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The Almighty Doer of Stuff

Vahnatai PC Graphics (and others) Wanted!

42 posts in this topic

Hello!

 

Final tests are being done, a few new or tweaked features and some bug fixes are being prepared and implemented, and the first fully-functioning, release-quality version of Open Blades of Exile (OBoE) is nearing completion!

 

Part of the last things we're doing is adding some last-minute graphics. We'd love to include some of Luz Piazuelo's beautiful work, but alas we can't figure out how to contact her to get her graphics officially released under a Free license. We have an email address for Andrew Hunter whose Exile Trilogy work we'd like to include but Spidweb can't remember whether they have full rights to his graphics (they do but we can't really argue with them) and Mr. Hunter didn't respond to my email. So what's been happening is I, personally, have been giving my best shot at creating alternate graphics filling the niches we need.

 

Alas, I suck at it.

 

One new feature is the long-wished-for Vahnatai PCs. The specific mechanics are being balanced but you can indeed create Vahnatai PCs to go on adventures with you as of the current beta release. The thing is, we need original PC graphics for this race, and my attempts at making them have been less than spectacular. So, if any of you are good with GIMP or Photoshop or the like and can create original, non-color-shifted Vahnatai graphics which passably match the style of Andrew Hunter's work, and would like to release them under GNU GPL 2.0+ (other Free licenses may work too, I don't know), we'd love to have them! We need four, preferably: a waveblade wielder, a razorblade wielder, a spellcaster, and one other.

 

Inclusion of the graphics is at the discretion of myself and Celtic Minstrel. CM can be picky (reasonably so, because we both want a highest-quality, consistent experience for players and designers), so don't be offended if your graphics aren't used; CM rejects my graphics more often than I'd like. :( Besides, even if they're not packaged with the game, they can always be used as custom graphics in user-made scenarios!

 

If you have anything such as wall or floor sets, townspeople, spellcasters, and warriors, dialog icons, or other broadly-usable graphics, we'd love to see those too.

 

Thanks for your support! (By the way, you can still buy lovely promotional Blades of Exile T shirts. The link is in my signature. Excuse the formatting, Spreadshirt's programmers are less than spectacular too...)

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Let me just say that what ADoS said above is, pretty much, all entirely true. However, I would like to clarify (and expand on) a couple of things.

 

  1. Regarding the impending release:
     
    Yes, it's close to a 2.0 release. This is true. It has been true since maybe March, but it's even more true now thanks to my slow and tedious creation of unit tests (which caught a number of bugs that had been plaguing the project before that).
     
    But what does "close" mean? When can you expect a release?
     
    Optimistically, I'd like to say "by the end of the year", but that can't be considered anything more than tentative. The way ADoS said it makes it sounds like there's only a few tests left, but that's not the case. Rather, I've finally completed one significant block of tests. There are at least two similarly-significant blocks remaining (one of which is already partially completed).
     
  2. Regarding new core graphics:
     
    ADoS said that inclusion of the graphics is at the discretion of himself and me, which isn't exactly false, but conceals the fact that I have more say than he does. I listen to his opinions, but like he said, I'm picky about the art, and generally speaking I won't commit something if I really dislike it, even if ADoS really likes it. Conversely, if I really liked something, I might commit it even if ADoS doesn't like it that much. (This case hasn't happened in practice, probably because ADoS was doing all the art so far, but it's possible it could happen.)
     
    I'll also point out that, while much of the art ADoS contributed is (in my opinion) quite good, some of it still isn't up to the quality of the original graphics and thus still needs work (or replacing). There are a few new terrain graphics in particular that I'm not fond of that I'd like to replace (such as the "tent walls" that, to me, look more like a carpeted floor).
     
    Besides the minimum four Vahnatai PCs, here are a few other things that would be nice to have:
    • Additional slith/nephil/vahnatai PC graphics. (Additional human graphics are okay too, but less likely to be accepted since there's already a lot of them.)
    • A few new monster graphics (probably just small monsters, though larger ones might be accepted too if they're good enough and fit the game well).
    • Some new talk portraits, dialog icons, and scenario icons. In particular, scenario icons for snow-themed and desert-themed scenarios.
    • It might be nice to have one or two additional missile animation graphics.

Item graphics in particular are unlikely to be accepted, unless they're small enough to fit in 18x18.

 

If anyone owns any of the graphics on Pixel Profusion and would like to step up and grant permission for them to be used, that would also be wonderful. Mind you, many of those graphics are not up to the quality of the original core graphics, so giving permission does not mean they would be used. Still, I recall seeing some nice ones on there that weren't by Luz.

 

[*]Regarding Luz Piazuelo and Andrew Hunter:

 

It's true that there has been some attempt to get permission for the E3 graphics and some of Luz's graphics. If anyone knows another way to contact Luz or Andrew, both ADoS and I would like to hear of it.

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I have Andrew Hunter's email address, it's the same as the AOL one in the original credits, but at Gmail now. He has made hobby of drawing naughty cartoons as a rebellious reaction to his actual career censoring foreign video game graphics for the sensitive American market, and his contact info is on that site. It's possible I went to Spam, he didn't notice it, or he for some reason really wants nothing to do with BoE. I may email him again, just in case. (What we especially want from him are a few monster graphics and the classic blue cave set. I made my own cave set that I love but which CM doesn't like. He has veto power as the one who knows how to make the graphics accessible by default. :( )

 

Luz, however, is elusive. There are a number of Luz Piazuelos on the Internet, none of which seem to be Luz Piazuelo of The Blazing Blade. The email address on her site (now hosted in archive at TrueSite) is dead. We'd really like her contact info, if anyone has it. Alternately, I know she shows up here very occasionally, so if you're here, Luz, please talk to us!

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Not sure if this is how you wanted this to be submitted, but whatever.

 

Vahnatai Spellcaster:

 

Vahnatai%20PC%20caster_zpsurph8wf9.png

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Thanks for trying!

 

Hmm, it's not bad, I guess. The arm is abnormally straight, and it looks like there's artifacts around the edges. By the way, you didn't base this on something from Blades of Avernum, did you? The robe's style looks more like Avernum than Exile. Basing new graphics on Blades of Avernum graphics is a bad idea in general (since there's no guarantee that BoA will be open-sourced), but especially bad when it comes to monsters, as BoA monsters are completely different stylistically.

 

So, I'm sorry, but I can't accept this one as it currently is.

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I see what you mean about it looking more like a BoA Vahnatai. Thats no problem, I'll fiddle with the caster graphic a bit and try again. Here's a melee guy.

 

Vahnatai%20PC%20melee_zpsiurmwnte.png

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Does that mean you didn't actually base it on a BoA Vahnatai directly? We don't want edits from BoA graphics, especially not in monsters, but if it's original and just happens to more closely match BoA in the aesthetic, then feel free to resubmit a tweaked version.

 

Your waveblade wielder looks like his leg is bent backwards at the knee. It's very disconcerting. Also, the position of the sword itself doesn't make sense. It also seems to more closely match BoA than BoE, to me. If you don't quite understand why, take a look at the original BoE Vahnatai graphics here.

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If you really want consistency, we could ask Luz, now that we have her attention.

 

But I think if the one in the blue robe had zir robe edited to be translucent like the other Exile Vahnatai (and clearly Kelyar-Ihrno knows how to do it, ze did it with the second Vahnatai) I think I'd like that one. The one in the yellow robe appears to be standing like nephilim, i.e. on their toes with a long foot to allow pouncing, like the cats they're based on. I think Vahnatai have humanesque legs, held straight with the entire foot on the ground.

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Ah, no, neither of those are based on any graphics from BoA; both were made from scratch in Photoshop. The plain looking poncho with the simple border just looked like that style.

 

As for the legs, I thought I read a dialog in Exile 2 somewhere that described Vahnatai with reversed knees, but I guess not. I can fix that as well, along with the slightly over-sized waveblade.

 

I've almost finished giving the caster a new robe with more detail and rounder shape. Just need to make a new spell-flame thing; the green one from the first draft was too small.

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If you really want consistency, we could ask Luz, now that we have her attention.

You can if you really want, but I don't think we need to do that. Asking to use existing art is quite different from asking for new art.

 

Ah, no, neither of those are based on any graphics from BoA; both were made from scratch in Photoshop. The plain looking poncho with the simple border just looked like that style.

Ah, okay then. That's good.

 

As for the legs, I thought I read a dialog in Exile 2 somewhere that described Vahnatai with reversed knees, but I guess not.

I think this is the first I've heard of that... I looked over the existing monster Vahnatai graphics as well just now, and there are some that sort of slightly support it. Either way though, what you drew looks weird to me when compared to the ones we have already.

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As for the legs, I thought I read a dialog in Exile 2 somewhere that described Vahnatai with reversed knees, but I guess not.

 

...Does this sound familiar to you too, CM? Either way, the poor guy looks like he's going to fall over and crush his own skull with that sword. :p

 

EDIT: Sniped.

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...Does this sound familiar to you too, CM?

Heh, you posted at the same time as I did. :p No, it doesn't sound familiar, but you'd probably know better than I.

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After looking through someone's Exile II Let's Play, the closest description I found to support my assumption called them "many-jointed", so its fairly ambiguous. In any case, I'll focus on making them more similar to the extant Vahnatai graphics.

 

Ok, so caster version 2:

 

Vahnatai%20PC%20caster%20v2_zpsj5yqalmu.png

 

and for fun, the full size image which I then scale down and tweak:

 

Full%20size%20vahnatai%20caster_zpsksplhscp.png

 

As for the warrior, I was going for a fencer sort of pose, but he ended up just looking rather awkward. More edits for him are forthcoming.

 

EDIT:

I also found the Crystal Walls graphics I made as a kid (edited from the blue bubbly unicorn walls from ZKR). Posting that as well.

 

Crystal%20Wall_zpswjnpg74o.png

Edited by Kelyar-Ihrno

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That does look a lot nicer. It still seems a bit different stylistically from the monster vahnatai graphics, but... I think I can accept it like that.

 

I do think the flame is a bit big though. Also, for it to be a flame is maybe a little too specific; a generic magical glow sort of thing would probably be better.

 

The crystal wall isn't very good at all, sorry. But maybe you expected that.

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I really like that one! The only improvement I think is needed is to pull zir hand out from under zir robe. I'm trying to get CM's attention to see what he thinks.

 

By the way, what's your preferred pronoun set, if you want to say? I've just been calling you ze/zir when discussing your work with CM.

 

EDIT: Sniped again.

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Ah, yeah, that's a good point. The large version seems to suggest the hand is under the robe, but it probably shouldn't be.

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By the way, what's your preferred pronoun set, if you want to say? I've just been calling you ze/zir when discussing your work with CM.

 

 

He and other predominately male pronouns will do nicely.

 

 

The crystal wall isn't very good at all, sorry. But maybe you expected that.

 

 

As a matter of fact, I did. >.<

 

Slightly modified:

 

Vahnatai%20PC%20caster%20v2_zpsohxjw8nw.png

 

Magic slightly shrunk, colored blue, right arm moved out from under his robe.

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Looks pretty good now. I'm kind of wondering about that orange thing at the neck, though - it really stands out and looks slightly weird.

 

Would be nice to have additional opinions on these.

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It looks a little odd to me that the caster has magic stuff on their hand, but loses it when attacking, rather than using it to attack and not having it normally. Though looking at the existing PCs that is true of two of them. Also, the waveblade is really big, maybe twice the size of the vahnatai warrior's one.

 

OTOH, I always modify my own PC graphics anyway.

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It looks a little odd to me that the caster has magic stuff on their hand, but loses it when attacking, rather than using it to attack and not having it normally.

I think the idea is that, when attacking, that magic glow is effectively being "thrown", so it would become a missile.

 

OTOH, I always modify my own PC graphics anyway.

Then I suppose you'll be happy to know that I plan to add a way to import a custom graphic for your PCs.

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I think the idea is that, when attacking, that magic glow is effectively being "thrown", so it would become a missile.

 

Ah, that would make sense, yes.

 

Then I suppose you'll be happy to know that I plan to add a way to import a custom graphic for your PCs.

 

Is that really necessary? I mean, it's easy to just alter then PCS.bmp file.

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It is easy to alter the file but then if you need to use a special party for a scenario, you may have messed up the way the character is supposed to look. That hasn't stopped me from rearranging them, but I'll probably put them back in order when CM finishes that feature.

 

As for the orange thing, looks fine to me. At least one or two of the existing Vahnatai mob graphics have them, in various colors. Humans must not be the only ones to think dressing in layers is wise.

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Is that really necessary? I mean, it's easy to just alter then PCS.bmp file.

Sure, it's easy, but then when you upgrade to a newer version, your modifications will probably be wiped out.

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To keep my modified PCs, I unzip the new version into my Spidweb installers folder, go in and delete pcs.png, then I go to the old version and delete everything EXCEPT pcs.png, then cut the new version and paste it over the old one.

 

I look forward to not having to do this.

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Yes, a number of the normal Vahnatai graphics have that neck coif thing, but all are non-casters. I'll upload a version without the coif when I get home, at least so you can compare. My reasoning was to vary the graphic a little, and that an adventuring Vahnatai caster might adopt the extra protection or whatever that coif provides.

 

Will "Create New PC" nodes be able to assign an NPC graphic to the new PC? If so, that's another very good use for the custom PC graphic functionality, if the scenario designer wants to add unique characters directly to a party.

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Will "Create New PC" nodes be able to assign an NPC graphic to the new PC? If so, that's another very good use for the custom PC graphic functionality, if the scenario designer wants to add unique characters directly to a party.

This is already possible. I think I even tested it.

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Caster (sans coif):

 

Vahnatai%20PC%20sans%20coif_zpsfuqsb5t9.png

 

Edit: Fixed image.

Edited by Kelyar-Ihrno

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Ehhh... I can't decide which one I like better...

 

I'll post them both side-by-side for better comparison though.

 

Vahnatai%20PC%20caster%20v2_zpsohxjw8nw.png

 

Vahnatai%20PC%20sans%20coif_zpsfuqsb5t9.png

 

It strikes me that the neck is insanely tiny. Maybe that's expected though.

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Either way it's better than the one currently included. I've never been good at drawing people, but I can draw amorphous blobs that almost but don't quite entirely match the other amorphous blobs! The Crimson Slime is GNU GPL 2.0+ like everything else, if anyone wants to mess with it.

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Alright then. Unless Kelyar has any last tweaks to make, I'll go with the coif one in its current state.

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I have committed this to the repository. We still need three more Vahnatai PC graphics, though. Anyone interested? Most of what I said in the second post also still applies, but note that there is very little room left for new terrains now.

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I'm into pixel art so can give it a shot, but no promises as I'm short on time lately. a co-worker is injured and I'm getting extra hours.

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Thanks, GIFTSm! I actually put two together already, one based on a graphic from Mab and another a modified version of Kelyar-Ihrno's yellow-poncho dude. (That vahnatai now has normal legs and throws razordisks.) So we've got one with a sword, one with razordisks, and one with a ball of energy (the last being the purple-robe-yellow-coif dude from Kelyar). What we'd kinda like is another waveblade wielder and two more spellcasters. We also want a couple new nephilim and a couple new slithzerikai, if you're up for it. That way you can make a party of six.

 

Here's what we've got so far for PCs:

pcsNew.png

 

We'd ideally like eight of each humanoid, and then the four slots in the fourth human column could be filled by whatever mix of the four we happen to get, I guess. What we're guessing we'd want is at least one more sword wielder and two more spellcasters, for the vahnatai, and perhaps one would be crystal-wielding. And here's two new vahnatai weapons I did today, if they inspire you at all:

VahnataiStaff.pngWavedagger.png

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At the moment we're most interested in additional PC graphics, particularly Vahnatai but also potentially sliths or nephilim. If you prefer to do other types of art (for example, items or talking portraits), that would also be great. Terrain graphics are currently closed except for improvements plus a few specific things (see spoiler if interested). We want the graphics to match the aesthetic of existing graphics as much as possible.

 

EDIT: To add to ADoS's post a little, it'd be great to have at least one graphic for each race in each of a few basic archetypes, such as mage, priest, rogue, melee fighter, ranged fighter. Other possible archetypes are monk or bard, though those aren't a priority.

 

 

 

The current tentative expanded terrain sheet can be viewed here and, as you can see, it's pretty much full. (The magenta area is unavailable to be filled.) It's tentative partly because we don't have permission to use all the graphics; some might have to be replaced if we don't get permission.

 

The specific additional terrain graphics wanted are:

  • Evil altars for the new wood and stone floors.
  • A second type of tree for both cave floors. (There is already a second type of tree for the white cave floor, but that's a placeholder; it's from The Za-Khazi Run, and I'd rather not include that in the core graphics sheet.) I'm personally in favour of some sort of fungal type of tree, or a giant mushroom of some kind. Note that it would have a large form (impassable) and a small form (not impassable). (If you try your hand at a second tree type on blue cave floor, I can't promise it'll actually be included, but if you don't mind it maybe only being available for inclusion by designers in their scenario custom graphics, go ahead and try it.)
  • A curtain-like doorway in that wall at the beginning of the row just above the desert, which is supposed to be the canvas or felt wall of a tent.
  • Modifications of the stairways on the row just below the water. The last two stairways are fine (they're an up-down pair for a north-facing stairway), but the first two aren't. Either the second one needs to be modified so that it looks like it's climbing upward rather than downwards, OR an upwards-climbing one needs to be created facing either east or west. (We already have downwards-facing ones facing east and west, though they're not on that sheet.)

 

Additionally, many of the graphics on that sheet are actually not quite up to standard. If you think you can make a better version of something that's already there but wasn't in any of the original games, by all means give it a try. (That goes for either making a new one from scratch with the same theme, or taking the one on the sheet and incrementally improving it.) Some examples of graphics that could be improved are:

  • The birch tree
  • The lone spruce tree
  • The tree trunk
  • The log-wall set
  • The empty Vahnatai (green-tile) fire pit
  • Many of the desert and snow graphics (especially the leafless winter tree, oasis, and palm trees)
  • The stone circles and pillars (including the stalactite pillars on cave floor, which I made by merging two stalagmites from the adjacent graphic end-to-end)
  • The autumn trees in the bottom row (though I think the empty tile with fallen leaves is good).

If you want to improve existing terrains though, I recommend confirming it first to make sure you're not trying something that will just be rejected, though rejected graphics will likely still be put up on a repository such as Pixel Profusion.

 

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Oh, that's quite impressive. Some of them seem a bit odd, but I guess that's cause I'm used to the older ones.

 

I should give that a try. Most of the graphics I've made aren't from scratch, they are rehashes of the stuff that came with BoE, but I'll have a go.

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A great many of the new graphics on that sheet were made by Luz Piazuelo; they were on Pixel Profusion, and we got permission to use them. Some of her graphics were indisputably in the Windows brightness; I fixed those ones up to match the Mac brightness instead (in fact I did that to several of her graphics that didn't end up being included - you can see all of them here.) Most of the rest of the new ones were done by ADoS, with several by Mistb0rn (back in 2009, the last time I put out a call for new graphics) and a few by me. There are a few made by Milu or Shyguy which are pending permission and thus may be removed. The christmas tree is also likely to be removed, and that hatch on blue cave floor in the bottom row is going to be removed too. There are a couple of other miscellanous ones that aren't 100% set in stone as well (even some of Luz's).

 

Rehashes of BoE stuff can be accepted if they actually look good, but if you can do a good job from scratch, that's probably preferable. I also have a script which usually does a pretty decent job of separating terrain objects from their background while preserving the shadow and any other shading, which was a great help.

 

If you think some of them look a bit odd, I wouldn't mind knowing which ones. If you can explain why, even better.

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