Old School Color Cycling with HTML5

Mark J. Ferrari, who also illustrated all the original backgrounds for LucasArts The Secret of Monkey Island and Loom, invented his own unique ways of using color cycling for envrironmental effects that you really have to see to believe. These include rain, snow, ocean waves, moving fog, clouds, smoke, waterfalls, streams, lakes, and more. And all these effects are achieved without any layers or alpha channels — just one single flat image with one 256 color palette.

Unfortunately the art of color cycling died out in the late 90s, giving way to newer technologies like 3D rendering and full 32-bit “true color” games. However, 2D pixel graphics of old are making a comeback in recent years, with mobile devices and web games. I thought now would be the time to reintroduce color cycling, using open web technologies like the HTML5 Canvas element.

This demo is an implementation of a full 8-bit color cycling engine, rendered into an HTML5 Canvas in real-time. I am using 35 of Mark’s original 640×480 pixel masterpieces which you can explore, and I added some ambient environmental soundtracks to match. Please enjoy, and the source code is free for you to use in your own projects (download links at the bottom of the article).

Ferrari really was a talented artist in the medium. Monkey Island and Loom are classics partially because at the time they were visually arresting.

The demo of the HTML5 Canvas elements has to be seen to be believed. Show the additional options to see the palette shifting apart from the image itself.

And the code is LGPL to boot.

(via EffectGames.com.)

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