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About dbaumgart

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  1. dbaumgart

    Feedback: Portfolio

    Alright, lots of different thoughts. I apologize for this being a bit scattershot in terms of advice. Looking at your portfolio, the Wendigo stands out as the best digital painting, probably because it feels like it's the most intentional in terms of use of colour. The other drawings feel a bit more naive in that the colour shade ramps feel flat due to use of more or less a single hue from light to dark. I recommend reading this lovely tutorial to help address what's going on there. Lots of other good stuff in there as well, it's basically the link I send to anyone who ever asks for advice about art. Your 2D character drawing is very lineart focused. That is, they all seem to follow a process of lineart -> colour layer -> done. I think perhaps you should show an ability to use some different approaches to rendering, like something more painterly, something more vectory, and maybe even something more pixely; it's a fairly narrow range right now.  In terms of anatomy/aesthetics, the characters mostly seem to be, hmm, like there's a tall & thin manga/anime thing going on. Not a bad thing to do, but you should be able to demonstrate a range of styles above all: how about do a realistic character, a super cute character whose head is like the size of their body, and .. something else, maybe something more monstrous? .. in addition to the willowy anime character look. Show your range! The super extended breakdown of weapon art is actually pretty interesting because it really shows some thought about the process. It'd be completed by (say) a mockup showing how these weapon assets are meant to look when integrated into an actual game scene, because what's missing here is letting the viewer know what problem you're trying to solve with your designs. A cool link I'd recommend: Gausswerks redesign of Jericho characters: this shows a process of character design from start to finish and explains why the choices are made. It's a lovely piece of work - if you can do something like this, show the process of designing a character for a game (and show why), it'd make a great portfolio piece because it shows you can take in project goals, consider options, then make a decision about how to approach aesthetics in a way that addresses the project requirements. So, to those ends, consider entries in your portfolio that show what you can contribute that's part of making a game. Drawings of characters are fine and all, but the question is how do they apply to a hypothetical game project? How are you showing you can create 2D assets that can be used in a game? So two angles here, 1. is to show the process of concept work (as per the Gausswerks link) where you design something to solve a problem, and 2. also show some hypothetically ready-to-use art to demonstrate your ability to produce working assets. For the latter, showing your ability to create ready-to-use assets, it may be valuable to have a look at (for example) the Unity Asset Store section focused on 2D game character art:!/search/page=1/sortby=popularity/query=category:139 ; If you can do art that's like a set of those that actually sells for money, then you'll be showing you're ready to be hired. And again, you want to show versatility; an amateur draws only what they're inspired to draw while a professional makes it their business to be able to draw whatever is needed whenever it's needed. And you mention doing environmental art; that'd be good. More range is always better!
  2. dbaumgart

    Feedback on my 3d Model

    What are you trying to do? What purpose is the model meant to serve, what aesthetic goal is it supposed to fulfill? It's difficult to know if something works unless you know what it's for. If you're doing this as a learning exercise, then what do you hope to learn how to do - or what was your inspiration for taking this on? Without a goal, you'll get subjective comments pulling you in possibly contradictory directions. (Did you do a planning sketch before starting by the way? If nothing else, it seems like you're trying to make some kind of spaceship, but the composition seems like it's derived from shapes at-hand rather than made to fit a master plan, which returns us to my original question... ) Edit: And then while I was writing this, your posted the second part. So this is for a poster? Tell us more about this poster!
  3. dbaumgart

    New to Pixel Animation Need Critique

    Hey! It looks like you're just getting started with character animation -- and ah, I remember being there. And I get the impression that you're going in cold, without training, which is tough. Walk animations are a largely solved problem so I think there are a few quick tips that will make life a LOT easier for you. I recommend checking out a couple walkcycle tutorials to get an understanding of the structure of walk animations. There are a ton of these, so literally just put "walkcycle tutorial" into Google. You'll find excellent tutorials in writing, video, and images. For example, here's the first image I get on google with that search (from ): [attachment=35380:wlk01.gif] You could cut out half the frames from that and it'd still look good. Key thing here vs. what you've got is it looks like you're keeping the body completely still while modifying the limbs to add motion; this makes it feel oddly pinned-in-place. You've got to move the entire body to get a feel of shifting weight and motion. You can see in the example image how the entire body lifts and dips, and the limbs really swing (though it's a bit exaggerated there for emphasis). I recommend trying a re-draw after going through some tutorials and using some of the images as a motion guide. & I suggest rendering the figure in shapes of colour, no details, to get the movement of the masses feeling right first before adding the details. You don't want to commit to the finicky details too soon, it's important to render loosely at first so you can experiment to get the movement looking correct. To show an example, here's a monster animation I was working on a while back:  [attachment=35381:grem_hop.png] Just messy masses of colour to get the movement right. If the movement sells the character, then it works. The detailing is just icing on the cake.  Anyway, good luck!
  4. dbaumgart

    Space ship (fighter) [looking for feedback]

    It looks like you keep jumping to the "make final object" stage, trying various things, and restarting without first developing the concept. (My appeal to authority: I've both drawn a ton of spaceships for commercially-released games, albeit 2D sprites or concept art, and acted as art director over 3D artists.) If I were you, I'd start from the beginning rather than from the end. First: Collect reference images. Google space fighters, jet fighters, old time airplanes, birds?, art deco; whatever. Find a bunch of images with stuff you like -- the cockpit from this one, the wing shape from that one, the head of this bird, the decoration on this building, the spoiler on this car, the colouration of this machine. Second: Make a sketch. Pull the elements from your references and stick them together in a drawing. It doesn't have to be anywhere near perfect, just find a silhouette from various perspectives (flashbacks of drafting class here), how various details are rendered, and paint pattern, etc. Iterate the sketches until you have something that looks good. Now you have a plan. Third: Model it, etc.   Point is, it doesn't look like you have a target for this asset (edit: that we know of) so it's hard to judge how close you are to meeting it. With no defined aesthetic, outside opinions are going to pull you in all kinds of subjective directions. If, instead, you knew you wanted something that looked like a Spitfire crossed with French scifi comics from the 70's and the image of a raven, it'd be really easy to judge if you were landing near that mark and straightforward to tell you how to tighten up the design.
  5. dbaumgart

    Started drawing a game. Need feedback.

    Alright, let'see, checking in with some art direction advice here. Here's the thing: So far you've got a sketch for a couple assets. You don't have a complete plan here. If you're preparing the art direction, you have to figure out what all the assets are going to look like. This doesn't mean literally drawing everything, just have a plan for how to extrapolate the style of a few examples across your range of assets. And you're still grappling with the tree, so you've got a ways to go. So, first, you gotta know what your full scope is: Make a full list of every unity and all terrain types. This plan can change of course, but make a good guess and call it your first-draft plan so you can figure out how the details pan out to fit the whole. What you seem to be doing here is making some art examples to base the rest of the game on. This is good, but you're not done - you gotta animate at least one walkcycle for that footman and, I think, do a full turnaround with whatever number of directions you want the sprite to face. This'll let you appreciate the amount of work it's going to take to do that art for one unit, and then for all the rest of the units. Then you can decide if this is what you really want to do -- and I bring this up because it looks to me like you may be walking into a lot more work than you expect; it may be valuable to go much simpler in style so you can finish the thing. As for the tree/terrain, you're going to need to do a mockup of what you want it to look like. To give an example of this, I planned a terrain set out a while ago by first doing a small example set of assets and fitting them together in Photoshop. It looked like this: [attachment=35267:tileset_test.jpg] You can see that I'm pretty happy with the beaches, but I'm doing a lot of experimenting with rendering trees and so on. Using this art as a base, I extrapolated out various terrain types, two different kinds of forest, mountains, rivers, etc. (It was, as ever, more work than expected.) As for the particulars of your tree, I highly recommend reading this pixel art tutorial at Android Arts. It's just really good and addresses issues with colour use, rendering, noise, composition etc. highly applicable to the visual design issues you are facing. Particularly good is the part at the end where he takes a problematic scene and re-renders it according to the rules he's discussed, then shows examples of other pixel artists taking on the same task in different ways; I can't recommend it enough. Overall, I think it's likely you'll want to pull back the complexity and detail a bit to make the project more manageable, seeing as you're also doing the coding. Best of luck! PS. Is your username a Total Annihilation reference? Nice.
  6. dbaumgart

    Advice on 2D RPG Environments?

    First: What perspective is the game rendered in: is it a first-person 3D game, a birdseye-view 3D game, or is it an orthographic 2D game like a side-scroller, top-down, or oblique view like an old Zelda or Final Fantasy game? Actually, do you have a screenshot of the work-in-progress game right now? That might help to demonstrate exactly what you need. (And what engine are you using to make this game- Unity, RPG Maker, something else? Could be helpful to know.)
  7. dbaumgart

    Animate 2d walking/running

    Honestly, just google "walkcycle". Or maybe "4 frame walkcycle" or 6 or 8 frames or whatever you're shooting for. If indeed you're drawing your own figures but you have no background in drawing, you can even just make a new layer and draw your own walking figure overtop of a tutorial image you find online. If you do have drawing skills, you can use that as a base and modify from there. Just taking a glance at the first page of google hits tells me there are lots of good tutorials that explain the details that go into selling a believable walkcycle, so give 'em a read and try drawing one. Then do it again, better. Better yet, if you want critique, post your animation frames here for people to have a look at.
  8. [font=arial]This piece was originally posted on my personal website blog yesterday, though I think it'd be appropriate to put here as well due to talking about some ideas that are particularly applicable to indie games. (I'll apologize here for the state of formatting in this entry; copy & pasted text is not playing nice.)[/font] [font=arial]To give a bit of background to the post, I've been playing a bit of Darklands (yes, the game from 25 years ago) as well as a bit of the more recent indie game Serpent in the Staglands. Staglands is clearly inspired by aspects of Darklands (and Baldur's Gate, which I mention in the post below) and I found myself comparing the games with one another. While I think Staglands is a wonderful creative achievement, it does have issues with UI/mechanics flow that I think holds the experience back. It's a first game, so it's quite understandable (and it isn't my intention to bash it - I really do think the aesthetic it achieves in wonderful).[/font] [font=arial]So thinking about what I enjoyed in Darklands and what I didn't enjoy in Staglands, I found myself coming to the question of "what does Darklands still do well?". And thought maybe there are some answers there which are meaningful to contemporary game design. For instance, Starsector uses text-based interaction dialogs and has a scripting system behind them which I want to do some more interesting stuff with. Anyway, read on about how text dialogs can be a good tool![/font] [font=arial]* * *[/font] [font=arial]I've recently fallen into playing a bit of Darklands, as I do every few years. It's an ancient game and the usability is bad in so many ways DOS games were. These flaws are easy to demonstrate. What got me thinking here was the consideration of what it does right, particularly in terms of using of text as a part of interactive gameplay.[/font] [font=arial][/font] [font=arial]We should start with a quick overview of Darklands: Imagine a realtime pause-and-command combat RPG with a choose-your-own-adventure style interface and a free-roaming overworld map set in a fantastical version of medieval Germany where all of the folklore, myths, and medieval religion that people believed in is actually true. And it was made in 1992. Behold![/font] [font=arial][/font] [font=arial]Darklands combat was far ahead of its time and the ideas it pioneered form the basis of many modern RPGs. This post isn't about the combat system however.[/font] [font=arial] Here's the Darklands overworld! This post isn't about the Darklands overworld. It's pretty standard, but I quite enjoy the cute little towns and castles, and the turn of seasons.[/font] [font=arial]So what's Darklands do so well in its use of text in its game world? Let's get into it.[/font] [font=arial]Darklands uses text to navigate physical space.[/font] [font=arial]This has several advantages. First: It's fast, it wastes none of the player's time. You can charm through the main gate of Koln with a charisma/speech check and find yourself on the main street in two clicks. Then where? The inn in one click, a market to sell your junk in two, the church in three, or you may find yourself taking on a quest for the Hanseatic League in four clicks if your reputation and charm is sufficient to impress their local outlet.[/font] [font=arial][/font] [font=arial]It's all very efficient, no waiting involved, no loading screens, no botched pathfinding, no having the navigate your little dudes around the same street again and again to sell Kobold Lint.[/font] [font=arial]I need but say "You must gather your party before venturing forth" to recall these frustrations for those of you who have played (for example) the Baldur's Gate series. In Baldur's Gate you would have to navigate isometric space to ensure that each of your party members was within a minimum range of an exit zone before your party could leave the are and get on with the fun stuff. Given that game's occasional pathfinding failures and often narrow dungeon corridors - important for tactical combat - this was the source of much delay and frustration. Not that Darklands wholly escapes this pitfall because it does the exact same thing in its dungeon-crawls, but with even more limited pathfinding and crude user interaction schemes. Darklands even allows you to leave party members on separate submaps, which is universally a bad idea for the player and may lead to all manner of confusion.[/font] [font=arial]... But that isn't the point, the point is the clarity of the choose-your-own adventure interface. Particularly for a small development budget, the question must be asked: What is the purpose of allowing a player to navigate a space? Is this where assets and content creation should be invested? What is the purpose of this space in terms of advancing what the game is about - is that purpose served by allowing a player to navigate the game-space in more mechanical dimensions than are ever used in that space? (Is the mechanically-accessible space overbroad simply to allow for a few special cases?) Which leads us to this:[/font] [font=arial]Darklands uses text to navigate decision space.[/font] [font=arial]In doing so, a player is given clear access to what important choices exist out of a set that could otherwise be unwieldy due to UI and simply overwhelming due to the large set of possible options in such an open world.[/font] [font=arial] Albert of Kyrburg's guys got no chill.[/font] [font=arial]Above is a fairly simply example of being waylaid by a Raubritter's thugs. Option one initiates combat, option two attempts a charm/speech check which, if successful, will result in avoiding the encounter, while option three of course gives up your loot and no one ever chooses it. Let's look at another such dialog:[/font] [font=arial] I'm just not sure about what a Paragon or Renegade would do in this situation.[/font] [font=arial]Here we've advanced on the castle belonging to the Raubritter Albert of Kyrburg whereupon we are presented with a number of options. The text makes it clear what sort of character each approach favours, and selecting certain of them (using alchemy, calling upon a saint) will present a small contextual sub-menu letting you choose which potion or saint to use. Storming the tower is grayed out until you remove the gate by some means.[/font] [font=arial]This method of interaction tells the player what options they can use in a situation very clearly, and what options may become available given certain other conditions being met. The inverted approach would be to present the situation without the solution-hooks then leave it up to the player to find and apply a skill or game-verb somehow to solve it. Whether this is the right choice depends on several factors. In a game with as many skills and systems in play as Darklands (and a rather poor UI for navigating inventory, and saints), making the player find the solution through the rest of the interface would very much be the wrong way to go about this. If this were a game with a limited set of player 'verbs' however, a more player-driven simulation/naturalistic approach could work.[/font] [font=arial]Simulationist games are very much "in" these days, and current technology makes their creation much easier than before. It may be argued that they allow for a more immersive experience and enable a player to experience the setting more naturally. I do think one should bring up the question of focus, however, and I believe Darklands' use of text supports its deep, strange setting without requiring the player become overburdened with esoteric commands and knowledge.[/font] [font=arial](Actually, this isn't true at all: Darklands' other design peculiarities absolutely require the player become overburdened with esoteric commands and knowledge and you'd better have a map and FAQ open while playing it. But this isn't a fault of the text mechanics!)[/font] [font=arial]Darklands uses its text to give the player access to the setting.[/font] [font=arial]Let me example what that means: The setting of Darklands is widely considered one of its strongest points. It sets itself apart from most RPGs, particularly of its time, by not placing itself in the tradition of Tolkein-esque D&D derivatives. There are no elves as-such, nor dwarves ... as-such, but I won't spoil that. Instead, there are Raubritters, the Wild Hunt, Holzfrau, and the somewhat bizarre practices of this fantastic version of the medieval Catholic Church, simony and all. If you're not careful, a bishop may in fact curse you! (This happened to me.) How are you to know any of this?[/font] [font=arial]Well, the text tells you. Most situations are explained in such a way that gives the German words context, hints at the effects of pissing off the clergy, and otherwise gives subtle info-dumps baked into the text describes locations and situations.[/font] [font=arial] You're going to have to take my word for it that the previous scene made it clear what the heck an "alte Losunger" is.[/font] [font=arial]While many of the mechanics are insufficiently explained and poorly balanced, to Darklands' credit there are very few blatant info-dumping scenes that are not a part of an action you initiated. The world is yours to explore! And, basically, the player is told what their characters would know. And your characters know how to navigate the social and mythological/religious setting of the world they inhabit (up to a point), so they are given descriptions and options appropriate to that knowledge. And all the while Darklands sets a very particular mood, and very economically, which brings us to the next point:[/font] [font=arial]Darklands uses text to do aesthetic heavy-lifting.[/font] [font=arial]The mood is set by a combination of the text itself, historically-accurate tunes played in charming early-90's midi style, and a set of generic water-colour backgrounds rendered in stunning 245x388 pixels.[/font] [font=arial] I bet you've got a pretty good guess at what donating a relic will give you.[/font] [font=arial]Frankly, text is extremely cheap. It can be iterated extremely quickly. It's way easier to use one of a limited set of fairly generic backgrounds than it is to model or map a unique scene for every location. Simple string substitution lets you acknowledge qualities and choices the player has made easily. People love the feeling that they're part of a world and having an effect on that world! And if you don't have to budget to simulate the experience of visually being inside that world, the next best thing is to do it at a slight remove.[/font] [font=arial]So while Darklands does a lot that's been done far better in the twenty-five years, it's still got some fine points of effective game design at work that may be useful for indie developers. Why stretch your resources to develop a game-space with obvious deficits and limitations when you can work with text? It's a highly constrained medium in a sense, but once a player buys into using text as a means to experience the game world, it only feels as constrained as you are able to 'sell' the dialog. Think of it as offloading your rendering to the player's brain, for truly in the player's imagination everything is possible. And if it's that unfulfilled promise of the infinite which simulationist games strive for and fail to achieve, using text can access a sense of that infinite possibility by leaving those details you are unable to express well in specifics to the imagination, just as a good novel does.[/font] [font=arial]This is a post about game design and not novel-writing, of course, so my point comes to this: there are useful structures and methods which can be employed to tie together text and game mechanics, and Darklands does so. Not perfectly, but compelling enough that I came back to it twenty-five years later.[/font]
  9. In additional to my own projects and freelance jobs, one of my goals this year is to build a humble - but steady - stream of income from selling game assets online via the various game dev asset stores. A few reasons make this appealing: When I do freelance work, I find myself drawing a lot of the exact same stuff for different people. Partly this is because people come to me because they see that I do something well, so they want something like that. They like my terrain, so they'd like some terrain too. Why not skip the step where I do the work over again but slightly differently and just sell them that terrain they liked? I don't have to do as much work, they don't have to pay as much (and I'm finding myself more and more in a position where my rates are higher than many game dev hopefuls are willing/able to pay). Not to be too cynical about it, but most freelance projects I've worked on have never shipped. That kinda sucks because no one gets to see the art and, of course, the project didn't ship. But it's also kinda okay because I think we live in an age where game development can be a legitimate hobby. It's not unlike the guy who has a day job and buys Warhammer minitures and paints them on the weekend; game development can be a fun creative outlet. It can be like buying a lottery ticket in that the point is not to win but to imagine winning. Unless our friend painting Warhammer minis is wealthy indeed then he's not going to be commissioning a sculptor to make custom pieces, he's going to want to go to the hobby store or game con to buy something cool that's available. It is totally legitimate for the same to apply to game assets. Another perspective on this is "in a gold rush, sell shovels". I have the skill and experience to handle most aspects of development and likely connections enough to find ways to handle the rest, and I'm working on learning the code side. Still, straight-up creating a game from scratch and hoping it'll return on invested time is a risky proposition in this age where thousands and thousands of devs are cranking out product. Yeah, I'm pretty confident in my ability to create something unique and compelling, but I'm not a student living on potatoes and lentils anymore. "Shakespeare's gotta get paid, son." I started selling assets on a bit of a whim. To give the really fast version of the story (edit: "or, actually somewhat rambling version of the story"), I was playing a ton of Dominions 4 (anyone into that? Amazing game) -- and Dominions 4 has fairly ugly maps so I was like, man, I'm so annoyed by this that I'm going to go ahead draw my own map. Spoiler alert: I never actually finish one. But I stumble into something else entirely. Read on! Here's what Dominions 4 looks like: It's functional, but man, that terrain is an odd brown-green. But I find the hand-drawn map look really compelling somehow. (Also interesting: people will make maps in games like Age of Wonders or Heroes of Might and Magic and convert the image to a Dominions 4 map. All you really need is an image, then you define province centers, types, and connections - and that's it.) So I started drawing a map based on one of the prettier maps to come with the game. This one is based on Vancouver; if you know the city, hopefully you get a kick out of it: The project got a bit out of hand however. The map was kinda pixel-arty but also really huge. Plus downtown Vancouver doesn't actually lend itself to a well balanced map so I'm not convinced it'd have worked out that well. So I started hand-painted a completely fantastical map, using really strong colours and painterly rendering: Similar to the Vancouver map, this thing was really huge. So my thought was, why not take this painterly style and turn it into tiles that could be re-used so I wouldn't have to work so damn hard on this thing? A few experiments were performed: Compelling. Let's keep going with this. Definitely workable. Then I find myself asking, what's the point of making these nice painterly tiles if no one but me is going to use them? I shared an image on twitter, and it seemed pretty popular: Honestly, if that many people are into those tiles, then surely I could sell them or something. Thus I entered ... The Unity Asset Store. I researched the competition, looked at how they marketed, how they priced, and at what was and wasn't available. It seemed that painterly terrain tiles at a strategic scale was an untapped niche. So I polished up a set of tiles and launched this: (This is a screenshot from today, their layout was slightly different in September of 2015.) ... And thus launched my glorious tiles to the public! Number of sales in September 2015: 1. Oh. Maybe that was a bit of a bust. Well, it was a decent experience. Number of sales in October of 2015: 11. Hey, maybe it just takes time! I guess this got featured on the official stream as a new release? Cool! Number of sales in November of 2015: 2. Or maybe it's still a bust. Still, a few nice people emailed me about doing some fixes and tweaks. It wasn't much work, so I updated the package a couple times. Then someone requested hex versions of the tiles. My thought was, man, what a load of work that'll be. But I like helping people out -- do I put it in the same package? Maybe not, because hexes would be incompatible with squares. And doing a few experiments it turned out that doing hexes only involved trimming the corners off the squares and cleaning up the edges; super easy. So in January of 2016, I released the hex tile pack which looks a little something like this: These starting selling well. In fact, the hex tile sets have always outsold the square tiles from between a factor of 3 and 10. Consider this: The 2D art section of the Unity Asset store is flush with particular kinds of assets: platformer tiles, mobile game backgrounds, and WoW/DOTA style icons. You know who isn't served by these? Old school RPGers and wargamers. Guess who tends to 1. have programming knowledge, 2. have money to blow on hobbies: Old school RPGers and wargamers. We're on to something here! I've since released a bunch more tilesets in both square and hex format, covering some more biomes as well as medieval-fantasy locations. I attempted a branching out into painterly RPG item art, but that's been a bit of a failure. I've got more asset experiments to run especially now that I am established on the store with good reviews and have time to invest in more asset creation. I should share a few general observations with this experience. Reputation matters. Getting a pile of 5-star reviews next to your product is obviously a good move. It doesn't require obsequious pandering to customers, or pulling cheap tricks to cheat reviews. All you need is a dedication to quality and to handle yourself with polite professionalism. Exposure takes time. This is a very low-capital enterprise so it's not like I'm dropping money on advertisements or sponsorship. It takes time for that right person to find my work and - dedication to quality - they might just like it enough to recommend it to others. There's money in the low end. 2D game assets are especially accessible to people just learning game programming and a lot of people are learning game programming. These people could never pay my rates to do custom art, but they'll definitely drop ten bucks to make their RPG overworld look prettier with little effort. It also seems like a Unity tutorial for grid-based games featured my assets, which was a good boost in sales in this range. There are niches that badly want to be served. As said, there's a ton of art out there for 2D platformers, some bad, much very good. But I think ya gotta look at the store and see what isn't there to find some really interesting opportunities. I've got to do more with this. Sales are remarkably steady over time. This market isn't getting saturated, at least not with what I'm doing, and sales seem to only go up over time -- even for these assets released over a year ago! 2D games and simpler games will always be around. Now what? More stuff! First: More assets. So many people were asking for smooth tile transitions that I sat back and made a whole new terrain set that was build around that idea (plus I played a ton of Sid Meier's Colonization over the holidays so I felt compelled to draw something similar to that). So this should be coming out any day now: (The gif was a thought that it'd be a good marketing gimmick to show how to layer the assets. Unfortunately the Unity Asset store doesn't accept gifs. Edit: They don't animate properly here either, it seems. Sorry!) In terms of marketing I should also start a mailing list for my assets. Probably via Mailchimp because it's so easy. If I'm feeling a bit more aggressive I could push for deals with people who write tutorials: use my assets in your tutorial, or have me make custom assets for your tutorial and you can link to my spot on the store! 'Course I don't love being pushy like that, but we'll see. Also, of particular interest is the idea of expanding market reach. Expanding Market Reach My primary asset storefront has been the Unity Asset Store. This was a good move - I think it's safe to say that it's the best asset marketplace on the internet right now due to sheer population and good support from Unity. Still, as long as I've got the asset packages and marketing done, is it not worth putting material on other game asset storefronts even if they give a mere fraction of the Unity Store payout? Yes! So I started a spreadsheet. I searched for game asset stores in google and found a few prominent hits, discarding those that did not accept submissions and those that looked absolutely terrible. I'll note thoughts and info on each below. Unity Asset Store Alexa ranking: 905 Rev split: the standard 70-to-you / 30-to-them. The top dog, for sure. I've discussed my experience with them above, but to repeat: all in all a good experience. Takes between one and two weeks for submissions to process, fairly easy to use store management frontend. Requires uploading assets as Unity packages, which can be slightly awkward if you don't know Unity but is very easy to learn. Tutorials and FAQs for everything are extremely abundant. Graphic River / EnvatoMarket Alexa ranking: 2293 Rev split: 45/55, plus minimum $1 for restricted license, min $15 for expanded (read: commercial) license; license minimums also go to them. This is an old site with a huge market base used more often for stuff like stock photos, WordPress themes, and other such things. They clearly precede the Apple Store / Steam standard 70/30 cut model. I would be tempted by what appears to be an enormous reach and usebase, but their pricing model makes me really, really unhappy. It's a worse deal for creators then any other site and they don't sell me on what they're offering for such a cut. Well, they DO offer better rates if you distribute exclusively through their store, but again, no other asset store makes such demands. The minimum pricing also hurts, especially for my practice of selling small batches of assets in the $10 range. If I wanted to sell my standard tile package for $10 -- well, I couldn't. Because to distribute with that license requires a minimum pricing of $15. And that $15 goes to Graphic River while anything over that will provide me with a 45% cut. Say I combined 3 sets of tiles into a $30 package. Take $15 for the min commercial license price, then I get 45% -- that'd be around $7 ... Which is what I would make selling a single $10 asset pack on Unity. These guys gotta get with the times. Or maybe they sell huge volume? I don't know, and I'm not going to find out. Unreal Marketplace Alexa ranking: 3397 Rev split: 70/30. I looked into this but did not actually use it for several reasons, foremost being that Unreal is heavily geared toward higher-end 3D games as opposed to 2D games. Yes, you can do 2D. But it doesn't look like many people are, and there are almost no assets for 2D games on the Unreal Marketplace. The submission process looks rather laborious. Assets much be packages via Unreal and there are somewhat stricter requirements than Unity. All aspects of submissions appear to go directly to an Unreal Marketplace contact rather than via a storefront management UI. I expect the process is slower than Unity, but results are likely more professional overall. Still, the angle here seems to be 3D shooters and the like, not low-end 2D games. I don't think it'd be a good fit for me. Plus I don't want to learn Unreal as well because I simply don't see myself ever using it in my own work. From here, we're definitely getting into small players. It's still worth examining what they're up to, I think. Scirra Alexa ranking: 21902 Rev split: 70/30 This is a storefront attached to a game engine, not unlike Unity and Unreal. I presume it has a much lower userbase however. But I won't hold that against them - they are, at least, much more focused on simpler 2D games from the looks of it. What turned me off here is the requirement that a creator pay a non-refundable $25 "seller activation fee". I suppose it's not unlike the Steam Greenlight $100 fee meant to try to keep out the wave of spammy garbage, but (as with Valve) I'm not happy that they're directly offloading the moderation cost of their platform onto the users thereof in this manner. If you're running a storefront, part of that 30% cut is presumably for figuring out how to keep the garbage off your store. (Don't even get me started on airline baggage fees.) Cubebrush Alexa ranking: 48026 Rev split: 95/5 (!?) This is a weird one. It was super easy to get started here, their storefront tools are amazing, super slick, easy to use. You just drag and drop everything and it just works. It's superior usability compared to any other storefront I've used. Almost too easy, it feels, because I put my assets into a zip file and uploaded them with no submission process. I swear, someone is going to run a scam here and someone is going to get sued. Still, what a pleasant creator experience! Only made one sale in a few weeks, so it seems like market reach on the site is miniscule. It's too bad because it's very slick. I've got a few more of the small online asset stores to investigate - including that attached to this very site - but I haven't dug in yet so that'll have to wait. From here, the adventure continues! Edit: Oh yeah, does anyone out there know any other good game asset stores? Or perhaps have some strong opinions? I'd love to hear 'em.
  10. dbaumgart

    My game doesn't look good, what do I do wrong?

      Wow, that's looking nice! Much more professional. I like how the turquoise of the army units sets them apart from the rest of game elements and the subdued palette lets the rocket trails and explosions stand out more. Could make the explosions brighter still for some more visual impact. And maybe brighten up the background grass layer a bit, though that depends on if you're going for an army-olive overall palette or not. I figure the game is a bit more lighthearted than that what with the sheep theme so it seems appropriate to make the world a bit brighter and more joyful.
  11. dbaumgart

    Learning 2D Unity

      Oh, lovely! Totally missed that post on my recent foray - thanks for the link.
  12. Not going to do a math-heavy answer here, though I think there's a type of game and a type of player who will love the stats math approach. Rather let me ask: Why having missing at all? Is it even fun to miss?   This is why in Dungeons of Dredmor I said "heroes never miss". The calculation assumes you hit. Unless you don't -- but what must have happened is an enemy dodged your attack, the scoundrel. This, I think, feels more heroic and gives a sense that the enemy made an active move to foil your attack rather than you simply being inept. Instead of accuracy, naturally, in Dredmor you got a stat called "enemy dodge reduction" used to reduce the chance that enemies will successfully dodge.   Looking back, if I were redesigning that system I'd just take out the accuracy/EDR stat entirely, remove "dodge" as a derived stat, and give certain dodgeful enemies some kind of dodge ability that was expressed clearly* and caps out at a max chance in some way that's definitely below 100%. Then I'd give the player certain sorts of special attacks that cannot ever be dodged, and then have the game show when anti-dodge attacks did damage even though the enemy tried to dodge. This way you get to have enemies that are sneaky buggers, you get to have the player feel awesome about foiling them (if they prepare appropriately), and you avoid a case where the player has to learn statistics to understand and optimize their effectiveness. ... Which, to bring it back around, is what you want to make a game that is "simple and easy to interpret".   (* Ideas: 1. enemy gets to auto-dodge every N rounds like a WoW cooldown ability. Show this to the player. 2. Enemy has a dodge counter with fixed capacity that regenerates fairly quickly; show this to the player. Then they realize that they need to burn through the dodge counter before they can do real damage and it gives a clear tactical approach for how to ensure you get hits in.)
  13. dbaumgart

    My game doesn't look good, what do I do wrong?

      What's your reasoning? Subtitles on video have a black stroke, and that's text.   I didn't emphasize enough that the key word there is "inside".   A black stroke on the outside of text is often a simple and good way to increase contrast, yes, but when its an inside stroke at a smaller font size, or a font with weird serifs, it will interfere with the width of the colour fill on the characters and make the font look really different from what is intended: [attachment=34757:text_example.jpg] The outside stroke example isn't perfect for various reasons, but it's much more readable.
  14. dbaumgart

    My game doesn't look good, what do I do wrong?

    Basically, the visual design lacks art direction. As you said, you're not a trained artist, so the execution is naive. Basically, well, everywhere in the shots above it is possible to see opportunities for improvement.   It would be possible on the one hand to make a giant list of details to improve, but it really begs for someone to sit back and consider what a vision for this game's appearance should be doing. And from there, direct all of the specifics to meet those goals. I want to say that there's no one technical trick like ambient occlusion or shadows or more particles that will solve the underlying visual design issues, but ... well, technical tricks over artist vision has been a route done before and shipped as a product, so it could work I guess. Insert artist's rant here about how technical gimmicks can't make up for lack of artistic vision.   So the correct best answer is "hire an artist". I suspect that's off the table due to budget constraints. So I'll give you like a top 5: That default green on the units is really garish, please tone it down! Even just making it the green of those green trees would be better, then make the trees a bit more muted. You don't need black outlines on everything. Imagine if you just had black outlines on active game agents like vehicles and turrets. The dirt edges could be outlined in a slightly darker brown and it'd be much subtler and less visually noisy.  There's no reason for the trees to be so bright and have such a range of colour; it's distracting and they have similar visual weight as tanks and things. Constrain the contrast and saturation a bit so they're more contrasty than the dirt, but way less than turrets and so on. Committing to going either more cartoony or more "realistic" is probably a solid plan. Right now the objects are kinda cartoony flat-shaded vector shapes while the explosions/particles/glows are "realistic" textures. Consider avoiding any use of grayscale that has no colour to it. There's nothing more boring than a straight gray. Asphalt can have a sepia cast to it when its covered in dust, gunmetal can have a cool tone to it, iron plates can be reddish-orange with wear and grime etc. Okay, one more for free: What's most important is how stuff looks in the visual field of the gameplay itself. That's where you should think about if something is drawing too much attention or too little, and whether its colours work with the terrain and its neighbours or not. An asset or effect can't be truly seen in isolation!   Edit: Oh, you posted UI! A few points then: Doing a black line stroke inside of text is not a good thing to do, don't do it! Read up a bit about use of whitespace in layout design. The text I see there is all crowded up against the edges of panes as well as itself everywhere it is used, it's stressful to read and looks messier than it is. See that background imagine on the menus? Make your background in-game look more like that, it'd be great! It's got much subtler use of colour, a clearly chosen cartoony style, it's really promising.
  15. dbaumgart

    Game that simulates employees and salary

    If the player can't remember the characters in question, then the mechanic is asking too much of the player or the UX is insufficiently helpful. Perhaps both? If the total number of employees in this game caps out at like 15 (As an example, I'm remembering like two full squads in Xenonauts plus a few backups), then it may be possible for a player to remember all of them as individuals provided that's sufficiently signalled, ie. the UI makes it clear who is who and what is important about them at a glance. If you've got more characters than that, probably better to reduce the magnitude of information the player is being asked to remember.   If there's a random answer that the employee will reject a counteroffer, does the player have any way of knowing what that chance is and whether it can be affected by other means? If none of this information is available - or important enough to add to the game - then does it not just make a gameplay action frustrating to the player because they have no control over a success/fail state and therefore might as well not get invested in the decision anyway?   Further question: Is this a decision that always has a correct move? If so, maybe raises should be automatic because the decision itself isn't an interesting choice. If the player gets to a point where an employee obviously sucks or they need to cut costs, the player can review their payroll and decide whether anyone on the list needs the boot. This turns the action from random low-interest repetition to much more impactful player-initiated one-offs. Seems like the latter is much more interesting when it happens provided there's something else to do in the game.   (Another thought: It seems like a common thought to suggest that the game be made more complex in response to a weak mechanic. In my experience if the mechanic is weak then perhaps it is the mechanic that needs to be removed rather than added to.)
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