Monthly Archives: November 2014

Another Star’s Graphical Redesign Gets A Redesign

A couple days ago, I revealed that the enemy graphics in Another Star were getting a makeover for the upcoming version 3 update. While the response was generally positive, a few people—I won’t mention any names, CHRIS—were disappointed that the graphics didn’t really match the style or spirit of the original game. Those entitled, ungrateful people LIKE CHRIS should really learn their place and just be thankful for the free things they get from benevolent people like me.

Screenshot from Another Star

How can Chris not love this? Is he a communist?

Unfortunately, those people also happen to be right. Yes, even Chris. In fact, I lamented the fact myself in that very post.

The style is slightly more “cartoony” than I’d originally hoped for, but the new graphics had to work with the engine that was already there. I toyed around with some more realistic(ish) styles, similar to the original Final Fantasy on the NES, but I couldn’t get it to look right with the battle system’s current layout. A complete redesign of the battle system was out of the question, so I went with what I thought looked best.

Click here to read about what’s changed since writing that.

Big Changes for the Next Version of Another Star

If you boot up Another Star right now and walk around the map until you accept a battle, here’s what the game will look like:


A pretty standard battle in Another Star.

Pretty familiar to any of you who’ve actually played the game, I’m sure. It’s okay, I guess. Adheres to the game’s arbitrary 256 tile limit and all. But it’s pretty plain. But I decided that the game really needed a little more “oomph” for its price point, so here’s what that same battle will look like once you get a chance to play the upcoming version 3 update of Another Star

Click here to reveal the new screenshots!

Desura Changes Hands (Again)

In case you missed it, this past Wednesday brought the out-of-the-blue surprise announcement that Bad Juju Games, an analytics middleware developer, had purchased Desura and its sister site Indie Royale. Some people, like myself, first noticed the change when the logo suddenly changed on the Desura site.

This is what I imagine happened:
The new Desura logo eating the old one.
Well, something like that, anyway.

Last year, Linden Lab of all things had bought Desura. In case you’re not familiar with them, Linden Lab is the company that develops Second Life. Their purchase of an online game storefront focused primarily on indie games seemed odd at the time, and is arguably even more strange in hindsight. I’m honestly not sure what they had hoped to get out of it, and they never seemed to actually do anything with it. Desura has always been a bit of a niche online retailer, and under Linden Lab the site seemed to languish without any direction, as if frozen in time. A few months ago came the introduction of the “Desura Version 2” site design, but that was about the only outward change the sale ever brought.

I can’t say I’m exactly “hopeful” about the sale, but I am trying to be optimistic. Desura has needed some serious care and attention to make it relevant again, especially with up-and-coming storefronts like that are doing a much better job meeting the needs of indie developers. And an analytics company like Bad Juju does make some sense as the owner-operator of an indie-oriented online retailer. Certainly more than a strictly virtual world oriented developer like Linden Lab.

So far, it does sound like Bad Juju is actually interested in their newly acquired website. For one, they’re actually going to focus on the Desura client app, which is practically impossible to even find on the current version of the Desura site. It certainly will be great if they make good on their promise of a Mac and (official) Linux port of the app. Maybe they’ll even finally introduce the vaporware Desura API that’ll give devs access to Steam-style achievements and such.

And hopefully they’ll do something about that crippling $500 payout limit.

A 2D Sprite Animation System

One of the things I decided late into the production of Another Star was that, in the future, I would stop skimming on production tools. In Another Star I hard coded virtually everything in the game, other than the maps. I never really liked working on tools, so I always looked for work-arounds to weasel my way out of making them. But as I got closer and closer to finishing Another Star, things got more and more tedious to change.

The one bright spot was that I’d made a map editor. No big deal; I’ve made dozens of them over the past twenty or so years I’ve been programming games. But it really did make a difference, as simple as it was. Tweaking maps was a simple affair whenever I ran into an issue, even moreso because the map editor ran in-game and all I had to do was press a single key to toggle in and out of it. I almost—almost—tried hard coding the maps. I’m so glad I didn’t.

In any case, as a consequence of this I’m finally getting around to something I should have worked on five years ago: a 2d animation system for sprites.

The Flipbook Application

Here’s the application in action, selecting areas in a sprite sheet.

I actually did the bulk of predesign work for this back in 2009, but never got around to actually programming more than a couple buttons and a file menu. But for my next game, I really wanted it to look good, and I knew I’d need more than some basic grid-based sprites to pull it off. I’m hoping that this application, dubbed “Flipbook”, will do as much good for future projects as that map editor did for Another Star. And, to top it all off, I’m actually sort of enjoying working on this.

I’m trying to make Flipbook as easy and natural to use as possible, because I’d like to release it in some form, even if it’s never properly finished. I don’t expect it to be popular or anything, but it uses a fairly generic sprite system, so I think more than a few people could probably make use of it for their own projects.

In fact, I’d like to share several things I’ve developed, both for this project and Another Star. I’m planning to release these through the Vision Riders website starting here in the near future, but in the meantime you can read up on my latest draft of the underlying sprite system and its file structure. It’s not quite finished or finalized yet, but you should get a general idea of how the thing is supposed to work.

Social Media? On *My* Website?

A couple of announcements today.

First off, after continued prodding from friends, Vision Riders now has a Facebook page. You can visit it at if you’re interested. Give it a “like” while you’re at it, if you don’t mind.

Second, as you may have noticed from the new navigation options at the top, Vision Riders also has message forums now. I was always reluctant to create these, but it would be nice to have a central place for game help and such, even if they are going to be fairly empty most of the time. Feel free to register an account and say hello.

This makes two more things that I have to keep an eye on, but hopefully they’ll help spread awareness of the game. Building a community is often the hardest part of making a game.