Author Topic: Why characters art is not multi-direction and/or 3D rendered  (Read 376 times)

ai_enabled

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Why characters art is not multi-direction and/or 3D rendered
« on: March 10, 2018, 05:18:46 am »
Hi guys,

A few players asked me why we decided to use 2D character art with only 2 views (front and back + mirroring).

Before answering that question I'd like to share our requirements for the character system:
  • All player characters should have distinct appearance, so players can easily distinguish between them in the game.
  • The characters should have configurable faces constructed from multiple parts (face "shape", upper and lower face parts, hair, skin, color, etc.).
  • The character faces should always be as visible as possible. For example, if the game was top-down we would never be able to see the characters faces, and in isometric view, players would only see really small faces without much details and without much customization).
  • All the clothing and equipment should be visible on the character (and it shouldn't be simple recoloring or texture swaps).
  • It should be relatively easy to add new content into the game - including faces, clothing, equipment, etc. Let me reiterate - it must be so easy that even modders who are not artists should be able to throw something together in Paint.
  • It should be relatively easy to animate characters.
  • The resulting assets file sizes should be reasonably compact.

We've considered three approaches to characters art during the pre-production:

1. All characters made completely in 3D:
This will require modeling of the characters, clothing, equipment and even hair. In some cases, it will be possible to reuse the models and just redraw textures, however drawing textures in unwrapped view is hard.
The projection will be 3D isometric or similar and players will not see much of the details in face styles and equipment.
Animating 3D models is also really hard and requires special (quite complex for novice modders) applications.
It's hard to match the style of other (2D) art in the game - buildings, terrain, etc.
And it's plainly difficult to integrate 3D rendering with 2D rendering from the programming point of view.
Good thing - it allows more views/directions and smoother transitions between them.
Conclusion: doesn't satisfy several important requirements

2. Prerendered 3D characters exported as 2D spritesheets (like old-school RPGs and some newer indie games)
Obviously, it has all the drawbacks of the previous solution PLUS it doesn't satisfy size requirements as it will require hell lot of images (many frames multiplied on many views multiplied on many different clothes and equipment).

3. Use 2D character art with front and back views only (+ mirroring)
This is the chosen solution, completely satisfying all our requirements!
The only drawback is that the amount of views/directions is very limited, but it's an acceptable compromise - we've tried hard to keep it looking stylized and fun.
With this solution, it's very easy to add new content into the game. You just need to draw a bunch of sprites to add a completely unique face style, clothing or equipment item into the game. You can even use Paint, but we recommend using Photoshop and our special Photoshop template and export scripts (which we will make available later). The game itself is able to automatically reload ANY changed image file and so you can draw-save-try-redraw-save as long as you want and check how it looks in the game.

So, is that it?
No! Our animation engine actually allows for much smoother animations and sprite mesh deformations, so you can expect much better animations in the future when we can set aside couple of months specifically for this task. We will come back to that in a year or so and hopefully make our character system even better.

Regards!
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 10:35:14 am by ai_enabled »

Tchey

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Re: Why characters art is not multi-direction and/or 3D rendered
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2018, 10:14:07 am »
2D > 3D, "almost always".