Pixel Art

We are working on and off with our first major game title. It will take a while since we are learning many things along the way – among other things how to draw basic pixel art. It’s fun but at the same time a massive project. We try to apply simplicity while looking for the right feel so at the moment a lot of experimentation is going on. For now focus is on environments with basic 9-tile setups, but also backgrounds and various sprite objects. Trees is another thing we look at.

On another level we have sketched prototype maps and brainstormed about possible content and events for the storyline. We have a pretty decent box for it and the past summers sudden re-interest in D&D-role and basic tabletop games has certainly pushed this effort forward. Hopefully we can soon share more tangible information about this project! 

Ready For Sleep

In a series of unfortunate events, we never managed to upload the app to Windows App Store. The process was everything but smooth. There is a number of reasons for why this is unusually complicated, but it all boils down to that using the specific command for probing processes that prevents the computer from entering sleep requires administrator privileges. While it is perfectly possible to make an app and even build a working public executable – this drawback basically makes it virtually impossible to publish it online via Windows Store or similar. Perhaps Universal Windows Apps are easier to make and get published, but these specific Windows apps written in C# that requires anything special must to go through a very complicated signing process that is impossible to debug. We initially thought that the AppX container would work for this but it now seems like a dead end. Project is put on ice for now.

New Horizons

Over the past weeks I have worked on my very first (well, since 20 years back) modern Windows app! Quite impressed by how far the Visual Studio suit has come over the past years. Tried it briefly on a Gadgeteer workshop five years ago, but never got around to try it properly. Looking forward to see and test how Windows stands out as a viable development platform.

The Ad Sponsored Creative Economy

We have some thoughts about ads and being an indie developer that we would like to share. In the past we have frowned upon ads for being a waste of space and aesthetic expression. It is not a unique position, but lately we have challenged ourselves to rethink this position. What if ads could be the way to build a sustainable business model for small passionate indie studios like ourselves? We have in the past months quickly realized that there are literally thousands of small indie developers that ponder the same question. A recent article even talked about the death of paid apps so the only way forward for the broad mass is in-app purchases or ad support. Well, for once we are gonna take a very constructivist stance towards ads and see where that leads us.

Imagine if a lot of people would realize that ads may be a subtle and playful way to enable young creators to do the stuff they dream about. From now on we will focus on social media and help support fellow developers by having a look at their apps, think positively whenever ads are shown, knowing that everytime we take part of their offer a small developing team gets to build their own dream future.

Mars Live Wallpaper

Screenshot of a new Mars Live Wallpaper (Well, should be called planetary probably since it includes Earth, Moon, …) that we are working on. It looks really good but we will tweak it until it looks truly amazing.

Live Minecraft Wallpaper 2.0 Update Notice

After a long long time in the making (not kidding!) we can finally announce that the best Android Live Wallpaper around just got twice as good! With more items and more than 2.5 Million downloads we aim to double that amount soon. Based on the LibGDX engine it is now significantly more stable than the old version and better adjusted to modern phones and tablets (and TV’s?!).

Get it while its fresh: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=studio.coldstream.minecraftlwp

image

ARGB to RGBA and vice versa

Integers (int32) can be tricky when expressing color values and the right way to do it is a bit of shifting:

rgba = (argb << 8) | (argb >>> (32-8));
argb = (rgba >>> 8) | (rgba << (32-8));

Apparently libgdx and android differs in these two ways of expressing integer colors.

Tween Engine

One of the things that made AndEngine really useful was paths and different modifiers. With those it was possible to animate and fade just about anything. Tween Engine takes this to a whole new level and handles interpolation tasks for any attribute regarding any given object. Sort of. But it works!

However, as we are getting familiar with Gradle and Android Studio the library needs to be added. Step one is making “libs” directories in both core and android and put the tween-engine-api.jar and tween-engine-api-source.jar into those folders. Step two is adding them to the corresponding dependencies sections in the build.gradle file:

compile fileTree (dir: "libs", includes: ['*.jar'])

Finally it is a good idea to rebuild the project, and that is it! A perfect and essential complementary library for every libGDX project.

Tools for Graphics and Sounds

There are plenty of great resources for the indie developer to get something up and running without having to be a Rembrandt or Mozart. Graphics and sound are necessary ingredients of a game, and to quickly get started on prototyping a gaming experience there are a bunch of nifty shortcuts. Many indie developers choose to use pixel art simply because almost anyone can draw at least something. Paint.NET is a superb windows-tool for making pixel art.

When it comes to icons there are a number of free sets available. A personal favorite is game-icons.net which now have 1238 different SVG/PNG icons available.

image

Next up is font awesome, which also have a nifty (369) and growing set of icons. As usual open source and free as in beer.

When it comes to sound the most basic 8-bit web based generator for making awesome bling beeps and chings is the superflashbros as3sfxr. There are plenty of similar tools like bfxr that also has standalones for offline use.

Finally for more advanced sounds there is the freesound.org site which have thousands of free sounds that can be used for developing games and applications. There are so many tools out there and we would be happy to hear about your own favorite free and open source tools.