Hard Work at Figuring out the Graphics

I should be finishing Re-Hoard and Reckless Abandon, but, other than doing most of the sprites at Re-Hoard, I spent most of my time trying to figure out how to display graphics through Libretro.

Basically, because I plan on using software rendering (which is more portable due to not dependent on any specific API), all I need to do is render to a framebuffer… or the backbuffer. I know that I am going to exclusively use .png files and, because of my choice of 2D retro-style graphics, the RGB565 format, but I do not know the exact procedure in displaying and moving graphics while targeting Libretro. I mean, I did not even know of RGB565 before reading the libretro.h file! LÖVE did not give me this much trouble!

I can use a sprite library, but those were made without the knowledge of Libretro, which means that they would render using SDL2 or OpenGL instead of the generic software rendering layer that Libretro uses. Even if I did find one that uses software rendering, I have trouble knowing how to write .png files to a framebuffer or backbuffer! Libretro does have its own png decoder, but I do not know how to use the thing! This is not even taking into account the Box2D or Chipmunk physics engines that I plan on using!

I still plan on going ahead with using straight C++ with Libretro instead of writing in Lua and running the resulting core through Lutro. After all, I prefer to be the closest possible to the Libretro library because I find that the extra control outweighs the difficulty. Besides, this knowledge would be helpful if I ever get a job at another game company. However, if this gets too difficult, then I shall use a Rust engine and rely on Libretro’s Rust wrapper, instead.

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This American-Japanese font

Did anyone else notice these types of fonts that come up in Japanese games now and again? You know… that Latin script font that seems to be “cartoony” yet “animeish” at the same time?

Harmoknight, especially, seems to really like using this font in its sound effects:

How can I write in that font? I really like that font.

FireRed, LeafGreen, Mewtwo

2 weeks ago, Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen were first release.

Today, in these games, Mew gave birth to Mewtwo.

 

I hold Pokémon in high regard. I mean, while I already had a GameBoy Pocket that had Super Mario Bros. 2: 6 Golden Coins (which I played a lot), The Lion King (which I played to an extent), and another game that I forgot (and barely played), Pokémon Silver was not only the reason I got a GameBoy Color but was also my first dive into a dedication of handheld gaming.

The same goes to console gaming: I already had a PSone that had Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon (which I played a lot), Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase (which I played to an extent), and Gran Turismo 2 (which I barely played), Pokémon Colosseum (and, more importantly, its Bonus Disc) was not only the reason I got a GameCube but was also my first dive into a dedication of console gaming.

The regard goes farther. This dedication led me to a more eager look into the workings and history of electronic games, the “scene”, hacks, actual game-making, and so on. Pokémon also led me to not only Internet forums but also website-making. Even my current interest in art and languages were, in part, from Pokémon! Even Wuu Shyng, my final project of my master’s degree and a game that I am developing, is based off Pokémon!

Mewtwo himself is significant here; I learned and got into Pokémon when the movie Mewtwo Strikes Back was on videocasette! On Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen, I find these games one of my favourites in the entire series. If I were to be more specific, the refinements from the later generations, ranging from the better controls to the new moves, made the original experience far more comfortable, the comfort even exceeding that of Pokémon Emerald! That way, the brilliance of the original games now shone more clearly. I also like the new things they added, ranging from the Wireless Club to the Sevii Island, though the latter, admittedly, needed some expansion.

Response: What is Good Taste?

This is a response to an article that 2D Will Never Die wrote one time.

I might just be privileged and optimistic, but I shall not say these years have been horrible to us. I mean, we got Steam, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Kindle (and a lot of other goodies that Amazon gives), and even Mini in a Box. We also have an Internet that has a connection level that is so deeply integrated, thus making these things possible. More locally, even though the debt in Puerto Rico is in default, I got a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering, my own business that is not tied to a single physical location, and a couple of “escape routes” available if things get really bad, though Puerto Rico seems to be handling itself just fine so far.

Even so, I can see that things can be better. Right now, people are craving and perpetuating an NC-17 culture. Even here in Puerto Rico, “safety” is edging out responsibility. Of course, there is not only the debt default that Puerto Rico still has, but also the people in government lacking responsibility in finances, thus why I have considered “escape routes” in the first place!

Ironically, a picture from 2D Will Never Die just happens to illustrate what I want to say:

While 2D Will Never Die used this picture in illustrating an “almost all-consuming trend of going from ‘colorful and full of character’ to ‘dark and all looks the same’,” I point out that the “dark, monotonous” cell phones are capable of doing things (comfortable comic reading, streaming media, drawing, writing and running computer code) that is far out of reach of the cell phones that are “full of color and character”. Even the games that the dark phones can play are leagues bigger than the ones the colorful ones can play!

I guess that I am trying to say that every day has significant bad and good points. All I can do is take responsibility for my actions and change what I can.

Thankfully, culture is one thing that I can change.

2D Will Never Die attributes the sick culture of this day to expense and bad taste. The website claims that everything getting more expensive comes from us getting stupider. While I do not know what the website means by “we’re getting stupider” and how that ties to bigger expense, I agree that more expense leads to more aversion to possibly money-wasting risks into the unknown.

2D Will Never Die’s premise that aversion to fun risks leads to a child-unfriendliness, even if children are the target audience, is interesting. In light of a video from Saber Spark, I noticed that this unfriendly effect happened with SpongeBob SquarePants, a fun and exciting cartoon! The Nickelodeon channel neglected other shows, pushing SpongeBob SquarePants for around a decade. Even when the maker of SpongeBob SquarePants left the cartoon, Nickelodeon kept the cartoon going. The cartoon itself ended up “simplified” and otherwise blander in its later seasons. These days, I am not really comfortable in seeing what Nickelodeon offers; the general offering feels repellent.

2D Will Never Die mentioning higher costs in both animation and electronic games is also interesting. The program Synfig and the programming language Python were a response to these costs with their respective industries. Synfig does away with the need to draw in-between frames; Python has extensive library support and is simply simple to write. So far, Synfig remains obscure, but Python is one of the most in-demand programming languages. (I honestly wonder why these solutions that have similar goals got drastically different outcomes…) The key is that both Synfig and Python aim for smaller costs without a decrease in quality. After all, an army of skilled artists staying up all night to reach a deadline leads to a more romantic mental image than a few affordable artists tracing some 3D models a few days a week, but what would be the results of those skilled artists, and what are the consequences of such a time crunch? I myself know of the crunch because of college, especially my Master’s Degree! I would welcome anything that would alleviate the  crunch without sacrificing quality!

2D Will Never Die gives an interesting observation that the incident with the Twin Towers at the United States in September 11, 2001 changed the zeitgeist there. After all, Dada, a “nonsense” art movement, came out of World War I. However, I propose that the incident at September 11, 2001 was merely a catalyst to a cultural entropy that was happening in quite a long time now. I earlier mentioned that we have a sick culture today. The thing is that the sickness started decades ago. I mean, 2D Will Never Die looked fondly and even ideally at the 1990’s, but MTV’s and Comedy Central’s contributions to this decade were not only sick, but also borne out of an earlier sickness. In fact, in the United States, at least, I would put the beginning of cultural sickness at the 1960’s and the 1970’s when the countercultural movements took hold of the country and became mainstream. Because of a lack of vigilance, the zeitgeist became less conservative and therefore sicker. In light of this, I am not surprised that the owner of 2D Will Never Die, the owner apparently born in the 1980’s, would be so impressed, even if also somewhat disgusted, at eyeballs falling off bloody chunks, the owner even calling the eyeballs “good taste”, claiming that the eyeballs are not “goreporn”, but rather a friendly, lovely extra little gift from a company that liked and understood children.

There is no good taste in falling eyeballs!

Just because children like something does not mean that we have to give that something to them! Children would just love to fight with other children, eat lots of sugar, and stick their hands into places that would cause “death or serious injury”! I am not saying that children are stupid; I am saying that children, due to their immaturity, might want something that would end up very bad for them. Even if they know that those are not real eyeballs, we should not be encouraging this stuff to children whose tastes are, honestly, still in development.

Of course, by no means should you have to choose between good taste and exciting fun. In fact, I want to make games that have both. Thankfully, 2D Will Never Die offers points on what exactly gave stuff from the 1980’s and 1990’s good taste and exciting fun:

  • Fun that is bright, colorful, energetic, and even goofy feels good.
  • Maximize what feels good; minimize what feels bad.
  • Emphasize style, not ballooning cost.
  • Make places of escape, not venting.

One interesting yet important point 2D Will Never Die gives is that independent developers (That includes me!) have not only a huge freedom not afforded to big companies but also have an Internet that has a connection level that is so deeply integrated. In fact, 2D Will Never Die seems to say that we can mix the best of the 1980’s and 1990’s with the best of today.

Do you still remember these cell phones?

The older ones are more fun, but the newer ones are more capable.

Why do we have to choose?

Why can we not make a fun, colorful, yet strongly capable cell phone? Why can we not make something with the fun of yesterday but with the potential of today? Why can we not make something in both exciting fun and good taste?

Honestly, I found myself wanting to do just that. However, that is a subject for another post.

Eating You Own Dog Food

Apparently, the software industry has an expression: “eating your own dog food”. That means that you actually use the software that you make.

This seems so obvious, yet I can understand why “eating your own dog food” is its own thing. When I work on software, I think in terms that are either very abstract (the requirements, the functionality) or low-level (the code). Even testing the software involves a state of mind that is far different from simply using the code. The software itself becomes an abstraction instead of an actual product. I can also understand the software development process being so harsh that you do not want to deal with the software anymore.

I hope the games I do make do not make me feel this way.

I earlier said that a gruelling development did not permanently diminish my game development desire. What I do not know is if I would actually enjoy the games I make. That would be a big requirement: if I did not enjoy the games I made, what would make sure that others would? In fact, I fear this time in my life that I would never enjoy a game I made. After all, I never finished a game! Even my final project was a mere engine demo that had a big development history!

The sad thing is that part of the reason why I make games is because I want to play games that I like. Re-Hoard is such a fun concept. Wuu Shyng is the Pokémon game I wanted. A big number of game ideas are of games that I wish I could enjoy myself.

The Tinglar Difference: Integrity

This is actually a sort of rewrite from the “Parents” page from my website.

I may just be overly fixated, but, these days, most of the popular games seem to be M-Rated. The ones that are lower than that rating seem to be either Nintendo games or shovelware.

Why should that be?

The M-Rated games congregate at the Sony and Microsoft consoles which serve the gaming addict. I mentioned previously that this addict would rather buy only M-Rated power fantasies. I wonder why M-Rated, though. My guess, other than a sick culture, is that these addicts want a “grown-up” game. “Accurate” portrayal of the power fantasy they crave would explain the heavy violence, but what about all the other “bad stuff”? Is, for example, profanity necessary in a power fantasy? I think that the gaming addict would seek out a “sick” game that Sony and Microsoft would wholeheartedly serve… only for the gaming addict to get “sicker” from “feeding” from the game.

While, thankfully, Nintendo managed to provide some healthy and fun alternatives so far, this “sickness” extends beyond electronic games into all media. In one example, a lot of movies are at least PG-13, a lot of them even getting into R. I would not be so narrow-sighted into thinking that this phenomenon is new, but this is not a good climate at all. “Sick” people make a “sick” culture from “sick” content that “infects” more people.

Even though I would actually like legislation that would require others to tone down their content out of the health of, well, everyone, taking out the “sickness” is only part of the solution, leaving a void in culture. Content providers need to provide “healthy” content in turn, this “healthy” content healing both culture and people.

That is one big goal of Tinglar. I want to make games that are both fun and healthy. Nintendo managed to provide such a combination time and again, attracting an audience that is not only larger and healthier but also more varied than the gaming addicts that seem to be the norm today. My integrity is the main reason, actually, why I insist on making “healthy” games.

A Couple of Sites That Have Free Game Assets

Here, I keep a couple of websites that were useful in linking me to free assets that I could use in my games, including material under Creative Commons licenses. Some of these links are actually themselves curated lists of more resources!

These websites contain assets related to :

  • 2D sprites, 3D models, textures
  • songs, loops, sound effects
  • game engines, frameworks
  • tutorials

While this is different fwom the usual type of blog post that I write in Idyll Romp, I figured that my readers would appreciate these links.

The Tinglar Diifference: No Microtransactions

Simply put, I am not willing to exploit you mentally or withhold part of the game from you.

I am not sure if I am going to avoid downloadable-content, though. After all, I plan on developing and releasing a full game, first, then, maybe, give additional stuff that should substantially enhance the original full experience.

Then again, the games are free in not only price but also freedom. If I try something odd, you can simply audit and even modify the source code.