Well, we missed two weeks of Good Morning Gatos. I’d love to point the blame at the storm that exploded the East Coast last week, but the fact is our area of upstate New York was remarkably untouched, aside from a brief bit of wind that miraculously blew all of the leaves from our yard into the street. Many others south of us were hit hard by Sandy and we can only count our lucky stars that we and the cats are safe and toasty warm. The cause for this Gato delay can only be attributed to good old fashioned “we have been very busy”.

Skin Deep
A few weeks ago, The Dishwasher hit XBLA Minecraft as part of Skin Pack 3. Turns out we completely forgot about The Chef. He’s in there too! That’s two Dishwasher skins in your Minecraft Skin Pack 3!

If you weren’t already aware, an additional two Ska Studios skins can be found in the Halloween charity skin pack. All proceeds to go charity but this promotion will only last until Monday, November 26th.
Cyborg Pumpkinhead
Mara

Inked
As you may know, Charlie Murder is one part brawler, one part RPG and all part awesome. Throughout the game, the band will come across just the thing every punk band needs: tattoo artists. Razor blade and ball-point pen style ink may be fine for the amateur (Editor’s note: it’s not actually fine for anyone), but a real rock star needs a professional. That’s where these guys come in.

Internally (and cleverly) named “inker”, these permanent pen artists apply ink imbued with Anar-chi that provide their human canvas with new magical abilities. Simply put, this is how you learn new spells. Each band member starts out with one spell and must find 7 artists throughout the land to learn new spells for a total of 8 spells per band member.

James went over his development process to bring a character to life in his GDC Vampire Smile Postmortem but here I’d like to share it again from my point of view, as an artist user of James’ tools.

To create a new inker, like any new character, first we draw the pieces in Photoshop. Inkers are relatively simple, only having three head poses, a single torso and leg pose, two back arm poses and one front arm pose.

A player character, as seen below, has many more pieces.

The Photoshop drawing is saved as a .png file and brought into James’ sheet edit tool.
The sheet is flagged as Char, a character, and we are able to section off manually each part, or cell, as an individual rectangle with an origin point. As of today, there are about 374 sheets and 9626 cells that make up the game of Charlie Murder.

After a sheet is created, I can bring it into the animation tool and create a new animation file.

The inker only needs two animations, idle and ink. To put that in perspective, each band member has about 200 animations made up of around one thousand frames, and there are five playable band members. The frames can be added to animations as “keyframes,” where they are given duration (how long they play for), lerp (if a keyframe is interpolated to the next keyframe), and script, which tells the game to do something when the keyframe is played.

To make our lives slightly easier, it’s easy enough to create new skins for the same animation base. For the inker, we only had to animate once and redraw 6 new inkers over the old sheet. This only becomes a little complicated in the case of a change in dimensions such as inker 6 and 7 who have larger head cells. In this case, I drew new heads to the side, created a new cell selection and guessed on the point of origin. I checked it out in the animation and tweaked the origin point until the head looked right. Not exactly clean but it does the job.

After the animation is done and saved, the new character can be put into the game and our new inker is good to go. That, to me, is the real magic: seeing your work come to life in game.