Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Teaching old dog some new tricks

During last weekend, I was working on some additional graphics for the demo level - in this case simple elevator shaft. I wanted to show our main concept artist Drokk, how exactly we are creating graphics. Drokk is professional artist, so he is familiar with Photoshop and other Adobe products, but he was Amiga enthusiast long time ago. However, he never had a chance to use DPaint or some other brilliant program on the Amiga. So I took my Amiga to his place, trying to show him, how much fun he is missing.

Yes, fun. Painting on the Amiga is genuine fun and enjoyment. I understand, that with nowadays graphic standards you might grin, seeing simple tools we are using, but this is not the point. You have to understand - we have to use up to 256 colours in a grid of 16x16 pixels, sometimes more. For example - elevator has 48x48 pixels. Why to use a DPaint instead of Photoshop?

First of all - results on the screen are identical to how the game will look like. It's simply because DPaint is running in very same graphic mode, as the game. You can rely on the screen, that what you see is what you get. You wouldn't believe, how this is important.

Second of all - you have only limited selection of tools, but they are implemented so well, that I can't imagine the effort to learn similar tricks in Photoshop. Don't get me wrong, I know Photoshop pretty well, but the number of keyboard shortcuts is horrendous. It's because that with a Photoshop you can create much more complex graphics, then you actualy need for Amiga game! You can apply it on simple drawing, palette modifications or creating dithering - everything is easier and more straight forward on the Amiga. DPaint was designed to maximise your productivity, and that counts!

Third of all - mouse accuracy. It might look as a little thing, but with resolution 320x256 you have to be absolutely sure, that your mouse pointer will select correct pixel on first try. Accelerated cursors in Windows, adapted for much higher resolutions, are in fact less precise at the end, because of required sensitivity. Few pixels on the screen, while zoomed - no difference for Photoshop - but on the Amiga it's the only resolution you have. That actualy rules out also usage of WinUAE on the PC, because mouse input is coming from Windows anyway. This is hard to describe, but trust me - it is a difference, you shall notice instantly, when you move from (or to) Amiga.

Of course - nobody is saying anything bad about Photoshop ;). When configured properly, you can do serious magic as well - Tsak is actualy preferring Photoshop and I can't say anything bad about his work! Because I never had a chance to make graphic on Amige, when it was on the top, for me this is a great discovery I wanted to share with you ;).

And it doesn't end with the graphics.

Whole concept of Amiga makes now much more sense. It's the multitasking you REALLY NEED! Nowadays systems are having these priority tasks, background running, fake multitasking etc., you can see it on smartphones. Most users actualy don't need real multitasking. But consider my example situation.

You draw a sprite and animate it - DPaint.
Then you need to define new object and insert it to level - this can be done in Jano Editor (simple text tool, supporting tabs).
To find coordinates, where exactly you want to place your object - so even the mapper application has to run.
For file organisation, you need to copy them to correct directories, so DOpus is running as well.
And of course - you would like to see your graphics in action right now - so even our game is running on the background.

Now you can see my usual working routine. I'm checking and changing graphic on the fly, reloading level to see the difference in the game, adding new object via text editor and mapper - and moving files from work disk to final directory as needed. I'm doing this on multiple levels, without any slowdowns. It is basicaly a multitask festival!

Amiga - thank you for making all of this possible.