GearHead Caramel on

Title screen of GearHead Caramel showing a dielancer mecha.

I’ve just uploaded GearHead Caramel to Its price there is $10, but you will still be able to download the game from GitHub for free. Think of it as a throwback to 1990s shareware. I hope that if you enjoy the game you will consider buying it to support development.

If all goes well, later on I would like to upload all three GearHead games to Steam. I plan to use the 3D models I’m currently making to fill in all the missing mecha sprites from GH1 and GH2.

GearHead Caramel v0.611

I’ve just uploaded GearHead Caramel v0.611 to GitHub. You can download the binaries from there or from Patreon.

Modding GearHead Caramel: How to Make Portrait Bits

Picture shows a head and arms in the Gimp image editor.

Now that GearHead Caramel is in a properly playable state, I thought I should start explaining how it works. Unlike previous GearHead games, Caramel uses a portrait generator that assembles characters from component parts. Each portrait bit can be anchored to a particular spot on the portrait, can contain multiple images, and each of those images can be placed at different depths. Also, while the portrait is being constructed, a matching 64×64 pixel avatar is also built.

That’s a lot of information to dump at once, so let’s look at a specific example: por_hair_halftail.png.

A hairstyle sprite from GearHead Caramel.

This hairstyle comes in three parts. The first goes on top of the head, in front of any facial features. The second goes on top of the head but behind the ear. The third goes behind the head and the body. You will also notice that the hair is colored pure green (#000100 to #00FF00) and placed on a pure blue (#0000FF) background. Assembled, the hair looks like this:

Let’s start with the color. Most GearHead sprites come with five color channels: pure red, pure yellow, pure green, pure cyan, and pure magenta. For characters, these channels correspond to clothing, skin, hair, metal, and accent color, respectively. The pure colors are used by the color switcher to decide what color each pixel should be in the final portrait.

The easiest way to get the color channels right is to first draw your sprite in black and white, then color it using a multiply layer on top. This can be done in Gimp, Photoshop, and probably whatever graphics program you use unless it’s MS Paint. Use #FF0000, #FFFF00, #00FF00, #00FFFF, and #FF00FF as your colors on the multiply layer.

The Chameleon mecha portrait from GearHead Caramel showing how coloring can be done using the multiply layer.

Next question: How do we tell GearHead Caramel about the new portrait bit? For that, we turn to JSON. Inside the image folder there are a bunch of portrait definition files. Here’s the portrait definition for the hairstyle shown above:

Each portrait bit needs a unique name. The bit type tells the portrait generator when to use this bit; in this case, the type is “hair”, so this bit may be used whenever the portrait requests hair. Next you see definitions for each of the layers giving the image filename, anchor, offsets, depth, and frame information. After that, there’s layer information for the 64x64px avatar. The avatar layers have the same format as the portrait layers. Finally, there is a style tag. This particular hairstyle will normally only be chosen for a character with the “Feminine” tag, but you can disable style tags in the character creator and give this hairstyle to anyone you want.

I have uploaded my portrait work files and JSON definition files to Google Drive, so you can play around with them without needing to download the source code. You can place new portrait bits and JSON files in the image subfolder of your user folder (which should be “ghcaramel/” in your home directory). Please let me know if you have any questions.

GearHead Caramel v0.600: Completely Completeable

GearHead Caramel v0.600 has just been released. The big news this time around is that the DeadZone Drifter campaign now has a proper conclusion. In addition there are new skill trainers, you can buy medicine + other consumables, and you can ask potential lancemates about their skills before you hire them. The binaries for Windows, Linux, and MacOS can be downloaded from GitHub or Patreon.

Try it out and let me know what you think. Happy holidays!

Merry Christmas!

I was hoping to get the first complete release of DeadZone Drifter finished for today, but then last night while I was playing through the conclusion I found a major bug that has somehow gone unnoticed for the past year or so. Anyhow, I fixed the bug, and may or may not post a new release later today. It’s coming up soon at least!

GearHead Caramel v0.560: Kerberos Attacks!

GearHead Caramel v0.560 has been uploaded to GitHub. This one comes with some graphics upgrades, balance tweaks, and the ability to (finally!) retreat from combat… which you might need if you wander into the new Kerberos scenario.

This means things are set up nicely for me to start work on the DeadZone Drifter conclusion. I’m hoping to get the finale ready for release in December. Wish me luck.

GearHead Miniatures!

Those of you who have been following GearHead development for a while will know that I have always dreamed of having physical models of the mecha from the GearHead universe. Well, thanks to the combined magic of Blender and 3D printing, this dream has now become a reality!

Two mecha have been released so far- the Corsair and the Haiho. Three more mecha are nearly ready for release. By default, these models are at 1/300 scale (good for tabletop gaming) but you can scale them up by x2.08 to print them at 1/144 scale (most gunpla + other giant robot models).

You can order GearHead miniatures from Shapeways. If you have access to a 3D printer, you can get the STL and blend files from my shop or by becoming a Patron at the G.H. Variations level or higher. These would make wonderful Christmas presents for someone, I’m sure.

GHC v0.551: Quick Bugfix

Turns out that v0.550 crashes on a fresh install; many thanks to AmkG for reporting and fixing the problem. You can download v0.551 from GitHub. The only other change for now is that I changed the Corsair’s Heavy Rocket Pod back to 4 missiles from 5, since I’m working on a model of it for 3D printing and don’t want to change the rectangular launcher.

I will post more about the GearHead 3D models later, probably after the test prints get back.

GHCaramel v0.550: October Already?

Where did September go? Anyhow, here is a new release of GearHead Caramel. Enjoy.

GHC v0.542: The Mecha Graveyard

GearHead Caramel v0.542 has just been released. The big addition this time is dungeons: Wujung Undercity returns from GH1, and there’s a new adventure called the Mecha Graveyard. You can see the complete list of changes and download the binaries (or source) at GitHub.