Dark Souls 2 superior gameplay features.

BONFIRE ASCETIC
A bonfire ascetic allows you to revive the area boss and all enemies that might have despawned, but it raises the difficulty to the next new game. This allows you, for example, to obtain duplicates of a boss soul without having to play through the whole game again.

DS1
In DS1 the only way to repeat a boss fight was to finish the game and start a New Game cycle. To get all the boss weapons for a certain boss would require multiple play-throughs, a time commitment that not everyone can afford.
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SOUL VESSEL
A Souls Vessel allows you to re-assign levels points across the character abilities, thus avoiding the need for creating new characters to experiment with different builds.

DS1
Once you had committed your hardly earned souls to increase this or that character’s ability, that was it – in order to try a different build your only option was to start over with a new character.
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RING OF NAMES
A great way to make online match-making with a friend easy, perfectly integrated in the game world and lore.

DS1
Trying to co-op with a friend in DS1 was a random business, sometimes it worked right away, some other times you had to wait for ages and/or quit the game and restart it in order to be on the same server. Not to mention the possibility to be summoned by someone else in the meantime. A true pain in the neck.

DS3
Password system. More efficient, but immersion-breaking.
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SMALL SUMMON SIGN
This item single-handedly increases DS2 re-playability enormously by allowing co-op after the area boss has been defeated. You can set up mini-missions assisted by a friendly summon, to explore the area better, or collect loot that you’ve left behind in your first run of the area.

DS1
In DS1, once you defeated the boss, you could no longer engage in jolly cooperation in that area in your world. Until, of course, your next New Game.
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TOKEN OF FIDELITY
Using this item as a phantom will restore the master’s health, no matter how distant the master is from the phantom.
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COVENANT OF THE CHAMPIONS
An excellent, built in way, to raise the game’s difficulty level. As with the Ring of Names the designers have found an elegant way to integrate a difficulty-level setting into the game world, making it a covenant you can join and leave at any time. Added bonus, upon joining the covenant you receive a tablet that you can examine to check a leaderboard of the best ‘champions’ of the game.

DS1
There simply was no difficulty-level setting in DS1.
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COFFIN OF SEX CHANGE
In the Things Betwixt area a mysterious coffin can be found on the sandy shore of a subterranean lake, guarder by two big stinky ogres. Once you enter the coffin, your character will lay in it and after a few seconds he/she will come out of the coffin as a member of the opposite sex.

DS1
There was no way in DS1 to change your character’s sex once you committed to it during character creation.
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SOUL MEMORY
I know this is going to be very controversial, but I think Soul Memory (SM), although far from being a perfect way to measure a characters ‘powers’, is a better way to use than Soul Level.
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END OF GAME BOSS
Not forcing the player to restart the game after the final boss has been defeated.
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DE-SPAWNING ENEMIES

Give your pictures a ‘graphic novel’ style using Prisma filters – Part 1

Step 1 – Prisma

Prisma is a photo-editing application that utilizes a neural network and artificial intelligence to give an image an artistic effect. The results are surprisingly natural and resemble artworks created by humans.

Prisma is not the only app of its kind, but at the time of writing is one of the most popular, as it’s free and available for both iOS and Android.

Download and install the Prisma app onto your mobile device.

Step 2 – Square Canvas

As the starting point of this tutorial we are going to use a beautiful 3D illustration from CGI artist JC Cooper

morrigan2

Morrigu, by JC Cooper

Let’s start by making the image we want to process into a perfect square, as Prisma can only handle square images. Open the image in Photoshop choose Image > Canvas Size… then resize the canvas to 1080 x 1080 pixels.

resize_canvas

figure 1

We choose a resolution of 1080 x 1080 pixels because that’s Prisma’s output resolution.

After we click ‘OK’ our image should look like this:

image-a

Let’s refer to this image as image A. Now that image A is ready for the Prisma treatment, we save it as a .PNG and transfer it to our mobile device.

Step 3 – Processing in Prisma

Let’s open image A in Prisma. As the image is already square we can skip the cropping step. We process our image with the filters Tokyo and Curly Hair and save the results on the mobile device.

img_2067

figure 2

For the purpose of this tutorial we’ll call the image processed with Tokyo image B and the image processed with Curly Hair image C:

 

Image A = original image, 1080 x 1080.
Image B = image processed with Tokio.
Image C = image processed with Curly Hair.

Now we transfer images B and C back to the computer so that we can process them in Photoshop. This is where the fun begins!

Step 4 – Importing Prisma images in Photoshop

With image A open in Photoshop, select File > Place Embedded… and place the two images created in Prisma in separate layers. Rename the layers accordingly and stack B on top of A, and C on top of B (see figure 3).

a-b-c-layers

figure 3

Step 5 – The Dark Outline

Layer C will give our original image comic-style dark outlines and shadows, so let’s set its Blending Mode to “Multiply” and Opacity to 20%:

c-layer

figure 4

Step 6 – Flattened Colors

Layer B will provide a version of the image with flat-ish colors, which help achieve the graphic novel style we are looking for. We want to retain some of the details of the original version (image A) though so we are going to set Layer B’s Opacity to 60%:

b-layer

figure 5

Of course you can play around with the opacity of layer C and B and find just the right amount of dark outline and flattened colors you want your final image to have.

Also feel free to experiment with different Prisma filters, that you can use as your “B” layer to achieve a variety of different art styles.

Step 7 – Final Result

..and that’s it, at this point we should already be able to get a nice art style that resembles a hand-drawn illustration. Let’s take a look at the image before and after the treatment.

before-after-part1.png

In Part 2 we will take a look at how we can improve our illustration, by removing some of the greyness introduced by the Curly Hair filter and correcting some of the color shift introduced by the Tokyo filter.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and please feel free to leave feedback or ask any questions using the comments section below!

New website & blog

wordpressSo here we go, yesterday I launched my new website with revamped graphics (courtesy of the Newsworthy wordpress theme) and blog.
The keyword here being ‘blog’. As my previous website was made using Google Sites and lacked the ability to have a proper blog. Actually it is possible to post blog-entries in a website made with Google Sites but users are not allowed to comment it unless you specifically add an user as an editor – go figure.  I think feedback is one of the most powerful feature of any blog, so I rolled back my sleeves and ‘ported’ the content of my Google Site to WordPress, I hope you like it.

Starling Resources

ImageIn the past few weeks I have been busy updating my knowledge of ActionScript 3.0 focusing in particular on the ability to export ‘Flash’ games to mobile platforms. This has inevitably led me to find Starling,  an amazing free framework developed by Gamua that leverages the power of Stage 3D and GPU rendering.

Starling is, not surprisingly, supported by Adobe themselves and boasts an active and helpful community (which is a very important factor when it comes to pick a 3rd party framework!).

Here’s a handy list of links to learning resources as well as Starling related tools, so that you don’t have to do the dirty work yourself 🙂 

 VIDEO TUTORIALS 

 DOCUMENTATION 

TOOLS

EXTENSIONS 

► Feathers UI
Light-weight, skinnable, and extensible UI components for mobile and desktop.

Sound AS – Lightweight Soundmanager

► Dynamic texture atlas generator
Allows on-the-fly creation of texture atlases and bitmap fonts using  (vector) Flash .swc libraries.

Particle System