Archive for the 'Springboard' Category

Springboard – Designing Tilesets

Tilesets are single images that contains a mosaic of regular, smaller images that have been designed to complement each other. When a tileset is loaded as such, the single tileset image is essentially ‘cut’ into a multitude of separate images that can each be used separately and repeatedly to create a much larger background image.

So for example, using this tileset:

we can easily create this sort of background image:

Tileset design can be a very rewarding, if time consuming, part of the whole game design process. Indeed, it’s almost a puzzle game in its own right, designing tiles so that they ‘plug in’ to each other, even if they are rotated…

To learn more about tileset design, this article from Gamasutra provides a good overview of the complexity involved in designing a tileset that can be used to create background terrain: Tiled Terrain.

For a slightly gentler introduction, try this tutorial on So You Want To Be A Pixel Artist?.

For how to create brickwork, check out Creating a Brickwork Effect; and for grass, here’s a tutorial on creating: The Grass Tile.

I’ll put together another springboard post about how to go about designing the “3D” like tiles when I’ve covered a little bit of the theory behind how it works (if you’re keen to know more now, searching for isometric pixel art should turn up something relevant!)

In the context of Game Maker, the Tileset Maker for Game Maker provides a basic environment for creating your own custom tilesets.

Springboard, And A Short Aside – The Persistence of Vision

Many sources explain the psychophysical basis of frame based animation in terms of the ‘persistence of vision’ effect, whereby it is claimed that the retina of the eye retains an afterimage of one frame and somehow blends it with the next, thus providing an illusion of continuous motion.

Unfortunately, while this explanation is the one that is typically offered as the mechanism by which we experience the illusion of motion from frame-by-frame animations, it is not the reason that is accepted by cognitive psychologists. (The actual explanation is beyond the scope of this post; you need a proper Cognitive Psychology/Psychology of Perception course for that! maybe something like this? Signals and perception: the science of the senses)

In a short essay entitled “Persistence of Vision”, Stephen Herbert provides a brief history from cinema of how this popular misunderstanding came to be. You can read the article here: Persistence of Vision.

A more comprehensive refutation of the persistence of vision explanation, along with some simple experiments (using animated GIFs ;-) that demonstrate both the actual persistence of vision effect, as well as how it does not account for the illusion of motion, is given by Rod Munday in this ‘lecture’ on The Moving Image. Links to several other academic papers on the subject are also provided.

PS I’ve placed this post in the Springboard category, as well as a couple of other categories. Springboard posts will be light on content, (‘incomplete’ would be another word for it!) but will always link out to one or more hopefully reputable sources, from where you can go on to find out more about a particular topic.

I’ve also categorised it as an Aside, so it’s slightly off the main topic the uncourse…

Please feel free to comment back with anything you find out from following the links that is relevant to the springboard topic. For example, in this case, it might be a summary of how the ‘persistence of vision’ argument came to be proposed and commonly accepted; a review of an experiment that attempts to refute the persistence of vision hypothesis; or an explanation of what is thought to explain our perception of motion from a watching a sequence a fixed images presented at a rate of several images per second.