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  1. [DevLog] Laika

    Hello Thumbs, this is my first log about an Android game I'm making. As in, I'm making it in Android Studio. The game is mostly an interactive fiction game about being a solo human traveling through space to seek out life. You pilot a ship with a dog your only companion, hence the working title being Laika. But that's all you need to know about the premise for now (and it's subject to change). This first post is going to be about how I'm setting up a system to randomly generate planets. A significant part of this game will involve randomisation, including the planet sprites. The game will be made with pixel art, as I think it can work as a naive space look. Since it's an Android app, I'm concerned about making the generation overly heavy on resources, as well as trying to avoid an approach that will involve storing tons of pictures on someone's phone. At the end of the game I intend to save a big chart of all the visited planets, so it's important to be able to recreate all the previously visited places. Since undirected random generation without any sense is a mess, I decided on a pretty simple approach. Each planet is comprised of a palette which contains 2-4 colour values. Then some pre-drawn sprites are coloured to match the palette and layered on top of each other. There's a set of specific base images that will always form the bottom layer of the image, and then each base has a corresponding set of textures to randomly choose from. I could technically make textures base agnostic, but I think that would be harder to do and lack a satisfying degree of specificity. The process, in simple terms is: One of the palettes is randomly chosen. A base is randomly chosen and coloured to match the first colour of the palette. Textures matching the base's size are chosen and coloured one by one until there's a layer for each colour in the palette. This essentially leaves me with a set of images that can then be layered into one picture, creating a planet. Here's some examples: Of course, there's immediately one big issue with this approach. When randomly combining assets it's harder to determine if one of them is bad or ill fitting. How can I quality control the palettes, bases and textures that I'm plugging into my generator? I thought of a pretty simple way to manage this and it's essentially tindr, but for planets. I set up a simple screen with , and buttons. I quickly evaluate the overall quality of a sprite and click the corresponding button to say if it's bad, acceptable or good. That button will then accordingly affect the 'score' of every asset used in the current planet. The idea is that bad assets will recurringly show up in bad looking planets, and a negative aggregate score will indicate that I should remove it, and more importantly look at why it might have been a bad one to include, to avoid making the same mistake on future assets. Likewise I can look at overall trends that seem to be going poorly. So even if there isn't a specific bad one, maybe I can detect that 4 colour palettes all have poor scores and there may be a problem there. Here's how the basic gif gist of how this process looks: spoilered for size) Also here's a still of a brief results screen: It's early, and I have quite few assets actually in the mix so there's obvious repeating already. But it does seem to be indicating that a 4 colour palette is overdoing it with the way I've been approaching textures. So maybe I stick to only 2/3 colour palettes? Or maybe my colours are just a hot mess (they are). Whatever the problem, I have a good feedback loop to plug in a bunch of assets and test them. Instead of humming and hawing, I can get a clear set of results from a quick simple blast through a ton of generated planets. That's all for now, next I'm hoping to work on directing the look and feel of this hot mess into a cool mess. That means whipping random assets into shape as well as the style of the UI elements and how you actually interact with the game.