Friday, December 2, 2016

Rhythm Quest Update 5 - Backgrounds

Decided to take a detour from coding and spend a little bit of time trying to figure out colors for the level backgrounds.  These are just rough sketches for now and everything will have to be redone, but I'd like to at least get something in place so that it feels "real".

A short note on screen scaling and pixel art -- unfortunately trying to get pixel art to display nicely on varying device resolutions is a bit of a nightmare.  Fortunately my game is flexible and I think it will work out fine if I just offer up a lot of buffer space on the top and bottom of the screen, since it's not important that I have a specific resolution or viewing rectangle.  The "native" pixel resolution is 500x300 but in addition to enlarging the viewport, I'll also allow for custom screen scaling options.  So if you're playing with a resolution of 1000x600, the automatic screen scaling will scale everything up by 2, but you might also have the option of just leaving everything at 1x.  There's probably no reason you'd want to, since it would look terrible, but that's the plan, anyways.  None of that is implemented right now but the only thing it really affects is that I'll have to make sure I create my backgrounds with the capability for extra room on the top and bottom.

Attempt #1.  Trying to use around 4 colors per section.  I added the third touch button and moved the buttons slightly lower on the screen, and also made a background for the UI.  I was pretty sure from the beginning that I wanted the bottom track to be some sort of cave / dungeon theme, and the top should probably be some sky area, but I didn't know where that left the middle section.  Looking at this, the colors just look kind of ugly and not very consistent, especially the blue-purple shade of sky in the middle.

That's already looking at lot better.  I simplified the palettes and just used different shades of a single color for each track.  As an added bonus, each section now has its own distinct color identity which will help me color-code the buttons to the tracks for when you switch.

Simple edit to my Backdrop class lets me do parallax scrolling.  I also fixed some calculations with the scrolling, so now the ground is actually scrolling at the right rate and it doesn't look like it's sliding underneath everything, yay!  Ideally the final product will have multiple layers of parallax and maybe some additional elements in the foreground besides the ground as well.

Seeing the game this way let's me actually try to reason about whether it even makes sense to display all three tracks at once, which is something I'm not sure is entirely necessary.  I'm actually beginning to wonder if I should instead show only one track at a time, but whenever a junction approaches, I should display it as a three-way branch, and then you actually take a different "path" through the level.  That could definitely offer a better feeling.  Unfortunately, it's also a lot more pain to implement.  The problem with the "branching" ramps is that I want the capability to have notes almost right after the branch point happens, so you actually need to be able to see all of the three possibilities that are coming up so you can prepare for the notes on the track that you select.  That's initially what led to this layout.

I think this layout is good if switching is very frequent, but bad if you're on the same track for a while and only switch occasionally.  Hmm...I'll have to reconsider the design again.  I could even have the other tracks swoop up and down, for example if you go to the middle track, then the top track actually moves up almost out of the view, and the bottom track moves down almost out of the view.  Then they reappear again only when you are about to hit a junction.

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