Battle Animations

A discussion area for general design issues that staff would like detailed feedback on.

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Battle Animations

Postby Roots » Sat Aug 20, 2005 7:22 pm

We've had some discussion about how to animate our battle sprites in the past, and there were many different opinions about how we should do it, and we never really resolved anything. So, I thought we should start a more public discussion about this and get some input from our player base and not just the staff.


First of all, keep in mind that the more animation features we include, the longer it will take the artists to design, and the more memory the game will have to consume. For starters, I'll list off features we've talked about in the past and share my thoughts on them.


1. Animation on enemy sprites
There won't be any animation for enemies. There's NO way we have the ability to animate each and every foe running up to the character party to strike. Its just too costly for us to do. Instead when monsters attack, they'll flash (or something) and then an animation for the type of attack (a scratch, a fire spell, etc.) will be drawn over the victim (or beneficiary if its a defense/support action). I think we're all 100% agreement on this.


2. Progressive damage on enemy sprites
This isn't really an animation, but like we've mentioned here before, there are 3 different frames per monster sprite: a 100% health, 50% health, and 0% health frame. Depending on the health level of the enemy, we blend together the frames to show progressive damage. Initial experiments indicated that it looks freaking sweet. :D Again, at this point we all heavily agree that this will work out well.


3. Animation of character sprites
Personally, I have wanted full animation for the character sprites (ie, they will actually run up to an enemy and strike them). There aren't many character sprites, and they aren't all introduced at the beginning of the game so artists should have plenty of time to work on them. I think the typical "take a couple steps forward and swing your weapon" is just too cheap looking.


4. Progressive damage on character sprites
For characters, I vote :disapprove: of progressive damage on character sprites. Well actually, I would *love* to see progressive damange on them, but since we have so many frames per character, that would require our artists to produce 3x more frames, which is a bad thing. Maybe we could get away with just using damage frames for the sprite when they are in their neutral/standing position, but that would probably look bad when suddenly the character takes an action and looks like they are at 100% health again. :|

Then again, you see this sort of thing in other 2D RPGs where a character kneels down when they are at low health, and then stand back up when they are taking an action. Maybe we could do a "kneeling down" position or two instead of trying to blend damage frames? :shrug:


5. Full character animation
This is an elaboration on #3. When I say "full character animation", I mean that the character is animated differently for each individual skill. This is what I thought of doing at first, and then I realized it would just be WAYYYYY too much work for the artists, and also consume a pretty large amount of memory to keep all these frames. So I :disapprove: the notion of creating a seperate animation for each skill.

Instead, what I think we should do is group a character's skills into types. Some sample categories:
- physical near attack
- physical far attack
- magic spell
- defensive action
- support action

Then we'd animate these skill groups "generically", but the distinct skill animation would still be unique. Here's what I mean: assume we send Claudius to attack a spider with 'stab'. He runs up to the spider and swings his sword, and then a "stabbing" animation is drawn on top of the spider (thats the unique part). Next we send Claudius to attack the same spider with "slice". He runs up to the spider and swings his sword (in the exact same manner as the 'stab' attack), but now instead of a stabbing animation drawn on top of the spider, it's a slicing animation.


This is the best compromise I can think of in terms of having a decent amount of character animation, without having a successive amount of work for the artist, and still having some uniqueness in the animation of every action. What do you guys think?


6. Weapon swapping
Weapon swapping refers to the appearance of a character's weapon having a unique appearance for each type of weapon they may equip. This is seen in games like FFVI. I have never supported doing this in the game, but Ryan (Rain) was totally adamant that we need this feature.

Now here's why I think its a bad idea for us to implement this. The primary reason is the feature discussed in #5. Assuming we implement it (the full animation for the character), then when have to treat the weapon as a completely seperate sprite from the character sprite. Whenever the character moves, we'd have to have a pre-defined table of position values, or some way that tells us how to position the weapon relative to the character. This is NOT a trivial task to do (not to mention it requires much more art...)

The reason this was do-able in FFVI was because characters just "took a step forward and swung" whenever they attacked. They weren't even HOLDING their weapon most of the time; The sprites just stood there! Assuming feature #5 gets accepted, I totally, whole-heartedly :disapprove: of implementing this. Having a different weapon appearance is not THAT critical (to me at least), and this feature would cost us far, FAR more than what its worth.




Okay, those are the features I can think of that need to be discussed for now. I hope we can get some of these guidelines resolved soon so Sylon can start working on some animation. :angel:
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Postby turin » Sat Aug 20, 2005 8:04 pm

About the 'progressive damage' on character sprites; well, it depends on how progressive damage is shown, but I think you could get away with having the animation not be progressive-damage-ified, meaning you only need 2 extra sprites per character, not 3x sprites.

I like your plan for animating the character sprites based on different categories.
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Postby Balthazar » Sat Aug 20, 2005 8:41 pm

1. Yup
2. Yup
3. Providing it doesn't cause delays (and I don't think it will), yup
4. Kneeling down is classic
5. Yup
6. Nope (as in I agree with you Roots, nope we shouldn't do it)
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Postby Roots » Sat Aug 20, 2005 8:46 pm

Ok great, I'm glad everyone agrees with me so far. :bow:
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Postby hamiko » Sun Aug 21, 2005 10:05 am

Seems good to me  :approve: .
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Postby Rain » Sun Aug 21, 2005 10:15 am

6) If its too much work, go ahead and scrap it.  I see your reasoning behind this and I agree with you. :(
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Postby Sylon » Sun Aug 21, 2005 1:21 pm

PHEW.....what a relief!

Sorry Rain  :cry:

Sure I can work on something soon.

I'm going to college today but for athletic preseason--on 29th classes start and I might be able to put more time into Allacrost because of the campus computers (no one at home to bug me for the computer).

On the other hand I might get too much work, and I might be doing too much "settling in" to work on HoA anyway--plus I am a commuter so I don't live on campus.

I'll be hoping to get the Claudius attack animation underway at least.  We'll see how it works out.
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Postby Roots » Sun Aug 21, 2005 1:49 pm

Sylon wrote:PHEW.....what a relief!

Sorry Rain  :cry:

Sure I can work on something soon.

I'm going to college today but for athletic preseason--on 29th classes start and I might be able to put more time into Allacrost because of the campus computers (no one at home to bug me for the computer).

On the other hand I might get too much work, and I might be doing too much "settling in" to work on HoA anyway--plus I am a commuter so I don't live on campus.

I'll be hoping to get the Claudius attack animation underway at least.  We'll see how it works out.



Okay, good to hear What I suggest is that you make it so that each cycle through the running animation corresponds to the sprite moving one tile (64 pixels), similar to how its done in map mode (only a tile there is 32 pixels). Take a look at Safir-Kreuz's side walking animations (which are 7 frames) and then try to transform that to the battle sprite, and show him running aggressively instead of casually strolling. I think he should be leaning forwards a bit, since he's sprinting to his enemy's face. :cool:


Anyway, I'll draft up a list of preliminary animation frames for you shortly in the staff forums.
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Re: Battle Animations

Postby eleazar » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:21 pm

Roots wrote:First of all, keep in mind that the more animation features we include, the longer it will take the artists to design, and the more memory the game will have to consume. For starters, I'll list off features we've talked about in the past and share my thoughts on them.


1. Animation on enemy sprites
There won't be any animation for enemies. There's NO way we have the ability to animate each and every foe running up to the character party to strike. Its just too costly for us to do....


Rather than blinking, thrusting the enemy sprite in the direction of whomever it's attacking, gets the idea across pretty clearly without additional frames.

Animated Enemies doesn't have to be an either/or proposal. For much of Wesnoth's history most units didn't have animated attacks, or the attacks were only 1 frame long. But we didn't feel that a feature had to be implemented to every single unit before it enhanced the game. Even if most enemies have only 1 frame, a few that have a single additional attack frame will make the game look nicer. Make it relatively easy for players to add attack animations, and you might be surprised how many animations get done. Since it's eye candy, if it doesn't get done, you haven't lost anything.
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Re: Battle Animations

Postby Jetryl » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:33 pm

eleazar wrote:
Roots wrote:First of all, keep in mind that the more animation features we include, the longer it will take the artists to design, and the more memory the game will have to consume. For starters, I'll list off features we've talked about in the past and share my thoughts on them.


1. Animation on enemy sprites
There won't be any animation for enemies. There's NO way we have the ability to animate each and every foe running up to the character party to strike. Its just too costly for us to do....


Rather than blinking, thrusting the enemy sprite in the direction of whomever it's attacking, gets the idea across pretty clearly without additional frames.


Or, trusting combined with some other sort of visual flair (blinking or something similar confuses the eye enough as to make it look like there may be more frames than there are).

eleazar wrote:Animated Enemies doesn't have to be an either/or proposal. For much of Wesnoth's history most units didn't have animated attacks, or the attacks were only 1 frame long. But we didn't feel that a feature had to be implemented to every single unit before it enhanced the game. Even if most enemies have only 1 frame, a few that have a single additional attack frame will make the game look nicer. Make it relatively easy for players to add attack animations, and you might be surprised how many animations get done. Since it's eye candy, if it doesn't get done, you haven't lost anything.


Since eleazar's been willing to make this comment, I'll chime in as well. I would opt for *supporting* in the code, use of more than a single enemy frame if someone feels kind enough to draw one out of the goodness of their heart. (yes they would have to make damage frames for it as well, but those are a piece of cake)

The one and only big reason (besides code support) for not doing it, is a fear that it will not look uniform. What eleazar and I are saying is that this is ... actually baseless. It's a reasonable thing to be afraid of, but it's actually not a problem, and we can say so because the grand experiment of wesnoth has proven it.


I would vote for not requiring that enemy sprites have animations, but if people want to make them, even if they're only done for some of the enemies, use them. It won't break anything.
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