Got to thinking about Populous today; played the hell out of the game on my Amiga 500 when I was a kid.
This is a first crack at a terrain manipulation demo in that style. There's no game here yet, just a small map you can terraform and a little dude running around willy nilly on it and seeming rather distressed when he's in the water. I may try and build a little game out of it, though just sort of working out how to handle the isometric sprites in a basic way has been the rewarding bit I was aiming for.
A neat discovery in all this was that I could get all of the terrain drawn using 7 distinct sprite shapes, thanks to careful use of horizontal and vertical flipping and palette swaps (and if I wanted to trade a little more code I could get rid of one of those by compositing two others). Was a little bit of a note-taking headache to make that work, but really satisfying once I got it.
Right now the map is just fixed in size (I threw in a little camera movement to follow the cursor around), but an obvious next step tech-wise would be to dynamically scroll through a larger map only showing a chunk of it in the viewport.
Hat tip to YellowAfterlife for their slick isometric demo last week, which put me on to the idea of giving this a shot.
Are the graphics ripped from the DOS port? Looks really nice.
No, just estimated roughly from screenshots. None of the existing versions would work directly even if I wanted to lift the art, since it needed to be scaled way down to fit a reasonable number of tiles on PICO 8's tiny screen. Each of my tile sprites fits in a 2*2 region of the sprite map, including a lot of wasted space due to the diagonal nature of a given tile -- a lot of wasted negative space there (though it could probably be reclaimed if necessary through some really aggressive sprite coloring hijinks and pal() and palt() calls to ignore non-target-tile content of a much more tightly packed sprite sheet).
My method was basically:
- Look at some screenshots.
- Try to estimate the major tile deformations the game used.
- Sketch those out.
- Come up with a relative coordinate system for classifying each allowable tile deformation.
- Figure out horizontal/vertical/rotational symmetry for different deformations that could use the same sprite, note those down.
- Build a lookup table for all of that.
The art itself turned out to be a pretty minor part of the process, and I'd like to look at going back for a second pass on it at some point to see if I can make it feel a little more organic and less straight up dithered, but with such small sprites there may not be a ton of room for expression there.
If anybody feels like having a whack at the art or at building something, you're totally welcome to dig in.
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