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Sprite Pack Dillema... Featuring Fighter Jets

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Prinz Eugn


Well, after two weekends shot sprite-pack wise thanks to a killer cold and a visit from my girlfriend (she currently lives about 3 hours away from where I live), I'm finally taking a solid look at what I need to do in order to get stuff done. I exchanged some PM's with Michael Tanczos- Jesus, like a year ago at this point, but thanks to school and the fact that I have an uncanny knack for retaining employment limited the opportunities for work on it. It's the classic problem of a large personal project getting buried under external life pressures.

Here's the situation:
I have 683(!) files, which sounds great, but that are a combination of:

  • Different genres

    • Space
    • Air
    • Ground
    • Different angles

      • Top-down
      • Sidescrolling
      • Different scales

        • (for example) Space battleships vs space fighters
        • Different qualities

          • I grew considerably as an artist over the 7 years of game art I've been working on, and the quality gap is sometimes stark.
          • Incomplete sets

            • Thanks to the transient nature of our projects and my own inclinations, there's simply a lot of stuff that would be really useful for in-game use that I never bothered to make.

              As I figure it, I have two different options: lumping and splitting, i.e. grouping the sprites by genre and releasing separate packs, or lumping the best together and making a "Starter Pack" (which is what Michael Tanczos suggested). I'm kind of torn, but leaning towards the former so I can release them in stages, the aircraft pack is reasonably close to being done, and any beginner pack would still have substantial gaps in the basics. Buuut... what do you guys think as game developing folks?


              Photohizaps Breakthrough

              Hey... hey guys, check this out:

              I finally figured out how to animate things in Photoshop, which is the real breakthrough of the weekend. I thought it would be much harder, but nope, I'd just been putting off for essentially no reason. The relevance to the sprite pack is that I can finally test animations like the one above, which actually never got implemented or even testing in anything (but looks good anyway, no?)

              One of the issues with the airplane sprites is that most of the the prettiest, coolest ones never acted as game sprites and lack the accoutrements of real game sprites, like animation or damage levels (unlike the above example):


              This concerns me, because those are basically the crown jewels of my artwork. They're the first search result for "fighter jet" at DeviantArt, which would be more impressive if anyone on that site searched for something other than soft-core hentai.

              I found sticking on damage levels isn't that hard, since I just made a set of "scars" in a photoshop layer that I can then stick on anything I want without much trouble. That, and the burn tool is pretty self-explanatory... That leaves animation as being the big problem, which is a pain in the ass. Today's task was to figure out how big of a pain it actually would be to add basic "banking" animations to the existing sprites.

              First, I went back to an existing animation I had made last summer and added another "tween" frame to the whopping one frame of animation that was already there, but only in one direction:


              I used the "fancy" version I had made last summer by throwing on some directional lighting via layer effects in Photoshop, which turned out to be a mistake since there was also an extra "shading layer" that needed to be animated, too. Trying to juggle all the effects depending on the angle is why it only banks in one direction. So that turned out to be more work than I really wanted to do for the whole set, so I tried another airplane that I hadn't animated before and which didn't have all the extra layer stuff, and made only one frame per side:


              This turned out to be much easier, and I figured out I could just rip out the center section with the cockpit and move it and it would look more or less okay. The other easy thing is shortening the wings and tail, but both only work for one frame (maybe two). After that, I think the geometry of the fuselage of most of the planes would get too wonky, and would require some in-depth redrawing.

              So... I'm still figuring out if I need to get over and do it, or find a workaround. Whaddya think? How important would banking animations be to a prospective developer?


              A Funny Thing Happened on XboxLive...

              I had a funny exchange this afternoon when some guy which I had exchanged standard insulting messages the night before: My teammates decided to try and spawn trap, which ironically cost us the game (capture the flag) since in trying to set it up, they let other team get the flag too many times. Some guy on the other team took it upon himself to message me and only me "NOOB!" (I guess I had the most kills) which I felt was rather ironic since he actually couldn't shoot his way out of a paper bag, and told him so. We exchange a couple messages, pretty standard, and then no more. So I get on today to play Dance Central, and the idiot decides to send me this:

              Guy: [In reference to the half-assed spawn trap] "it's hard to aim when you die every 10 seconds"
              Me: "I think you're confusing cause and effect."

              At which point, I unlocked the SICK BURN achievement. Or should've, anyway. Maybe you had to be there. But seriously, the next day? Let it go, man!


              Anyway... Let me know what you guys think and have a good night!
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I'd say it depends what you really want to do. Packaging them all up together offers a large pack with plenty of variety, but will have a lot of stuff missing, and is probably a good option if you just want to be done with it relatively quickly and get it released.

If you're planning to spend the time -- and it sounds like you already are -- to fill in some or all of those gaps by adding missing animation and damage frames, etc. then smaller packs are probably a better way to go, as by offering more complete sets you'll be giving the user better value, and will probably attract more sales, benefiting yourself as well.

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Thanks for the feedback, jbadams. I guess I have been leaning towards separate packs so far, I might as well just get it over with and go that way.

A third option I just thought of tonight is to release separate packs for each genre or whatever, but then take a small subset of each pack (even before they're complete) to make a better "Starter Set," which will basically be a sample platter of the other packs without any/much new content.

In the meantime, I better animate some more jets...

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Nice comeback! Mine witty remarks usually occur to me after the legal time limit for comebacks or jokes has already elapsed.
I say them anyway, since it's a real shame to waste them, but I say them only to myself mentally. I usually make myself laugh, because of my excellent humor - if only my timing was better, surely others would agree.

[url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esprit_d%27escalier"]L`esprit de l`escalier[/url]

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