This blog post details the work I have done during the 1st week on trimester 2 starting a new project.
An introduction to Pixel art.
Pixel art is a specific style of digital based artwork most often represented in the games industry. It uses raster-based graphics on a pixel by pixel level typically on a small scale, think of it like Mosaics, where various dots in this sense pixels when combined create the bigger picture.
There are various digital software programs that can generate pixel art if they can create artwork on the 1 pixel by 1 pixel scale, as such programs such as MS paint and Photoshop are widely popular to perform this tasks, there are also various mobile and internet based programs that do the same job such as Piskel.
There is a key difference between the Pixel Art style and any piece of Highly detailed art that we see on the computer systems we use, although they both are using pixels. What makes Pixel art, well Pixel art is that is usually low resolution such as 16bit for example rather than the 1080p images we tend to see.
Within pixel art you have many variations, the Term Bit is used to reference Colour, 8 bit for example has less colours available than 16 bit and so forth, to be precise 8 bit has 256 different colours available to it whereas 16 bit 65,536 colours which is a large difference. You also have different resolutions such as 8×8 and 16×16 which as you may be able to tell 8×8 is a square grid of 8 pixels in length and 8 pixels in height that there is to work with when creating pixel art.
Why is pixel art used? Well mostly it is for an artistic style or to bring nostalgia to the player of the game, many older gamer’s would have at least played one of the classic computer game systems such as the Super Nintendo entertainment system which harbored this style of graphics but that mostly isn’t due to choose but rather hardware capabilities not being able to support higher resolutions.
Creating my Own pixel Art [Harry Potter]
For my task I am to try my 1st attempt at creating pixel art by creating harry potter in Adobe Photoshop CS6 using various skills and techniques that have been taught to me.
Setting up Adobe Photoshop for pixel art creation.
As with any project using Adobe Photoshop CS6 my first priorities is to set up various settings and configurations to start of I needed to remove access clutter that was on my screen such as the timeline window at the bottom, to do this I simply go under the window tab along the top of the application and clicked the window I wished to remove, I also wished to turn on the Navigator tool to assist me in the creation of my pixel art giving me a zoomed out view of my canvas at all times. To make the process of creating pixel art later easier I needed to change a few configuration settings, I starting of by going into the edit tab and under preferences was the general option, I clicked this to bring up a window containing a library of options, along the side has the different groups of settings, I needed to go into the Units and Rulers tab in order to change my unit measurement to pixels, Then under the Guides, grids and slices category I changed the style to lines and changed the measurement to pixels, I adjusted both the numbers on both grid lines and sub-divisions to just one each respectively.
I now need to create a work space, their is a small drop down box in the top right of the Adobe Photoshop application, under this drop down box their is the option to create a new work space of which I named Pixel Art. It is now time to finally start on creating my Pixel art, I created a new canvas using Ctrl+N and changed some settings such as changing the preset to custom, the dimensions to 16 by 16 pixels in height and width and then changed the bit setting to 8bit and the colour setting to RGB, I then saved this preset as PixelArt 16×16.
Now it’s time to draw my pixel art, to make sure I can draw at one pixel at a time I first set it that my Brush tool was replaced with a pencil tool, this is because the brush tool isn’t suitable for the task i’m working on, this pencil tool was required to be 1 pixel in size, the eraser tool needed to work just like the pencil tool by using the drop down box in the tool settings along the top of the application. I also wanted to have a grid on my canvas that split up each pixel from each other, to do this I simply went to the View tab along the top of the application, then under show their are the grid or pixel grid options, I enabled one or the other to allow a grid to appear over my canvas, to make it easier to draw I also made sure snapping was off because otherwise their would be interference when trying to draw my pixel art.
Now that it’s finally time to create my art, I started off by double clicking the background layer in order to change this into a regular unlocked layer, this is so that I can fill it using the fill bucket tool under the gradient tool, I filled the canvas to a light grey tone, having a neutral colour is important because it makes other colours such as red’s and yellow’s pop just a bit more than if I where to use a white background.
I created a new layer naming it appropriately to create a silhouette of my character, going from a reference image I made sure to include important features of harry potter such as his hair, clothing and wand [that of which I added later].
After the initial silhouette layer was finished it was then time to add colour to the art, doing this by adding a new layer naming it appropriately and adding in colour over my silhouette starting with the face and hair, moving down the body till I reached the feet.
It is now time to add finishing touche’s such as shadow’s and lighting, I decided that the shadow will come from the left side and the light on the right side. I did this by using a black pencil tool at low opacity [around 20% or so] to do the shadows and I used white at low opacity for the lights.
Reflection on Harry:
Overall I found the harry potter pixel art task to be quite easy to pick up and go, it was also quite straight-forward and I am happy with the final result, My biggest issue was getting the feet of the character to look right, even now I’m still unsure about them. The colour pallet for Harry potter involves a range of grey’s and charcoal like colours, some shades of brown and metallic colour for the wand’s tip, a blue colour for the lenses of his glasses, a flesh tone and red and yellow for his scarf.
After I had finished Harry potter I was then asked to create another character from the harry potter franchise, after searching for an appropriate and character that I thought I would enjoy creating I thought of the owl [turns out his name is Hedwig] however I quickly found out that an owl is very difficult to do at 16×16 pixel resolution so I decided to switch to another character, the next best thing was Snape who I proceeded to create in pixel art format, I went through the same process of first filling the background with a grey neutral tone, then creating a silhouette, adding colour and adding shadows and light.
Reflection on Snape:
When creating the pixel art of Snape I ran into the issue of positioning his overcoat and making it so it looked good and possible to make out other features such as his legs, after getting it to a point that I was happy with I felt that the process of creating snape was defiantly more difficult that Harry potter however it was still a fairly straight forward and easy process. Snape followed a straight forward colour pallet involving shades of greys and blacks with added flesh tones and shades of dark purple, I made his wand’s magic blue to complement these colours.
Creating a character from another franchise:
It was then time to create a character from another franchise, after searching for a character that I first of Liked and seemed to be able to translate into pixel art I found Dante, I then found a reference and went through the process of filling the background, adding a silhouette, adding colour then shading and adding light, when adding the shadows and light I decided to switch things up by having the light come from the left and shadows from the right side unlike my other pixel art creations so far giving the final result.
Reflection on Dante:
I’m happy with the result of Dante, however my biggest issues with the piece is that at first glance one could not recognise this as Dante, and two his trousers and buckles on his clothing where difficult to get the colour for, even now I’m still unsure about them. However just like the previous 2 pixel art creations I still found that the process of creating them was straight forward and easy with only small amounts of issues. Dante in general where’s red clothing such as his long trench coat, black accents and white hair with obviously his skin tones. He does herald a copper like colour on the buckles of his shirt which I attempted to match closely.
Reflection on the Task as a whole:
Overall I think the task of translating 3 characters into a pixel art format was enjoyable, easy and straightforward. their where a few moments on which I encountered issues however I’m happy with the results. During creation I did receive some feedback suggestions, these mostly aimed at the posing of the characters as well as slight shading tweaks I could make on the pixel art, this helped alot and overall improved the end result.
Research on Social media platforms for use in the gaming industry:
For this task I am to research a minimum of 5 social media platforms and answer a series of questions to determine what platform would be best suited to advertise a video game on, leading into a decision on what we will advertise our project on as well.
Their are a variety of questions that I need to consider and answer as well, these include what is the usage of the website, how popular is said website and the different demographics that use that website and who can my marketing methods on the social media platform reach, I can also research how other developers might use the social media platforms. I will be comparing the pro’s and con’s of using social media platforms and then round it out by reflecting on my findings and showing my sources.
I started of researching the most prominent and well known of all social media platforms, Facebook. It is the most popular of all social media platforms racking in 1.79 billion unique log ins world wide, 1.18 billion of those are daily and 1.66 billion are from mobile devices of which 1.03 billion are daily. Users on average spend around 20 minutes on Facebook at a time.
The age demographic that is most present is 25 to 34 year old at 29.7% of Facebook’s total users. 76% of all females and 66% of all males world wide use Facebook. theirs the drawback of 83 million profiles on Facebook are fake. half of the 18-24 age demographic go on Facebook as soon as they wake up. A key fact is that 42% of marketers say Facebook is critical and important. Facebook is indiscriminate of the age, ethnicity and gender of its user base.
Many video game developers use Facebook as a medium to advertise their game, they do this by posting constant updates, pictures, videos and detailing events whenever they can.
Here is an example of a post from the developers of Hyper Light Drifter showcasing a news of an update and a new piece of merchandise in the form of an art book.
|Your advertising has the chance to reach a wide audience.||Lack of organic views due to how Facebook’s algorithm works.|
|You have more options in who to target for your audience||To have your advertisement widely seen you can have it appear on everyone’s pages if they haven’t seen your page already but this costs.|
|Low minimum costs if not financially free.||Time consuming and needs constant monitoring and commitment.|
|Loyalty to your potential customers by displaying a wide range of information|
|Flexibility in what you can do in terms of advertising.|
|Easy to use and is simple to follow.|
|Innovative platform and is always getting new features.|
Reflecting on Facebook:
Overall I think Facebook is an effective social media platform that is widely used, this bolsters the potential of getting a video game idea out into the wild. It is likely to be most effective for us due to it’s range in demographics and user base.
Youtube is the largest video outlet in the world due to it having a global reach, it has over a billion of users of which is almost a 3rd of all people on the internet. Every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours of Youtube videos generating billions of views. Overall Youtube reaches more 18-49 year old than any cable network in the U.S and more than half of the Youtube views come from mobile devices and covers 95% of the internet population because its wide library of languages (76 in total). Another fact is alot of people who play games tend to watch other people also playing games on you tube providing advertisement for games without even forcing it.
Youtube invests in their content creators and some of them even earn six figures from their videos. Developers use Youtube to release video format developer diaries and trailers to a large audience. An example would be Nintendo and their latest game The legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild of which constantly gets trailers and developer dairies posted onto their official you tube channels.
|Gets you game out there.||Can take time to create a video to even upload.|
|Gets publicity through other you tubers.|
Reflections of Youtube:
Youtube is very promising for a social media platform for us to promote our game on due to it’s wide spread use. It’s only downside is the requirement to use video’s which can take time to create and even upload making it a difficult platform to work with, We will unlikely be using Youtube due to this reasoning.
Instagram is still fairly new to the scene with only 300 million users however ad response rates for app and game install’s give it it’s strong points. Users who download those apps spend 70% more time on the app straight after the install, after 2 weeks it drops to just 20% more time and this helps game companies in a big way. Games aimed at female players are well-suited to Instagram. Instagram users are known to lean more towards branded content on the platform.
|Provides ease of mobile downloads.||100% mobile|
|Early adoption has its benefits in terms of ad inventory access at low introductory prices.||Has negative usage potential.|
|Heavily visual based, easy to understand and tailored to creative content.|
|Easy to target specific audiences.|
|Good Flexibility in control and settings.|
Reflections on Instagram:
Due to the sudden rise in Instagram popularity it is very possible to use this for promotion of an indie game, however the platform is mobile exclusive. However we will not be using Instagram due to the mobile exclusive usage limiting the potential range of people we could reach.
There are 310 million active users who use twitter and a total of 1.3 billion accounts have been created providing a wide audience, 44% of those accounts the users have left before ever sending a tweet and only 550 million people have ever sent a tweet. 24.6% of the accounts are journalists which provides a good amount of coverage for games and other advertising. 6.8% of US companies with over 100 employees use twitter for marketing.
|Easy to use||Not everyone one uses it|
|Gets out around quickly via re tweets.|
Reflections on Twitter:
Twitter is a very large social media platform that covers a wide range of demographics allowing game developers to reach out to as many people as they possibly can in a short amount of time, the potential for twitter is very good, it is a high candidate for us to use for promotion of our indie game.
Pinterest has 176 million registered users, 100 million of them are active, 85% of the user total are female, 42% of the total United states users are adult women, and 13% are adult men and gets an average of 2 billion searches.
|Information of your product can get around quickly.||A lot of repeated pins.|
|Majority are female so the audience is refined.||Only really images and sometimes videos are used.|
|The audience our reaching might not be appealed by your game.|
Reflecting of Pinterest:
Pinterest is pro dominantly a female based audience of an age demographic that most likely have no or little interest in playing video games due to the types of pins you find on the website such as house design idea’s and fashion. Unless we where making a game that could appeal to these users I very much doubt Pinterest is the way to go when promoting our game, another fact is that Pinterest isn’t really meant to post updates and such on a project but more to post idea’s and interests.
Reflecting on my findings:
During my research of different social media platforms I found out that Facebook and twitter have the highest potential for us to use when advertising our video game project. Youtube could also of been a candidate but due to the time and effort it takes to not only create content for the platform but also to actually be noticed is too much risk to take. pinterest is simply unsuitable for our intention and Instagram has limited potential audience
(References are at the bottom of the blog post)
For our project in groups we are going to create a indie game fitting to curtain criteria the first of which is fixed and that is the game is required to be a 2D side scrolling platform game, the other 2 are random, the 1st is to pick a main character, the secound of which is a timeline placement. these where decided by pulling them out of a hat. We ended up getting Marie Curie for our character and World War One for our timeline placement. The art style was also somewhat fixed being in pixel art format, we are also required to have a key item to have in our game [this could not be something like a weapon however]
Our group consisted of Me [Lars Johnson], Samuel Hall, Josh Sherry, Marcus Howard, Josh Titchner and Luke Carney-Boeje.
Coming up with a Game Idea:
Our first priority when coming up with a potential of a game scenario is to research our character and timeline. which our results goes as follows.
Research on Marie curie:
- Born in 1867 Warsaw Poland.
- Physicist and Chemist
- Researched Radio Activity
- Discovered Polonium from access radioactivity from pitchblende.
- Later discovered Radium from pitchblende as well.
- During World War 1 helped get her X-Ray equipment and drove them to the front lines.
- Won 2 Nobel prizes for both subjects
- Was increasing I’ll as she and her husband pierce researched.
- Pierre died by getting hit by a carriage.
- Died of leukemia due to the effects of her research.
Marie Curie quotes
I found some quotes of that she said, they might be useful.
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”
“Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.”
“I am one of those who think like Nobel, that humanity will draw more good than evil from new discoveries.”
“I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale.”
“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.”
“Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it.” [That’s mean Marie].
“Humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit.”
“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.”
“I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.”
“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.”
Personally I don’t find Marie curie all that interesting of a character, from what I could find in the research she doesn’t really have much depth to her character such as no additional interests other than her work, I do like one of her quote’s though which is “Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it” mostly because it’s so blunt and straightforward but also true as well.
Colour pallets seem to include very dull and boring colours such as blacks and dark greens, very pale flash tones for the colour pallet.
Bernardo Moya [april 23 2013] Marie Curie –A determined pioneer, thebestyoumagazine.co
http://thebestyoumagazine.co/marie-curie-a-determined-pioneer/ [accessed 10/02/2017]
Research on World War One:
- Also known as the Great War.
- Lasted from 1914 to 1918.
- Majority of Europe was involved as well as Russia, USA and the Middle East.
- Allied countries involved where; great Britain, France, Russia, Italy and Japan.
- The opposition was Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey.
- Started when Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated.
- Many War firsts happened including; Chemical Warfare, Gas masks, flamethrowers, steel helmets, tank battles, aerial warfare, aircraft carrier, IQ tests, guide dogs, a blood bank, and women enlisted, filmed propaganda, military use of X-rays, Wireless communication.
Reflection on our Findings:
My knowledge on Marie curie herself was limited so I found out a few interesting facts about her, one of which that she actually lived and served during the events of world war one by bringing her X-ray equipment to the western front via ambulance giving us potential for a game scenario right of the bat. I didn’t know so many war technologies where first used during the events of world war one as well as technologies outside of warfare such as wireless communication and even blood banks.
It is now time to go away and brainstorm different ideas for the game scenario, we each did this individually.
Our Final Game Scenario Decision
With the research that we discovered as well certain pre decided decisions we where then to develop an Idea for our game.
Our game would be a 2D side-scrolling game where the player as Marie Curie during the times of World war one is forced to deliver her X-ray equipment by foot to the front lines after her ambulance has been destroyed and is no longer usable. Along your travels to the front line the player can find radioactive materials such as radium to further her famous research, collecting these will accumulate a Score however their is a secret feature to this, As you collect the materials and reach milestones you will receive a special on screen message detailing a quote from Marie curie, upon disappearing Marie will become weaker than before caused by radiation, she will move slower, jump lower and this will increase as she collects more materials until when she arrives close to her final goal which is the medical center at the front lines she will either drop dead from the radiation or deliver the equipment by completing the secret goal of avoiding the materials all together.
The game will be set in several locations around the war torn regions of France, such as the city of Paris all the way to the western front borders of the front lines. The artistic style of the game will be pixel art having a slight contrast with the serious tone of the story and the effects of the player’s actions.
Bibliography: [Promoting Indie Games]
Author Unknown, Last updated January 2017, top 20 valuable Facebook statistics, Zepheria.com, [accessed 06/01/2017] https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/
Anastasiia Bonderenko, 9th September 2015, pros and cons of using Facebook for your ad campaigns, Catvertiser.com [Accessed 06/01/2017] https://www.catvertiser.com/blog/pros-and-cons-of-using-facebook-for-your-ad-campaigns/
Youtube, Date Unknown, Statistics, Youtube.com [accessed 06/01/2017] https://www.youtube.com/yt/press/en-GB/statistics.html
Sandra Rand, March, Why mobile games are killing it on Instagram right now, Orionckb.com, [Accessed 06/01/2017] https://www.orionckb.com/blog/gaming-ads-on-instagram/
Kit Smith [17th May 2016] 44 Twitter statistics for 2016, Brandwatch.com [Accessed 9/01/2017] https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/44-twitter-stats-2016/
Craig Smith [17th November 2016] 270 amazing pinterest statistics and facts [accessed 09/01/2017] http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/pinterest-stats/
Bibliography: [Game Scenario]
Author Unknown [Date Unknown] History – Marie Curie, BBC – History [Date Accessed 09/01/2017] http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/curie_marie.shtml
Author Unknown [Date Unknown] Marie Curie the scientest, Mariecurie.org [accessed 09/01/2017] https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/who/our-history/marie-curie-the-scientist
John Graham Royde-Smith, 12-9-2016, World War I, Britanica.com [accessed 09/01/2017] https://www.britannica.com/event/World-War-I