I enjoy nothing more than opening up Photoshop and messing with the colours in my sprites and general game elements.
The screenshot above is the original image of the game before I came up with another couple of alien sprite characters. Somehow the black sky and Dropzone inspired moon base didn’t quite work for me. So I messed around with it a bit and came up with a purple sky and (what I think is a) beautiful sunsetting gradient. I also coloured the moonbase setting.
Although the moonbase isn’t finished yet (I intend to add some setting sunlight to certain areas) I think it gives a pretty good idea of where I’m heading with it.
Initially the aliens were green and I “splatted” them with mini particle-like effects. The green dots in the left hand image reflect this. But I later thought about changing the aliens to be a little less green and splodgy.
So the exploding effect needed to change.
I scratched my head a little and decided to have the spawned dots pass through a colour phase from bright yellow through orange and then to red. The effect is quite neat in that it looks for all intents and purposes like an explosion that rains down and settles to cool on the moon’s surface.
The main benefit to this new approach is that you stand a much better chance of separating out falling debris from falling alien bombs !
It’s really quite simple – I always wanted to make a game where the aliens come diving at you and you pump some lasers at them such that they “splat” in glorious fashion all over the screen.
So that’s what I did and since it takes its lead from my Galactians game I call it Galactians 2.
The premise is very retro and very simple. It’s also fast becoming my signature style of game. Aliens line up in rows above you and you sit beneath them with a ship / tank of some kind blasting them all to kingdom come.
I should add that when writing down a high concept for this game I considered the following 3 things: Galaxians, Starship Troopers and the classic 8-bit Defender clone Dropzone.
Galaxians for its format, Starship Troopers for its relentless bug invasion and super splatting and finally Dropzone for its visual style.
Here’s how it currently looks.
To create the moonbase I took a long look at Dropzone and got a feel for how the developer used just 3 or 4 colours to create the effect. It’s far from finished but let me tell you there’s quite a thrill for an aging Atari nerd such as myself to have Photoshop and Wacom open in one window and an Atari emulator running the aforementioned game in another.
I would quite like to blog the creation of the moonbase at some point in the future. I haven’t kept each stage of the drawing on file but I could probably get around that by starting a new, smaller graphic and employing the same principles.
It’s a real thrill to be making good old arcade games again. I know I’m not always very adventurous with my games but who cares. It’s great fun :-)
Incidentally the game will work on desktop and mobile. Depending on how you start the game (mouse click, fire button, touch screen) determines how the game is controlled.
After a little big of digging and some Photoshop tidying up I have an image that is essentially my approximation of the Atari 256 colour palette from the 800XL. I’m sure that this colour palette may have been available to other Atari home computers but I don’t have that knowledge.
Atari 256 colour palette
It’s a beautifully rich palette and something that I intend to use as a basis for my future games.
Something that I’ve always wanted is a fancy tool that allows me to capture an indexed colour scheme and then order it based on any number of criteria. Photoshop allows me to sort based on Hue or Luminance but I really want to sort based on the actual colours used. Black through white, blues, reds, greens etc
At Acclaim we had a wonderful in-house tool that allowed us to play with colour palettes and export them to any number of formats. I’ve yet to find a decent palette manipulation tool out there.