Chimera Glow Dots



Have a look at Rob Fearon’s piece, “We Love Glow” when you get the chance. A man after my own heart, playing with the kind of looks afforded by modern software and hardware. That’s what I call “retro reframed” and it’s how I roll. What we’re working on appears retro, but actually wouldn’t be possible on older hardware (at least not at a reasonable frame rate).

Alpha-blending? Forget it. The best we got was transparency and masking, on, or off.

Additive blending? Don’t be silly. Overlays, sure. That’s your lot.

I’ve spent all day working on this. I’ve learned that I’m not as fast as I used to be. I’ve learned that music doesn’t help me relax as much as it used to. And I’ve learned that somewhere along the way, life hit me so many times, so hard, that I plain and simple forgot how to just let go and flow. I’m not saying I’ve got it back, but I recognise it. And yes, I’d like some more of that please.

I’ve coded quite a lot, learned some more C++ techniques, got half a graphic editor going, got some glowing graphics going and reverted to Spectrum graphics as opposed to the 3-colour (+black) C64 sprite. The proportions are wrong, the blocks are pink, the glow is Ready-Brek, but I’m happy for today.

What do you think of that big pixel look on the left by the way? That with some glow maybe? (Don’t worry about the white pixels, they’re just masking)

So what does the title of the piece refer to? Well, the illusion that more is being done than it actually is. I don’t need to do anythign fancy in real-time, other than let the hardware take care of alpha-blending. Everything can and should be faked.

The effect was achieved by adding an external glow filter and a gradient overlay from top left to bottom right at about 50%. The graphics have been scaled up from the Spectrum original enormously.

Now for some animation.


How To Be Modern


I managed to get a fair bit done last night, including a utility class for handling isometric projection that was more accurate than the hack I was using, and I also reorganised the test app so that the code was a lot cleaner, breaking everything up into helper functions that could be switched in and out. This meant taking all the crutches off and letting what I had stand up on the bare bones systems in place. The codebase is growing, but it is more organised and useful.

Yes, I did get a vector cube up, but it looks very plain and sad and distinctly unglowy. I did a really silly brute force method – I drew a cube, then drew it again adjacently with alpha. It looks boring. No glow. Perhaps I need more cubes.

I need to write an event manager too, that’s something I realised today.

As for gameplay, I’m continuing to shape my thinking on that and will write something up later today.


If anyone can advise me on a quick and dirty hack on how to get glowing vectors going, that’d be really helpful. My favourite examples of this effect are above. I didn’t play Geometry Wars much, but I played Orbital to death and loved it to bits, especially the over-the-top vector glow chic.

My quick and dirty method is shown below. It looks awful. It looked better with line smoothing, but believe it or not, that utterly destroyed the performance. It was stunningly slow.


I suppose I could really cheat and draw the cubes in a paint package and add glow. That’d be the old way. It’d look the same. Maybe even better. It just wouldn’t be very cool. I’m too old for that to matter now, surely?

New Vector Look

I totally adore the visuals for Pix ‘n Love Rush. I don’t think the game is suited to iPhone as much as it would to PSP, but I’m biased, and I also have a problem with abstracting buttons, which are in themselves an abstraction. The visuals are awesome though and the game is charming.


So I was thinking about how I’m going to represent the blocks when they’re in their energy state (as opposed to matter). And then someone mentioned this game to me at work today and of course, I pulled out my iPhone to show it sitting in my primary games folder, proudly.

I bought the game because of its look, first and foremost.

And then it struck me as I rode a Boris Bike from the office to Frampton Street – I could use vector outlines for the blocks in Chimera, a bit of alpha, and hey presto, energy blocks!

So I’m going to play with that look and see if I can get some blocks going using vectors. Having never done the “glow” look before, I’ll be working it out for myself, but my guess is I draw a solid line and the same line on either side, but with more alpha to get the glow. We’ll see.

I’m not getting much progress with the graphics for the game, so I might as well give vector a go in general while I work out what to do next.