice. For the clouds, I was thinking subtle cloud shadows moving over the ground, but they'd need to be really subtle or it'd just be ugly.
  • Fourth, they're animated - again beneficial for mist, but perhaps also for oceans or swamps.
You can also see a Decal Layer present here, which can contain various textures (with masks) that are freely rotated, scaled, or stretched out of shape. Similar to Decals are the Object Layers which, while not yet integrated into the editor interface, almost entirely share the same code as Decals, except they don't allow rotation, and they are sorted with the player by Y-position.

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(Pardon the big blue arrows - that's the texture I was using for testing, and not part of the editor interface)

You can also see the minimap working (top-right corner), and alot of other niceties are functioning like zooming in and out, and adding, deleting, and reordering layers. There's also alot of not-implemented functionality. Posted Image

One big important roadblock that I recently overcame (hopefully for the last time Posted Image) was getting my textures and animations w/ metadata retrieved in a stable way. I don't have them all imported yet, and there'll be some manual labor organizing them, but the major roadblock was architectural design problems I was having. Over-engineering or over-simplifying, I was banging my head back and forth between those extremes.

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I still have some work left to do when it comes to textures (packing them in archives), but that can wait until way later - even after map editing begins, since it doesn't affect the file formats in any way. If real-world performance is fine, it might not even need to be tackled at all until porting to tablets (post-release of PC/Mac/Linux).

It'll still be a ways off before I begin to actually use the editor to create the world, unfortunately. I make very little progress every day - a serious lack of butt-in-chair-productivity. But things are progressing! Posted Image

Artwork, I guess. =)

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Pixel art, Design 17 November 2014 - - - - - - · 1,394 views

I haven't posted in awhile (as usual), most of my updates just occur on twitter, where I usually post an average of 6 or so tweets a week (usually two or three tweets on a single day, then silence for a few days, and repeat), so here's a re-posting from twitter of things I've been doing recently.

First, on the coding side, I've implemented a UI for scaling and manipulating decals - which I'll use to add dirt and cracks to walls, tables, and floors, as well as put detail items (tools, paintings, papers, rugs, whatever) on surfaces.

I'm working on that in a small subproject which I'll merge back into

Anyway, on to cool stuff:

Cliffs (click for full size)
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The most significant thing (which you can see if you zoom in), is that I finally figured out how to make grass look better.
By simply having grassy stuff where the grass meets walls (and cliffs and tree trunks), it makes it seem alot more grassy.

For scale, the player is only about a quarter the size of one of those trees. These aren't no wussy backyard shrubs! Posted Image


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Because I'm still working on the editor, none of the art is in-game, so these couches might be too big relative to the player.

Wussy backyard shrubs
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I made these today/yesterday. These stiff brambly plants are wild plants that'd grow naturally around various areas ingame.
The editor can let map makers tweak their stem colors (for example: red-ish, brown, white, grey, green), and they come optionally with berries, flowers, or that drapery flowery thing you currently see on them (wisteria-inspired, I guess!).

Hopefully I'll have enough plant variation that my nature areas will look interesting, and not just an eclectic mix of crazy plants. I need cohesion working with diversity, I guess.


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These are combinable - I made each planterbox so their sides can be built up higher or lower (three sizes for the stones: one layer of brick high, two layers, and three layers. For the wood, it's one or two planks high), and so they can have different plants planted in them, with optional bars over them for plants to grow on. They can also be laid out horizontally or vertically.

Wooden cattle fence
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I've already made a few stone fences in the past, and iron bar fences and wood picket fences, so I figure a more rustic wooden fence for cattle would add a more warm and "lived in" feeling to the world.

Footlockers / furniture chests
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Crates / boxes:
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Boxes likely in a port area or fishing village. The one on the far right says "Parii", since the game takes place in a fictional former French colony.

Shadowing and lighting my RPG's walls

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Pixel art, Design 02 July 2014 - * * * * * · 1,468 views
art, design, lighting
I was trying to figure out some some shadowing stuff, and so put this image together for my own benefit, and then figured I'd post it here and share it with anyone interested.

Here's how I'm shading and lighting the walls for my game.

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I was considering using Screen or Additive blending for the light, and Multiply or Subtractive for the purple shadowing, but since I have the overlays so low in transparency, it seemed regular alpha blending had the light and shadow coloring showing up better better.

While it technically doesn't make sense for there to be arbitrary lighting on one end of the wall and arbitrary shading on the end, it adds more "life" to the wall, I feel, making it look less flat. And, as an artist friend was saying to me, 'The artistic rules with lighting is basically that you get to make it up, because what with light scattering and light rays bouncing around everywhere, you can pretty much just do whatever looks good and get away with it.' (paraphrased)

With lighting, you can just cheat as long as it doesn't stand out so badly that it draws people's eyes to it. With this wall being in the midst of a scene with many things to look at, the subtle lighting at the ends won't be too noticeable, but will still add to the overall visual aesthetics.

Probably, maybe, hopefully? Posted Image

Art I made today

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Pixel art 22 June 2014 - - - - - - · 1,081 views

I've been really busy with household projects + guests staying over, so I haven't made much progress on Of Stranger Flames.

Yesterday and today, I managed to sneak a little time in and made these:

Water cistern / well:

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A closed version, and an open version.

Stone blocks:
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(With optional horse ring tie-out).

Stone posts:

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Small posts, outdoors, for whatever purpose.
These aren't support posts, they are roughly 5" x 5" and maybe 4 or 5 feet tall.

Horse watering troughs:
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An empty version and a filled version.

I'm hoping to get more work done on my editor soon - I still can't view any of this art in-game, which makes it hard to get the scale correct. I have fixed measurements (1 pixel = 1 inch, so a 48x48 tile is four feet by four feet), but I know I'll have to adjust alot of my art once I see it all in the game world - I'll probably need to adjust scale as well as relative brightness.

Hope all y'all projects are going well!

Screenshots of my WIP editor

Posted by , in AdventureFar 29 May 2014 - - - - - - · 923 views
gamedev, editor, tools
Haven't posted anything for quite awhile, so here's two screenshots of the current state of my editor. Some of the tabs and buttons don't actually work, but a surprising amount does work.
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A few art pieces over the past few days

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Pixel art 21 February 2014 - - - - - - · 1,354 views
pixelart, development
I'm working on a small tool to help me package my games' art assets together in a more manageable way, so here's a screenshot of that:

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(Most of these buttons aren't working yet)

But, as usual when I can't get into a coding groove (or when waiting for long compiles), I've worked on some tileart for Of Stranger Flames.

Marble fireplace

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This is a marble fireplace, with gold trim. It's sunk into the wall, which is why the mantlepiece looks cut-off at the top.

I'm pleased with it, aside from it probably being slightly too small.


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Stack of firewood to go with it. They seem a bit out of proportion compared to the fireplace, but don't let that fool you! In reality, they actually are out of proportion with the fireplace because I wasn't paying attention to my in-game size measurements again! Posted Image

The fireplace seems a bit small, but the logs are definitely over-sized.

"Once I get the actual editor working" (yep, still on that repeating record track), then these kinds of things will be alot easier to notice and correct.

Not fully happy with the logs, even apart from the size. Too uniform for real firewood.

King's throne
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The tiny colony/nation that Of Stranger Flames takes place in has a young king ruling it. Only the second king in its short history.
And hey, a king needs more than just a figurative throne - he needs a smashingly nice and literal throne. Posted Image
French-inspired, ofcourse, since the colony was colonized by the french.

I'm very pleased with it.

Large (really large) tent

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When I was making this tent, I designed it kind-of with military use in-mind, thinking it may have a place in the first semi-town the player encounters, which is a military outpost.

Leave it to my character-artist to point out that this tent would collapse after the first rainfall, when the rain would pool up on the roof. Posted Image

I think the tent needs some more work with creases and such. I'm liking the texturing (it's supposed to be made out of "canvas" which is made from cotton, wool, or hemp (from which ropes are made). I also liked out the rugs in the doorway came out, but I think the roof needs more character.

Double archway

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Very large stone double-archway, probably for the fortified fortress the player passes through a few hours into the game.

Roofing shingles

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I made this one a week or two ago. Since it's composed of tiles, when I actually make use of it, I'll be sure the forward-facing portion of the roof is slightly longer than the backward-facing side (because of the camera angle of the game).

Built-in bookcase

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A bookcase built-into / sunk-into the wall. Way too oversized. (And yet, I have a measurement system... apparently I neglected it the past few weeks).

I'm a sucker for built-in furniture (like that marble fireplace), having helped my dad construct a few around the house when younger. Never this fancy though, and certainly not in a stone wall! Posted Image

Anyway, I hope all y'all projects are going well. The programming side of mine keeps starting and stalling, progress-wise, but hopefully it'll kick into drive soon. Posted Image

Minor spattering of info

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Pixel art 02 January 2014 - - - - - - · 1,202 views
development, rpg
Not much to say, and not much to show, but I haven't posted in several weeks so I figure I need to post something.

I've been running some tests using SFML and OpenGL, to see what kind of framerates I could get when drawing my 2D tiles (the results of the performance results are still inexplicably low), and in doing so, I confusedly ended up with some weird OpenGL mistakes from mixing up by the order that the vertices were supposed to go in:

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Being new to GLSL (and OpenGL in general), I was playing around with getting my existing color blending algorithms working with OpenGL shaders:

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Anyway, eventually (after heatedly interrogating other GDNet members in the chat room) I realized (okay, fine, "admitted I was wrong and acknowledged" Posted Image) that I didn't actually need to use GLSL shaders to achieve the results I wanted:

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But, I do need to use GLSL shaders to use one texture as the alpha mask for another texture. Posted Image
I thought there would be built in OpenGL functions for that, for sure.

It took me several days to trick SFML into letting me do that, by intermingling OpenGL function calls and GLSL shaders and depending on SFML implementation details:

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That's a rotated texture that has been flipped horizontally, with a independently rotated and/or flipped texture applied as the alpha channel.

If you came here expecting artwork... I haven't really worked on much recently. Posted Image
Today I did make some pottery and jewelry boxes, but that's about it for the past several weeks!
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Oh, as mentioned in my previous dozen or so journal entries, you now have the great privilege of following me on twitter! *waits expectantly for the world to burst into rejoicing*
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*still waiting expectantly*

Update on 'Of Stranger Flames'

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Pixel art, Design 11 December 2013 - - - - - - · 6,995 views
art, game, development, progress and 1 more...
Haven't posted in awhile. I've been busy doing some minor VBA scripts as well as necessary housework projects, so I haven't been able to make much project on my game.

Anyway, I'm back knee-deep in Of Stranger Flames again. It's so refreshing to be able to speak my native C++ language again!

Editor work:

I just finished getting tag-filtering re-implemented into the editor:

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I'm trying to get the editor done as fast as possible, but we'll see how it all works out. 3 1/2 years working on the editor?! I really need to get it done. Posted Image

Ofcourse, those 3 years have also been spent on artwork, the game concept, and other things, but still... without getting the editor finished, I can't move forward.


Speaking of art (look, a diversion!), here's some I made recently:
(These works are all copyrighted, except where noted below, and I reserve the rights to them Posted Image)

Some plants for forested areas:

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Some stone water holding thing:

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Paintings and other wall-hangers:

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The paintings within the frame are old public domain artwork from the 1700s, from Wikicommons.

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Here, I was trying to make some kind of wall-mounted wood-carved wall-hung something or other.
Is it clear enough that you can tell what it's showing?

Baseboard and fancy crown moulding:

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Carved baseboard (basically just re-using the art from the wood-carved object above).

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This is weird. It's supposed to be a type of really fancy crown-moulding (decorative trimwork that goes at the top of walls where the wall meets the ceiling), but this crown-moulding has painting inside it. I never knew such a thing existed until I saw a photograph of something similar from some fancy building in Europe or Russia.

Can you tell what the picture is supposed to be?


Incase you didn't know, I tweet now. That is to say, I have a twitter account that could ostensibly be used for tweeting, if I'd remember to do it more often. Posted Image

I tend to not want to tweet unless I actually have something to say or am replying to, or retweeting, what someone else said, so I only average about 1.5 tweets a day. I currently have 75 non-spambot followers, which is pretty good, all things considered. I figure, despite not really being all that sociable, that I need to build a 'social media' 'presence'. That's a thing now, you know. Or, at least it was three years ago - I might've been left behind again. Posted Image

So anyway, you should follow me. And you should PM me on GameDev.net with your twitter handle so I can follow you. Posted Image

Stain glass windows

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Pixel art 08 October 2013 - - - - - - · 1,518 views

A month or two ago, I drew some stain glass windows for Of Stranger Flames. Here's how they look:
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(These are blended together in an art program - this is not an actual in-game screenshot)

Mockup room, for motivation

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Design 04 October 2013 - - - - - - · 1,168 views
I've been intermittently busy with real life the past two months or so, but that's wrapped up now.
Slightly discouraged by the lack of progress on Of Stranger Flames.

Today I slapped together, in MS Paint, a mockup up something close to the art style I'm trying to go for with this game using existing art I have made in the past. There's some minor differences in the art styles (and object sizes) of the different pieces that need to become more consistent when I get around to making the game world, but this at least gives me some comfort seeing something visual.
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I really really need to get the world editor finished. Posted Image

Some plant artwork

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Pixel art 31 July 2013 - - - - - - · 599 views
art, 2d, rpg
Wow. Five journal entries in one month. I hope I'm making up for all the months where I skipped posting!

Well, here's a few more shrubbery things for my game:

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The trunk ain't so hot here. I've already updated the trunks since I took this screenshot, and while improved, they still aren't that great.

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I love these ones alot. Also, generated a few smaller versions of them, for more variation.

These were ridiculously easy to do, because I found some public domain plant leaves and just recolored, shrunk, and rotated them.

Some over-fancy mayor or lord will be pleased with his new doorway:

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This would ideally be against a grey-ish or dark-colored wall. A dark red wall would work well also. The gold leaves are supposed to be as if they were stenciled on the wall as decor.

These doorway leaves were also public domain.

Cabinets and shrubbery for Of Stranger Flames

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Pixel art 25 July 2013 - - - - - - · 1,283 views
art, concept art, sketches and 1 more...
Here's some art I made today and yesterday for my RPG game project.
(Note: This art is not public domain - I intend to use it for my own game projects - though I'd love to release some of it in the future)

Since Of Stranger Flames takes place in a heavily-forested land, I need alot of shrubbery to make the environment more detailed and 'natural'.
Previously I posted pictures of some trees I was working on. Yesterday and today I made some shrubbery:

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Note 1: This is not a screenshot from within the game, this is merely a test image layered in an art program.
Note 2: I added way too many shrubs in the picture.
Note 3: Every shrub there is a different shrub, they aren't copies of each other.
Note 4: I added way too many notes under this not-a-screenshot image.

Since the game also takes place in urban environments - namely: small villages, prosperous towns, and prosperouslier cities - then I need the inside of the buildings to also look good.
These images are some cabinets I just finished:

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Here's the concept art I sketched several months ago, which I based these cabinets on:
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I drew it while re-re-watching Pride and Prejudice (the good one - the 2005 movie). Posted Image

Tiny bit of art, some programming talk

Posted by , in AdventureFar, Pixel art, Code snippets 21 July 2013 - - - - - - · 1,162 views
Here's a few pieces of art I made for my game, in between programming.

Stone fence
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I just finished this a few minutes ago - it took about an hour.

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I guess about a week ago? Maybe two.


Didn't get anything done today - rather lazy. Still have a few hours left in the day, so I'm going to crack back into the code for a bit more work.

Yesterday and the day before I made great progress finally figuring out a good resource-management system for my game. This is after a week or two of false-starts, and several concepts drawn on paper over the past few months. The end result isn't anything special - but all my prior attempts were either too limiting in capability, or else too generalized to be useful. I've gotten it mostly working already, and yesterday I started connecting it up to the old area-drawing code that I haven't seen in several months. I'm happy with the area-drawing code - it's still stable and clean - but the tile-drawing and image-sharing code that I was replacing just was too clunky.

One bit of code I'm somewhat proud of is a new serializing system I wrote up to replace my old one. The new one is more reusable and a pleasure to use, though there is one annoying thing I'd like to fix later.

The new serializer is heavily template-based for great flexibility, observe:
struct MyStruct
	std::tuple<std::pair<std::string, int>, float, std::vector<std::string> > tupleOfPairsAndVectorsOfStrings;
	float otherStuff;

//Template specialization for serializing 'MyStruct'.
size_t Serialize<MyStruct>(Serializer &serializer, MyStruct &tileDetails, size_t pos)
	//Automaticly calls the overload for floats.
	pos = Serialize(serializer, tileDetails.otherStuff, pos);
	//Automaticly calls the overload for tuples, which in-turn calls the overload for each tuple's member,
	//which in this case calls the overload for std::pair<> which then calls the overload for std::string and int,
	//and also calls the overload for std::vector, which calls on each element the overload for std::string.
	pos = Serialize(serializer, tileDetails.tupleOfPairsAndVectorsOfStrings, pos);
	//Sound slow? Not when you remember template functions are resolved at compile-time. =P
        //It shouldn't be any slower than most other serializing methods.
	return pos;

class Foo
	//Calling Serialize() on class 'Foo' automaticly detects that Foo has a Foo::Serialize() function, and calls that instead.
	size_t Serialize(Serializer &serializer, size_t pos)
		//Calls the Serialize() function for vectors... which automaticly detects the type of element in the vector,
		//and calls Serialize<ElementType>() for each element in that vector.
		return Serialize(serializer, this->arrayOfStructs, pos);
	std::vector<MyStruct> arrayOfStructs;
While not intentional, I think it's also loads faster than my old class, which is a nice plus. I haven't profiled it yet to see.

Better still, I don't have to code almost-identical read and write serializing functions for classes - just one function, that reads OR writes, using the same code. Serialize() depending on the nature of the Serializer passed in, reads or writes using the same functions. And without a bunch branching statements - it redirects to the read or write function using a function pointer.

Using a function-pointer also allows me to redirect to Safe or Fast read functions at run time (or for individual pieces of code), depending on the requirements of the program. If I want to, I could later also add Encrypted read/write functions, or Compressed read/write functions, without changing any existing code, but by just adding the new functions to the Serializer class that handles the incoming bytes.

Editor screenshot

Posted by , in AdventureFar 06 July 2013 - - - - - - · 812 views
rpg, tile, editor
What's cool about Qt is that you can make really impressive looking interfaces fairly quickly.

Here's what the editor looks like today, compared with a week ago:

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Still alot of work todo. I'm halfway considering licensing this editor out as a RPG making tool, or maybe just a tile editor, when I finish it. But that's low priority. The focus is on making the editor stable enough to use it for the Of Stranger Flames and several games afterward.

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