Reflective journal By Jamie Groucutt

Journal Entry 1

(Week 1) Date 06/03/2017

. Started group project with fellow student Mark Jackson. We have decided that I will focus on the artwork and he will do the programming. We will be making a 2d platform game on the Unreal Engine.

. Mark and I have decided on 3 different art themes where our the game can take place in, them themes being steampunk, horror and medieval/fantasy. Right now we are leaning more towards medieval/fantasy because we see it as the easiest way to make the game. There are a few games we have looked at with these themes the first one being "FINAL FANTASY VI" for steampunk, then we looked at the horror game "Distraint" and finally looked at the "Dragon rage" for medieval/fantasy.

After looking at these examples we started to discuss which one one of these themes would be our theme. I really wanted it to be horror but mark has problems with making light effects in the unreal engine, and mark really wanted it to have a steampunk theme but I didn't like this because i thought it would take too much time to make a steampunk game, due to it's complex art style. So we decided to make the game medieval/fantasy as it was the middle-ground we were both happy with.

Date 02/07/2017

Journal Entry 2

After we finally decided what theme the game was going to have, we also decided it would be a pixel game. This lead us to looking at medieval/fantasy games which have been successful/well perceived in the past. The two games we kept coming back to were "Ghost 'n Goblins" and "Shovel Knight" because they are both greatly admired games and commercial successes. Also i have played both of them in the past and have enjoyed their game-play immensely. So this lead us to using these games as our main inspirations for our own.

We then discussed the demographic for our game by looking at what type of people play "Ghost 'n Goblins" and "Shovel Knight". After researching this we found out the people that seem'd to be playing these games were people who use to play the games similar to these on their consoles which would now be considered retro. Consoles like the "Snes" and the "Sega Saturn". The age range of these people tend to be late 20's to early 40's. Not to say these types of games are only meant for an older audience, quite the opposite actually. These games are made for children but many people who played these games as children are now grown up, they love these game because they give them a sense of nostalgia. This is seen in retro game collectors. People who go out of there way to find old games that have been out of production for many years. There are a lot of people who do this you can find on YouTube a few Examples of these channels are AlphaOmegaSin, MetalJesusRocks, Lord Karnage and Cinemassacre. These people all happen to be male and around the age i gave as an example previously.

Shovel knight has a larger audience then most retro games because while it is designed to look like a retro game, it's designed to run as good as a modern game. This gives it the audience of people who play retro games plus many more who enjoy fun platform games. It is also a highly respected game from both fans and critics with an 85 on meta-critic. Which increase the potential audience to people who just like highly rated games.

I started making a plan for the things i want make for the game up to the Easter holiday, by setting a main goal i want to achieve each week with. Other small goals that that i want to which can be achieved at any point leading up to the holiday.

Journal Entry 3

Date 08/03/2017

After finding our inspirations i started sketching out the main character and basic enemie designs in my A3 sketchbook. I decided our game would have enemies that are almost like shadows sought of like the urban legends about shadow people. However they are not shadows in-themselves they are beings made of a dark energy with makes them completely black thus making them invisible in the dark with there only visible feature being their eyes. The main character will be a heroic knight, It might be a little generic but we thought it would be very fitting for the short story of the game we have staring making. I made three sketches for the knight but i leaned towards the first design over the other 2.

Knight Sketch-work
Knight and enemy inspiration

We then discussed our thoughts on the game and decided the name of the fictional continent the game takes place in, is going to be called Rollgavia. This is also going to be the name of the game itself. Then we decided the game's main enemies will be called the tainted (the shadow people) and will come from a portal opened up by an unknown reason, the inspiration for this idea was from the film the mist. They will not be the only enemies type of enemies in the game but they will be the biggest threat.

After this i made a mood-board for our game which includes different ideas for game-play mechanics, enemies, character designs, environments and weaponry. By doing this we figured out the first location of our game will be an enchanted forest infected by the tainted. And i drew a couple of weapons the main character could use.

. After finishing my sketch work I started designing the main protagonist for the game, by laying out his sprite sheet and starting with his idle animation. I have increased the size of the sprite size (32 by 32 pixels) by two from my previous attempt at pixel art so I can make him more detailed than my previous pixel art.

Journal Entry 4

Date 10/03/2017

. After looking at my pixel knight again I decided to change his color pallet to blue and grey rather than green and grey because the green would have very bad color contrast to the first location the game is going to be set in (an Enchanted Forest.) After this i made a simple walking animation sprite sheet that will probably be improved on in the future.

. Started making the level design for the first level using simple blocks and different shapes to resemble things like spikes pickups and enemies. I replayed the levels in the first section of Shovel knight to help me, with the basic design to have a better understanding of how to make a fluent level.

. Just finished making the design for the simple flying enemies in the game i have drawn a shadow bat and a normal one but have still not decided on which one will actually be in the game. Later in the day after college I asked 6 of my friends online and 4 of them thought it would be best to go with the shadow bat, so I agreed with the majority and choose the shadow bat.

Flying enemy (bat) Sketch-work

I started making the grass and dirt textures for the game that will be the main textures for the starting area of the game, but more may be added for decoration later on. I found an unknown game with quite good stylized textures which i used as inspiration. After doing a google image search on the image i still couldn't find anything that shows what game the image belonged too. So i checked a forum that had the image on and it had people talking about how they wanted all these pieces of art work to be actual games and this image was one of them. So I came to the conclusion that the image was not a game but just some artwork somebody had done. However after finding this out I could still not find the origin of this images. This is link for the forum i found. I really liked how my textures turned out and thought they were pretty good and would fit perfectly into the game.

Texture Inspiration
My Textures

Journal Entry 5

(Week 2) Date 13/03/2017

I decided to add trees to the background to make the game fell more alive. I started with a few sketches to help me with my designs and after looking at a tutorial on how to make a pixel art tree on Pinterest I followed it but with my own design added as well and made my pixel tree design. I also made another deign for a tree which is heavily inspired by the trees you will find in the first section of "Shovel Knight".

Tree Sketches
My tree sprite

. Started making the sprite for the tree boss who will be at the end of the enchanted forest section of the game. I have made his mouth animation and made two color variations with the second one before my preferred choice. He was inspired by the tree boss from "Kirby's Dreamland".

First boss designs

. After a discussion with Mark we have decided the name for the main character "Amadeus" and talked about his backstory and why he is alone travelling across the continent. We looked at Latin and old English names to come up with the name for our character.

Journal Entry 6

(Week 2) Date 14/03/2017

Finished making the jump and attack sprites for the main character, and also finished making the walk and idle animation for the enemy sprite. I used the sprite sheets from shovel knight to help me make my first few sprites and then I used my knowledge from previous monster designs to help do the enemies sprites.

Main character and enemy sprites

Started doing the 2nd level for the game using the same method i did for the first level. However i did also include a new symbol that represents strong enemies both flying and land based. These enemies were just a thought at the time and will be designed at later time.

Journal Entry 7

Date 15.03.2017

I have started making the sketches for the strong enemies in the game. I drew 4 different designs each one was inspired from different illustrations i found. I had trouble deciding which one was best suited for the game so i asked mark which one he prefers, he said "the third one". While it was not my personnel favorite I accepted his decision.

Large enemy sketch-work

Having made the bat enemy based on my sketches I created a simple flying animation by looking at different example of bat animations. Plus i have also made the strong enemy based of my design in the sketchbook. The animation worked very well making the enemies fly quite smoothly even though the animation only had two frames.

i have made basic designs for spikes and vines that will be used in the game however these are most likely place holders as they don't fit that well into the look we are going for in the game. They will most likely be completely re-designed because they don't fit into the game at all.

I really didn't like how the spikes looked so after i made them in Photoshop I decided to draw a few sketches for different designs for the spikes. I ended up with 4 sketches however the original (the first sketch) ended up being my favorite out the bunch.

Spike Sketch work

Journal Entry 8

(Week 3) Date 20.03.2017

Have finished making the first 2 level templates in Photoshop, which were made with 64 bit by 64 bit blocks and both based on the layout I have previously drawn in my A3 Sketchbook.

Have finished drawing the template for the final level of the woodland area (level 3) in my A3 sketchbook and will start making it in Photoshop soon.

After deciding we needed a strong flying enemies for our game i got the head of a dragon from one my designs from my previous assignment (Tower Defense Game). After getting the dragon head i turned the spikes on top of his head and made it into wings so it would act as one of our flying enemies. This design was made without any inspiration. I was just drawing random things to try and get better at drawing pixel based enemies and i ended up with this dragon head design. I really liked how it looked so i colored it in and made 3 other heads so i could make a simple flip-book animation. This also turned out really well i think, with the animation being smooth and not looking forced/jagged. So after adding the wings to the dragons heads i made a new flip-book animation but this time with the new design. This worked out just as good as the previous animation with it being very smooth and free flowing.

After finishing the animation of the new dragon design i started thinking of how he would attack. I settled on a simple fireball. I looked for at various examples from many games but ended up taking my main inspiration for the fireball from "Mario". The fireball animation was created with 4 different sequences for the fire ball with each one getting longer than the last by leaving fragments of fire trailing behind them. After making this I put it into the unreal engine to put into a flip-book to see the end result. While it wasn't as good as it wished it was it was still quite good. And if i get some spare time i will probably revisit it in the future.

Journal Entry 9

Date 24/03/2017

I have started to design the last level in the game demo (level 3) in my A3 sketchbook. This level will be designed different from the others due too it being the level where the boss is located. So I've had too design the game level around him. Also today i have made a climbing sprite and a knock-back sprite for the main character. This was done where most my artwork for this game has been made, on Photoshop.

Journal Entry 10

(Week 4) Date 28/03/2017

I've decided that I will be doing the music for the game mostly by myself but mark might help me. I will make the songs on a free online music making website called SoundTrap. This will be my first time using the software so I might take a little while getting used to how it works. After a few hours of playing around on the software i have made 2 demo songs that will be improved at a later date.

After messing with some of my designs by changing their color schemes to see if i can make some variations of my enemies i really liked one of the color variants i made for my flying dragon head. Instead of being mostly made up of different shades of green and pink i changed the main colors to different shades of blue and grey. Also to make the design stand out even more i added multiple horns on top of his head.

After doing this i then decided it would only be fitting to change the color of the fireball to a blue to match the new design for the flying dragon head. This idea came up after looking at Will-o'-the-wisp's. Which was sparked from me remembering them in the "Bethesda Softworks" game "Oblivion".

After seeing how my textures looked really unnatural with everyone of them being a perfect square. I decided i would do a few alternative textures by rounding of the edges of them so they don't look so jagged. I done five of these new smooth edged textures, one for each corner and one with all rounded corners that will be used as a floating or sustained block. These turned out to be a great idea as they made the game look a lot more smooth and feel a lot more easier to follow.

Journal Entry 11

(Week 5) Date 03/04/2017

I've added a bit more to the 2nd instrumental within in the game making it more chaotic which will hopefully make the game feel more intense. The song is quite repetitive at parts and isn't very complex. I might try to improve this because while it does sound decent it feels as if it is lacking something that could make it great rather than an average instrumental.

The Song I made on Soundtrap

Journal Entry 12

(Week 6) Date 12/04/2017

I've made and designed the ladders for the game after looking at examples of ladders with vegetation grown other them. This is due to the first set of levels being set in an enchanted forest and i wanted to make the ladders fit the theme of the levels. I also decided to cut pieces out of the ladders to show how old and decayed they have become after years of being abandoned.

Journal Entry 13

(Week 8) Date 26/04/2017

I've started making the pickups for the game, starting with a cherry that gives you a small health boost (25% boost in health) and a melon that gives you a large health boost (50% boost in health) I made these by finding reference images of pixel fruit on google images and using the same template to start with but then changing them and altering the way they look so they fit my game more and also so that they become my own. I would like to make my own templates for my artwork but time is scarce and I still need to practice on my pixel art skills so i can do that but also work efficiently at the same time. Working towards this idea i made a tainted fruit that will work as speed boost (25% increase in speed) but also lowers the maximum amount of health you can have by 1/4. But this fruit was made from my own template rather than being someone else's work i have altered/changed. I will try to do this in the future however i require a lot more practice and understanding of pixel art to make this a reality.

Another pick up I've made is a coin which will act as the currency in the game which can be used to purchase new armor sets, weaponry, food and potions. This list might increase if we decide to add a building aspect to the game but that seems like it won't happen as of right now. The coin was made the same way as i made my first fruit pickups with me using a reference image to make my template then altering the image so i can make it my own. The image I used was from a website called and the creator of the artwork was called Rene Hernández. Due to how i wanted the coin to look i kept the same template but redesigned the image on the coin and changed the colors. After this I decided to make a chest for the game which was also made the same way as the first fruit pickup. With it being a template from some else's work that i have redesigned. I think both the coin and chest animations look good but to make them stand out a little more I might try to make them look like they shine during the animation.

Journal Entry 14

(Week 8) Date 30/04/2017

Today i have made spikes. The spikes where inspired by the wooden spikes you will find in survival games like the forest because i felt it fit the theme of the levels quite well. Even though i like the color scheme i have made for them it might need to be changed in the game if it causes any visual confusion with the background. I made 2 rows of wooden spikes to be placed down it spots of the game to block the characters path or just be used as an obstacle for the player to maneuver around. These spikes were inspired from the cheval de frise a defensive anti-cavalry measure made in medieval times. The spikes ended up looking very fitting in the game and gave it a sense of danger with them being spread out in large areas.

Journal Entry 15

(Week 9) Date 5/05/2017

Have started making some decorations for the game because people having been calling it bland (mostly mark) and I wish to change this. I have started today by creating a short animation of a enchanted dogs head on a spike bleeding. This wasn't really inspired by anything I was just sketching random things and I ended up with that.

Dog's head on a spike sprite sheet

After revisiting my level design i saw the was areas of the map where the character seemed to go underground but the textures i had in the game didn't show this so i decided that i needed to make an underground texture. More specifically i decided to make 2 new textures an underground texture that would act as a wall that decorations could be placed on in the near future and a almost cave like ceiling texture that would act as the block that connects the solid blocks to the underground areas. The walls were made by using the same color pallet from the underground section of the image i used to help me with my textures. The cave ceiling texture was made after looking at the Stalactite (a type of formation that hangs from the ceiling of caves).


My Dirt Ceiling and Wall Textures

Journal Entry 16

(Week 10) Date 10/05/2017

I decided to make arrow packs for the game, I started with 3 sketches. I choose the second sketch and made 2 ammo packs for the game. I made one big and one small both based of arrow quivers. These were both drawn with my wacom tablet on Photoshop. They took around 20 minutes to make because i was stuck on deciding what color pallet i wanted to use.

Ammo pack sprites
Sketches of ammo packs

Journal 17

(Week 11) Date 15/05/2017

After deciding we needed a another enemie in the the game. I decided it should be based of a spider. To see how spiders walk I looked at a pixel and 3d animation of a spider walking to see how i was going to make my sprite sheet the the spider. I first started by looking at the an example of a pixel spider animation. I found this on Reddit page using this link The next example I used was an 3D animation i found on YouTube. Here is the link for that one. After looking after both of these i started making my own pixel spider animation.

After deciding we needed some sought of decoration that would be placed on the wall. I started looking into what we should have. Due to me wanting to fit the decoration in one block i settled with a normal human skeleton even though i originally i wanted a dragon skeleton instead, but due to time and size constraints this idea was thrown out. After looking at images of human skeletons to help me design this decoration i started making it and was quite happy with the result even though it looked more like a dwarf than a regular human, but then again that did seem fitting to our fantasy theme. After this i added a darker shade of the color to the cave wall behind the skeleton to make it look like the skeleton had been rotting and tainted the soil around it. This effect looked really good and made the decoration stand out a lot more than it originally did.

One of the skeleton images i used to help with my design
The skeleton decoration in the cave wall

(Week 12) Date 22/05/2017

I've added a movable block that will be used in simple puzzles throughout the first act of the game. They will be physics based, with the main player pushing them off blocks to land on pressure plates that will open doors. The main inspiration for this idea was the physics based puzzles from the game "Q.U.B.E", which is a first person puzzle game similar to "Portal 2". The design for the cube was also helped by the chiseled stone blocks in Minecraft. The end result worked quite well and fit into the game quite nicely. I did have a few sketches for these blocks, but they were never used.

Moveable Block Sketches

In then simply inverted the colors on the move-able block to see how it would look, and i was pleasantly surprised. The new color pallet made the block stand out a lot more. In-fact it stood out so much i didn't fit into the first act of the game at all. This block might be used in a later act of the game, if it fits in.

(Week 13) Date 29/05/2017

After looking at a tutorial on making a flag animation through Pinterest i decided it was finally time to design the finishing flag for the game levels. The flag animation has seven different sequences with the eventual motion being a flag swinging in the wind. Due to me following the tutorial step by step the flag I made was a complete copy with the only difference being their sizes. So after recognizing this i redesigned the flag by completely changing the ornament on top of the flag pole. I also completely changed the color pallet from purple and blue to yellow and brown. This gave the flag a nice bronze look to it. This, i feel made the flag look a lot better than it's original design. Like the moveable block I had alternate designs for the flags in the form of sketch-work but there were never used.

Flag Sketches
Flag Sprites blue and purple
Flag Sprites Bronze and Silver

(Week 14) Date 7/06/2017

Overview Of Our Game/Evaluation

Deciding The Theme Of The Game

My research begun with me and Mark deciding what type of game we wanted to play. We talked about what themes and play-style we should have. We settled on a 2d scroller as we both had worked on one before. We researched 3 games one for each theme we were contemplating we should have in our game. The themes being horror, steampunk and medieval/fantasy. We decided on Medieval/fantasy and then begun making the game.

The Inspiration For The Game

After finding our theme I looked at 2 of the most popular games in that theme, them games being "Ghost'n Goblins" and "Shovel Knight". I choose these games for the popularity and play style. Plus i had played both of these games in the past and enjoyed them, so I saw it was only fitting for our main inspiration to come from these two games. While we took more inspiration from "Shovel Knight" we did also take a few elements from "Ghost'n Goblins".

Making the Enemies

I then when on about researching different monsters and urban legends to see what monsters i would want to make for our game. I thought about reading some creepypastas (online horror stories) to get some inspiration however i ended looking up an urban legend on shadow people and really liked the idea of the enemies being shadows so i made the main enemies in the game shadow beings/monsters. I would later make 3 different enemies based on this urban legend, the generic weak enemies, a weak shadow bat and a strong shadow monster even though it wasn't implemented into the game. The first shadow monster (the weak enemies) was made without any concept art however the next two were made with this in mind. The bat had two designs one normal the other the shadow form. But after consulting with a few of my friends i settled on the shadow bat. This was the same with the strong shadow monster with me coming up with 4 different designs but instead of having a few people to ask I only asked mark and choose the 3rd monster.

I would then get one of my previous designs from a game i was working on before. This was because i needed to make a stronger flying enemies for the game that would have a downwards attack. This design was a floating dragons head, but because I didn't want it to float I changed it's horns into wings. After this I started working on the fireball sprite sheet that would be the main and probably only attack for the flying dragon head. The fireball was mainly inspired from the Mario fireball attack from the older Mario games. However later on I did a new design for this enemy by changing his colors from green and pink to grey and blue and adding horns on top of his head. I then also changed the fire balls color to blue after getting the idea from will-o-wisp's.

The final enemies i designed for the game were giant spiders. These enemies were heavily inspired from a cartoon spider i found on google images. The first design i made was not to my liking so i later completely changed it after looking at spider animation tutorials and videos. However Due to this being the last thing i made for the game it was sadly never completely finished, thus not being implemented into the game. The basic design for the animation was done but due to me changing it half way through, I didn't make enough sprites for a walk animation without out it looking jagged.

Creating the textures for the game

I didn't get to do as much textures as i wanted due to lack of time. I made the basic textures for the game (the grass and dirt) but i wanted to add more like rocky surfaces and water based textures but due to time constraints and Mark asking for all these different things he wanted in the game i didn't get around to making them. I did also plan on making the next act based on a giant abandoned castle which would've helped me make some interesting textures but this never came to be. While I'm disappointed with the amount of textures i made for the game i'm rather happy about the quality of those i have made. The textures take longer to make than most of sprites, this was probably because i had to make them symmetrical with each other so they didn't look poor quality.

Tropes Of Our Game

Mechanics Tropes: Health Pickups, Stat changing pick ups, Chest's that generate loot, Slight ability to control character while falling, Traps that instantly kill the player, Player only has a single jump,

Aesthetic Mechanics: Medieval Fantasy Setting, Skeleton remains scattered throughout the world,


While making pretty much all of my work i used Photoshop for everything that I've made for the game. While using Photoshop i used most of the tools at my disposal. From everything to the painting tool to the eye-drop and crop tool. Like i said the software i used was quite limited to Photoshop but I also did you other software for different aspects of the game. For example I used a website called Sound-trap to make the music for the game, and used a free trial to make the music for the game. I mostly only used the drums and guitar on the website to make the music. The only other software that comes to mind is the Unreal Engine. Even though i'm making the artwork for the game i used this website to test out my sprite sheets by creating a flip-book to see if the animation i made was smooth enough to be put into the game.

Market Research

For our market research we looked into games we wanted to use as our main inspiration and see their sales figures and reviews by both critics and players. This was easily done for the game "Shovel Knight" by going on the steam charts for the game and seeing the amount of purchases the game had and how many people were actually still playing it. By doing this i saw the audience for the game had greatly reduced. This is to be expected with games like this one because while they are fun to play through, there aren't much reasons to replay the game once it's been completed. Due to this the only times i can see this game and games similar to it spiking in concurrent users is when it's on sale or at release. Also the reason why the amount of players spiked in April was due to an update to the game which included free content. We also went to the steam page for the game and saw how the game was reviewed by thousands of people who bought their game, and get their take on the game. After this we looked at the reviews by critics, on websites like Meta-critic and Euro-gamer. The reviews were mostly positive, which critics and gamer's alike praising the game for bringing 2d platformers back into the mainstream.

Created By
jamie groucutt

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