Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Art Work is Captivating

Cannon Tower - Plain Tower - Trees
  Lately I have been throwing together a Tower Defense type game for Zenerdgy.  I haven't a name or even a working level yet, but have been enjoying building the parts.  Since I like the look of the 3D look of an isometric game, I have been modeling the game pieces in Blender.  It is forcing me to increase my 3D modeling skills, but also compensates for my lack of artistic drawing ability.   I use the tools ability to simulate the look I want, instead of trying to draw the effect myself.   "Hey, I need some subtle shadows here.  There must be a lighting rig I can setup for this..."  There are definitely good and bad in this approach.   The good is that I get the look that I want without artistic budget or copyright issues.  The bad is that it takes a while to build each piece.   While I am picking up speed with building models, it is still a slow learning process at this point.   Luckily, it is also pretty fun to learn.
   I find myself doing a lot of 3D modeling, importing the rendered image into GIMP for final image clean up, and then importing this into the game project for testing in a simulator.   I jump around between Blender, GIMP, and XCode all day to see if the pieces are looking good in the game.  It is easy to get caught up in any one of the 3 steps to add some extra work or refinement.   Once I have the basic game pieces created, I will switch over to XCode full-time to finish up the game.  Until that point, I am finding myself building a lot of models.
    In order to not get too involved with the artwork, I have been setting a programming schedule each week to make sure the game itself gets equal time.  This usually means setting a goal of what the game should show the family each week.  For example, this week was placing towers on the level map.  It sounds easy, but I had to create the level map, confirm scale, lighting, etc.  Once I have the weekly goal performing correctly, I show off the parts to the family.   I then go back and clean up the code and refactor it to make the project more modular.
    Like anything that you are doing for the first time, it helps to be flexible.  I have been studying as fast as I can, but the overall schedule is pretty loose right now.   This means I really don't know what month I will be targeting for delivery, but am hoping to have something ready in the next 3-5 months.    If I do my job right, I should be able to build additional games of this genre a lot quicker in the future.   We will see.

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