Secret Agent P. Uzzle Update 2: Character design and animation

Designing the character

Since its my first try on creating all the art myself, I opted for a simple level and character design. After drawing up multiple silly stick figures I started re-iterating on how these designs could work in pixel art. While I seemed to find a couple of cool designs and was able to make them look, in my own view, awesome… I started to notice that animating these designs would be a bit too difficult for me. And back we went to the drawing board.

I already had some tiles drawn out with their mechanics written down and started to draw my character on top of it. This gave me as a beginner a lot more of an idea on how detailed and how large the end result had to be. First a silhouette, then basics like hair and skin, add some clothes… VOILA! I transformed the stick figure design to an awesome protagonist, which also wasn’t too complex for me to animate as well.

Stages of creating the protagonist

Animating the character

Cool protagonist, check, some example level tiles, check, mechanics of said tiles, check. Next bullet point on the list: “What would need to happen to the character to give the feeling that the players choice actually matters?”

Since I started off with the theme of “Secret Agent” I already looked back at the wonderful traps used in movies such as James Bond and Austin Powers. What could a secret agent be without the danger? Maybe a toy store clerk… To add a sense of danger I opted for using “deadly” traps instead of adding blood and guns. I wanted to keep my target audience towards teens and adults but did not want to exclude children, because who doesn’t want to be a secret agent (I sure do). This also meant that I had to create a separate animation for each trap that I added to the game. More traps = more animations. To make sure I had a decent reference animation I recorded myself with my phone acting out how the character should move.

Once I had my reference material I could finally start animating, right? Not really. Before pushing several hours into animating the protagonist I looked up several tutorials on how to make good pixel art animations, how to make the legs look “realistic” instead of spaghetti-like, how the animation changes based on its speed or length, … all things that need to be considered before making it. After all that work and finally giving it a go, I myself can say that the end result speaks for itself and it has become the basis for my own part in the art of my future projects :)

The finished spritesheet for the protagonist

If you have an interest in trying the project, you can send me an e-mail. Do note that I currently only can give alpha access to Android users. And if you don’t have an Android device, why not give me a like instead on Facebook for now?

Secret Agent P. Uzzle Update 1: Art Style and Colour Blindness

As stated in the previous post, I selected the DB32 palette as the colour palette for my project. The DB32 palette is a palette which uses colours that are selected in such a way to be as multi-purpose as possible. This also means that you have to think about how certain elements work together as in contrast and coherence. One example is how the player character might conflict with the tiles underneath it… or how some shadows change the character design.

Analysis of the DB32 palette

The art style of a programmer

The first version of my game was very simple and had an art style you could place next to a painting from the minimalism movement. I selected a limitation of colours to force myself more into the direction of optimized design creation. This creates an opportunity as a programmer to define “how” my art needs to be created to make the whole project feel like one consistent game. When I finally got the hang of the DB32 palette I was able to define the art style for my project, which will also become the foundation for my future art.

How does this work with colour blindness?

Well… due to the limited palette; which also is limited by its own saturation “nodes”; and by selecting specific designs which are easily recognized we can create a more open way to communicate to the player. A player will easily distinguish a green button from a red/orange one because of the icon drawn on it.

Why directly take colour blindness into account? First of all, if you work it out from the start you don’t have to break your head over it trying to fix everything later on. Next to that, I myself am green/red colour blind and have had my fair share of losing games because I could not comprehend why 2 grey-ish looking blocks would not work together… eventually having a friend tell me those were two different coloured blocks.

A selection of tiles in the game

By making use of very simple shapes the player is able to play the game in black and white and still should be able to complete the level. This way I can ensure that the player is able to play the game without hindrance from colour blindness. This way of designing art is sometimes hard to prepare but once it is defined in the project, it will become a lot easier to create new assets without overlapping between icon designs.

If you have an interest in trying the project, you can send me an e-mail. Do note that I currently only can give alpha access to Android users. And if you don’t have an Android device, why not give me a like instead on Facebook for now?

Presenting: Secret Agent P. Uzzle

As a child I always loved spy movies, playing one in a game is a whole different level of awesome!

Well now I am making such a game, I present to you

The main screen for Secret Agent P. Uzzle

I started this project on the 1st of September as a challenge for myself to create my own art. For this project I selected the palette DB32 which limits my colour selection without losing the openness to designing interesting pieces which are easily recognizable by colour-blind players.

In the upcoming blog post I will go over what is currently in the project and insights on how I approached these elements. Next to that I will go into detail on what I am currently implementing in the project and what will be added in future updates.

If you have an interest in trying the project, you can send me an e-mail. Do note that I currently only can give alpha access to Android users. And if you don’t have an Android device, why not give me a like instead on Facebook for now?