A few words on Bitsy

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 13.02.31

Bitsy is a free-to-use game making tool by Adam Le Doux (here is his twitter). Most people in my timeline know about Bitsy’s many charms, but if you don’t then here’s a few words about it:

Bitsy is a very simple to use tool for making small (and not-so-small) narrative games that run in a web browser. There are limitations regarding the level of detail you can put in your game’s graphics and also in the interactions between your sprite and other game objects. However, Bitsy does allow you to set up useful things like conditional dialogue for characters, exits to and from different scenes and collectable items. It’s great for making little worlds where a player can walk around, explore, talk to characters and collect stuff. Understanding and working with Bitsy’s limitations encourages you to solve game making problems in subtle and creative ways. There’s a lively Bitsy community over on Itch, which is a good place to look for ideas and solutions to problems.

There is almost next to no coding involved in making a Bitsy game, making the experience an ideal playground to quickly try out some game / story ideas.  It’s also a great tool for novices (children, middle aged accountants etc) to see if they like the game making process. I’ve made a few bitsy games, but I haven’t put them online as I don’t think they were up to much. I did start a new one a few weeks ago, intended to only to take a couple of days but as ever I’ve been distracted by work and other projects. However, I’ve been tinkering with it in short periods of spare time, and it will probably be finished in a couple of weeks.

Check out some other people’s games on Itch. Go give Bitsy a go, it’s wonderful.

31 Days on Acorn Island

Acorn Island was a simple, hand-drawn game I ran on Twitter in October 2017 (also as part of #inktober2017). The idea was to draw something in pen and ink and then post it to Twitter where players could choose what to do / where to go next. I’m sure it’s been done before, but I wanted to make a game out of relatively simple tools such as a pen, paper and a smartphone. Maybe it’s more an ‘interactive story’ than a game. I don’t know. You decide.

It was good to be forced to invent something new everyday while attempting to carry along a story. I didn’t impose any rules on myself, beyond not being allowed to think or plan things too much. The game contains all the usual silly animals in hats, trees and pirates.  I’m amazed at how much my drawing style changed over the month. I definitely wanted a looser feel by the end. Anyway, below are the 31 different images that came out of the game. Below the images is a link to the Twitter thread (where most of the posts are, but not all. It took me time to figure out that I could just keep replying to myself).

AR/VR Toe dipping continues

A while ago I posted a blog post talking about AR and pirates. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to have been granted a workplace at the Brighton Fuse Box, where all sorts of artists and developers work on their AR and VR projects. I’ve spent the first couple of weeks trying to not look too bemused when people start saying technical stuff about shaders. I’ve also been figuring out what I want to do with the opportunity and it looks like Godot’s recent improved support for OpenVR has coincided nicely with me actually making something (rather than thinking about making something in-between paid work, as is usually the case).

The first milestone I’m heading for is to get a decent looking environment built using hand drawn assets. Then I’ll be looking to implement Godot’s OpenVR plugin to make a very simple virtual setting. I’m hoping I’ll be getting some collaboration on this. At this stage I have no idea if the idea will be successful, but I’ve spent a fun Friday afternoon making some assets and sticking them in the Godot Engine. Below is a very short (and a trifle dull) video of me testing texture sizes but hopefully things will get more interesting as the project continues over the next few weeks.

Why use Godot? Why not use Unity3D instead? After all, the latter is fast approaching the status of Industry Standard when it comes to game, AR and VR dev (at least it is around here). I can’t really point to a better reason than I really like Godot, it’s editor and it’s approach. I like that it’s open source and that using it doesn’t commit you to a private company’s business structure and release schedule. Of course, there are often frustrations when using relatively young, open source tools but so far it’s all good. Next time I post about this I hope it will be something more substantial.

Pirates FTW

Uh-oh I’ve started pixelling again

Frost_Toucan_Sheet

After waiting for over a year, I’m making some progress on one or two personal projects. Obviously, it would be best to concentrate on just one but I want to see if I can manage to make some tiny games / apps / digital toys this year, as well as pans to make a real actual book. So, here’s the toucan in 48×48 pixel splendour.