Friday, October 10, 2014

Dynamic Lighting for 2D games

A tool that automatically generates normal maps from sprites

While working on InDee Toons, I have discovered a way to create dynamic lighting information for 2D images.
After some pretty promising tests with Image Magick, the first prototype of Sprite DLight was born.
What initially started as a research on how to provide normal maps for my game characters, turned into an independent project that seems to be of interest to a lot of people.
2D games and pixel art combined with dynamic lighting appears to be an explosive mixture, because you can achieve wonderful atmospheric effects while maintaining the individual 2D art style.

I am developing the tool for Windows and Linux platforms and hope to show it on kickstarter soon.
The core feature of Sprite DLight is the generation of a normal map from one single sprite file as the input image.

While existing normal map generation tools need at least two additionally drawn lightmaps to produce a normal map (which can be painful when you want to use it with animated characters), Sprite DLight can be fed with already existing sprites and sprite sheets, reducing the effort needed to create the 3D information, to a few clicks.

An example of an input sprite from the game "Boot Hill Heroes" by Experimental Gamer, which is released on Steam today, and the resulting normal map, depth map, ambient occlusion map and specularity map generated by Sprite DLight:

Annotation: "Boot Hill Heroes" does not feature dynamic lighting (this should not prevent you from checking it out), but the artist kindly allowed me to use the sprites.

I am now looking for more nice art of different styles, depicting game characters, objects, trees and more, to demonstrate the effect of dynamic lighting and the quality of the automatically generated maps.
If you are interested in making a 2D game featuring normal mapped sprites, or if you would like to see your art with dynamic lighting - probably featured in my kickstarter video/page (of course with a reference to you and your copyright), please leave me a comment, use the contact form or email me.

Also be sure not to miss the updates here, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

InDee Toons Kickstarter cancelled & preparing for relaunch

Reasons for the stop and upcoming changes

With one week left of the funding duration, the Kickstarter of InDee Toons has been cancelled for various reasons:
  • Due to the changes of the concept within the first days of the campaign from stock characters to customizable characters, the rewards had to be changed. 
  • The old rewards that already had pledges, could not be removed, which caused some confusion.
  • Apparently, most people interested in InDee Toons want to have the whole package as the main reward (of course at an affordable price).
Since day one, many things have changed and the direction I am now going with the customization package doesn't fit the concept of separate characters anymore.

The good news is: I learned a lot and I plan to relaunch the project with the whole package of customizable toons as the main focus, containing various theme packs like the pirate pack introduced with the most recent update.
If you haven't seen it yet, you can take a look at the preview of the pirate theme pack here:
Update #3: Introducing the pirate theme pack of customizable toons!

Thanks again to all backers and everybody who supported InDee Toons in Forums, Facebook and on Twitter.

Of course I appreciate any feedback on the campaign, the toons, the new concept and everything else that could help to make the project more attractive and useful.
Happy easter everyone!
I'm looking forward to the relaunch, hopefully together with you.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Introducing the pirate theme pack of customizable toons!

A detailed preview of customizable pirate game characters!

The Kickstarter of InDee Toons has been updated with a preview clip of the new pirate theme pack.

In this clip, you can see some randomly chosen pirate toons with custom heads, skin color, different body shapes and clothes varying in shape, pattern and color.
There are six hats to choose from and two different weapons so far with unique animations.

The custom head generator has evolved into an unstoppable custom character creator with ear rings, eye patches, monocles, blind eyes, a belt, different legs, chests and arms and a simpler way of creating the blinking and talking view of the head: you can now simply change the skin to export them, which allows you to create every frame with a single click, even for heads you have completely customized yourself.

Enjoy the video clip of customizable pirate characters!

We have only 9 days left to make the Kickstarter of InDee Toons a success, so please keep spreading the good word.
You can share and like us Facebook and spread the good news on Twitter.

Monday, April 7, 2014

InDee Toons now fully customizable!

Custom head generator, exchangeable body parts and source files included!

InDee Toons now work like paper dolls, the body parts and their attributes can be freely changed

The Kickstarter of InDee Toons has been modified to give developers the opportunity to create their own unique characters, without having to create assets themselves.
A lot of people have requested customization options for InDee Toons, because nobody wants to use the same characters others have in their games.

To achieve this, several changes had to be made:
  • The concept has been simplified, no more standard and epic toons, every toon is now epic!
  • The source files for Spine will be provided for every toon, containing skeleton and animation data
  • The images for the body parts will be provided and can be mixed to create unique toons
  • Every toon now comes with a custom head generator

The custom head generator

As the heart of customization, every toon now has its own custom head generator.
This is a Spine file, allowing you to create a unique head for your toon.
There are different head shapes, hair styles, eyes, ears, noses, and more to choose from.
After selecting the facial features for your toon, you can adjust their position, scale (X and Y), rotation and color.
A long animation with billions of predefined head combinations is also included, together with a copy for the blinking and talking view of the unique head.

Some automatically generated heads created with the custom head generator of a female toon, after application of rim lights.

These adjustments to the project bring you infinite customization options for completely individual 2D game characters.
We have 20 days left on the funding duration of the Kickstarter of InDee Toons and we are about 15% funded at the time of this article.
Please feel free to follow, share and like us Facebook and spread the good news on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Have you been april fooled?

Trendy Tim was an april fools joke and will be a free gift to epic backers

Trendy Tim as the kickstarter-exclusive EPIC InDee Toon for the "early giant hawk" reward tier was an april fools joke.
Of course, the backers will decide what the exclusive toons will be.
However, everybody with a pledge at the "early giant hawk" reward tier or higher will get him as a free gift.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Kickstarter-exclusive EPIC toon revealed!

Limited exclusive EPIC toon: Trendy Tim

The limited EPIC toon only available to Kickstarter backers of the "early giant hawk" reward tier will be "Trendy Tim".
That cute guy is modeled on a kickstarter pioneer of adventure game design some of you might know.

You can preview Trendy Tim with all of his animations in the following clip:

This is the first update for the Kickstarter project of InDee Toons.

More InDee Toons video clips will soon be on YouTube

Monday, March 31, 2014

InDee Toons in Games

How InDee Toons can enhance a game in seconds

Some examples of the characters in action:

Two screenshots of a sidescrolling Action-RPG prototype featuring InDee Toons
InDee Toons in a sidescrolling Action-RPG

InDee Toons in a sidescrolling Action-RPG

A simple point & click adventure game in retro-style
InDee Ana Bones and the lost game art

The characters are cross-platform and cross-engine compatible.
After downloading the sprite packs, you unzip them and drop them right into your game, assign the animations to your actions and you are done.

If you would like to learn more about this, the Kickstarter page of InDee Toons contains more information, pictures and videos.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter, and watch out for InDee Toons video clips on YouTube
As we need to reach the funding goal within the next 27 days to make this happen, we have to tell a lot more people about the project.
Thank you for sharing, liking and spreading the good word about InDee Toons. © 2014