Thats a very good idea. The problem however is for that to work we would have to anchor the bird to the object that they are on, and somehow build pices of that objects image into the bird image. It can be done but it would be very hard to easily move the birds around, and my long term goal is to make it so YOU can pick the birds with a development system using our database. So I came up with these ideas, one of which is like yours, and another which is different, what do you think:
Visual hints and the binoculars
What would be very cool is if instead of having visual hints that simply change transparency we combined the visibility feature with the binoculars. The idea here is to make this more like real life.
Suppose when you wanted a visual hint you used the binoculars and there was no V button. Rather then having transparency as the effect, instead we make the bird out of focus (not the background which would as you say be CPU intensive). Each time you magnify the bird it becomes more in focus. We may or may not want to remove points for using the binoculars depending on the level of difficulty.
Another more complex solution is that we donít use the focus affect. First time you used them the bird becomes partly visible, like the old Visual hint works. But imagine that instead of simply magnifying the bird the binoculars magnified only a part of the bird, like the head or the tail. And it would not be fully opaque, you would see a partially transparent head the first time you tried to focus on the bird. Each time you increase the magnification you would see more of the bird, maybe its tail and head on 1.5X and a little less transparent, and maybe finally the whole body on 4X. This would make the game more of a challenge and be similar to what happens in nature, when you use binoculars its often you donít get a perfect view of the bird, because its moving, or obscured by a branch, or the lighting is too dark.
For this to work I was thinking we could use regions or masks on the birds body that are changed in visibility when the binoculars are used, so I donít have to have multiple images for the bird (body head, tail). Otherwise we might have to put different parts of the bird on different layers and align them which would be pretty hard and time consuming.
But between these two ideas I like the out of focus idea best because it does not require a lot of changes in the XML.
BTW I would like your opinon on this debate I am having with a game developer, see the end of this thread: