Wow, a Java game programming forum. Glad I finally foudn this place!
It hit me mid-way through planning a new project (new graphics and interface for a fantasy strategy game originally played with circles and squares, very "Rogue", I know) that I know... nothing about images for programming. Well, that didn't come out right. I know well enough to say that BufferedImages don't like me (I tried for a few weeks, once) and so forth, what I don't know is something I know quite well for web design: which image format to use. I need a format that supports transparency and is still small in size. I'm not sure if I want to use gif or png or something else because my knowledge is strictly limited to web design - I don't know if there's anything better, or if one of those two works better with Java, or what have you.
I generally use PNGs these days. If you need something that is very small and dont mind lossiness then JPEG would be a good solution.
My question for images is a lot more complicated, as it's the challenge I put into the design to improve my skills. I want to create "contact sprites", namely for showing damage being taken. Every weapon in the game is its own sprite, so that they can be interchanged. The trouble is, I can't even begin to work out how to do the contact without spending way too much time duplicating images (one sprite of a spear attacking a peasent, another of a sword attacking a wolf, another of this attacking that... etc). Any ideas?
What about a generic blood splat? Do it right and the splat can even hide the actual contact point so you dont need to really have pixel to pixel contact.