Friday, May 28, 2010

3D Dot Game Heroes editor easy to grasp, pleasant on the ears

There was no choice more obvious than Link to base my first custom pixel character on in 3D Dot Game Heroes. While the game was very enjoyable with its default blue-armor-clad character, it was still missing that je ne sais quoi.

But using any editor without the comfort of a mouse and keyboard made me a little hesitant at first. Sure, it's still pixel placement when you come right down to it, but there are so many things that could go wrong when implementing tools to operate in three dimensions. Fortunately, the tool set that was given was very simple to grasp. And the background music while you create is so upbeat and catchy, making time melt away - I could listen to that all day!

The cursor you work with is always relative to you and not on the camera angle. So, if you rotated your creation to the left and hit left, the cursor will go left relative to you. This makes navigating around a real breeze, making all the hard-to-reach areas much more manageable. Also with the left and right analog sticks acting as the zoom and rotate, respectively, observing your work at all angles is very smooth.

Their color palette is quite diverse, despite the lack of a real color wheel (like what ModNation Racers has). I really only had to change one color from the default palette they started me on to get all the colors I would need for Link. And you have all your typical "undo," "redo," and "erase all" commands at your disposal. But what I really enjoyed the most were the "resize" and "move" tools.

To resize, you just need to hold the X button and create how big you want your cursor to encapsulate, from all 3 dimensions. And, with their simple no-fuss navigation system, it's very easy to set up a huge block cursor with a change in camera angle. With a variable size, the now can be used to place larger areas of pixels, delete larger areas of pixels, and, most importantly, MOVE a large area of pixels. A lot of games can use a lot of the rules set that make this editor so hard to put down.

The approach I went to create Link was to first re-create the 2D sprite on the closest layer, and re-create the side angle sprite to one side of the area. From here, I eyeballed where all the pixels would meet up in the middle, and then worked my way out. After probably a good hour, I had the initial stand pose up and ready. Considering that artists never intended the pixels to coordinate and match from the front and side, there were a lot of liberties taken to make it all work.

From there, a simple command allowed me to copy over that same pose to other poses, and then I just chiseled Link to match his walking technique for one walk pose. Thanks to their "flip" command, I took the same walk pose and just flipped it for the second walk pose. Walking done!

Next up was the Hurray pose, which appeared when you grab an item, or just fall from a certain height. This probably took the longest time since I had to work on both arms at once. After this was done, the attack poses were a quick edit away before I was able to preview my creation in their test arena.

Overall, I think the final result is quite impressive for a first try.

Needless to say, this has now become my character of choice when playing the game.

And yes, I figured that some people have already tried their hand at making Link. Heck, From Software even gave promo disks with Link as a bonus additional character to use, made by those folks. But it feels good to make a character from the ground up, and it's something I'll likely try again in the near future. Something tells me, though, that it probably won't get posted up on their Hall of Heroes upload page.

I'll try to see if I can upload the character on this blog, but if you want a copy, feel free to email me.
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