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Using sprites to enhance the background
http://forums.nesdev.com/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=4509
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Author:  SecretServiceDude [ Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Using sprites to enhance the background

For those who haven't followed the thread on title screen name table compression, my game is called Bionic Commander. (To be honest, I'm surprised nobody's poked fun at me for the ridiculous parody, but I digress...)

In the title screen, the word "Bionic" is written with a metallic font. It's looking pretty good so far, but it could use a little more "oomph".

In order to make the metal look more reflective, I originally wanted to add white highlights along some of the edges. Unfortunately, since each 2x2 tile region is limited to 4 colors, I had no available colors left after drawing the sky and landscape gradients. I didn't want to compromise the quality of those gradients, so the highlights got the boot.

Then it occurred to me: what if I layered sprites on top of the background to get those highlights? Doing so would produce the result shown below:

Image

What do you think? Does this seem like a reasonable way to go about it? Any other ideas?

Author:  tokumaru [ Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:58 pm ]
Post subject: 

Yeah, it does improve the metal effect. If you have the spare tiles to do it, go for it. There seems to be less than 8 columns of sprites, so the sprite limit won't be a problem.

Author:  Celius [ Mon Oct 27, 2008 3:18 pm ]
Post subject: 

Oh yes, you should do this. I use sprites + background to make the portraits in my game. In fact, a lot of those look like just straight lines. You could get away with using very little tiles to make these. I think it really does make it more metallic looking.

Author:  MottZilla [ Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:02 pm ]
Post subject: 

That's definitely a good way to do it. It does add some nice extra detail.

Author:  SecretServiceDude [ Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:43 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thanks for the support! Cool, sounds like that idea's got the green light.


tokumaru wrote:
There seems to be less than 8 columns of sprites, so the sprite limit won't be a problem.

Good observation! I originally had the highlights running horizontally across the tops of the letters, but quickly realized the sprite limit would prohibit it. After switching to the vertical orientation, I think it looks much better. I love it when technical limitations foster creativity. :D

And yes, there are exactly 8 columns. If you look closely at the letter B, you'll notice a missing column of highlights. I originally had additional highlights immediately to the right of the two holes, but removed them to stay within the sprite limit. I don't think the omission is very noticeable, nor does it diminish the overall look.

Author:  BMF54123 [ Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:44 pm ]
Post subject: 

Looks nice. :) I did the same thing for a competition hack of Atlantis no Nazo:

Image

The dragon/eel thing on the right uses sprites for both the "mane" and the glowing red eye.

If you want some insane examples of sprite overlays, check out the ending to Ninja Gaiden 3 (or any of the cinema scenes, really). It's mind-blowing.

Author:  tokumaru [ Mon Oct 27, 2008 7:07 pm ]
Post subject: 

SecretServiceDude wrote:
And yes, there are exactly 8 columns. If you look closely at the letter B, you'll notice a missing column of highlights.

Oh yeah... I counted 7 before, but now I see it. And I didn't even miss anything when looking at the B, it's perfectly fine.

Author:  smkd [ Mon Oct 27, 2008 8:35 pm ]
Post subject: 

I didn't catch the difference at first, but now it's really clear. It's a nice touch.

I think a nice example that really sticks out is in the Batman ROTJ intro sequence with Joker.

Author:  Bregalad [ Tue Oct 28, 2008 4:37 am ]
Post subject: 

This is a good idea, and look better.
Also Bionnic Commander sounds really like a parody of Bionic Commando (#1 on gamefaqs top 10 today btw)

Author:  tepples [ Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:00 am ]
Post subject: 

Bregalad wrote:
This is a good idea, and look better.
Also Bionnic Commander sounds really like a parody of Bionic Commando (#1 on gamefaqs top 10 today btw)

One of the only two side scrollers I know of where the player's character doesn't jump, the other being Lode Runner.

Author:  SecretServiceDude [ Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:58 am ]
Post subject: 

Wow, figuring out a good sprite arrangement for the highlights was a pain. After shuffling some pixels around and exploiting the sprite V-flip bit, I managed to cram all the highlights into 6 unique tiles. A more optimal arrangement might be possible, but considering that the per-scanline sprite limit prohibits me from layering sprites on top of each other, I'm pleased with the results.

Image

The colored boxes on the right half of the image indicate where each sprite goes. (There are 38 sprites total.) The red boxes indicate sprites that are flipped vertically.

Also, I went ahead and made the highlights thicker so they'd be more noticeable. The NES ain't about subtlety. :wink:

Author:  Dwedit [ Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:34 am ]
Post subject: 

Thin highlights look better.

Author:  SecretServiceDude [ Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:35 pm ]
Post subject: 

Dwedit wrote:
Thin highlights look better.

Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate it.

Personally, I prefer the thick highlights, but of course it's hard to judge my own artwork objectively.

So, thick or thin? Could I get a quick consensus from you dudes?

Author:  MottZilla [ Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:55 pm ]
Post subject: 

It doesn't make that much of a difference to me but if I had to pick I think the thinner highlights are better.

Author:  CKY-2K/Clay Man [ Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:18 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thin

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