Game Design Game Development Geek / Technical

Freshly Squeezed Progress Report – Stop Arting Around

Last week’s report focused on what it took to get a new project started, especially when this project will be the first in a line of Freshly Squeezed projects.

Sprint 1: Basic navigation for all Freshly Squeezed games

  • Start new game
  • Quit game
  • Options lets player see credits
  • Create menu screen background art
  • Create options menu screen background art

As I mentioned in the previous week’s report, I wasn’t sure how much time I was going to be able to dedicate to working on this project. With the holidays coming, there’s plenty of work at home to do.

I didn’t get much accomplished. I’m feeling a little impatient to get to the actual game play, but I also know that my Freshly Squeezed games are meant to do a few things:

  • Find an audience for the kinds of entertainment GBGames creates
  • Allow me to quickly develop future games

In order to do the first, I want to ensure that people know about how to become a part of my audience. If people find and love a Freshly Squeezed game, they might want to know about future games as they get released, and asking them to sign up for the GBGames Curiosities newsletter (see below) seems like the kind of thing I want to do in each game.

And since I want to do similar things in each game, it would be nice if I can make it as simple and straightforward to create the scaffolding and common pieces so that I can focus on working on the game-specific pieces.

That’s why this sprint’s focus was so heavy on the menu navigation. Future games shouldn’t need much to be done to make this part work.

I Should Not Try Too Hard With Art

The theme of the Toy Factory Fixer is a toy factory, and I wanted the building to be made primarily out of brick and wood. I did some research for art references, and I discovered the public television show The Woodwright’s Shop, which is in its 37th season.

So that was a bit of a distraction, but I found a nice background of the actual scenery from the show, and I tried to create a background for the main menu by tracing and filling in with patterns, and here’s the result:

Original menu screen background

And while it was kind of OK, I realized that I had spent way too much time trying to make something so ugly. Blurring it didn’t hide the shoddy workmanship. It looks like I rendered it in 3D using low-poly models in a program from the late 90s, but this was all created in the Gimp this week.

And I of course didn’t want to spend too much time on mediocre art, so I found a couple of art packs (Japanese Interior Essentials and Japanese Urban Accessories on and used some tiles I liked, and the new menu background is actually put together based on four tiles from those packs:

Menu with game background

The idea is that these tiles make up the background, so they are a bit subdued on purpose as I want the game elements that live on top to be a bit more prominent.

Going forward, any homemade art will necessarily be simple. I might want to try really hard to make the art all match, but either I am using pre-made art or I am putting together a decent-enough placeholder.

It might end up looking wrong, but the Switch version of Dragon Quest seems to be doing well enough with its mix of art style(s) so maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about it…

My next step is to put the menu buttons on some sensible looking control panel, and I think it would be nice if I could put a conveyor belt on the screen, perhaps with the title of the game rolling down the belt, but it might just stay a static image. I should worry about making conveyor belts a part of the actual game play before I worry about making the menus fancy.

As far as getting this game ready for release before Christmas, I doubt it will happen even though I have a couple of days off while the kids still have school. It’s looking more and more like a 2021 release.

Thanks for reading!

Want to learn when I release updates to Toytles: Leaf Raking or about future Freshly Squeezed games I am creating? Sign up for the GBGames Curiosities newsletter, and get the 24-page, full color PDF of the Toytles: Leaf Raking Player’s Guide for free!

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