2D side scrolling art
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  1. #1
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    Thumbs up 2D side scrolling art

    Hi guys,

    I've partnered up with a tiny start-up game development team to do some art for their iPhone game, and since it's a 2D side scrolling game, some aspects of which I'm unsure about, I thought I would ask here:

    1) In those iPhone / iPad 2D side scrolling games, since the screen will scroll continually (and sometimes also vertically, if it's a platforming game), doesn't that mean that the background art has to be extremely huge? Like 750,000 pixels across and maybe 60,000 pixels high?

    I did some research and I read people use this thing called "tiling" (?), and I take it to mean the programmer will create the code that generates the background art randomly on the fly? That means we only need to do tiny sections of the art?

    2) When the artist does the background art for side-scrolling games, does he open a Photoshop document and start painting stuff in there? Or are there specific software to make this job easier to manage? I was thinking if the background art is 750000 pixels wide, the artist (even a super-fast one like Feng Zhu) will probably need to spend the next 15 years of his life on that.
    Also, good luck on finding a machine that can handle a 750000++ pixels Photoshop document.

    3) For game background art and game level design, is that the job of concept artists / illustrators? Or do game companies have specially-trained designers to do this kind of job?

    Thanks for any clarification!
    Xeon

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    I did some research and I read people use this thing called "tiling" (?), and I take it to mean the programmer will create the code that generates the background art randomly on the fly? That means we only need to do tiny sections of the art?
    Sort of, but not exactly. The tiles aren't, generally, laid out randomly, but rather by hand in the game engine. So for the sky you'd create, say, a 512x512 tiling bit of sky. Then, in a separate file, you might make a cloud that could be layered on in the game engine. Similairly, for an interior, you'd make a tiling wall and floor sections, then do any furniture and props in a different field.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    3) For game background art and game level design, is that the job of concept artists / illustrators? Or do game companies have specially-trained designers to do this kind of job?
    Generally speaking, you'll have one person who designs the mechanics of the level using very simple placeholder graphics, then another person who will pretty it up. Of course, on small projects the roles can be combined.




    Also, who are you working with on this project? If none of you can answer these questions, it doesn't bode well for your ability to finish a game. Not saying you can't learn, of course, but keep your goals modest if you're all this inexperienced.

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    How the background is made is up to you but ideally you can repeat the tiles over and over to limit the size and performance issues. This is the biggest obstacle in games that are size limited especially like trying to get an iphone game to run well, make it look good and not have the thing be hundreds of MB's

    So you make up the tileset which is just a picture designed in a manner that it's split into squares. You can use these squares over and over preferably, especially for things like the land the characters walking on or the parallax backgrounds (mine last I did was 32x32 tiles) then you can compile the various tilesets (that are loaded into the game by the programmers) and arrange them in another program like a tile mapper which with a simple graphic user interface allows you to just plop down tiles from your tilesets and arrange them how you want, which the programmers can use once again.


    That's what I've learned so far on my iOS game project with friends. Though we're taking a break so haven't gone past that into implementation with them yet.

    But the important thing is file sizes and formats. Keeping things small yet looking decent.

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    Most of my projects have been tile based...even the Playstation stuff, because it is extremely efficient. No, it is not one big, giant image...you create a tileset for each "load" (usually a level). From the tileset you can make all background and terrain elements found within that level. When loaded it all sits nicely tucked into a chunk of RAM somewhere...the exact location is determined by the programmers.

    At EA we had proprietary tools for manipulating our tiles...it was called Alice. At 3DO we had a sweet toolset we simply called Worldbuilder. You'll need some kind of tile layout tool that lets you build everything you need from your tiles and allows the programmers to extract that code to recreate it on the fly in the game (really it's a very simple coordinate list that tells teh engine where to place each tile and in what orientation).

    On my teams the levels have always been designed by myself, the Director, and lead designer...with additional input by whoever would be responsible for that particular level.

    What you have to know before starting any work is what size each tile will be in pixels, the color bit depth and how much RAM will be allocated - which determines how many tiles you get...something along the lines of 256 tiles at 64x64 pixels in 8bit color.

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    Since you mentioned iPhone a view times.

    At a hospital and can't access my Dropbox
    But I had this file laying on my computer.
    Been ages since I last touched it.

    But it was a screenshot I was showing a friend
    after I first used a tile map editor

    Not sure but I think it was this one. Which is free.

    http://www.mapeditor.org/

    Name:  Test Plains.jpg
Views: 1141
Size:  120.8 KB

    It was my first little test try after figuring it out.
    Wasn't even worried about the file sizes and limitations
    But at the very least you can see how the tiles are repeated
    The sky is literally one line of tiles vertically.
    But you just put them in a tile editor from a tileset
    (like the picture on the link above just to the top right shows in the bottom right of that screenshot)
    then edit them to create the level. Which has layers and such.


    But you can look into it. I'd ask literally the programmers who are making it what they need/expect.
    Ask about file formats, file restraints per level etc. since I'm sure everyone has their own way of doing things.
    Some use this engine, or this route, some do it another way. My friends were programming things from scratch
    so a lot of the limitations were going to be different. So always better to know what your dealing with before you do it.

    Last edited by JFierce; May 29th, 2012 at 01:45 AM.
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