Tree Climber: Motion

Sometime in 2020, Jeffrey and I joined a game jam. Remotely.

There are few things I can compare to agreeing to jam whilst having limited programming knowledge and graphic design experience.

Our game is called Tree Climber and the prototype was submitted on TO Jam at the two week deadline.

It was exciting. Staring at my computer screen for hours right into the depth of night is justified only by the result. I was expecting my second child then, and I had been taking a lot of bed rest. The action was much appreciated.

First came planning, modeling and strategizing. Then re-strategizing and testing; working to bring the idea to life. I got to play some classic games with my husband as he ‘researched’ and taught me about game design. We used examples to define our design concept until we agreed on our goal, and what on what our roles were.

The challenge I immediately faced as the team’s graphic artist, was creating the player animation. We had designed a platform game, one requiring a simple interface and basic character movements. I had intended on painting the different elements, and after researching possible techniques decided to base the player animation on sprite sheets that I was to create with my painting program Krita.

A sprite sheet is a collection of separate images of an object in different frames of movement. Viewing these images consecutively produces an animation effect. Naturally, the more related the frames are, the smoother and more apparent the motion of the object.

Having designed a two player game, we needed two unique characters. I decided to use few frames to express motion, and focused on highlighting memorable traits that were to distinguish my two characters.

After hours of painting, Player 1 was complete. I had grouped collective parts into layers, which I was then able to rotate, duplicate and adjust to create the final frames.

Duplicating and mirroring the frames completed the sheet, so that both characters could move in two directions. I then exported each character’s frames as a single image for my husband to apply to the game.

The two characters are built on the same layering framework, with Player 2 based on the Player 1’s structures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *