Category Archives: Art

The Wisdom of Mu

As mentioned in the About page, Mel Ash has been contributing poetry and calligraphy to Zen Balls. Mel’s poetry is often signed with “Mu,” a shortened version of his Buddhist name “Jeong Mu Poep Sa,” meaning “Clear Emptiness Dharma Teacher.” Consequently, the pieces of wisdom collected during the game appear as items with the lettering “Mu say” on them.

The game has five sections, each with ten levels; and the poetry will be formatted as five zen teachings, each composed of ten short two-part poems. Here are some screenshots of the poetry in the game:

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Backgrounds 2

After working more with Aubrey Ankrum, we were able to establish a simple way to handle the creation of backgrounds. Similar to a common method of creating button images, creating a sense of depth can be as easy as adding a lighter shade to the few pixels above and to the left of an edge, and adding a shadow below and to the right. They are certainly not final yet, but here are a few examples from three different parts of the game:

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Backgrounds

Something that I have always felt about this game’s aesthetics is that it should feel as much as possible like playing with a physical object. Consequently, it quickly became obvious that the background images and walls should look as much as possible like real-world surfaces. The way to achieve this would be simple: photograph real surfaces like wood, stone, and metal to use as the background. However, I soon realized that the resolution of my phone’s camera was far from sufficient to use for gathering the necessary source material. In short, I needed a photographer.

Fortunately, my friend Aubrey Gigandet was happy to help me out. We collected photos of many different types of wood, stone, metal, and a few other random things to use for the background images. I was able to temporarily drop the images in, but I will have to work more with Aubrey Ankrum to touch up the edges on the walls for the final version. For now, this is what one of the levels looks like:

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