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ND2: Update 5 “Enemy Sprites”

By November 7, 2017 No Comments
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It’s been a couple of weeks, but here’s some solid progress. It’s worth noting that progress will slow down a little as the project begins to expand in size. After all, I am only one person, and build art assets will always take a lot longer for someone not so practiced in that area.

One would argue (hell, I would argue) that you should work on function before even thinking of the form. However, as mentioned previously, I’m one man, and I need to experiment with the aesthetics of the game equally as much as the design. I want to nail a strong visual right out of the gate so that I know my pipelines are sound.

I’ve finished a couple of experiments to work out how my enemies will function in ND2. Rather than the red dummy models you’ve seen in previous updates, I’ll be opting for an old school 2D billboard approach. I started out by using some of the assets from the 2015 demo and added them as billboard sprites to the AI.

Following this first step, I tweaked the art style a little, opting to remove outline and slim down the characters. Next I added multiple angle handling to the game. I chose to go with 4 angles rather than the 8 seen in older 2D FPS’s such as Doom. Again, I’m just one guy, creating sprites at multiple angles is incredibly time consuming, so I’m limiting the scope from the starting line.

Feeling that I had some good foundations, I asked around for feedback (mostly from the excellent pixeljoint community). What was needed most was a consistent lighting source. I’d made a half-hearted attempt at this in the original sprite rework, but clearly needed to spend a little more time on my lighting bands/gradients.

Once I was happy with a static sprite, I began animating a walk cycle and firing animation. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It looks rather unique and far more “final” than I was expecting from a first pass. Having built animations for the front, left, right and rear angles of the character, I can now test the animation speed to walk speed balance in game. I’m not a huge fan of the rear walk animation, so there’s still work there, but for now it’s enough.

I added the ability to swap animations based on AI “state” (AI is still so early). So I will start fleshing the remaining animations out with true placeholders (block-colour billboard sprites with numbers showing the animation frame).

This got a really positive response on Twitter and Reddit, which has genuinely motivated me to continue working away at this idea.  I’d appreciate any feedback, retweets or likes. It genuinely does add a wee spring to my step to know people actually like something I’m working on.

Changelist

  • Built billboard sprite logic (enemies now follow the camera in X and Y dimensions)
  • Expanded sprite logic to allow for multiple angles of sprites (currently 4 angles; left, right, front and back)
  • Created placeholder enemy sprite
  • Enemy “dummy” models now replaced with billboard sprites
  • Added first pass walk animation for enemies
  • Added first pass shoot animation for enemies
  • Included placeholder idle “animation” for enemies
  • Added placeholder enemy death sound
  • Added weapon pickup boxes

Based on the feedback I’ve been getting, people are interested in seeing the visual direction of the levels. This is something that conventionally you’d do later down the line. However, as I mentioned before, I am making the whole game by myself, so it seems sensible to do some preliminary art tests. So expect some level art in the next update.

Thanks for stopping by.