Game Dev: Title Screens

Since we’re all patiently waiting for me to finish the touch-up work on Dynasty Heroes and Monster, I figured I would let you all in on one of the processes of Game Development that I like to call:

Temporary Art Assets!


These are files that you use in place of finished art in the game.  Then you just name the finished art, when it’s completed, the same thing and upload it into your development program or library folder (depending on what program or coding you’re using), and ta-da, it magically replaces the temporary assets.

To give you a step-by-step, uhh, -ish example of how this works, I’ll walk you through how I did the Dynasty Heroes Title Screen.  First we started off with a picture of the title screen that we wanted to pay homage to, the background for the character select screen of the old arcade game Dynasty Wars.


Pretty nifty, right?  So we size that to our needs and throw a pretty generic title on it, then call it DH-Title.png (for Dynasty Heroes Title Screen, get it?).  We wind up with this in our game when it goes out to testers:


Pretty simple, right?  The title is green, because that’s the main character’s associated color.  The reason the title in Chinese is on the right is in homage to Koei’s Dynasty Warriors series, which always had the pictographic characters for the Japanese title (Shin Sangoku Musou) on the right side of its titles.  By the way, the Chinese characters are Chao Dai Ying Xiong.  So we’ve got a pretty nifty looking title screen, albeit a little rough-looking, for all of about 30 minutes of work, maybe less.

But it’s still a copyrighted image, so we can’t actually use what we’ve made.  But we have a good idea of what we want.  In the original picture we have, from left to right, the equivalents of our characters Yide, Xuande, Yunchang, Zilong, and a character that won’t appear in our game, Kongming; but Kongming was, historically, an advisor to Xuande so Bogui takes his place in our game.

And none of that last line made any sense to you, because you haven’t played it yet and don’t know who anybody is.  Uhh, moving on…

We then hire an artist to make us some real art, that artist happened to the same one who made all of our battle art, Rich Graysonn.  And in case we have to release without Rich’s art, since we were on a deadline originally, we made a new set with the art we had gotten from our portrait artist, Sketoart (Farid).  And by we, I totally mean I threw them all in GiMP and made, well, this…


Is it just me, or does Yide (the guy in the red cap) look like he’s shyly hiding behind Xuande (the guy in the front)?

We then made up a new title panel and put that over top of the picture to arrive at this terrifying destination (along with some spacing reassignments):


Now instead of Yide hiding, it’s Bogui (the older guy in orange) hiding.

And there we have it, we have a temporary art asset that, worst case scenario, we can use if the game has to ‘ship’ (a figurative term, since there are no physical copies of the game).  But remember, that our deadline issue is solved (bleh), so we had more than enough time to get all of our art assets from our artist friend(s).  Rich made us this:


Not quite a perfect homage, but it gets the point across and still has a similar motif to it.  With a base we have our artist a few more fine touches to it and we get this dandy picture…



So now we have a cool picture with an awesome fire effect.  But we still need it to say what we’re playing.  So we throw together a title panel, that really doesn’t do the professional artist’s work justice I admit, and we wind up with our final version of the title screen!


We then rename that picture as DH-Title.png and put it in the folder with all of our game’s art assets, effectively replacing the second picture, which had already replaced the original picture that we couldn’t use for copyright reasons.  And ta-da, we have a title screen.

We did the same thing for all of the character portraits.  The villain, Zhongying, was actually the first portrait to be finished.  So we just made a dozen copies of his portrait and renamed each copy as one of the other characters’ names.  Then when each of the other characters, in turn, had their portraits finished by Farid we just resized them and replaced the original portrait of Zhongying with the new picture.

This meant that we didn’t have to wait for the art to be finished before we could continue the development.  And that’s what Temporary Art Assets in game development are really for.

Hopefully my next post will be announcing the game’s release, right?  Either way, I’ll try to make a few more posts about the development process.  And as we work on our next project, Possession, I’ll try to somewhat regular updates and insights on how we make it.


Tekkoshocon 2014 Begins!

Just as a reminder to everyone Tekkoshocon in Pittsburgh, if anyone plans to attend our panels, we’ll be at Panel Room 3 from 2pm to 3pm for The History Behind Sengoku Basara!  We will also be at Panel Room 2 from 6pm to 7pm for The History of Dynasty Warriors!

Come one down and listen to me blabber on about Warring States Japan and Han Dynasty China for a couple hours, and maybe even win some free prizes, too!


Tekkoshocon 2014 News!

I’ve been rather critical of Tekkoshocon before, but this year we’ve decided to try it out again.  We’ve been told by folks that went last year that a lot of the things we complained about had been fixed; so we’ve decided to give it another shot after going to Baltimore’s Otakon last year.

But not only that, we’ve gone two steps further: I’m going to be hosting two panels at Tekko this year.  As it looks right now one panel, on Japanese History related to the anime/game series Sengoku Basara, will be Friday afternoon at 2pm in Panel Room 3.  The other panel on the History of the Three Kingdoms Era of China as related to the game series Dynasty Warriors will be held the same day (Friday) at 6pm in Panel Room 2.

I’ll let you all know as soon as I do if the times change.

We’ll be giving away door prizes at both panels as well, including books and computer games, and of course the chance to listen to me talk about two of my favorite subjects for an hour a piece.

So if you’re going to be at Tekkoshocon this year in early April, feel free to come on down and see either or both of my panels.

The door prizes alone are pretty nice, we’ve got some decent games to give away: Europa Universalis 3, Majesty 2, a few Uno games, a book on Ninjutsu in the Sengoku Basara panel, and who knows what else!

Oh I know what else; that’s right.  Anyway…

We’d love to see our adoring fans (maybe even both of you!) come on down to see us, especially if you’ll be there anyway.