There comes a point during the development process of a game, I've now learned, where you simply creating assets, rather than actually creating levels, or features. After a deserved weekend off and during a stretch of calmer evenings (I came to realise that perhaps devoting all spare time ever to more work between my day-job and sleep might make me miserable), I approached the second level with something akin to anticipation and, quite quickly, stress.
I want to build a space station.
The thing I've learned about space stations, and attempting to up the variety of sprites present within my game, is that they're quite time consuming. Game jams do not really lend themselves to spare time, and with less than two weeks to go, I realise I had a choice to make: create five really good levels, or create ten forgettable ones. I went with five.
I know it's less hugs, and believe me, that bothers me, but as I started spriting not just a "spaceship metal" tile, but ones for internal flooring, support struts, and external plating, I realised that this was really what I cared about. If I wasn't offering combat, I at least had to make the scenery more than an endless rush of lava and brown blocks.
What I have found is that I'm getting better at scaling up my assets, and spriting. I'm learning more about shading, working within the resolution I've chosen, and that, while 200 by 120 tiles seems like a reasonable amount of space for a level build, that means creating a background measuring 6400 by 3840 pixels — which can proove somewhat daunting.
I did have a happy accident, though. While testing my space background (stars on black — creative, I know), I found that Stencyl's repeating background feature meant that while you could jump and move the camera around, the background remained static, which really helped give the illusion of depth and size to those tiny, twinkling lights.
I also did a lot of music work, and found PixiTracker on Android, which means I've been composing on my commute — something I recommend, as it passes the time remarkably quickly. I've got some new music ideas here, here and here for you to mull over. The first two are attempts to re-work the cave music, but I'm not sure if it needs to be reworked.
While I can't show you any new levels this week (and believe me, that's not something I'm happy about), I can assure you that progress is being made, and that I'm beginning to, as the game jam enters its second half, take things very, very seriously. The cave level is to be expanded, the space level and its follow-up, the beach level, are being thought out and worked on, and the final two are ones I'm trying to brainstorm.
Feel free to throw level theme suggestions at me, as I'm curious as to what sort of aliens or alien worlds you'd like to see in the game. While I can't accomodate everything, community feedback has been very helpful and allowed me to put things on my list that players need to have fixed, which is a priority of mine. Last week's build can be found here, and I'll see you next week, for the premiere of at least four of the levels.