I have been working on some tiles for this project today to help me define a more solid overall look of the game. The task for today will be to update the engine to support custom maps and these nice tiles. The water rendering is also coming along so I am hoping I can have these things integrated by tomorrow.
Also, something that I have rarely seen in a platform game is genuine AI companions that can join the player on their journey. I guess this is in part due to the fact that it can be hard to create an AI that can navigate and jump between platforms properly, however I have devised what could be a great solution to this problem.
My decision to follow a tile based map representation has led me to explore several things I like in games, and to see how they can be implemented in a tile based world, efficiently and robustly.
One of the things I have been experimenting with, and love seeing implemented, is a method for computing fast real time 2D shadows. Since I want to take Ninja Flare in a direction towards a ninja stealth game, shadows will be a very welcome addition to the game play. The image above shows the state of my progress in this area. The large outlined grey rectangle represents a conceptual viewing area and thus the limit of the distance of the shadows. In reality some shadow edges project beyond this area because I have not yet implemented any clipping. The yellow circle in the middle of this area represents the light source. The darkening of the shadowed regions was added afterwards in Photoshop only to help give me an idea of the accuracy of my results. In order to complete this method I will need to implement a fast triangle or quad filler to shade all the shadowed regions. This could be done in software if I stick with SDL, or a perhaps easier strategy is to use Direct3D to do the filling for me. One of the nice benefits of the method I came up with for computing these shadows is that it requires no pre-processing so it will react to any changes in the map structure.