As Eric mentioned in his developer post, we are trying our hand at Cocos 2d-x to update our existing game, String Theory: A Word Game, to make it more fun, more accessible and even port it to Android. We are also working on a variation of this game to be introduced later this year. For this new game, String Theory:Rush, we have decided to create sprites to liven up the game. Which begs the question, “How do you create top quality sprites with no budget, and minimal artistic talent?” Over the next few posts I will share my research, my mistakes and my progress. Hopefully, this information will help other part time iOS and Android game developers out there when they decide it would be fun to create a couple of dozen sprites in their free time which for me is after the wife and kids have gone to bed for the evening.
First off, we had to decide if these sprites would be designed in 2D or 3D to start with. There are lots of compelling reasons for designing 3D sprites, but the design can take quite a bit of time and Eric and I would have to learn the tools. We decided the learning curve would be too high at this time and decided to stick with 2D sprites for now. In case you are interested in designing 3D characters/sprites for your game, I would suggest looking at Blender first. There are plenty of great books on Blender as well.
So how do we design good looking 2D sprites then? We could rely on the Adobe tools such as Illustrator or Photoshop if we already had a copy or don’t mind paying the monthly subscription fee. The Adobe tools are no doubt very fine tools, but if you are working on a budget I would suggest Inkscape which is comparable to Illustrator or GIMP which is comparable to Photoshop. In my workflow, I will initially be using both. Inkscape provides great vector support, but once the sprite is exported to a format that Cocos 2d-x likes (e.g., .png or .jpg) it sometimes needs small edits that are best done in GIMP.
Cocos 2d-x supports sprites in one of three ways: as image files imported as resources, as sprite sheets or there are third party tools that can assist in managing sprites and sprite animation. Next time I will talk a little about each and then discuss some tools that can help create sprites, sprites sheets and animations.
Stay tuned . . . .
-The other Erik.