I have a 1GAM profile located here. I plan to submit my projects from this blog to 1GAM.
Catacomb came in both a CGA and an EGA mode. CGA mode only had four colors, whereas EGA had 16. I’m going to use EGA coloring, because 16 the colors looks much better than four, and lets me draw more details in the dungeon.
EGA graphics consisted of 16 colors selected from a 64 color palette. Below is the full 64 color EGA color palette (source Wikipedia).
I the palette in Aseprite, which you can download here. Background tiles were 8*8, sprites were 16*16. The screen was 320*200. Blowing a resolution that low, up to a full screen size is what gives the game that old, low-res pixelated look.
In initial drafts of games, I like to use placeholder graphics. Placeholder graphics are meant to be quick to make and temporary. When making placeholder graphics, there are four pretty good general rules of thumb to follow.
- Don’t waste time trying to make them look good.
- Use your real color palette
- Use your real tile/sprite sizes
- Use high contrast colors to make sure everything is easily visible.
During the initial art phase, it’s a good idea to have a vague idea of what you want, but you shouldn’t be too married to the idea of any one theme. Right now, I am thinking I will call my game “Crypt”. You’ll play as a sorcerer who travels through the levels of an ancient crypt to fight the Skeleton King. Enemies will skeletons, demons, goblins (because who can resist putting goblins in a labyrinth) and ghosts.
For the placeholder art, I drew the player, a skeleton, a floor tile, some wall tiles, a fireball, and some assorted goodies. All graphics, placeholder or otherwise were made in Aseprite, using the palette I provided earlier in the post. Below you can see the sprites at their actual sizes.
This week’s game inspiration is Catacomb.
Catacomb is a third person shooter, created in 1989 by John Carmack for the Apple II. Later, it got ported to DOS. You play as a magician named Petton Everhail who tosses fireballs at skeletons and demons. It’s an early precursor to the other games in Catacomb series.
Mechanically, you’re tossed into a maze full of monsters. You can cast an infinite number of fireballs to kill the monsters of the maze. You can all charge your regular fireball into a super fireball. There are two other spells that cost you scrolls as ammunition. One is basically a super, super fireball. The other is a ring of fireballs which damages everything around you. They are inconveniently mapped to B and N, with your main attack being mapped to CTRL.
You run around in the maze finding keys to open gates to get to portals to advance further into the catacomb. When enemies touch you, your body meter decreases. When it’s empty, you die. You get to put your name in the high score table and the game restarts. No extra lives, no saves, no continues. I like that mechanic. It’s a little counter-intuitive, but I think only having one life adds replayability to the game. It gives it an arcade vibe that I really like.
Yesterday I grew my NES collection by almost 20 games. I found a great local retro games collector/dealer on Craigslist.
NES and SNES are my favorite consoles. This weekend I’m going to play each of these games with my wife and a few friends. I should find lots of inspiration for next week’s posts buried in these cartridges!
The purpose of this blog will be to show people how to make retro style games with GameMaker Studio. GMS is expensive, I try to keep costs down by mostly using free or very cheap software.
I picked GMS over cheaper alternatives, like Construct 2, because GMS is easier to use and more powerful. Plus it exports to more platforms than most other engines. All code/art I create will be FOSS, under the loosest, most permissive license I can find. GMS project files will be available for download for each week’s project.
I plan to release a post on this blog, daily, starting 8/3/2015.