Today we’re having a look at the hometown level’s exteriors. The last time we saw them, they were quite barren. Much like what I did with the interiors, I did a second pass and added props to start making the levels look a bit more respectable.
Keep in mind that we’re still in placeholder land– none of this is final art, or even close to it. This iteration is dedicated to mapping out the sprite locations onto as few textures as possible. There needs to be ample visual variety, but it needs to stay within the budget of allowed texture space. Making everything pretty will come later.
Most of the big changes I made are on the back end. I rearranged the textures to use less space at the expense of more geometry for certain overlapping tiles. For example, instead of there being tiles for the road with either sidewalk or grass beside them, they are now completely independent of each other. The road is just road, there’s nothing else with it. Grass or sidewalk or whatever can go underneath it, depending on what’s needed. I was wasting a lot of texture space for very similar tiles, so the increased geometry size was justified.
The houses and shops got some much needed sprucing up. In addition to the shrubs, flower pots, ivy vines, and mailboxes, they also now have animating doors when you enter. Still very rough placeholders, but at least I nailed down how many frames the final animations will have. Oh, and that chimney smoke is animated too.
Things got greener. There’s a huge percentage of texture bitmaps devoted to plant life, and I actually think it needs more. You can never have too many plants.
I think the pier got the biggest overhaul in terms of adding more “stuff” to it. The pier just didn’t look right with nothing on it before. Now it’s got crates, barrels, docks, and even animated boats! They bob up and down in the water, like boats should.
The last time we saw the park, it was just grass and a river. Now it has trees– lots and lots of trees. There’s also a nice winding trail running through it, which will play into one of the game’s first level puzzles.
Obviously, there is still a lot missing here. The edges of the levels end abruptly since there’s no border gradients to smooth out the transition into nothingness. I also have a lot planned for environment lighting and shadows. Most of the lighting will be baked into each object, but there’s some lighting effects where that won’t be enough. Lighting and shadows will eventually have it’s own texture to really make things pop.
There’s still quite a bit of room left in between larger sprites for smaller props to be added. So once I get closer to working on final art, I can reevaluate what extras would be nice to have that I may have dismissed earlier. I’ve written a whole document devoted just to environment prop and decor ideas.
I’m the nearing the end of round two for the environments. Next up will be adding dynamic layer sorting so that things further away will appear behind objects that are closer. Of course, this is a 3D orthographic game, so it’s just an illusion that anything is closer or farther away; it’s actually all the same distance from the camera.
Other things on the to-do list: adding in some camera and audio plugins from the Asset Store, cleaning up the collision so you can’t walk through all those newly created trees, and adding more townsfolk to populate this little world.