GameSalad, Pyxels and New Beginnings

GameSalad Tosses It’s Salad

One of my biggest complaints about GameSalad in the past is that the Windows version seemed to be the bastard stepchild of MacOS one, and lacked much of the functionality, and the features it did share with it’s Mac counterpart sometimes behaved differently, making online guides hard to follow. Their latest update, announced a couple of weeks ago,  jumped from 10.5 to 13.14, which [I believe] finally brings the Windows version up to par with the MacOS one! This was exciting news for me, so I decided to download and install it over the weekend. As soon as i fired it up, a window popped up prompting me to login, followed immediately by a crash.

I couldn’t even log in because the application had already halted. Nothing in the event log to give me any clues as to what happened, no specific error message to chase down, it just had a heart attack and collapsed on my desktop… So, after uninstalling/reinstalling, and several reboots later, I decided to check the application to see if there was some kind of log, but alas, the only other thing of use in there was the updater, so I decided to give that a try.

Amazingly, after checking for updates and finding none (I was already on the latest release), it worked! Unfortunately, by then I’d lost interest in the messing with it and decided to move on to something else… Lessons learned? Break down and buy a used Mac? :|… nah. The only Apple devices (an iPad and AppleTV) I’ve ever owned were gifts, one of which I ended up giving away (the AppleTV), and other I use to play a time-killer games, watch videos and occasionally surf the web… Before I was ready to tackle GameSalad again, I decided to turn my attention to asset creation, which is something I needed practice with anyhow. So what’s next?


Pixel Art

There’s something beautiful about well-done pixel art that many people can’t appreciate. It’s more than just a retro look and feel, there’s a real elegance to cramming  lots of detail into a tiny 16×16 or 32×32 pixel space. Most people don’t realize just how small that is! But what I didn’t expect to find was that there were highly specialized tools for creating pixel art repeatable tiles you could use to create game assets. One such program I found while watching video tutorials was Pyxel Edit. It was a paid program, but $9 USD isn’t much to me, so I decided to fork over the cash (good deal for free lifetime updates). It seemed fairly easy to learn, and had a built-in animation tool.

There’s a learning curve, that’s sure, as the application itself doesn’t come with a lot of documentation. The help file is a list of keyboard shortcuts, and the buttons all have right-click tooltips, but that’s about it.  Nevertheless, there are great videos on YouTube (e.g. Achebit) which discuss a great many ideas such as color palettes, shading, design and so forth. As such, I figure it would be good practice to make a few tiles sets, experiment a little and see what I can come up with rather than trying painstakingly hand draw platforms. There are several advantages to this:

  1. Tiles can serve as [reusable] building blocks, which can be used to rapidly create levels
  2. I can create characters, enemies and objects using the same tool
  3. I can save time by adding variety via palette shifts and minor modification

Well, I’ve got some things to work on, but still need to go back to square one (no pun intended) and think about fun and simplicity…

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IT Manager by trade, game developer by heart.

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