Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Ready to download

Version 0.1 of the eight2empire tileset is ready to download, just click the tab at the top of the blog and bring it home!

At the moment only level and monster tiles are included but I'll be adding item tiles as soon as I can. Hopefully there is enough material to get you going and keep you entertained while I work on filling out the set. As always your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Magic Spells and Potions

Potions and Magic often overlap heavily in games, with many spells having equivalent potions and vice versa. I think it takes away the uniqueness of magic and prefer when there is a clearer distinction between the two, in terms of effect and usage.

Potions should include anything you can put in a bottle. From the everyday things like lamp oil, milk and soup to old favourites like poison, acid, hallucinogens, nerve tonics and antidotes. Their effects would always be direct and singular to an individual, lowering or raising a stat or causing a status effect like paralysis.
For the more exotic potions the player would need to find recipes and then collect ingredients - or purchase them directly from witch doctors or apothecaries. Potions can be held in small medium and large bottles, capable of containing 1,3 and 5 doses respectively. The advantages to smaller bottles are their use as sling ammunition and their lower chance of breaking when the player takes blunt weapon damage (Broken glass covered in poison might have its uses though).
For magic I prefer the pulp fantasy variety that costs its users dearly - dabbling in dark arts should not be taken lightly, and wizards shouldn't be able to walk around throwing fire like tennis balls. Spells should be cast with ceremony - laying down arcane areas of effect like protection from beasts or auras of fear and frenzy.

To reflect this I have made some spell tiles that are written in the players blood. Yes sir, our HP and manna are now one and the same, every spell bleeding a percentage of life force out of you. The closer you are to death the cheaper magic would become hopefully adding some strategy and drama to magic use. Thematically it might turn heavy magic users into Elrik like characters - addicted to restorative potions, stimulants and other concoctions to negate the crippling effects of their sorcery. Or perhaps the blood of innocents could be harvested for use in magic instead.
All of these ideas might make for tedious and boring game play, I don't know, but I like the idea of character classes created by playing styles, rather than doling out an MP meter with each wizard and arbitrary armour restrictions to archers...

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


Dungeons need to be furnished to stop them from being boring empty spaces. Ideally the furniture should serve other uses besides decoration. Bookshelves can be ransacked in search of spells, recipes and maps, beds can be used to rest and fires cooked over.With a limited capacity to carry equipment the cupboards need not be so bare either. A barrel could be full of apples but a sensible adventure would only take a few.

These are just a few mock ups. I think furniture will be the most challenging areas of this tileset, as I want to provide lots of props to create engaging environments.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

More dungeons

Here is a selection of wall graphics, you'll have to click the image to see them bigger (and maybe Ctrl+ a few times). I have all the shading saved as a separate layer in Photoshop, so its pretty easy to create new themes by sliding different textures underneath. I'll make some more elaborate mockups later when i'ts not 2 in the morning and my eyeballs don't feel like they are made of sand.

I am doing all this on a fairly crummy laptop, so its pretty hard to judge whether I have the contrast values right, anyone out there with a calibrated CRT wanna give me a clue?

Goblins and Mechanics

Not too much to say about these really, the goblin witch has a bone staff, the mechanic 'weldlings' have non specific weapons, maybe steam guns?

Monday, 5 December 2011

Item Inventory

It erks me in games when I can hold an unlimited amount of junk. It ruins my suspended disbelief and feels like a missed opportunity for an extra area of strategic play. Because of this I'm working on item graphics that would work with a Systemshock/Resident Evil 4 style inventory system. In RE4 95% of the tension comes from having to ration your bullets and finding room for that extra machine gun. Adding the ability to carry unlimited health or ammo would kill that game totally.

Another thing I don't like in games is grind, I don't have time for it and sometimes it can feel very artificial, especially when there are arbitrary level requirements set to use seemingly ordinary items like capes or shoes. In my ideal game success would depend on resource management and selecting the right equipment. Making sure you have enough food and light before you plunge into the mysterious depths and knowing you have the best weapons to vanquish your enemies should be of prime concern. I think having the items depicted at a larger and more detailed scale compared to the gameplay sprites adds a nice level of obsessiveness to the inventory screen, after all its all about the loot.

In addition to damage stats for weapons I would like to see Quality and Condition levels. The better quality the item the slower its condition degrades and longer it takes to break. This would hopefully disrupt the pattern of finding better equipment and dumping your old stuff without ever looking back. A trusty blade of medium damage might be preferable to a razor-sharp goblin scimitar that would quickly loose its edge. conversely, rather than use your fine war mace for smashing down a barricaded door, you would be encouraged to pick up an enemies crude hammer. Finding a broken sword of fantastic workmanship would require you to carry it to the surface for repair (at the expense of that heavy bag of coin), before it can be wielded.

I'm working up a large library of weapon and item graphics, and the following mockups are what they might look like in a mobile game...

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Cave Mockup

This is the tile system I have worked out for dungeons - 22 including open floor. I am a bit concerned that it might make the level generation algorithms too complicated, but I don't know enough about programming to say for sure. Once I have made a nice themed set with alt wall tiles, furniture, light sources and the whole lot has been rendered with line of sight it should look pretty special.
So...who's up for a little Programming?

Beast Men

Minotaurs, Centaurs and Satyrs
The Minotaurs are intended to be the most brutal of these three races using blunt heavy weapons. The centaurs are noble, with a black stallion for a king and a white sage with a sacred branch (I don't know, it seemed like a good idea). The Satyrs are mischievous and like to dance, play their musical instruments and booze it up.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Neanderthals and Great Apes

“It was no ape, neither was it a man. It was some shambling horror spawned in the mysterious, nameless jungles of the south, where strange life teemed in the reeking rot without the dominance of man, and drums thundered in temples that had never known the tread of a human foot.”  Robert E. Howard
While making these I was also reminded of something I read (perhaps by Larry Niven) suggesting that Neanderthals are the original source of Trolls in folk lore. I really like ideas like that, and near wet myself when they discovered Homo floresiensis.


We have:
pig, pig, pig, ram, ewe, ewe, ewe,
cow, cow, goat, goat, pony, pony,
hen, rooster, goose, duck, pigeon, turkey, fox,
rat, rat, dog, dog, cat, cat, fox,
bear, bear, wolf, wolf, lion, lion, lion.

Ill admit some are better than others, but I think they work out quite consistently in style and sizing. They should add a fair bit of flavour to overworld settings - little hobbit peasants herding geese, bears in caves, foxes going after chickens.

...perhaps I want to make a farm Sim and not a roguelike. :¬)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Knights and Peasants

Here are some knights and peasants.
With the knights I have tried to expand the range of weaponry depicted, they are supposed to be carrying a flail, spear, hammer, mace, axe and sword. I'm still wondering if I should bother depicting every race with every conceivable weapon, or if that's over doing it. It's sort of nice having each race or enemy type armed thematically, like the bandits having clubs and knives, dwarves having axes and crossbows etc.

To round out the knights entourage I have included a minstrel and a few hobbit arms bearers. I am imagining the arms bearers to be somewhat like the imps in golden axe. All they would do is try to escape but the player would be tempted to give them a kicking in hope of a nice drop.

The peasants are intended to add some potential narrative, they could hand out small quests and give rewards in the form of information or food. Also, there needs to be someone for the bad guys to torment, otherwise what business would we have delving into their subterrainian lairs and messing up their shit?

Of this lot I am particularly happy with the minstrel and the old woman, I like his little lute and its good to have another female shape.

Next up - livestock and wild animals.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Assorted undead and demonic forces

Here are some run of the mill zombies and a few other occult foes. The zombies come in various states of disrepair ranging from broken necks and missing limbs to being chopped in half. The bottom row consists of Werewolves (I'm particularly keen on the first one) some Nosferatu, a lady vampire and some great big demons. One of the demons is carrying a fork, the other a whip, these might not be immediately recognisable, but when the player gets a message like "the Hell Lord flays you with a whip of agony" it might help.
I'm working on some skeletons and ghosts to add to this theme, but they are not quite ready. What would be best, wispy tailed ghosts, or transparent blue warriors (with legs)?

Friday, 25 November 2011


I like Robert E Howard a lot, one of the awesome things about pulp era fantasy is all the talk of creatures dragging themselves up from the primordial swamps - building decadent civilisations and then sliding through the ages into degeneracy. Well that was some big talk up for what I was trying with these sprites! For both of these races  I've included their primitive forms and have them sort-of progressing. I intended the lizard men to be a little more noble,and tried to make the elder more regal with a large (well, two pixels) crest and a deeper orange in his chest.
I think I'd like to add villagers to these sets so they could be used in more narrative contexts.

Pirates and bandits

Rather than jump straight to hobgoblins and fire elementals I'm going to try and include a good number of human enemies. I think it will make the monsters feel more exotic and add a little moral ambiguity. After all what is an adventurer if not a thieving murderer?

Basic character classes

Here are a selection of basic character classes, actually its just a bit of an experiment with different armaments and making equivalent characters for each race.
I have to say I am most proud of the ladies, I had my doubts that I would be able to get enough femininity out of such a small number of pixels but I think they came out quite well (The chick in red with a spear is particularly hot!). Other small differences to note - dwarf archer carries what is supposed to be crossbow rather than a bow and the dwarf warrior has an Axe.

I don't think I would like the game to actually involve selectable classes, instead I'd want the player's equipment choice to effect the tactics they adopt in-game. Although I don't have it all fully figured out, different weapon types would allow different moves, a shield would allow you to barge enemies aside, a sword would let slash two adjacent squares, a spear would allow you to simultaneously attack with the point and the butt of your weapon in opposite directions, stuff like that. Ideally each weapon type would have two special moves and weapon combinations would add additional options. I'll make a separate series of posts on weapons later.

Next up, some basic enemies...

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Basic Templates

Not to leave you hanging too long,

These will be the basic templates of the main playable races, Humans, Dwarves and Halflings.
The main stats for creatures will be Strength Agility Marksmanship and Metabolism.
  • Halflings will be the weakest of the three races, with a high metabolism (meaning they heal quickly but need to eat more often) and the best marksmanship.
  • Dwarves will be the Strongest, with lower agility and a slower metabolism.
  • Men as usual will be a happy medium.
Next post I will have some basic character class graphics...

Friday, 18 November 2011



This blog is going to document my development of a set of LoFi graphic tiles for use in roguelikes and other such games. The idea is for it to be an open collaboration with anyone who wants to use them in non commercial games.

Each week I will post up some new graphics and spout off some thoughts on the design of my imagined game. If anyone feels like making my dream game for me, that's fantastic, if not, you're more than welcome to ignore my rambling and plunder the graphic assets for use in your existing projects.

The inspiration for this project came in part from the Oddball - Oryx tile set that came out of the tigsource  assembly competition and partially from a shareware Amiga game I played years and years ago as a little scamp. It was some kind of graphical roguelike that I sucked at and can now barely remember, but the blocky, vague graphics and micromanagement of equipment lodged itself in my imagination forever.

Like the Oddball/Oryx sprites I will be using 8 by 8 tiles. This should give the set a nice retro feel and force some creative choices, hopefully I will produce something that is visually distinct from what is already out there. I wont be using a strict colour palette - I know this would add to the retro look, but I really want to see how far I can take a block of 64 pixels and still squeeze a likeness out of them.

That will do for now, see you later.