Lets face it. We all have had problems with setting up and spriting / pixelling backgrounds for our games.
At least I have suffered the loss of interest in my games because of the problems with painting the backgrounds in a way that will work properly. It may not be hard, but it is a job that takes a whole lot of time and that may become very boring and dull.
Even though there are many other factors that judges over if a player will enjoy the game or not, the environment / backgrounds is a quite big factor.

For example, I played Halo Pocket (by stickybob here at TDC) yesterday. When I started the actual gameplay I faced a level covered with the same grey 20x20 quick backdrop. The walls were slightly shaded but still the same dull grey. And from that very moment, I felt like I don't want to play this game for long.


Repetitive - Hmm..

What an environment artist should be striving for, is the minimum amount of background repitition (The same piece of 32x32 picture all over).
But not always.
In fact, it is possible to make a repetitive backgrounds without the players notice.

I'll give you some examples. These are made in paint, using the spray tool.

In this background, we do easily see that I've used a 32x32 image which I then have looped all over the pic. This is because we can recognize the same part over and over again.
I have seen many games using this repetitive method but that also came out with the almost same result as this one. Backgrounds like these are very boring and may bcome very exert for the eyes

Watch how I changed the over repetitive background into something less repetitive. I've used the same 32x32 image, but this time with more colours (I used about 5 different colours). But the secret behind this is to try spread the different colours equally around the 32x32 image. If you happen to place to many pixels of the same colour in the same area, you will end up with a noticeable quick backrop.
You can see the repeating in this background.

Wow. Look at that. There's no visible repeated frames in this picture.
Know this: the larger image you loop, the less repetitive background you'll get.
Basically what I've done in this picture is that I've merged the last image together and then added some tiny final pixels above it. This will make the image look like one and the same.
With this I do not say that you are supposed to merge your 2000x2000 large quick backdrops into backdrops and the add some dots on it, but that you may take a piece of this large image and apply this on.


Most games uses scrolling, which implies that the level's size is larger than the actual screen resolution. If you do repetitive backgrounds like this that are larger, or at least amost as large, as the screen resolution, the player won't notice it as much. Or maybe not at all.



This article does not just help those who creates Top-Down games, since it is very useable while doing platform games and such. Just think about what you wanna do, and how to. Try using more colours and larger images when you are about to make a repetitive background. Noticeable repeatings will probably make the player bored.

Remember that backgrounds like the one I did mustn't take a long time to do. I did the last one in about 2 minutes. Imagine how well it could be if you put some effort in it too !

I hope this helped you, at least a little.

- Wartagon,