Category Archives: GameDev

Simulate Bloom in Photoshop

Are you a game artist?

I often create art but then wonder what it’ll look like with post processing effects such as Bloom. Bloom is not a single effect, it’s actually a stack of 3 effects in 4 passes. Here’s how Bloom is created:

  1. Engine renders the scene to a buffer
  2. A copy of the buffer is made and an “extract” filter is applied (pass #1). The extract filter makes the darks much darker and the highlights very bright, thus “extracting” the light parts of the scene.
  3. The copy of the buffer is then gaussian blurred. The amount of blur determines how much light halo the bloom has. Blur is two passes, horizontal and vertical.
  4. Finally, the copy is Additively blended with the original to produce the final scene. The opacity of the copy during this process determines how strong the bloom effect is

You can simulate this in Photoshop by:

  1.  Making a copy of your whole scene just like the game engine would:
    1. CTRL +  A to select all
    2. CTRL + SHIFT + C to copy merged
    3. CTRL + V to paste a new flattened layer
  2. Extract highlights:
    1. CTRL + L to open levels
    2. Adjust both edges towards the middle until darks are very dark and lights are very light
  3. Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur (pixel amount determines halo)
  4. Change Layer Blend Mode to “Linear Dodge (Add)”
  5. Adjust opacity to suit

This is time consuming so I created a handy action that you can run to have a Bloom simulation layer very quickly!

Download a zip file with the photoshop actions below or learn more about Photoshop Actions.

GameDev Actions

BrakeNeck One Month Game

Last year my good friend, Victor Chelaru had the idea to try to build a small video game in a single month. The goal was to create a game that was fun and polished, but also to identify and fix workflow problems and bugs that slow down the dev process.

We tabled the idea for a few weeks but resurrected it in December. On Dec 19 we committed our first rough ideas to github, determined to finish a small game by Jan 19. We wrapped it up on schedule! I’m proud of how it turned out. It looks neat, is fun to play and was accomplished in a very short amount of time.

This game is open source and uses the FlatRedBall game engine. It’s also a free starter project built into the FRB tools.

Starter Project

BattleCrypt Slow Progress

You may have noticed there have been very few posts about BattleCrypt lately. The development has been somewhat on hold. I haven’t written new code for the game in a long time (but I have done art….see!!!).

Rough sketch of new tile designs.

Additionally, the site is coming down because I don’t have the time to support both my personal blog and a dev blog for the game. The domain will forward to my personal blog and all future BattleCrypt posts will be written here on my personal blog.

Progression from rough sketch (left) to finished tiles (right).

That being said, the game is not dead and work has not stopped. I have been working on art a lot and refining my technique. I’ve tested some new tools such as Lazy Nezumi (AWESOME) and I bought a Monoprice 22″ graphics tablet (poor man’s Cintiq).

Statue with some experimental foliage added.

Honestly, it’s unlikely that BattleCrypt will make a lot of progress for a while. In the meantime, thanks for your continued interest!

Character Selection UI

Commit 53f13f0.

I’ve been working on two big things.

First, my buddy Vic helped me with the math to make my procedural animation 1000x better. I was close before but things just weren’t right. My code was a spaghetti mess and the maths were what can only be described as wonky. Now it’s much smoother and looks really nice (my opinion) although this low-framerate gif doesn’t do it a ton of justice (hosted on imgur b/c my cheapo server pukes trying to thumbnail big gifs):

BattleCrypt Animation Interpolation


Second, I have been working on various UI things. From a game-design standpoint I’ve been trying to decide if characters are highly defined, meaning that character “Bob” would always look the same, have the same taunt phrases, the same elemental power, etc. Or, if characters should be kinda customizable. Like maybe you pick the heady, body and legs separately.

I started with characters being immutable. Then I entertained the idea of allowing mix-and-match because I think that would really appeal to some players. Now I’m leaning back towards immutable characters because I can create stronger personalities and recognizable styles.

Anyway, here’s some work I did while puzzling out what the customizable character UI might look like. The image at the top of the post has arrows that let you select each customizable part separately. Another take on that would be to have buttons that toggle through each body part. Whatever direction I take, the UI style will probably look something like these.





BattleCrypt Art Style

Commit 977b814.

This is it. This is what BattleCrypt looks like right now for REALS. I really liked the progress I had on tiles using Photoshop to paint. However, it took forever to create tiles and was difficult to keep the continuity of style across elements. This is my natural style. This is the type of art I can do quickly, maintain a consistent feel across assets and be satisfied with the presentation. I’m still tweaking color palettes, ink lines and other stuff but I think I’m hitting my stride in the overall look.

I started with this mockup work:


Then I recreated almost every Tiled asset I had created over several weeks in Photoshop in a few long, caffeinated evenings. I also overhauled characters and started sketching some UI stuff. Spells, particles and lots of that stuff are still screwy.

Is this style better than the previous? I don’t know. I like that style a lot too. But I can’t turn it around fast enough to bring the game together. Another thing I like a lot better about this is that it feels more “fun”. The other style’s more realistic feel was a bit dark and scary. I want this game to be something parents are comfortable letting their kids play. The theme, while it does have skeleton wizards, is not intended to be horrific, occult in any serious sense, or aligned with any particular religion. I think this style nails that so much better. Hope you like it!