Jeff Hangartner – Revealing the Path Less Travelled in Video Game Industry

Jeff HangartnerJeff Hangartner, the founder of the gaming start-up, Bulletproof Outlaws has been a professional developer of games over the last half a decade. Creator of Pixelation, the 1st Pixel Art Forum and also originator of the Pixel tutorials which have been published in the form of a book. Jeff has always been a pioneer of the gaming industry.

CG Today is proud to present Jeff’s exploration as he shares the whole process of creating a start-up right from day 1. With the belief that gaming development is coming back to its original “one programmer in the basement roots” idea, Bulletproof Outlaws is chronicling every step of its start-up process from strategies, to marketing, setting goals and outsourcing, successes and failures. The aim is to help other developers who have ideas but are intimidated by the whole start-up process and are not sure how to go about it.

You can visit his website Bulletproof Outlaws to know more about him or send an email to get connected.

Bulletproof Outlaws - A Diary of a video game studio!

So my workflow right now involves drawing and animating the art in Flash, then saving the frames out as .PNG files and reducing and trimming them in Photoshop. I’m using Flash because I’m predicting that the next devices that come out (iPad 2, iPhone 5, etc.) will increase their screen resolution just like the last generation did with the retina screens, so Flash’s vector art scales up to any size nicely compared to bitmaps.

As an artist though, I like drawing and animating in Photoshop more… I’m used to the layout and I like the tools in it. Drawing with vectors in Flash, I use the Brush tool because I can free-hand my art which is faster than drawing it point by point and messing with bezier curves… but the trade-off is that the lines come out less accurate. I may draw a squiggle shape, like the profile outline of a face, but it won’t come out exactly like I draw… there’ll be little smoothed curves and such as the math guesses “close” to what I want.

So this weekend was the Global Game Jam. The jist of it is that game developers all around the world meet up in their respective cities and divide into teams. They’re given a theme (this year’s was “Extinction”) and all the teams have 48 hours to develop a game based on that theme. I’ve done some super short game dev competitions back in my hobby days and they’re always fun because you’re forced to focus on game design and getting to work, no slacking off or slowing down. It’s pretty incredible how much you can get done in a weekend when you’re motivated.

Back to working on the game’s art! I’m probably 3/4 of the way done the in-game art, and then I’ll just have to do the title/menu art. I figure by the end of the week I should be done the in-game art and I can contact some programmers and get some estimates. Hopefully I can get them started next week, then a couple weeks of dev/testing time and I can submit to Apple. I still have a lot to do, but it’s all small managable tasks. And considering I’m juggling all the side stuff (marketing, E-Mail, Twitter, blog updates with videos/charts, going to my weekly business class, etc.) I’d say I’m doing pretty decent! It feels like it’s been WAY longer than 22 days to me haha

Here’s another example of optimization. I had a 21 frame throwing star originally, plus a glow effect for each frame, which was for one full loop of the star turning.

I’m going to be working with a programmer remotely, and I expect there to be communication issues and general slow-down going back and forth. In an attempt to minimalize these complications, I’m using a very visual way of developing my game. I’m trying to keep as much as possible in pre-made animation files that I create on my end, so that all the programmer wil have to do is stitch those animations together. The end result should be that the programmer has a light workload, which saves me development costs, and the game should be easily modifyable on my end.

Got the arrow going. I figured the perspective would be a pain, so I rendered it in 3d with cel-shading and then picked out the necessary frames for the effect. I was actually planning to have it just go straight upward, but the arc gives you a split second longer to dodge it, which I think will be good from a gameplay perspective. Each object will have a few different speed levels so the slow version of this should be easy to dodge:

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Bulletproof Outlaws Diary