GameDev Photoshop workflow Tips – Smart Objects

One of the new steps in my workflow lately has been creating Smart Objects for each art element in the Photoshop files for my games.  Smart Objects are a lot like prefabs if you have an understanding of the Unity game engine.

Smart Objects are like child Photoshop documents nested inside of a parent Photoshop document. You can turn any layer, selection of multiple layers,  or group into a smart object by right-clicking it in the layers menu and selecting “Convert to Smart Object”.

Photoshop gamedev workflow smart object
How to create a Smart Object from any layer, layers, or group in Photoshop CC


To edit the contents of a smart object you simply double click the layer, it will open up what looks like another photoshop file and you can make your edits.

When you are editing a smart object; saving will update the parent document.

You can close the smart object you are editing (be sure to save if you need to) and you will see the changes instantly in the parent document.

The great thing about this workflow allows me to make duplicates of a spike or a wall piece for example and repeat it to create a simulated screenshot of my game, then when I edit the Smart Object all the other copies update as well.

Simulated screenshot of Kick Bot DX by Two Scoop Games in Photoshop
Simulated screenshot of Kick Bot DX by Two Scoop Games in Photoshop

In the screenshot above of  Kick Bot DX, the walls were created using duplicate smart objects that will all update if one of them is edited.

Smart Objects act like their own Photoshop files but are stored int he parent .psd file so there are no extra files to manage.

Smart Objects can also have their own Smart Objects inside of them, BUT I recently tried to share a child of a child of two children of a parent and it unlinked them. This means Smart Objects inside of children cannot be shared.

If you would like to learn more about Smart Objects here are some great resources:

Kick Bot DX pixelart overhaul during Indie-pendence day at Warp Zone Louisville

Kick Bot Dev Log July 5th, 2017
-Alex Bezuska

On July 4th a group of game creators in the Louisville Makes Games community decided to do an impromptu “Indie-pendence day”. We hung out at Warp Zone Louisville all day and jammed on our projects for Kentucky Fried Pixels (game jam that will end next weekend on July 9th).
I put Summer Games Done Quick on the projector and hung out with Barry, Loi, Josh, and Allen and worked on a ton of art for Kick Bot DX.

Kick Bot old art (left) new art (right
Kick Bot old art (left) new art (right

I have had a bit of a block on the new character designs Kick Bot so I worked on updates for the existing art including backgrounds, walls, hazards, and the classic Kick Bot character. I found that creating a mockup of a game screenshot in Photoshop really helped me see how everything would look together.

New Kick Bot DX art, now with twice the pixels!
New Kick Bot DX art, now with twice the pixels!

I imported the existing Kick Bot artwork, laid out a mock screenshot, and doubled the pixel size of everything. My goal was to add more detail while still retaining quick readability of all elements in the game. The other concern was keeping the exact sizes of all game elements while upping the detail. I did this by making the new sprites exactly 200% the size of the original giving me twice as many pixels of detail to work with and setting the “Pixels Per Unit” for the changed sprites to 2 instead of 1 as they were before.(this setting is specific to our game)

Pixels Per Unit in the Unity Inspector
Pixels Per Unit in the Unity Inspector

Below are some screenshots of the new artwork:

Kick Bot DX by Two Scoop Games Kick Bot DX by Two Scoop Games Kick Bot DX by Two Scoop Games

I use Adobe Photoshop for all of my pixel art.

Kick Bot DX is being created for the Kentucky Fried Pixels (KFP) game jam which ends July 9th, we will be releasing a pay-what-you-want bundle of games on August 17th!

Sign up here to get an email when the KFP bundle is released

Who is Alex Bezuska?

Alex is a game artist and developer at independent games studio Two Scoop Games. He is passionate about making art and technology work together for a purpose through games and other interactive art. Alex is also a director for the non-profit Louisville Makes Games! where he helps to further an inclusive and encouraging local game creation community in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also an avid lover of ice cream.

Keep up to date with all the latest news and updates from Two Scoop Games by joining our mailing list!

Two Scoop games on Twitter: @TwoScoopGames

Odd bug with Unity animator state machine & new character concepts

Kick Bot Dev Log June 26th 2017
-Alex Bezuska

When playing around with new artwork we noticed that the jump animation was only actually playing for one frame, it turned out to be a tricky issue to solve but Eric was able to get that working.  Our animation for the player uses the Unity animator state machine and for some reason, making the jump state the default state fixes it. No idea why.

Unity animator state machine for Kick Bot DX
Unity animator state machine for Kick Bot DX

Eric also worked on some tweaks to the high score screen working like it used to, including setting the “New best” to purple, and hiding the level score when game over screen shows.

I worked on some sketches but I was generally dried up creatively on the character designs, I am only really happy with the astronaut character:

Kick Bot DX character concept art sketches

Kick Bot DX is being created for the Kentucky Fried Pixels (KFP) game jam which ends July 9th, we will be releasing a pay-what-you-want bundle of games on August 17th!
Sign up here to get an email when the KFP bundle is released

Who is Alex?

Alex Bezuska is the cofounder/ artist for Two Scoop Games and Director at Louisville Makes Games! Alex is obsessively passionate about making games and building the local game development community. He is also an avid lover of ice cream.

Keep up to date with all the latest news and updates from Two Scoop Games by joining our mailing list!

Two Scoop games on Twitter: @TwoScoopGames



I was the Game Developer at an elementary school career day

I recently had the opportunity to speak at an elementary school career day to groups of kindergarten through 5th grade students about my career in game development.
The kids were super fun, they all loved talking about which video games they liked to play and could have gone on all day if we had the time. I ended up giving the same presentation around 15 times to groups of 5 or 6 kids at a time.

Feel free to use or show this presentation to classes. I am providing it under the Creative Commons Attribution License, please let me know if you end up using it and if there is a good response to it I may work on an expanded version.

I have a few insights below from the questions I asked them and the most common questions they asked me.

Questions the kids asked me:
How long have you been making games?
What is your favorite game that you’ve made?
Is programming hard?
What is your most popular game?
Are your games on the app store?
What is the weirdest game you have made?

“What games do you like to play?”

(answers in order of most to least)

  1. Minecraft
  2. Call of Duty
  3. Grand Theft Auto
  4. Paper Mario: Color Splash

Mentioned once each:
Five Nights at Freddy’s, Crossy Road, Pac Man


“What do you play games on?”
(answers in order of most to least)

  1. Phone
  2. Xbox
  3. PS4

What game developers do you know of?
(answers in order of most to least)

  1. Mojang (Minecraft)
  2. Microsoft

Mentioned once each:
Activision, Jeb (Minecraft), Scott Cawthon (Five Nights at Freddy’s), Gamestop, “My dad”, “I made a game”, “You”, and “Alex”

One of my favorite career day take-aways was seeing a kid’s face light up when he saw Kick Bot in my Two Scoop Games demo reel video. He shouted, “You made kick bot, I’ve seen that! I saw a YouTuber play that game! You made that?!”


And now to close out I have some great resources for learning to make games!

Games From Scratch

Girls Make Games

Louisville Makes Games!

‘Fog and Glass’ Ludum Dare entry

I was not planning on participating in this April’s Ludum Dare Game Jam because I, along with several people from Louisville Makes Games (our local Louisville KY game dev community) were attending and speaking at Vector, a local conference similar to GDC but on a much smaller scale.

I really liked the theme “A Small World” and came up with the concept of a simple sealed terrarium where the plants grow and die in a constantly repeating cycle. I talked with Cara Smith about the concept and she was interested and started doing the artwork.

Fog and Glass, Ludum Dare 38 entry by Alex Bezuska and Cara Smith

I programmed the game using no engine just JavaScript with PixiJS to handle the rendering.

I wrote a small story with Cara’s help with proofreading and suggestions. The story is about my struggles with depression and anxiety. It was interesting channeling the feelings I have when I am depressed because when writing the story I was not depressed. I feel like people, especially those in the game development community, talking openly about mental health issues has helped me a lot with my own. I want to write more and try making more narrative-based games, and work on my writing and storytelling.

While this is not really a game or very interactive, I wanted to put out what we created and call it finished.

The game will only work on a computer in the browser with keyboard for controls.

There is not much interaction, just use right arrow key to advance the story, left arrow key to go back.

Click here to play ‘Fog and Glass’ by Alex Bezuska and Cara Smith



Finding Home Devlog – Game animation with Spriter

I originally set out to re-create my ld37 game Finding Home in Unity under the assumption that the code would be my largest hurdle and I should take that on first. The first couple sessions of working on the project went well and I had a game mostly up-to-par with the jam version, then disaster… It seemed like the more I worked on the game, the more things starting breaking and I didn’t fully understand the example code in the utility I was using for my dialogue so trying to fix things or make changes was really hit-or-miss. I basically have come to the conclusion that I will create my own branching dialogue system and start simple as I did for the Superpowers version of the game. I have not started on that yet but I might this week.

Having been a bit frustrated the last couple programming sessions I took some advice from a trusted source and switched to working on art and animation. I recently worked on a sample game to impress a client during a contract proposal and the team I was on used Spriter, a 2d sprite animation tool. Spriter, while it has it’s quirks, reminds me of the best parts of Flash and I really think it is my new go-to for creating game animations.

I started off by doing some planning, the goal is to have a game that looks and plays well on iPad, that is my target for sure. I took some notes on iPad and a few other tablet’s screen resolutions and figured out max sizes for my sprites and avatars. I began working on the main character, the kid snail, and redrew the avatar art basically the same but around 16 times as large. I painted in Photoshop using the pencil tool at various sizes just as I did during the jam, this produces a really nice “blob paint” look which I like a lot. When crating the artwork I considered the layers carefully as they would later be exported individually for use in Spriter.

Finding Home snail avatar spriter

Once in Spriter I started on 2 animations, an “idle”, and a “talking” state for the player’s avatar. I recently found out there is a Spriter importer  called SpriterDotNet that will let you use the .scml files that Spriter creates along with the original images so the animation is done live in Unity – no spritesheets! The importer even allows you to transition smoothly between animations which is impressive to look at.

Finding Home snail avatar spriter

Finding Home snail avatar spriter

Overall I am content with the progress I made on the first avatar, and I am looking forward to redoing the others.

-Alex Bezuska
Follow Alex on twitter: @alexbezuska

About Finding Home
Finding Home is an upcoming interactive storybook game that children can play along with their parents. Coming soon to the iOS and Android.

Ludum Dare might be an odd title,
heck folks even argue over it’s recital…

But if you get your thrills stretching yourself and learning new skills
this concept should be nothing foreign

With two variations,
the “compo” my persuasion,
I set off on my two day task..

As the rules state:
– Make a game in a weekend,
no help from a mate.
– All original art, code, and sound,
Nothing borrowed or found.

Long nights and stretched days
in a caffeine haze
I worked till my Wacom grew weary.

Keeping things concise and tame
allowed me to finish within the allotted time frame.

The lead in this tale
…whom despite being a snail,
I believe many of us can relate.

A story about how comparison can be dreadful and everything uncertain
– unless you have friends who can pull back your curtain…

Try my game today,
and don’t fear you won’t be able to play…

No past game skills or fast paced thrills, anyone with a computer can play!

Click here to try it: