Designing the menu!

Previously, I had made a game logo and menu. This was the menu I intended to use in the game.


The game logo was created on the second day I started this game project. At the bottom right of the picture below is a sample of cold colours I wanted the logo to take after. I wanted this cold, lonely feeling.
And these were going to be the actual buttons I was going to use in the game:

Notice that I simply painted the buttons’ background the same shade of grey as the menu’s, because I did not have any software with transparency and just made them the same colour to give the illusion that the buttons were actually transparent! Hahas

I was going to keep things the way it was.

Until I was told that my menu was very plain. Li Hao showed me several menu designs and indeed, some of them were really inspiring. I saved the designs in my powerpoint slide. (I keep a PPT slide and notepad with important details about the game.) I looked through the main menu designs used in other games and realised I had to think A LOT about how to make a good menu. I also realised from the “UP your service” program I went a week ago, that a service has several perception points. For example, a restaurant can be judged by its exterior looks and even the ambience, cleanliness and looks can affect the customers’ impression of a restaurant before they even taste the food!

I think maybe it is the same for a game … these little perception points like the design of the main menu probably count too. I will need to dedicate more time and effort into designing the main menu. I actually have something now. I took a few hours of my sleep to make this.

Don’t look down on this seemingly simple menu. Simply drawing the buttons correctly took me about an hour, although I admit I should have done a better job with the buttons like perhaps adding a texture or design. The background image is something I drew 3 months ago for the pure purpose of expression. For your info, this game started 3 weeks ago. So here is a fun fact for you. COINCIDENTALLY, 3 months ago when I was wondering what size to make the picture, I randomly decided on 640 x 480 pixels. Guess what? My game is EXACTLY 640 x 480! I don’t know what sorcery this is but it is really PURELY COINCIDENTAL that this picture I made months ago is actually the SAME SIZE as the game I am making now! Did I have some sort of mystical prediction that months later I would be using the picture I was going to draw? 640 x 480 is one of the more common game resolutions, but it is not fixed. How coincidental that I went to use such a resolution.
Having the background readily for use did make life easier for me, but there was still work to do. I realised that the menu was simply too dead. The stars were not twinkling and well…the grass is just motionless.
I don’t plan to do anything about the grass yet, but the stars are something I can get to work. I went back to the original picture and removed all the stars from the sky until it was just the moon left. Then I re-created the stars in photoshop (YAY ME, first time using photoshop to actually create something!). I feel like I learnt more in 3 weeks of holiday than 3 weeks of school. First Flash, then Flixel and now I shall try to learn some Photoshop. How funny. Anyway, after trying to learn the really REALLY basic tools in photoshop, I made 4 frames of the stars twinkling. I made a SmallStar, MediumStar1, MediumStar2, and BigStar.
So I had four different types of stars of varying sizes. (The two medium stars have different animations). Then I coded the menu to draw a random type of star at a random place. I also expected the stars to all twinkle at the exact same timing because they are created at the same time, so I also made them twinkle at random rates. This is the reason why I did not fuse the stars onto the background and make 4 backgrounds sprites because the stars would all twinkle at the same time and look fake! Lastly, I made sure the star does not spawn over the grass, the buttons or the moon!
I am very impressed with the results, though I think having accomplished only this today makes me feel a little unproductive actually. I returned to playing games awhile today. I can’t wait to show this to Li Hao tomorrow and see what he thinks about it! Hopefully it shouldn’t be too disappointing because he has seen the background picture before >< and he probably expected me to use it as a menu already. Knowing him he would probably be feeling it was "expected“.
Reflections

Three weeks of my holidays have passed. I briefly reflect on the last 3 weeks. It has been rather great at times, but toward the end of this week, I feel slightly solemn, wishing that I could enjoy it better.

But never mind that. The end of the holiday means that I have to go back to school soon and Major Project is something we will be working on for the next three months.

That means for three months I won’t be able to work on my project as much 😦

This is very sad for me as I wanted to complete this project as early as possible without sacrificing any quality. Sadly, with Major Project in the way, I might have to delay the project and wait more than three months to complete the game, and I think it is likely that it will drag the time needed to over four months because I expect a really busy and stressful life when school starts. I will hardly have time to work on the game anymore. Argh!

When I wake up later, it will be a Sunday, and it will be the last day of my holidays. On 2 July, school starts. Major project starts…

I guess…it’s time to really do as much as possible tomorrow before I lose the chance to work on it as much as I can now…

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