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On Games Industry Ignorance

When I was a kid, you could pretty much ask me about any game, any developer, and I’d have had quite a lot to say on the matter. The number of games released was comparatively tiny and the number of people involved in production also comparatively tiny. On the C64, you could name a musician and...

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Game prices, whinging about prices, whinging in general

Posted by CaptainBinky | Posted in Stuff, Useless Advice | Posted on 08-07-2013

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Up there on the list of, “statements which annoy me” nestling amongst, “game development – it’s just a job” (bullshit) and, “free to play is good for games design” (LOL) is this old chestnut:

My game’s, like, $10 – that’s less than the price of a couple of beers! What on Earth are you whinging about?

The reason it annoys me is the very blinkered approach to game purchasing it takes. It’s true that if you took any one game in complete isolation and did some sort of “hours played / total cost” calculation, you’d almost always come up with a stupendously good value number. Certainly if you compared it to going to the cinema. And doubly so if what you were going to see was Prometheus.

But other games exist aside from your own, and people buy many, many games. Since nobody’s disposable income is infinite, there are always going to be many many more games that you don’t buy than games which you do. You have to pick and choose – and try to ensure that you choose wisely. So if one of those games turns out to be a turkey, the thing that makes buying it disappointing is that it has effectively booted out a better game from that set of games you buy in a year. Unless you spend more on games that year. Which would, in itself, be annoying.

So that’s fair enough to whinge about, isn’t it? It’s not about the $10, or $5, or however much the stupid game is. It’s about the other game which is also $10, or $5, or however much that they didn’t buy which might have been better – or the two games, each for half that price, which each might have been better.

There’s not a day which goes by which at some point I don’t honestly consider that maaaaybe we’re rather under-selling our own game. It is, after all, a sandbox game with potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay in it. And the price will almost certainly go up at some point since it’s been the same price for about two years now and it’s got quite a lot more in it now than it did. And I think that’s fair – particularly to those who bought in early, that they should end up with the game for a cheaper price. But at the same time it’s important to be in that impulse buy zone – that’s the zone in which you get the least amount of price whinging (aside from free stuff, obv) since those kinds of games tend to fall into the ‘games you pick up in addition to your list of games to buy’ category, in the same way that games which appear on the Steam sales, for peanuts, do.

Since managing to price your game at the perfect point for content and experience is practically impossible, it’s always better to err on the side of under-selling and over-delivering since doing the opposite is pretty disastrous.

Alternatively, you could price your game higher (flirting dangerously with the other side of that perfect zenith) and pick up that massive spike of impulse buys during a sale – having your cake and eating it too. In which case, kindly shut up when people whinge about the price of your game – whatever it costs 😉

Pulchritudinous Paint Animation

Posted by CaptainBinky | Posted in Pulchritudinous Paint Animation | Posted on 06-07-2013

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Yes, I have side projects.

 

Since we switched to the new Project Zomboid sprite system and rendered my beautiful Costume Editor entirely useless (boo!), I decided it would be a shame to let all that code go to waste. So I decided to rework it into a more general purpose pixel animation tool.

As anyone who reads my blog will know, I’m a bit of a fanboy of Deluxe Paint Animation and so what I basically want is that, plus layer support, in a swanky Windows environment. Excitingly, as it turns out, Deluxe Paint Animation files (*.ANM) are bafflingly incomprehensible. However, after some trial and error and lots and lots of corrupted rubbish appearing on the screen I eventually got them loading… more or less. Every now and then one will break horribly which I think has got something to do with ‘Spare Pages’ in the file but since Deluxe Paint conveniently has a ‘Delete Spare Page’ menu option, I’ve decided not to worry too much about that and pretend it’s all fiiiiiine.

Anyway so without further ado, here’s where I’m at so far…

PPaint_thumbClick for Enlargulation

Supported Features (so far)

  • Load Deluxe Paint Animation (*.ANM) files
  • Transparency
  • Full proper 8-bit style palette (as in, change the palette colour, screen pixels of that palette colour update)
  • Flexible palette (drag palette entries around to reorganise it without cocking up your animation)
  • Photoshop-style layers
  • Windows style Undo/Redo (multiple undos, basically, instead of DPA’s single undo)
  • Save & Load palettes to Photoshop (and others) compatible (*.PAL) files
  • Grab regions to store as named sprite animations (as in the ‘Dance’ bunny in the pic above)
  • Saving & Loading of Pulchritudinous Paint Animation (*.PPA) files, retaining layers / palette organisation / etc)
  • Add frames / remove frames / remove frame ranges / standard stuff like that
  • Pretty damn slick, even if I say so myself (Look, ma! I optimised the screen draw routines!)

Future Features

  • Grabbing regions to custom brushes (almost supported)
  • Grabbing regions to custom animated brushes (almost almost supported)
  • Various brush sizes (*cough*, yeah, I’ve not done that yet)
  • Saving of named sprite animation regions into PPA files
  • Exporting of named sprite animation regions to single sprite sheets
  • Additional drawing tools – Lines, Circles, Rectangles, all the normal stuff
  • Gradients maybe? Deluxe Paint Animation could do them, can’t say I used them much though
  • And various other things

Once it’s in a fairly usable state, I’ll release the tool for free because, hey, pixel art tool innit.