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2D Sprite MULTIPLE Animations

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Hey guys. I'm working on a A-RPG ( kinda like Secret of Mana ) . So batles take place in real time and smooth animation is a key in gameplay . I'm NOT even close to be good at 2D/3D . I'm just an average programmer but i'm doing everything alone . I'm not good @ drawing stuff, but i will learn pixel-art and try to do my best . Here is the point : i got like 8 races ( 5 ~ humans and 3 others ( fairy, spider, gosht ). I want each race to contain MANY character ( let's say more than 100 different character in each ) I want that ANY characters of ANY races to have the same animations ( -> walking, running, hitting something with an axe, a sword ... doing a fancy combo with 2 axe ect ... ) I'm talking again about hunderd's of diffrent animations. i know only two way of doing this, and both are out of questions : - do every sprite by hand ( X. millions .... ) no thanx . - coding some pro tool to ake/convert 3D chara into sprite animated ( like in Diablo2 ). I'm not enought experienced to do taht ( my 3D level is very poor ) If you got any ideas , feel free to post them :) Thanxs .

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I may have an answer for this, as I used to code graphics back on the 8 bit machines - with a Commodore you only had 64k of memory so we used little tricks to get past multiple animations.

Basically, make all your character pieces in separate files. So, for instance, you could design pants/feet, body, and head graphics as 3 separate files.

So, for one race you only have to make so many animations, then recolor them a few times. Then create static head graphics and place them on the same animated body graphic with different colored pant graphics. From a few files you can grow exponentially.

This was a trick I picked up from a 48k Euro game called Renegade (home conversion of the Taito arcade game) that had the same pair of pants for every character, hence one set of animations. No-one noticed.

I'm still stingy with memory so I still use these habits. Plus, using layers like this allows you to place the head at different rotation points so you can animate that way without the need for new frames. (ie. head bob when walking)

I hope this isn't the obvious answer you've already shot down!

J-

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The paperdoll approach you described is fine, but i think its hard ( not programming-wise but graphic-wise) .

Isn't it limitating ? I mean all your character have to got the exact same shape . Not much variation possible . But if i'm wrong its an idea i had underestimated ... beacause it will be easier to animate and plus i can also let armors / weapon have a visual effect on the character ...

EDIT : I may need some links on paper-doll ...i cant find some good articles :/

[Edited by - Ey-Lord on June 12, 2006 1:06:50 PM]

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I'm sorry I can't give you any good reference material. I used to kinda code guerilla style and so I would steal concepts but write my own implementation.

It is fairly limiting, but I did it mostly on limited machines - the sprites were usually made up of 8 by 8 blocks (pixel wise) and so every graphic was in multiples of 8, with only 2 colors allowed per block. How times have changed...

But this is also the method used in earlier South Parks.

When I think of RPGs - especially old SNES style, a design concept that I still love - all the characters were pretty much the same size and proportions. You can actually use the limitations of being a single graphic artist reproducing thousands of characters with about a hundred animation cells to create a striking visual design that moves on from a limitation to an ethos.

Plus you could say every human would be a shape and have certain properties - but you are right in another respect - you could have different armors and weapons be visually represented.

You would definitely use this method anyway to save space as the heads never change, unless you have a Fable style RPG, where the characters age.

I'm quite interested in how this game will shape up... do you have a name so I can watch out for it?

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@ Jack Sotac : Thanxs for the link, but i think i got the basic ideas, i was more looking for some serious "study" on the pro/cons and how to deal with it the best way .

Quote:

I used to kinda code guerilla style and so I would steal concepts but write my own implementation.


Yup i often do like this too ;)

Quote:

You can actually use the limitations of being a single graphic artist reproducing thousands of characters with about a hundred animation cells to create a striking visual design that moves on from a limitation to an ethos.


Sorry , my english isn't perfect and i didnt understood that part . What is a 100' animation's cells ?

Quote:
You would definitely use this method anyway to save space


I'm not limitated by space or Cpu ( not yet lol ), but by the time-consuming activity of drawing fancy animations for sprite, beeing a really bad drawer ^^

Quote:

I'm quite interested in how this game will shape up... do you have a name so I can watch out for it?


I could gave youa small GD document but its in french :/ Anyway the game's name will be the same as my nickanme here. Its not closed to be realsed but i hope to finish a small action/arcade game using my engine to test and proove that he is ready ;) [ with a 2D engine i can do more than rpg's if i want ... ]

Damn, paperdoll' articles are hard to find ... google didnt helped me one that one ;)

Thanxs for input anyway !!!

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Well, your English is way better than my Francais.

By 100 animation cells, I mean about one hundred separate graphic pieces would allow you to create thousands of different graphics. And if you had facial expressions all set to different layers, again, they multiply exponentially.

Maybe someone on this site can post a how-to document?

However, if you can't find articles on paper doll creation, try searching for Making Cartoons or Animating with Flash - I have some really good books that use this very concept for making Flash cartoons. Maybe they can get you started or point you to the right area.

Oh, and by the way - the French movie Nid De Gueppes is awesome. Best action movie ever. And Banlieue 13 has some AMAZING stunts. (I'm a film fan). I just wanted to say that. ;0)

J-

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I think you should seriously consider cutting your races/characters down a bit then. Trying to make 100-1000 characters when your not an experienced artist is bound to fail or take so long that by the time you are finished with the art, you won't feel like programming the game!

Sometimes a balance has to be had between the desire to create a huge and epic game, and the desire to create a fun,playable game becuase a key part of having a fun,playable game is to be able to finish it ;).

One way to decide what to keep, and what to throw away would be to ask yourself the question "How does this race add to the story?" "Why is this character important" and "What is unique about this particular race/character that is vital to the game". I think that if you also list all of the characters that you want in your game, you will wind up with less then 300 unique units. Design your game from start to finish before you start it, and have a firm grasp of the message and experience that you want your player to have! This should help ground the game and make it more realistic to complete.

The Paper Doll approach is a good way to save time, and I imagine that it is used more then you would think. If used creatively, the end user may hardly notice as well.

If you cut down your characters, and follow the other suggestions here, I am sure that you will have a much better shot at finishing your game!

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