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Re: Main character animations.

On Thu, Apr 11, 2002 at 08:39:23AM +0100, Katie Lauren Lucas wrote:
> So I'm toying with this 2D spritey game idea. Has a main player character which 
> has lots of pick-upable weapons (guns, bows, swords, spears). So I'm wondering 
> how to handle this graphically. I can think of:
>   1) Tons of sprites, going to need each weapon X each direction X each frame 
> of animation.

We have taken this approach up to now in the WorldForge Acorn game, and the
size of the animation graphics explodes really fast. For a reasonable
number of animation combinations, I think the size would be prohibitive.

>   2) Layers of sprites, one to animate the main character, one to overlay a 
> weapon on him/her. Issues of alignment, it might end up lacking graphical 
> sophistication. I have a feeling this ends up needing (weapons X directions X 
> frames + directions X frames) images in total.

I understand that this layering technique is the way things are done in the
more complex isometric titles out there. Ultima Online is one game I have
heard described as using this tecnique. There are issues to be resolved,
but overall I think it can be made to work.

>   3) Cheat. Have the player carrying an indistinct black blob.


>   4) Sophisticated cheating. Player carries nothing, when he starts fighting he 
> draws a weapon. Not sure this reduces images much.

This would reduce the images a bit, if used in combination with 2. I think
1 would still be unworkable unless your set of weapons, characters and
animations was small.

>   5) Not caring. Player carries a sword. All the time. If he's got a gun he, 
> erm... appears to shoot with a sword. Heck, if RPG players can cope with an "@" 
> being a person...

I have seen some games that do it this way. In my opinion this is unforgiveably
lame, and completely ruins the immersivity of a game. Its one thing to use
an @ because you are running on a character terminal, and that is the best
that can be done, but it is quite another to have a nicely rendered high
res image portraying your character with gross inaccuracies.

> In a 3D game this would be easy (attach appropriate weapon mesh to the player 
> character's "hand" matrix)... but how do people do this in 2D games?
> {Why am I developing in 2D? Because I'm doing this on a laptop. Because they 
> won't let me take a workstation into work...}

I know the pain of trying to develop 3d games on a laptop, but so far I have
just lived with it, and used 3d capable machines to test whenever I can. Its
a pain, especially when things that work fine in software are much slower
in hardware. In the Diablo 2 post-mortem, the developers stated that it
was the last time they would build a game using pre-rendered graphics, as
in order to stay looking up to date, the quantity of graphics was getting
too large to be manageable.

I would be very interested to know what tools you are planning to use to
create your content. Have you found an available set of animation tools for
Linux, or are you fortunate enough to have access to the high-end proprietary