I've hit that point. That point when you're building your game ideas, mechanics etc when you suddenly think "but what if I ripped all of this out and did this instead..."
Now thankfully (for my sake) I'm not having these thoughts about mechanics - the core of the game is still a pokemon-inspired RPG. It's about how it looks, the style, the scale and how the pixel art should eventually fit into it.
Currently it's based on a 16x16 grid, akin to the old pokemon games of yore. Which is great. And despite my utter lack of pixel art skill, I think I want to stick with this grid size. It fits the style I have in my head - also I feel like going any bigger will be asking for trouble as I would have to then draw more detailed characters etc.
So what's the problem, I hear you ask? Well. I'm now questioning whether my layouts are big enough, or in the case of the main city, whether the four districts should be on four separate layouts or one big one. This has stemmed from messing about with the viewport size, which in turn comes from thinking about the necessity to be able to scale up the viewport to a 16:9 fullscreen view.
I've already changed the viewport size once. It went from GBA sized (240x160, 3:2) to NDS sized (256x192, 4:3) during the first change - I wanted more space to eventually design a battle screen. And now it's 480x270 which is a 16:9 ratio and should scale up nicely. However, having a viewport so much larger means that the player can see that much more of the layout which brings in the question: are the layouts big enough?
The purple area at the top shows the size of the 16:9 viewport in comparison to one of the current city layouts. It feels like it's too much of the layout being shown at once, the city district feels like it's shrunk, like it's lost some of its granduer - after all, this is supposed to be the biggest city in the country.
I did do a quick test combining all four of the city's layouts into one massive area:
That's a layout size of 1152x1152 now if you were curious.
In terms of comparing the viewport to the rest of the city, it certainly feels better when the player's wandering about. You can see more of the city without leaving the area, you see all of the NPCs and it feels a little more alive. It definitely needs a redesign if I stick with this. The city was designed in the four sections and it will stay that way, but I'd need to think about how the districts connect with each other and contribute to the city overall.
Ultimately though, when there are so many more mechanics still to build, I probably shouldn't be thinking about these design aspects just yet. But occasionally it's nice to dip into the more creative sections of the game. And actually it's a good thing to think about before I've built too many of the other layouts - it'd be a hell of a lot to change if I'd built say 5 or 6 other locations!
Plus, it could end up having a direct effect on some of my other systems, like the inventory or the battle system. With a larger viewport, I may have the opportunity to display more information to the player during battle - something that may have been hidden as a variable, could potentially be displayed. Or having extra space may allow the player an additional button to control a special move. Perhaps we could now show a larger image of an item alongside a small description in the inventory now that there's a little more space.
Anyway. I could talk about the pros and cons of this for hours, but nobody needs that! I'm thinking that the new 480x270 viewport size is going to stay - it's a 16:9 ratio, and should scale up to 1920x1080 without an issue. I guess I'd better get back to thinking about mechanics again...
Inventory next methinks.