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Split character animation or not?

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I'm working on an adventure game and my animations are made up of sprites stored in a sprite sheet next to each other. This works fine but on the main character I have noticed that many of the sprites have much in common. For instance if he is walking in one direction his head will not change. If standing still talking all that changes is the mouth.

I think I can split up the animations into head, legs, arm and body animations. This will make it much more flexible, I can use the same talk animation for the head while he is walking or standing still. It also reduces the memory consumption which is good. The problem with this approach is that it gets much more complex to handle the character animation as a whole, so I don't know if it's worth it.

How do other games handle this? How about Monkey Island 1 & 2?

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I use an animation compressor for handling animating sprites, rather than spritesheets. If video memory is an issue, that'll be a way to cut that side right down. There will be a runtime cost with decompress and upload, so you'll have to balance it out.

-Morten-

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