Greetings from Planet Umbra! In my previous blog post I spoke about big changes for Stellar Combat, including a switch of rendering engines in the middle of development. The task of switching the rendering engine to Pixi.js is still ongoing, and it’s turning out to be almost a complete rewrite of the client. Rewriting working code is bad, especially when the game is still in development. I did not take on this big task of moving the rendering engine to Pixi.js for no reason, my previous rendering engine I made myself was severely lacking in performance. I’m happy to say that the move/rewrite is almost done and I’m actually seeing the performance increase that I am looking for.
I suppose one reason why moving to Pixi.js is taking so long is because I’m actually still adding updates and polish to the game wherever I can, as I change the rendering code. Let’s review the relevant updates:
Character sprite animation and packaging
I work on Stellar Combat alone, definitely not by choice. One of the times when working alone isn’t so bad is when you’re having a hard time programming you can take a break and move onto another part of development like game art or music. I decided to work on the art for a bit.
One thing I learned from Stellar Alien is that having one static image to display for your character’s sprite simply isn’t going to be on par with games with high production values and experienced animators that can make lively sprite animations. So I thought character idle animations would be a good thing to work on for the game. The most obvious idle animation is: make them blink! Sprites blinking actually really helps in bringing your character to life. It’s a minor thing, but trust me, it really works well.
The first three frames in the sprite sheet above will show you that making a blinking animation is quite easy. I simply made 3 frames of Rosso closing his eyes. With the help of Pixi.js’s MovieClip object and some programming magic, I can play just three frames of Rosso closing his eyes, and then play it backwards in the code so his eyes will reopen.
I’ve also added frames for Rosso to look in the direction that he’s being moved in, because before he just always stared straight at the camera. How the heck is he surviving an epic battle between powerful aliens when he’s not even looking at what he’s doing?! Again, a small change but overall really helped the game’s experience in my opinion.
Next up after I finally close this Pixi.js branch, it’s off to implementing characters such as Starbli and Roxas into the game. After these two tasks are completed, it’s just hardcore network code testing from there.
The time is getting closer and closer for you to be signing up for an epic closed alpha test! Stay tuned for more updates.