StarOde : NES style, pixel art, grind heavy RPG (indev 7%)


Rough look at part of design process for battle screen. I looked a bunch of different versions of battle screens in the old RPGs of this style, and did a dozen rough sketches like below, which is the style I’ll be using. There will be some extra context based information you’ll be able to see when you go deeper into the menus. Every time it’s one or more of your character’s turn to make an action you get this screen again, but don’t have the flow for that exactly down yet… I’ll probably move the characters a little to the right and then have an arrow next to the character whose turn it currently is. The space to the right of the HP that is open is eventually mean for status effect icons.

Testing spacing and sizes based on concept. This is not in engine yet.


For large enemy sprites.

Constrained 4:3 screen width is 256px.
256/8 = 32

Small = 32
Medium = 64
Large = 128
Mega = 256

Then can have battles with a mix of sizes. Up to 6 small mobs, one large and two medium, 1 large 4 small …

Can still vary power level on sizes based on height. Assume a small that is also short (like the blue mob thing in previous concept) is very weak.

When there are multiple of the same enemy when you go to attack it will only give you an option to attack the left most one for more simple combat. Some games do this, such as DQ3 on GBC

I could give some of the mobs simple animations, but I don’t want to use Spine to do it, so it would have to be hand made sprite frames + some hand coded movement. DQ3 has these and it’s really nice. Playing it and other games again to take notes. Many of the details are really good and make it a polished game.

One detail of the things that happen in some RPGs is your party members follow you around. Going to test that out in this game.

Some more work on this but still just testing ideas slowly

In NES games, they often had black screens due to texture limitations with large set pieces or mobs, but it had a side effect of making some things feel more epic.


I’ve considered using Konami VRC6 chip for some extra audio features; however, it may be better to make music with the fewer channels first. I’ll keep testing and learning. Gone through most visible tutorials and listened to what many people have to say about this topic already.

Today I’ve been studying famitracker more and practicing. Still need much more dedicated practice and full understanding of the program and techniques.

Studying some music found here:

There is a version of Famitracker that allows importing of NSF files and then saving as FTM, which means it’s possible to see the source of how music is made, and learn how techniques work by isolating one channel at a time. There are tons of tricks done that are like a toolkit, but fundamentals still must be understood and practiced. I’ll try to make best music and sfx with this as I can with limited time.

1 main theme
3 battle
3 overworld

Listen to this!


Superinteresting read and progress!
Keep on doing what you do :slight_smile:


Starting rough concept for over world map screen. Not sure yet all of the information I want on there. The bars below the HP at the top left are for XP. People like progress bars, and seeing a visual representation showing if one of your units is about to level up is important as a carrot to make people want to play a little more. Maybe top right basic currency and below it special currency, and have special currency be what is dropped if you die/run. I think if you run from combat it’s not as simple as returning to the spot where you were like in other RPGs of the era, but have it so that you return to the starting tile of the zone.

I want to support mobile, and have options for click/touch to move (so even on PC with mouse / mobile with touch can move easily) and also add ability to enable on screen NES gamepad buttons.

Bottom panel could have easy access buttons / and the panel could slide in / out if needed. Warp would allow them to return to the main activity screen and be able to move to other areas quickly.

Arrows which hug edges of screens which could show markers for nearby exist / bosses / waypoints / places of interest / death points maybe.


I’m going to pay for good text translations when the time comes for it. My priority is:


Any text in English will use special made font, the rest will use any good pixel font I can find as I don’t want to spend too much time on making glyphs!

I may do others too as text should not be too costly to do for each. Game just needs high quality text translations by people who understand games and can make everything fit well.

I will have to find some pixel fonts which work for these languages.

Korean is pretty easy, but Chinese and Japanese pixel fonts are more complex.

I found this one which may work (supports traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, and Japanese), but would require changing layouts slightly to fit the glyph size, which is 12px each. It’s not free, but price is fair for what it is - translations and localization costs for single languages alone can get very expensive.

Here is test with normal font and pixel font in photoshop

I’m not super sure about process of getting this to work with Defold yet. extra_characters ignores any kanji I put into it. If I put all_chars to true it creates a file with a ton of white space.

I do plan to scan the locale text and only include the glyphs from the font I need.


Ouch, that sounds like a bug, or something is strange with the font. Is it the zpix-pixel-font you get the white space with? I’ll see if I can find something.

Update: I’m not sure why, but when I look at the font in OS X Font Book app it also seems empty:


I assume because of some encoding issues somewhere. Although I have not tested other east asian fonts yet to tell if it’s an error with this font…

I’ve been thinking about a name for this project, and decided to use one that I’ve been holding onto for a while to use on a project. This game will be called StarOde (and maybe later can make other projects with same IP). Ode as in a poem meant to be sung. Adventure! Space Magic! Fun! Even have the .com but there’s nothing on there yet.

Initial logo, but I will still clean it up and make it fancy. The process of making its initial pixel form is very rough. Just import shrunk image of the larger vector logo, then make it a solid color, and then clean it up slightly. I’ll clean up, fix shapes, and add nice details over time.

I want to make a nice intro for the game eventually too. If you start game and don’t press any button it would show initial credits, some transitions into a logo, and then begin to go into some background lore (zelda lttp style).


Main work has to take priority so can only do so much a day… this next weekend I’d like to focus fully on this project though.

Small update to the Start menu screen

Wireframe for what I’ll call for now the Nexus menu screen

The […] button goes to the config screen. The [<-] button would return to previous screen.

If user stays idle long enough on the Start screen it would repeat the intro sequence.

If user is on mobile they would rarely see these screens after the first time unless they want to play another game slot.

Game would autosave constantly for user. I want to look into how Defold does saving under the hood and make sure there is enough going on there to guarantee saves are well handled and maybe modify system so I can save backups.


I tested another font - YS handy writing - and it does appear to work better. It’s good to know most likely with other projects this will be a non-issue. Just with this specific pixel font something is wrong…

I’ll have to look at this again in the future when I get to localization work.


Submenu - many menus with a list of options will have similar design.

A basic example flow of some screen when you first start up…

Splash -> Credits -> Story -> Start -> Nexus -> Creation -> World -> Battle -> End of Battle -> Inventory -> Zone Select -> World -> Submenu …

The basic pixel font I’m using by a friend (Nobuyuki` who has also been working on a NES like game) - I’ll be modifying it a bit later. It is a fixed width font with some built in support for monospace ligatures!


Minor change to world UI

Menu opens the submenu, which can lead to the Start screen

Action allows the player to activate anything immediately in front of them (such as when you use a bookcase in Pokemon to find a hidden item). Have some hidden things in the layouts of the world - most hinted at by the tiles.

“PK looked into the hole in the ground… and found a Yellow Pill!”

“PK looked into the hole in the ground… but it was empty.!”

Warp allows player to go to the zone select screen - they can always cancel out of this screen to return to exactly where they are on the current zone if they don’t go anywhere else. (May change order of buttons so action is on the far right instead.)

Team goes to this screen

Items show tab based lists of items based on category. Will have no carry weight, and 999x for stackable items. Will have ability to sell items somewhere, and to make multiple items to sell at once.

Abilities allow you to use any (if you have any) abilities that your team has, such as being able to heal anywhere using some energy, or using some buffs that last a few steps / can be active before entering battle…

Loadouts allow you to change your equipped items on your units and see difference in relevant stats.

Stats show full stats for each unit in your team.

This weekend I’ll devote most of the time to working on this project and will try to do several updates and have something playable!


Had to do some other things some of today unfortunately, but getting started now.

As far as any coding things go, disclaimer: I am not an expert at all though I do know a lot of general things, but I want to learn as much as I can and improve, which is part of why I’m doing this as solo as I can to improve on my weaknesses and to learn Defold well enough to use it for any kind of project we want. Most of my expertise is in other fields though I wouldn’t say I’m a specialized master at anything.

I used some of the modifications mentioned here

And modified the render script a bit further to add a basic kind of autofit.

See in action here.

Later I would like the ability to draw background tiles all of the way to the screen’s edges no matte the size, and to float/scale UI. That will have to come later though.

I’ve attached the modified render_script (renamed lua to upload) but it still needs optimizations and improvements. Regarding the autofit, do the sizings and positionings look right? It looks right to me, but again I’m not an expert.

pixel.lua (2.8 KB)

By the way, just to get this out of the way, any code I post is same license as Defold.

Edit: I’m noticing the display of the game looks much better when not in fullscreen. What’s up with that?

Here it is maximized on my screen

Direct link to raw image

And a screenshot taken by fraps while in fullscreen

The full screen screenshot has a resolution of 640x480 and looks to be stretched / fuzzy on my monitor when displayed. How to force fullscreen mode to be full resolution of monitor?

Is it possible yet to control going in and out of fullscreen mode with scripting?

Screen size too. What I’d like to do is let users choose window mode in options screen and then give them control over 1x 2x 3x 4x scaling with default being 2x for window mode, and then full screen mode just size to fit their screen.

Tried to do HTML build with basic setup (only changing render script) works in Firefox but crashes in chrome

A basic project with no editing of render script works. Tested magic_link tutorial and also crashes in Chrome for me. Not sure what is messing it up.

  • Chrome Crash Fixed - Caused by long running Chrome browser. Fixed by closing Chrome completely.

It’s possible to cause Defold Editor to crash by clicking “Build HTML and Launch” multiple times while it’s still launching a build.

I eventually want to make it so that the HTML build game screen takes up 100% of the browser window it is in. With or without fullscreen active.



Screens - independent screen logic
Maps - linked map system with tiled meta data
Events - these are what would be activated with Action on maps
Messages - combat text / text which appears when using Action
9patch - for ui and text boxes
Transitions - screen transitions when changing screens
Tiles - get maps working made with tiled including meta data that I want
Movement - nice movement with collisions, events to mess with

Once these are done, I will work on starting work on items, equipment, combat, monsters…


I want to be able to pan in the editor with the middle mouse button held down without other keys held down. Is this possible to configure?

Is it possible to have editor’s “zoom level” displayed somewhere?

Would be handy to be able to set zoom to zoom in / out at the x,y of the mouse pointer instead of center of the editor view. This would lower some of the panning necessary to do.


I still want to get more done today, but have had to do other things today too unfortunately.

Friend who lent me his font didn’t want me making it into a ttf even for private use, doesn’t want it being a used as a webfont either which I intended to use for the site later - so I started making custom pixel fonts. I’ll make a few, and look to older games too for ideas on how to make the characters look. Here is the start with little polish on one font. I’ll make a few some scifi vibe others fantasy vibe. Still going to be fixed width, and support ligatures. And polishing each a bunch so they look as good as possible.

Trying to get it to display in game - what am I doing wrong?

Tried following advice from this thread


The only ways to pan and zoom are the ones described in the scene editing manual.


What happens if you increase the size from 7 to 8 or 9 in the .font file? Does it look better? @sven should be able to answer why it doesn’t render properly.


Does not help, just makes it look more distorted and clipped and still fuzzy on the edges.

Here is temp link to the font for testing. However I tested with other similar sized pixel fonts and had same result of fuzziness / clipped glyphs even with the sizes right and apparently everything else sampling wise right.

The red/black preview on the .font file does look correct but not what is displayed in the editor.

Adding option for just middle mouse button held down to pan would be convenient. Is there any other function that the middle mouse button alone is being used for?

Many menu screens with scroll bars do not respond to my mouse wheel either unless a text field is selected. Such as game.project there is scroll bar but mouse wheel does not scroll it until I click into a text field. I’d actually rather no matter what is selected if the menu has focus / mouse is over it I’d like to to scroll. It would also be nice that if the mouse is over a text field that is numeric while the mouse is over + mouse wheel scrolls it increments / decrements the value to the nearest whole number - would be convenient quality of life thing.


Ah, I tried myself and it looks like crap in the editor, but it’s crisp when running in emulator:

@sven, do you know why the editor doesn’t render the font properly?