Game art

libGDX Jam Day 1: Project Peanutbutter is a Go

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The libGDX Jam is on! Oh frabjous day! In this devblog, I’ll be planning out the the jam, testing out my libraries/tools, and creating the GitHub repo.

The theme for this jam is “Life in Space,” so I am planning on building a little space miner game where you play a grizzly frontiers-person mining asteroids and trying to make it rich. There are so many possibilities in this theme and genre that I’m concerned that I’ll bite off more than I can chew (I will be a one man shop for programming, design, and assets).

In order to try and manage this, I’m taking this day to plan out the next four weeks into a loose schedule, get the tooling tested out (best to encounter those “Oh, it doesn’t do that” moments early), and create the GitHub repository.

The Plan

Things are much likelier to get done if they’ve got a schedule to beat them into submission, so I’ve created a Todoist list of all the things I need to get done. I like lists because they allow me to really think through all the work involved in a project and exclaim “Holy tuna fish, batman! That’s a lot of things that need to get done!” while I still have the time to move things around (or come up with a new idea). Let’s just say “Project Peanutbutter” was a lot larger before the list.

Since I can’t find a way to share Todoist lists publicly, here is my current schedule (with details for the first iteration):

  • First Iteration: Basic Mining Game
    • Draw the Background
    • Add Asteroids
    • Space Ships
    • Mining
    • UI
  • Second Iteration: Bling! Buy Stuff!
  • Third Iteration: Bandits! Defend your Stuff!
  • Fourth Iteration: Polish!

I also keep a fifth bucket called “Backlog” where I store all the awesome ideas I probably won’t have time for.

I’ll be honest, I could be better prepared for the libGDX Jam than I am- I’m going to be using several libGDX libraries/modules (Scene2D, Ashley, AI) which I don’t have a lot of experience with (yet). I’m also using some new tools for the graphics (borrowed Wacom + Krita), and I thought I would take those for a test run today.

I come from a large family with three sisters and two brothers. All the ladies in the family seemed to come out with impressive artistic talents, and us guys are good at some things too. Unfortunately, since it’s the holiday season, they’re all busy on other projects right now. However, one of my sisters loaned me her Wacom tablet to play around with, and I’ve picked up some software called Krita.

I’ve used GIMP in the past, but it doesn’t seem like it’s being maintained anymore, and it’s really slow. Thus, while I am excited to try out Krita, I want to make sure it can do what I need. My questions were:

Can I sketch some decent spaceships?

Heck no, son! After an hour or two messing around with the Wacom tablet, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the folks who really know how to use them. Writing on a tablet and then seeing the mark appear on another screen of a different size is harder than it looks. If I had more time, I would try to learn, but right now it’s taking more away from the jam than it’s contributing. Lesson Learned: Learn the tools before the jam.

That being said, I was really happy with Krita. It is a lot faster than GIMP, and it has a lot of cool brushes that help even my programmer art start to look good. Since the Wacom wasn’t working, I decided to sketch out the the graphics on graph paper, and then color them with Krita. I did enough for the first iteration, and I think the results are promising:

Game art

Can I generate “procedural” or “tiled” graphics (i.e. starfields)?

Turns out the answer is “kinda.” Krita does support seamless tiling, but it doesn’t seem like it has as many noise options as GIMP does, which makes it a little harder to create star fields (unless you’re Vincent Van Gogh).

What did I get done today?

Not as much as I’d hoped. I had a lot of fun experimenting with the art, but it took a lot of time to make the pictures you saw above. At the end of the day, here’s what I got:

  • I created two “loot” sprites
  • I created an asteroid sprite
  • I created the ship sprite
  • I created the initial project and committed it to github.