Hey all, This week I felt like I accomplished a lot, although it may not seem that way to you the player because, a lot of stuff was under the hood so to speak. A lot was done in an attempt at supporting multiple monitor resolutions and aspect ratios in the future. I did get some visual stuff done also though which I’m quite excited about and some more updates to the Flying Dutchman boss. Scroll to the bottom for the patch notes, and as always you can play the game right now while it’s in alpha for free HERE.
Resolution and aspect ratio
So I’m sure you have heard both of these terms, but in case you aren’t aware the aspect ratio is the ratio of the width to the height of an image or screen, and the width and height of your screen make up your resolution. A higher resolution means more pixels on screen which makes for better and better quality.
I’m working on a way for the games pixel art to look good in multiple resolutions and aspect ratios but, since I have never attempted this before it is quite a learning process for me so I am taking it one step at a time.
I am and have always been developing the game with a 16:9 aspect ratio in mind first as it is the most commonly used one across all devices at the moment according to some statistics I found online. I want the game to not only be playable on other screen sizes but for my pixel art to remain the same quality across them all. So the first different aspect ratio I am working to support is 5:4, a very box-y screen compared to the more wide screen 16:9 monitors.
The problem I am running into mostly is the pixel quality suffers when not at the hd resolution it was designed at. For this reason I am handling the aspect ratio of the game programatically as apposed to letting gamemaker handle it as it normally would. This involves doing the math for pixel size in code myself. You might see how this quickly would become quite complex across multiple resolutions and ratios.
You’ll be glad to know(those of you on a 5:4 monitor) that I am making progress and this patch includes my first attempt at supporting 5:4 aspect ratio. More work on this will continue in the future.
This one I am excited about for a few reasons:
- It looks so much cleaner than it did before
- It’s a first step adding more content to the game that I have planned
- and lastly I just think it makes more sense this way since good UI design is critical for a good player experience.
This is the newly redesigned UI that I came up with. I think it’s more compact and visually pleasing than the original and it is about time that I updated it. With it I can start adding in new content to the game that was always planned, but development is a slow process and takes the time it takes.
moving on, this is a shot of the inventory, expanded.
Here you can see that the top of this inventory will be filled with the 5 cargo tiers that you can sell(once unlocked) with an additional 5 slots for other items that I plan to add in the future. You may notice that the mouse cursor also now has a custom sprite attached to it, the windows cursor was not good enough!
So yeah, with a more compact UI the player can now focus on the action in the game while still getting all the information they need. I will likely make some minor tweaks to this in the future after some player testing, but I am pretty happy with how this turned out.
Another Dutchman update
The first boss of the game, the Flying Dutchman has been fun to work on, Although fully playable since release, he has had many updates and additions since then but, I now feel like he is getting close to complete as I originally envisioned him. This week I specifically worked on the Phantom bomb that he drops on the players ship during phase 2 and 3.
Until now it wasn’t very clear what the player needed to do to avoid the massive damage that the bomb would inflict on them so I have tried to implement some things to steer the player in the right direction.
Now there is a rather large animation over the bomb that players will hopefully interpret as “click here”. I also allowed the bomb to explode here so you can see the explosion and damage it does. As you can see it’s quite a lot so the players really needs to destroy the bomb if they hope to survive the encounter.
side note – I am using a different gif capture software and the resulting quality seems a lot lower, but it hopefully gets the job done.
That’s it for this week, and please consider supporting this project with a small donation when you download the game. Until next time!
Alpha 0.0.2.5 Patch notes
-Added option at the main menu for selecting your own aspect ratio, for now either 16:9 or 5:4
-Added large “click here” animation over top of the phantom bomb so players know to click on it
-Added explosion effect for phantom bomb
-Added sound effect for the phantom bomb explosion
-Changed the way a phantom bomb deals it’s damage to the player
-Adjusted position of Dutchman’s heart to make it a little easier to hit
-Updated the main UI, you will see that your boat health and skill bar have moved.
-Added a basic, expandable inventory system attached to the new UI – your cargo is now located here, with room for future items.
– Added a custom sprite for the mouse cursor.
-Minor bug fix to gameover screen functionality