Subtraddition Update #02: Should I retain the Gameboy inspired colour palette?

Most of the changes made to Subtraddition over the past few weeks have been aesthetic. I’ve redesigned the first world layout and spent a lot of time playing around with pixels to make it look nice. As I’ve said before, I’m no artist (I’m no programmer either) so trying out different designs for tiles sets was pretty challenging. This is what the game looks like now:

NightSky

This screenshot is by far the best looking screenshot I have taken of the game so far. The bridge alone went through 3 iterations before it got to its current look and I’m quite pleased with how the game is coming along visually.

But there’s something I’m worrying about internally. Mainly: Should I retain the Gameboy inspired colour palette? I initially went with this style as I wanted to practice using only 4 colours and the Gameboy palette seemed like a good place to start. I always intended on keeping this palette, but lately I’ve been asking myself questions like “Should I allow the game its own identity rather than piggybacking on something already known” to more absurd ponderings such as “If I ever wanted to port this game to a console, would publishers want to avoid the game as it has associations with Nintendo?”

Strangely enough, Just as I was about to write this update I posted the above screenshot on Twitter and someone responded with “I love the atmosphere the color palette creates (Gameboy-inspired? Nice!). So the game is already getting people liking it due to how it looks.

I sort of feel in my gut that I should probably just keep the colour palette I’ve been using as there are commercial games out there which use these colours and the game is looking good, but I’d like to open it up.

A note on worlds

I mentioned ‘worlds’ earlier, so let me explain how levels are structured in Subtraddition. You start in the Start Zone which will mainly exist to teach the player the basics of the game. From here you navigate to the Hub Zone which contains all doors leading to the game’s main worlds. There are 3 worlds and within each world there are 5 rooms/levels which contain a core game collectable. Each room/level will be it’s own unique challenge to complete, but if the player finds themselves struggling they can exit and try out one of the others and come back later. There are 15 unique room/levels in total and I will probably try to include some sort of final level as the games climax, but I’ve not thought that far ahead.

Enemy Sprite Update

I’d like to do a post about the different enemy types that are found in Subtraddition (they’re not traditional enemies. They’re not alive or anything. Mostly just objects that can kills you) but for now, I’ll just show off some updates sprites. First is a weird fire breathing head thing. Before the update it was just a brown square that fired red squares (and no I don’t mean the Russian vodka), now they conform to the colour palette and the fireballs are even slightly animated. This GIF would have looked better if the other sprites were updated, but still.

FireFaces

Next is the thwomp block. Before the update, these were just red squares with a scary face drawn on them. Anyone recognise the new sprite from somewhere?

Thwomp_Blocks

How about that screenshake! Screenshake is something I’ve added into the game to make it feel as though there’s a lot more going on in the game world than there actually is. I was inspired by this talk aptly named talk “The Art of Screenshake” from Jan Willem Nijman of Vlambeer. Worth a watch for some ideas on how to help your game better connect with players.

There are lots of other visual updates I’d love to tell you about, but I’m hoping to write something about how I created some of the tile sets within the game and I’ll cover a lot of it in that. I also implemented some parallax scrolling into the game which makes the game look and feel a lot better.

What’s next?

My current to do list contains a few more aesthetic changes including finally adding a door into the game (currently you walk into a big white rectangle) and creating some decorative background and foreground tiles to make the levels less boring. After that I’ll mostly be fine tuning the start level and Level 1, so that I can hopefully send the game out to people to try out.