Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Professional 8 Game Graphics. While it
s several versions behind
now, it is still a great resource for learning how to design efficient
artwork for use inside Flash.
Flash supports both vector and raster (bitmap) artworks. Each
has its advantages and disadvantages in game development. Vector
graphics are resizable without any quality loss, have usually much
lower file size than raster, and they can be manipulated over the
timeline to create seamless (if rather time-consuming) animations
on the level of professional cartoons. However, vectors can be
notoriously heavy on the CPU in large numbers or when used in
large objects. Vector artwork is usually best created directly inside
Flash though it can be done in a tool such as Adobe Illustrator.
The upside of the first option is that Flash will automatically opti-
mize vectors as they are drawn to use the least number of points
possible. In a program like Illustrator where accuracy and pixel-
perfect quality are valued over optimization, art tends to end up
with bulkier vectors that must be cleaned up after they are
imported into Flash. If you are working on a project with all vector
artwork, less points translate to faster rendering and lower file size.
Most everyone will be familiar with and has used raster images,
even if all you
'
s wall-
paper. They have few advantages over vectors. First, they offer
photorealism on a level that would not be possible without overly
complex vector shapes. Many different art programs, including
most 3D software, will render out images, where only a few will
generate Flash-compatible vector files. They are also much less
intense to render to the screen as Flash considers them on the
level of complexity of a vector rectangle. They are not without their
drawbacks, unfortunately. Raster images become exponentially
heavy in file size as they increase in pixel size and cannot be
resized inside Flash without a certain level of quality loss. Also,
images with transparency are more taxing on the Flash renderer
than ones without.
At this point, you may be saying
'
ve ever done is use them as your computer
'
So, neither one is a clear win-
ner. Which one should I use?
Once again, like library organization
preferences, this is usually dictated by the project. There is no single
right choice that will work across the board; very rarely I will use all
one or the other. That said, I lean more heavily on raster images
than I do vector when it comes to game development. Many games
rely on the ability to render objects to the screen quickly to maintain
a sense of excitement, and a significant number of detailed vectors
will slow things down too much. As a general rule, the art for games
I work on is usually about 80% raster and 20% vector. Characters,
backgrounds, particle effects, etc. are all raster. Menus, in-game dis-
plays, and of course any text are vector.
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