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 Post subject: Free clip art
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:32 pm 
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In this post in the topic 'Homebrew complexity', UncleSporky wrote:
Why is cease and desist a fear if he works on it discreetly and releases it with little fanfare?

For each author, there is a "dedication", or maximum level of complexity that the author can put into a project before getting bored. Revenue boosts dedication, but the threat of a legal hassle rises for projects with revenue.

As I understand the topic so far, the steps to a complex project are as follows:
  1. Get placeholder assets
  2. Code the engine
  3. Solicit collaboration with asset authors
If the placeholder assets are ripped from a non-free game, and some of these assets end up in the final product, even inadvertently, you end up with a situation not unlike that of The Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony". That's why I feel placeholder assets SHOULD* be public domain or otherwise Free. There's plenty of Free placeholder music on Mutopia Project. But I'd like to know whether we can get someone to make a set of "clip art": Free background and sprite tiles to put on wiki.nesdev.com.


* Auxiliary verbs in all caps are used as defined in RFC 2119.


Last edited by tepples on Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Free clip art
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:40 pm 
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tepples wrote:
But I'd like to know whether we can get someone to make a set of "clip art": Free background and sprite tiles to put on wiki.nesdev.com.

This would be very difficult, considering the wide variety of needs for every game. You have to provide for every combination of 8/16/24/32 height character, 8/16/24/32 width character, 2/3/4/5/6 frame run animation, jump animations, shoot animations. All shapes and sizes and animations of enemies, top down, side view, diagonal. 8x8 bricks, 16x16 bricks, or the odd kind that straddle boundaries. Basic rectangular trees, or the type that make up the entire background.

And every single bullet, sparkle, or particle is likely to be a copyright infringement anyway, intentional or unintentional.

How many pixels must be different for it to be legal? Several per 8x8 tile, I assume. Can we just host a sprite of Mario sans moustache and with dithered clothes?


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 Post subject: Re: Free clip art
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:56 pm 
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UncleSporky wrote:
tepples wrote:
But I'd like to know whether we can get someone to make a set of "clip art": Free background and sprite tiles to put on wiki.nesdev.com.

This would be very difficult

Complexity is difficult.

Quote:
considering the wide variety of needs for every game. You have to provide for every combination of 8/16/24/32 height character, 8/16/24/32 width character

Just a couple sizes would be fine, as a coder with a basic knowledge of GIMP can quick-and-dirty resize them, such as point resize, bilinear resize then reduce to original palette, scale2x, etc. The point isn't that they look perfect; the point is that they don't incur liability should they inadvertently leak to the end product.

Quote:
2/3/4/5/6 frame run animation

Contribute what you think will be useful. A sufficiently flexible engine can take a walk cycle of several different lengths, to be changed later in development. Even on the 8-bit systems, different Mario games used sizes from about 12x12 to 16x32 and 2 to 3 frame runs.

Quote:
All shapes and sizes and animations of enemies

We just need a couple generic enemies; it's intended for engine demos so that coders can build enough to get artists interested.

Quote:
How many pixels must be different for it to be legal?

Any "substantial similarity" is evidence of copying. But "scenes a faire" lets one get away with cases where similarity is unavoidable in the genre, as seen in Capcom v. Data East. For example, see how different all these Mario sprites are while still being recognizable as derivative from Mario. On the other hand, Milon is effectively Noddy's head on Mario's body, but it's not recognized as too derivative.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 7:51 pm 
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As the homebrew fan community has done since time immemorial, I much prefer using any art from any source I choose with impunity, whether as stand-ins or for final release.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:32 pm 
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I guess that if you spend your whole life being afraid of every possible tiny thing that can go wrong, you'll not accomplish much.

I bet Nintendo could come after us for a lot of reasons other than art theft: reverse engineering proprietary software and hardware, unlicensed development, trade secrete violation, whatever, I'm no lawyer but I'm sure they could come up with something if they wanted to.

Fortunately they don't seem to want to fuck us up, and possibly the game companies realize that retro homebrewing presents no threat to them. So I guess you can get away with using ripped graphics as placeholders until an artist is interested in your project. If someone does bother you, worst thing that can happen is you have to replace your CHR files. Big deal, they're placeholders anyway.


Last edited by tokumaru on Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:32 pm 
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In order to be as generic as possible, I think a public domain barebones graphic set should include:

Solid block
Ladder
Semisolid block (i.e. ones you can jump through and land on top)
Harmful block (i.e. spikes)
Collectible A (i.e. coins)
Collectible B (i.e. keys)
Collectible C (i.e. powerups)
1-up
Door (the most generic "goal" I can think of)
Up, Down, Left, Right Arrows
Fontface (Numbers and uppercase letters as a bare minimum)

That's for BG anyway. Let me think up some sprites...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:49 pm 
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If you can't find spriters for an actual project, good luck finding anyone interested in making generic graphics that won't even be used in finished games. I know that I, as an artist, would have 0 interest in making generic tiles to be used as placeholders.

Also, the art has to be minimally related to the concept of the project, you just just pick anything. I don't know where you guys got the idea that your prototypes will look better using generic art. Think about it, after 2 or 3 developers use the same tiles they'll loose all their appeal, and no artist will find projects using them interesting at all. If anything projects will actually start to look duller and duller.

I really doubt that this sprite bank idea will work. Trust me you're better off drawing your own art, even if you think it looks terrible. You get the interest of artists with game mechanics, not graphics. Graphics don't impress good artists, they know how to make them! Also, I'm sure many artists like the challenge of making terrible art good. When I see bad art I have an urge to draw my own version just to see how much better I can do. So if other artists are anything like I am, you even have more chances of getting their interest if your art is bad, as long as the gameplay is polished enough.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:11 pm 
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tokumaru wrote:
If you can't find spriters for an actual project, good luck finding anyone interested in making generic graphics that won't even be used in finished games.

I'm making one right now. Anything that helps boost confidence and lightens a programmer's load as he tries to chizel out the basic essentials of his project sounds like a good idea to me. :)

tokumaru wrote:
Also, the art has to be minimally related to the concept of the project, you just just pick anything. I don't know where you guys got the idea that your prototypes will look better using generic art. Think about it, after 2 or 3 developers use the same tiles they'll loose all their appeal, and no artist will find projects using them interesting at all. If anything projects will actually start to look duller and duller.

I don't think that's true; theoretically, the placeholders will only be used while the basic backbone of the project is being formed. Once the project moves farther along in development, the placeholders ideally would be replaced with more official graphics.

tokumaru wrote:
You get the interest of artists with game mechanics, not graphics. Graphics don't impress good artists, they know how to make them!

Exactly, but before the game mechanics are fleshed completely out to the point where artists would want to draw for the game, it still helps if there's some kind of visual representation, since artists likely won't be able to understand how a game works, just by looking at raw code and not seeing it in action.

tokumaru wrote:
Also, I'm sure many artists like the challenge of making terrible art good. When I see bad art I have an urge to draw my own version just to see how much better I can do. So if other artists are anything like I am, you even have more chances of getting their interest if your art is bad, as long as the gameplay is polished enough.

Ah, that's actually pretty cool, have you ever shown any authors your version of their graphics, and then had them use it?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:28 pm 
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Drag wrote:
Exactly, but before the game mechanics are fleshed completely out to the point where artists would want to draw for the game, it still helps if there's some kind of visual representation, since artists likely won't be able to understand how a game works, just by looking at raw code and not seeing it in action.

I usually just work with colored boxes (tiles of a solid color) for a long time during development! =) I can understand artists might not get what the game if that's the case, but I don't think a programmer can be so bad at art that he can't draw a few tiles to get the idea across.

Quote:
Ah, that's actually pretty cool, have you ever shown any authors your version of their graphics, and then had them use it?

I don't think I've done this with finished (or close to that) games... it's more like the case of that Sonic 2 LD project... The programmers needs a few sprites and a few candidates show up with some material, but if I think they are not good enough I get the urge to give it a try too. The originals aren't necessarily terrible, I just sometimes think they could be better. Sometimes I don't succeed though, and don't consider my own versions good enough either (in which case I don't show them! :D).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:08 pm 
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Image

This is what I've come up with so far, the grayscale is so the user can color them however they want. :P


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:22 pm 
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You know, I would actually find it fun and entertaining if someone gave me graphics that they made for me to improve upon. That way I wouldn't feel like it's that much work, and it would be easy/relaxing to do something like that. Maybe that's a better thing to do than asking an artist to make graphics from scratch for you.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:31 pm 
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Drag wrote:
Image

Pretty cool! The guy not so much, there are frames where his leg just looks broken (his knee is bent backwards). I also didn't like him much because I don't like the flat style used by SMB1, to which this character is pretty similar. The blocks and items look very nice though.

Celius wrote:
You know, I would actually find it fun and entertaining if someone gave me graphics that they made for me to improve upon.

I feel the exact same way. Improving someone else's art is a kind of challenge, so it keeps us interested, and it doesn't feel like total exploitation because we can see the programmer did the best he could.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:44 pm 
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tokumaru wrote:
Pretty cool! The guy not so much, there are frames where his leg just looks broken (his knee is bent backwards). I also didn't like him much because I don't like the flat style used by SMB1, to which this character is pretty similar. The blocks and items look very nice though.


A funny story about that, actually...

If you look in a couple of games from that era, there are a *lot* of player characters that use this exact same walk cycle. Balloon Fight, all of pre-SMB2 Mario, Bomberman and Lode Runner (NES), Challenger, Japanese Maniac Mansion even has a similar walk cycle. :P

It's just like the generic arcade font I included with the tileset, I've always wondered about the origins of both.

and yeah, I'll draw a more proper player character later, I just wanted to throw in one that used that particular walk cycle for personal appeal. :P


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:42 pm 
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Here is a quick set of 16x24 "Jacket Man" tiles I started working on for Wombatguy on the IRC channel.

Here they are so far in both brown and grey versions.

*replaced with PNG versions, per req.


Image

Image

These are simple 3 color sprite sets. To get the most out of the color palette, I reused the hair color as the highlight color for the jacket and pants, which limits how these sprites can be colored, but I still think they look OK. (considering the limitations.)

I haven't tested the animations yet, but there is a run/walk, a "Crouch", "Pant/heave", and a "Punch" animation in the set.

There are some "eye-less" frames, since wombat guy wanted some kind of "idle" animation. I might add 2 more frames for the crouch, so that in the fully crouched condition he continues to "breathe", but I'll leave that up to wombat guy if he likes what I have so far.

If anybody else wants some sprites, I am available on weekends. Stop by the IRC channel, and drop me a line. I work second shift, so I get up late in the afternoon CST.


Last edited by Wierd_w on Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:49 pm 
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These are interesting. Too bad you saved them as JPG, which completely mangles sprites... If you can, please post PNG versions.


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