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File formats are (a lot) like languages

2dgameartguru - file formats are like languages

File formats are a lot like languages

A “quick attempt” at explaining file formats using languages as a metaphor
why won’t my cool, sparkly, brilliant design export to SVG?

Let’s pick a tool. Affinity Designer is one of the vector design tools I enjoy using. It’s modern and user-friendly – let’s say it uses a modern language for this piece let’s call it French. There are words for all the things we encounter daily. It’s a beautiful language and it works!

The standard

Now, we look at Adobe illustrator. It also can be seen as a modern language but a different one – let’s say, German. It’s somewhat related and there are words for all of today’s elements in it as well. Plus they added a few more, being German and all. Yet, a translator is required to communicate between the two, and still, things get lost in translation. Little nuances, the flow and, sometimes [depending on the translator] even the whole meaning. Your pressing export in Affinity designer is similar to employing a translator.

The odd cousin

Then there is CorelDraw – another player in the market but doing similar things. For this example let’s associate Japanese with it – more technical and with a unique approach. Its language follows different rules and even has a totally different way of writing. There is no direct translator available. In order to make yourself understood you have to go through a ‘common grounds language’.

The common ground

This is where PDF kicks in. It’s the English speaker’s version of a file format. I can get the message across on a lot of platforms from documents to art and even 3D models are integrated. Yet, it’s missing some of the unique elements of Italian, German, or Japanese. Finer details get lost in translation. Those details are e.g. the blur filter, the vector brushes, or the gradient FX. PDF will display them, but they are no longer editable the way they were in Affinity.

The ancients

Then there is EPS and SVG, they speak neither of those three languages but something closer to ancient Greek and Latin. A lot of words are missing in the sets. Trying to describe a computer or a V8 engine in Latin will be hard. You might have to use a lot of signs and images. These signs translate to bitmap images in SVG and EPS. They might get the idea across but they can no longer be written down or exchanged for other words.
You would need a more simplistic approach that is based on the words of the language.

Carrying on

Inkscape [a free vector tool with a good set of tools] could be seen as Italian. They took the limited word set of Latin and added to it. It’s still SVG but no longer a pure form of the file format. An Italian would understand Latin quite well, yet an ancient Roman would look at the Italian explaining modern civilization and not understand as a lot of words wouldn’t make sense to him. Inkscape’s SVG files do that to most import filters or browsers. The core might be translated but the flowery decoration will be lost.

In essence…

In essence, file formats are very different in the way they store data. Knowing what they can do and what they can’t do helps a lot in the design process. No matter if it’s trying to create that cool design for a laser cut in e.g. EPS [as the machine’s software requires that format], doing the T-Shirt print that’s asking for an SVG file, or collaborating with users of other tools and finding the common ground.

Don’t try and describe a V8 supercar engine in ancient Greek. It just won’t work that well. Just like EPS won’t get the transparent gradient you put on the clipping mask with the cool sparkle effect you added to that beveled logo.

Wishing everyone a happy 2021!

2Dgameartguru - Happy New Year 2021!

Happy New Year!

I am wishing you all a peaceful, healthy, and successful 2021! All the best!

It’s a little delayed… and the post is way overdue… but I have been traveling, visiting my girlfriend in Brisbane, spending a relaxing time down in the not quite as hot and humid parts of the state, enjoying a peaceful Christmas, and finally making it back up to the tropical North to celebrate the New Year with friends. A week of doing ‘touristy things’ followed… I tend to forget how beautiful it is up here, well… as in not going out and seeing it.

Things are going back to a ‘normal routine’ which at the moment seems to include the ‘normal’ fight with health issues. The last year has been a challenge for all of us and I didn’t really need more on my plate. It seems that my neural muscular disease is progressing a little quicker than I would like and the ‘side effects’ become more visible. It started with issues with my left wrist, nothing major [I thought], but when the doc ordered an MRI, it turned into three pages of issues. I did expect it to be just an inflammation to be cured with a shot… now I am looking at ‘grossly deformed’ and pretty much every joint being out of whack. 40+ years of uneven muscle tension and lack of balance of powers, or the lack of muscular strength have worn the joints, and little things become a lot more difficult. It’s not what I want as an artist…

but hey… It’s just something to adjust to… and it won’t stop me from having fun with art [and tutorials]. There are a few waiting to be finished – most likely not as video but as step-by-step tutorials… but I will try to mix it up a little and be a bit more productive than last year. Enough of me whining… I am still around and hope to write a lot more this year.

To all of you reading my blog, looking for tutorials on game art, Inkscape, or Affinity Designer, THANKS for another good year, and all the best for the New Year!

2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021
2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021

Match Two Rivals – Competitive Matching Game – soft launch

2dgameartguru - match two rivals

Match Two Rivals – Competitive Matching Game

Game Launch News [Android]

Match Two Rivals – Competitive Matching Game – is soft launching on the App Store. Match your spotting skills with other players globally. This is the fourth collaboration with Richard Gale from A proper Job Games. It’s nice to work with people you enjoy – their approach, their ideas, and their games.

Match Two Rivals

Matched with a similar level player, you will have the same pieces in the same positions. Both rivals will have the same boosts and time. Score points by dragging matching pieces onto the collector. Keep a streak going for winning scores. Clear them all for a time bonus.

Strategy – keep similar objects together!
Efficiency – maintain a streak for high scores!
Speed – make the time count!

Skillz Support

Challenge people around the world with Skillz, a competition platform complete with leaderboards, trophies, Cash or virtual currency prizes, and an amazing loyalty program that rewards you for playing!

2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021

For this project, I had a lot of stock art to incorporate into the look and feel. It would have been too time-consuming to create it all from scratch. As an indie-developer time is money – and you are usually in constant short supply of both.
The art style had to match the last two games ‘Farm Rivals’ and ‘Safaria Merge Rivals’. Working in Affinity Designer [with animations done in Spine] allowed for fast asset and UI creation. Falling back on existing styles for the title screen and logo helped as well.

2Dgameartguru - happy new year 20212Dgameartguru - Match Two Rivals title design2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021

Building on past experiences

The title design uses parts of a tutorial I wrote in 2017 as a foundation – Creating a game title. Consequently, using similar effects allows for faster creation. Additionally, it also helps to build a recognizable brand for the client.
The character design approach was very similar. Previously, [starting with Farm Rivals] games featured characters on the title screen and during in-game messages. I kept the proportions of the setup. Using the old characters as a template for the next games. I went as far as keeping the file names. This made it very easy to replace the assets for animation. As the body parts were identical, spine would instantly show the setup with the new art. Usually, tweaking and positioning are a lot faster than a whole new rig and bones setup. Ultimately, it’s about saving time.

2Dgameartguru - happy new year 20212Dgameartguru - Match Two Rivals character design2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021

Check it out on the app store!

Polishing older tutorial assets in Inkscape

2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021

Polishing older tutorial assets in Inkscape

Assets revisited

While playing with Inkscape, I decided to take some older tutorial assets and try polishing them. The newest version of Inkscape has a lot to offer and runs more stable when dealing with the things I enjoy. Blurs, blend modes, and layers run fine now. I had a look at the files of this site [in access of 1000 images] and there is no shortage of assets that could use some love.
One of the oldest tutorials is the creation of a dinosaur. It was a basic Inkscape tutorial for an external site back in the days. Dino briefly featured on the screens for the character animation tutorial. I did mean to rework the tutorial to match this site for a while. So, today was a ‘sit back and have some fun’ day.

2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021
2dgameartguru - Inkscape rework of older assets

I took the original parts and adding some shading shapes, blurs, and more detail to them. There are a lot of clips to keep the blurs in check. I also added a little bit of texture with some random, semi-transparent circles.

2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021

Would there be interest in tutorials on this? I could go through some of the older assets and bring them in line with the current abilities of Inkscape. Explaining the process of shading, adding detail, and reworking the art. Maybe I could add some basic animation tutorials in Spine or Spriter as well.

2dgameartguru - Inkscape rework of older assets
2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021

It’s up to you!

Please let me know in the comments below if there is interest and what you would like to see revisited. Thanks!

2Dgameartguru basics - circles
2Dgameartguru basics - squares
2Dgameartguru basics - shading
2Dgameartguru basics - align
2Dgameartguru basics - picking colours

Pupey – Reach New Heights – Android Action Game

2dgameartguru pupey2Dgameartguru - happy new year 20212dgameartguru pupey

Pupey – Reach New Heights

Game Launch News [Android]

Pupey – Reach New Heights – a tricky little action game – is out on GooglePlay now. Those of you who know this blog might have seen the ‘before/ after’ image in the frontpage. It’s been a while since I worked on this one with Algerian coder Mohammed Islam Hadjoudj. He has ported it to Android now and it’s out for you to grab and give it a spin. 

PUPEY is a colourful litte arcade game. Your main aim is fly upwards in a sky filled with obstacles.  Keep away from those. Avoid crashing into any of the traps – all while collecting coins scattered all over the screen.

Controls are very intuitive. Swipe your finger to guide your player. Plan ahead so you won’t be caught off guard by any of the stationary, rotating or moving elements out to end your flight.

2Dgameartguru - happy new year 20212Dgameartguru - Pupey Action Game2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021

The difference art makes

Pupey is a good example how a game can be transformed with consistent and contrasting art. It’s not about the complexity of game art. The main characters in this game are very simple. We tried to keep the level of detail simple but make it easy to distinguish elements and keep the player’s focus on the essential elements.

Keeping things simple is my main advice when you are starting your indie game and are overwhelmed by the tasks ahead. Rather than spend a ton of time on ‘the most awesome looking’ character, keep things consistently simple. Make sure the game works and feels right. Eventually, you can improve the art elements, refine and add details.

2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021
2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021

It should be fun…

I am a firm believer in ‘fun shows in your work’. It should be fun to create the game. It won’t be all the time. We all know that. Overall it should be a great (yet sometimes stressful) experience that you enjoy. Your passion will show in the game, the art or the music!

2Dgameartguru - happy new year 2021

Check it out on GooglePlay!

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