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.

I’m converting old art from the crappy Flash version of my game I made way back in the day, but I was rushing it out super fast back then because I was just messing around so when I look at some of it now I’m like “aghhh, that looks terrible, I want to redo that!” At the same time, I don’t want to make it look perfect because I think some of the style comes from the sketchy look the main ninja has…if I tightened up his line art and cleaned him up, I think it’d lose some of the flair.  Yet if I have a perfectly painted background, realistic looking weapons, etc., and then a sketchy main character, it’s a clash of styles. This is the old background:

Bulletproof Outlaws - Background

I don’t mind the foreground roof or the tree, I think I’ll keep those as they are or very similar, but man do I hate that background haha  I just pooped it out in a minute to get something back there.  I’m happy with the color scheme of it all, but I’m going to have to redo the background entirely.  Unfortunately I picked a city-scape to show, and I’m not a fan of doing perspective stuff. So what I’m probably going to do is model a few house types in 3d and arrange them, then render them out as line-art, so the perspective is right. I have a feeling the perspective I’m currently using is impossible though, haha  So I’ll figure that out later. I’m also going to retrace the 3d line-art by hand with sloppy lines to match the style of the rest of the stuff so it all looks coherent, and I’m going to stick to cel-shading.  Originally I did this art in Flash where you can pretty much ONLY do cel-shading and I’m tempted to paint up the background stuff in Photoshop instead but again I think that’ll ruin the style the game has so far.  Maybe I’ll do the next game more painterly.

My original plan was to do all my art in Flash because it has great fast tools for doodling game art as vectors (VS placing pen points and messing with bezier curves in Photoshop), and I want to be able to scale my art up and down for porting my games in the future (the iPad 2 is going to come out someday and might have double the screen size of the iPad so I’d need to be able to scale my art up massively).  But doing it that way means I have to export the art from Flash as .PNG files for the actual iPhone and that’s a big chunk of time for a grunt process and I’m running into issues where I scale it up to what I think it’s supposed to be and then when I check it afterward it’s a little bigger or smaller than the math suggested it would work out to… not sure what’s going on with that, but it’s kind of a pain in the ass.  Also, Flash limits me to purely cel-shaded art which is fine for character sprites, but I’m sure down the road I’ll want to have some painted backgrounds.

So the other option is to do the art in Photoshop, which I love, from the get-go but if I do that I’m going to have to do it HUGE so that there’s no chance I’ll ever have to scale it up since scaling Bitmaps up gets all pixely and gross.  So then I run into problems with having massive .PSD files of the art…my laptop is fast but I don’t know if it’s THAT fast, haha

I figure it’ll take me a couple games to settle into a rhythm with this. When I hire a programmer for this game, I’m going to be hiring them to make iPhone, iPhone 4 retina, and iPad versions.  By the end of this game I might decide that the Flash process is worth it just because of the scaling potential.  I’d love to put my games on a ton of different platforms down the road if possible so I’m trying to plan long-term from the start! Capcom is still releasing NES games on new systems, no reason I couldn’t be porting this game to the iPhone 10 down the road haha

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