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character sprites, how to do this?

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I am pretty new to game programing in a "real" programming language, yet I have plenty of knowledge with the language I am going to use. However, my question is this: I am going to be making a 2D game with pre-rendered character sprites. However, there are going to be many different "moves" the sprites will have to be able to do, such as swing a sword, hold a shield, cast a spell, etc... How would I set up a format to let me have all different kinds of characters be able to have these "moves"? So far I am making my sprites in a strip. What I was thinking is perhaps making all my "items" in different pictures with the animation''s for all their "moves" and then having the same basic movment in the character sprite so that I can combine them together... what do you people think? I hope this is the right forum to post this in. Thanks.

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Separate strips for characters and items are what most people usually do. This lets you easily give any character any item. It probably seems unclear, but once you try it will make perfect sense.

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that is what i was thinking...
I am just experimenting... All I have made so far is a simple program that loads a sprite strip and animates it.. I will work on multiple strips.. thanks

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