Friday, August 4, 2017

Soko Banish 1.4 - Ruin Improvement

Soko Banish 1.4 development is officially underway! It's actually been underway for a bit now, but not officially, so you may have been forgiven for thinking that it was still overway. So what's on the horizon for everyone's favourite Sokoban clone? And more importantly, what's happening with Soko Banish?

Pimp my vault.
Well, quite a lot, actually, but let's focus on the one aspect that immediately sticks out for now: graphics! As I've hinted at before, Soko Banish has been long overdue for a complete visual overhaul and it looks like it's finally happening as I purge the mediocrity of 2006 from the realm of Sokobania and replace it with the newest in bush league Photoshop dorkery.

Two concerns come to mind here. The first is obvious: making the game look presentable and in line with the new interface graphics. The trickier part, however, is how to keep it looking like Soko Banish at the same time. The new graphics are admittedly a forced change - one that I feel is for the better, but also one where I'm giving players of previous versions as little choice as a kid being made to eat broccoli if the broccoli consisted of delicious true colour pixels.

This is the second worst
position to be in.
So what exactly does that entail? Keeping the illogical Boulder Dash perspective was a big part. Keeping the decorations in their essence, the basic designs of objects, the main character as an unimaginative green ball. Trying to find a way to keep the ghosts as budget Medusa Head wannabes but still worthy of the upgraded McRuins they haunt. Some graphics were painted over from their original sprites, others used their old appearances as a close reference. Wheels now look like proper spinny crank thingies. Cauldrons used actual cauldrons for reference, but hey, that's what they were intended to be in the first place.

There was one instance where I defied this, and that was the arcane orb. While there wasn't much of a problem with blue balls, it certainly wasn't one of my brightest ideas to make the insta-kill hazards essentially the same thing as what you're trying to push around. "Push the blue spheres onto goals but avoid the blue spheres" is not the clearest set of instructions I could imagine, hence I put my creativity to good use and reimagined the boring old blue balls as flashy new purple balls. Because who doesn't like those? Ardos, that's who. Because they kill him.

Haven't tried Soko Banish yet? Check out the current version here.

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