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Best method for us to create these sprites?

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Hello

 

We're a small company that recently started her first "big" project - a turn based, isometric game for PC/Steam on Unity

We have a dilemma about the method we should use to create battle sprites.

We have 3 playable races (with 2 gender each, that's 6 "base" bodies), and 16 classes. There is some limitation but overall, let's say that each "body" can choose between 15 classes.

The character appearance  depends from it's class, except the head and the weapon (think final fantasy tactics)

So, we have 90 sprites to create, and that's only for playable characters appearance.

 

We thought about two methods:

-The easiest one: Create very simple sprites in pixel art. That would be cost effective, and in our budget limit. However I dislike this idea, it would give the game a very casual look, that could misguide the players (the game is intended to be midcore-hardcore).

- The mysterious one: We could modelize and animate the 6 base bodies in 3D, then create textures for each classes. The problem is that we don't have any experience in 3D, so there is a lot of questions about this method: How much time would it take to create 6 bodies and 90 textures? How much would it cost, by outsourcing it to a specialist? (Don't need high res models). 

Another problem with the second method, is that would mean that we need to use the same technic for the rest of the sprites (enemies). So we would need to modelize all the non-humanoid enemies, and even unique characters (bosses).

If anybody could help us with my question about 3D, or if somebody have an idea about a method/technic/software that I missed, I would be very grateful.

 

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11 minutes ago, Telemachos said:

So, we have 90 sprites to create, and that's only for playable characters appearance.

This is only the tip of that ice burg.

So it's 6*15 = 90 for the bodies if they are all looking in the same direction. Lets say you go for 4 directions that is: 90*4 sprites = 360 sprites. Then lets say you use a simple pixel style animation like this: walking-12px-zoom.png 

That is 360*4 = 1440.

Now lets assume you can keep all animation at 4 frames and 4 directions. That is 1440 sprites for every animation.

Walking, attacking, taking a hit, casting magic, using a item. 5* 1440 = 7200 sprites for a very basic game.

 

This is why 3D replaced 2D. However there is a other way to do this. You can go for 2D bone animation.

26f0a85743640d32a1408317b1c6375eb8d9190d.png

However it has it's own drawbacks.

Blog-1-Fig-4.png

This is what a sprite sheet for this type of character looks like.

So instead of drawing 7200 full body sprites you will draw 180 pages like this.

 

If you want more optimal you would have to do it 3D.

38 minutes ago, Telemachos said:

How much time would it take to create 6 bodies and 90 textures?

6 Bodies and 90 textures would take +/-15 days for a pro. However there is a mistake here, you would need 90 bodies, textures have limits that won't make the models unique enough, it would take +/- 18 days then.

That is the thing, models is easy for a 3D artist but making the textures to get it looking good is time consuming. You either have to bake texture sets or hand paint textures. 6 bodies with no textures is a afternoons work, assuming FF Tactics fantasy style.

The cost for work like this will range from $400- $1800. It's the meshes and textures only, no animations.

Animations will then range from 3 to 5 days and cost around $150 - $600 per animation.

 

So you see no matter what path you take this will take a lot of work. That is why games even AAA ones with lots of man power don't go with that many classes.

Maybe just to start with 3 characters and see how that goes.

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8 minutes ago, Scouting Ninja said:

This is why 3D replaced 2D. However there is a other way to do this. You can go for 2D bone animation.

26f0a85743640d32a1408317b1c6375eb8d9190d.png

However it has it's own drawbacks.

Blog-1-Fig-4.png

This is what a sprite sheet for this type of character looks like.

Yes, I was meaning bone animation/spine while I was speaking about the 2D possibility. What are the possible drawbacks?

I fear that 3D is inevitable, as it seems more cost effective anyway. 

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20 minutes ago, Telemachos said:

What are the possible drawbacks?

It can be time consuming because it takes a lot of planing, but besides needing to split the art into pieces there isn't much drawbacks for the style on it's own.

Most of the drawbacks for this style of animations is related to software and how you get the art into the engine. For this reason most people who use this style also do it directly in the engine. Both Unity and Unreal has animation systems for this.

That means you loose the advantage software like Spine provide. However you can do it all in Spine or software like it if you know how to import it correctly or make your own importer.

 

Personally I recommend going with this one and doing it in the engine instead of a extra software.

3D takes years to learn and I doubt you will want to pay the fees for 3D artist only to have to hire a animation artist as well.

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Hum, that's seems reasonable.

If I take your middle prices, for 3D, the cost would be 1000$ for the core work, and about 5x6x400=12200$ for the animation (number of animations -5 number of bodies -6), for a total of about 13000 just for the playable sprites. And at least as much for the enemies, even if we cut a lot of them. That would be about 26000$ just for sprites, considered that we have a 25000$ budget for all the game graphics, for the moment.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Telemachos said:

(number of animations -5 number of bodies -6), for a total of about 13000 just for the playable sprites.

I want to be clear that the prices would be for game ready models.

chibi_char_from_ff_iii_by_parallelno.jpg278a895ad79d09f9529f4858f9baf742.jpg

The prices we are talking about is for models like the one on the left to one on the right. These models will work in game and will animate without problems.

Basically the more you pay the more time your artist can focus on producing quality.

 

 

 

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On 12/4/2017 at 2:11 PM, zizulot said:

I advice you to make bone animation if you dont have proper graphics artist in your studio

Checked a bit, it seems that most bone animation software have issues with 2,5D because of perspective. Spriter may work, for a jRPG style (that I would prefer to avoid, but in case if there is no other choices...)

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1 hour ago, Telemachos said:

it seems that most bone animation software have issues with 2,5D because of perspective.

People have a hard time understanding perspective. Using a 2D animation tool for the job requires scaling bones during the animation.

A 3D animation tool is better for this, something like Blender that isn't limited to just 2 dimensions.

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On 2017-12-05 at 9:37 PM, Scouting Ninja said:

People have a hard time understanding perspective. Using a 2D animation tool for the job requires scaling bones during the animation.

A 3D animation tool is better for this, something like Blender that isn't limited to just 2 dimensions.

Yeah, blender is awesome thing, and its free tough

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