A Wee Bit’o Pixelling (Part 1)
Since pixelling seems to be a big part of many game making efforts, I figured I’d better refresh my memory on the subject and dip my toes in the pool. I’m not attached to it as an aesthetic for future games, but I do like the look a lot. Also, its fun and easy… at least when it comes to simple art. So, here’s what I learned:
I tried two tools that I liked a lot. The first was Graphics Gale on the PC. It’s easy to use, configurable and focused. It doesn’t take long to get used to and most of the features you need are available in the free version. It supports layers, animation and a configurable preview window which updates as you make changes. I found a few quirks. For example, new layers are not automatically added to existing frames. That’s a pain but not a deal breaker. Also, configuring the playback speed of frames is not intuitive. You have to specify a fraction: the numerator is any arbitrary number that you choose and the denominator is chosen from a preset list (60ths of a second, for example).
As I was happily clicking away I realized that it would be handy to be able to place a high resolution image in the background and trace over it. Graphics Gale doesn’t do this, however Sprite Something for the iPad does. Frankly I don’t really like using the iPad for content creation in general. I find the experience to be largely cumbersome and quirky. However, I find Sprite Something to be relaxing and fun to work with. It’s fairly easy to work out what everything does and its satisfying and mostly responsive. It too has a few problems though.
Sprite Something crashes frequently for me and if it hasn’t autosaved recently you’re going to have to redo some work. Also, sprite sheet management is obtuse and buggy. On the whole though I still recommend it and frankly I think if it were more stable one could get some serious work done on it if access to a real computer isn’t on the table.
That covers the two applications I tried out, but what did I learn about the actual act of pixelling? Well sir, I’ll cover that in part two.