AuthorTopic: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]  (Read 921 times)

Offline fskn

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Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

on: April 19, 2021, 03:05:17 pm
So, I'm beginning a new project, inspired/influenced by Castlevania. So far I'm not too concerned on making it super optimized, more if the animation and overall look feel right.

I'm not too keen on that "idle" part, with him flexing his knees... I may cut it out.



Any comments or suggestions?
Thanks in advance.

Quick edit: Slightly different colors (different NES palette).
Also modified the face a little bit, making it look like he's facing a bit more toward the camera.

« Last Edit: April 19, 2021, 05:14:52 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #1 on: April 20, 2021, 09:38:14 am
I think the sprite is quite good! I also like the animation but the main issue for me is that the punching technique is all wrong. And while that may seem like a trivial detail, I think the success of animation in games like Street Fighter 2 is that those animators really understood proper martial arts technique.

I would suggest looking at some YouTube boxing tutorials for how to throw a good right cross. Ideally, you don't want to lean forward at all. You want him to generate power by rotating his hips. Even for people who don't box, I think this will read as being more powerful. When someone is rotating their hips to throw a ball or a punch, it looks more powerful because it is.

I also wonder if the boots look a bit cartoonish relative to the rest of the sprite, as they only have two colors and appear to have dark outlines (except for the top of one foot).

Great work though, I like it.

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #2 on: April 20, 2021, 01:16:36 pm
Yeah, my main concern there was reach, but I took a BIG guess. xD
And now that I think of it, if he punched with his left arm he would've had a longer reach than with his right... But I'll probably give him a weapon and that would be the "stab" animation. Still, your critique makes a lot of sense. I'll look into some reference. Thanks!
I really should have done that to start with...

The boots do look a bit cartoonish, don't they? I think it's the upper part. I'll look into that too.
Right now I'm considering using two different palettes for the upper and lower body, but being that he's not wearing pants that would only affect his boots (if I don't tie it to something else, like a health meter and/or his weapons)... and the lower part of his shorts/loincloth, if I choose 8x16 hardware sprites instead of 8x8.

By optimizing what I have there so far I can make that use 20 sprites (out of 256) if I use 8x8... 16 if I remove the flex. But with the right mapper apparently I could bank swap for many animations and the swap itself could be super quick, so ... maybe I shouldn't be too concerned on using the fewest tiles as possible.
The challenge of trying to fit everything there does make it more fun, though...

So... yeah, decisions, decisions.

Offline cels

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #3 on: April 20, 2021, 01:40:45 pm
I can't help you with the low spec decisions, I have zero experience with that. I don't know much about animation either but years of kickboxing and other martial arts tend to make me persnickety about kicking and punching in games. So I am obliged to inform you that rotating the hips means that both punches have equal reach. It makes sense if you consider the symmetry of the body and the fact that one is simply rotating the hips. If one has more reach, it means you're moving your feet, hips or (hopefully not) shoulders closer to your target. In both video games and in real life, the cross (i.e. rear hand) often has more reach even though it starts further from the opponent because of the way people move their feet and/or hips. I can go into detail about that if you want but I expect you're not making a game about the Barbarian Boxing championship.  ;D

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #4 on: April 20, 2021, 02:12:54 pm
I can go into detail about that if you want but I expect you're not making a game about the Barbarian Boxing championship.  ;D

Haha! I'm not... But I'm curious!

I'm not sure I could make him rotate his hips here. Maybe (and that's a big maybe) I'll have to keep the lower body static, but if not, then that sort of information will come in very handy.

---

EDIT: While looking for tutorials for eliddell, I found this one by slynyrd that could be useful for me. Like you said, he isn't supposed to be boxing, but maybe some of it could be adapted to make the attacks more interesting.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2021, 03:14:26 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #5 on: April 20, 2021, 03:12:02 pm
I don't have time to do an edit right now, but maybe you can look at sprite sheets from other fight games in order to learn from the masters?

https://www.spriters-resource.com/fullview/118266/

The gold standard is Makato from Street Fighter 3, in my opinion. But she is obviously heavily exaggerated in her animations. Which is cool.

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #6 on: April 20, 2021, 03:19:58 pm
I don't have time to do an edit right now, but maybe you can look at sprite sheets from other fight games in order to learn from the masters?
I was thinking of doing exactly that. xD

Street Fighter was my first thought, anyway, but... I may need a different type of reference. More brawling, less martial arts.
But don't worry, I'll do some research.

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #7 on: April 22, 2021, 03:00:14 pm
Slow progress. I redid some of the punch animation. And did an alternative "hook" (-like) punch.
I'm thinking if a smear/speed line/arc thingie could be used to make the reach a little longer...



It feels a little choppy right now.

---

Maybe if I just keep the head in profile the whole time...

« Last Edit: April 22, 2021, 03:14:18 pm by fskn »

Online SeinRuhe

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #8 on: April 22, 2021, 05:50:02 pm
Hey! Look, more time for the forums  ;D

I totally love the character design, reads so clear that is scary, I may have to put you down to eliminate the competition :mean:

First of all I have to say I've never worked with restrictions in mind so my advice may not be as useful for this specific case but here I go:

- As it is, well, the punch feels weak and the reason is exactly what Cels told you, It's all about those hips baby, my advice when animating anything is to picture yourself as the subject, in this case, throw some punches and try to feel what every part of your body is doing.

- More specific, I think there are two principles of animation that can be applied here without hindering playability: Anticipation and Overshoot. Since this is for a game anticipation can't be actual frames, instead of that use the smear to convey that anticipation, simply draw the smear from his back to the front, this gives the impression of anticipation. As for overshoot, well, in this case is better to add another frame for it and push everything a pixel further, the feel a single frame can provide is out of this world.

- Again, not sure of the palette or the restrictions, but for the idle you may want to try sub pixel animation like in Metroid for the SNES, so, some movement of the outline, followed by movement on the shading only (Pretty much an after image, like Megaman dash)



I'm sure my edit has many improvements that can be implemented to give it a better feeling so if you guys have any ideas I will be really happy to read them! I hope the edit helps with your project!
« Last Edit: April 22, 2021, 05:54:51 pm by SeinRuhe »

Offline cels

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #9 on: April 22, 2021, 06:02:23 pm
Nice! I definitely prefer the version with the head turning. I don't have a gif editor but I wonder if it would be possible to rotate his rear foot as he's rotating his hips.  If this is meant to be seen at 4x or 8x, I can understand if you're worried that it'll be too choppy. Maybe more frames can fix that.


(The highlights on the boots look weird but I included them in case you didn't want the boots to flicker as he punched)

In terms of making the hook reach a little longer, I guess you could do that. It's not realistic but it looks good and it makes it easy for the player to understand and read.

PS: Really great edit by SeinRuhe and I note that he's twisting his rear leg as he's punching as I was going to suggest. This is a natural consequence of turning the hips and helps reinforce the feeling of power like it's not just upper body.  :y: ;D

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #10 on: April 23, 2021, 07:31:28 am
Hey! Look, more time for the forums  ;D
Yay!

I totally love the character design, reads so clear that is scary, I may have to put you down to eliminate the competition :mean:
Haha, thank you so mu-- Wait, maybe I shouldn't be thanking y-

First of all I have to say I've never worked with restrictions in mind so my advice may not be as useful for this specific case but here I go:

- As it is, well, the punch feels weak and the reason is exactly what Cels told you, It's all about those hips baby, my advice when animating anything is to picture yourself as the subject, in this case, throw some punches and try to feel what every part of your body is doing.

- More specific, I think there are two principles of animation that can be applied here without hindering playability: Anticipation and Overshoot. Since this is for a game anticipation can't be actual frames, instead of that use the smear to convey that anticipation, simply draw the smear from his back to the front, this gives the impression of anticipation. As for overshoot, well, in this case is better to add another frame for it and push everything a pixel further, the feel a single frame can provide is out of this world.

- Again, not sure of the palette or the restrictions, but for the idle you may want to try sub pixel animation like in Metroid for the SNES, so, some movement of the outline, followed by movement on the shading only (Pretty much an after image, like Megaman dash)



I'm sure my edit has many improvements that can be implemented to give it a better feeling so if you guys have any ideas I will be really happy to read them! I hope the edit helps with your project!

Dude. Dude!
Let me start by saying that that animation blew my mind so fricking hard I had to take some time to recover. xD
That's awesome, I love it, and will be studying the heck out of it.

That's a beautiful lunge (if that's the right word..?). I tried something like that in my first attempt, but then I thought it would look wrong making the body go forward too much. Also I'm trying kinda sort of to be somewhat frugal with how many (8x8) sprites I use So I may reuse some parts here and there to accomodate as many move sets as I can (attacking, jumping, rolling, etc.) and because of that I maaay not be able to add as many frames of animation as I wanted. But your animation is making me reconsider that. xD

I need to start planning things. Write down some stuff and define most of what I want the project to be...

Anyways, for an NES game (which is what I intend this to be, and not just a modern game that would just look like one) I have a limited amount of space for sprites (though not sure how much yet), a limited amount of sprites on screen at the same time, a limited amount of sprites per scanline (8, or 64 pixels) and can only use 3 colors per sprite, from 4 sets of 3 colors each.
Thus I don't know if I could use subpixel animation, at least not without stacking sprites on top of one another, but I want to avoid that as it would limit what I could put in front of the character without making the game turn into a flicker fest.

I mean, I know there will be some flicker, that's practically unavoidable if my main character is 4 sprites wide and there are two 3 sprite wide enemies in front of him. But... we'll see.

Still, it was so great to see your animation and it has definitely made me see things in a different way. Thank you so, so much.

@cels Thank you. The edit on the foot looks great. I was afraid it could make the stance look a bit weak, but you're absolutely right with that. And with the body/hip twist too, of course.
The twist on mine was a bit of a last minute thing before posting, because like I said I'm trying to be economical and reuse stuff, but I can most definitely work with that.

Next I think I'm going to do a walk cycle. Or a weapon attack.

Again, thanks to the both of you. I was super happy when I saw the replies. Cheers!

---

EDIT: Oh, if you guys are curious, there's a bunch of talk about the NES limitations on the pinned Castlevania Pixel Quest thread.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2021, 07:35:38 am by fskn »

Online SeinRuhe

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #11 on: April 23, 2021, 05:07:10 pm

Anyways, for an NES game (which is what I intend this to be, and not just a modern game that would just look like one) I have a limited amount of space for sprites (though not sure how much yet), a limited amount of sprites on screen at the same time, a limited amount of sprites per scanline (8, or 64 pixels) and can only use 3 colors per sprite, from 4 sets of 3 colors each.
Thus I don't know if I could use subpixel animation, at least not without stacking sprites on top of one another, but I want to avoid that as it would limit what I could put in front of the character without making the game turn into a flicker fest.

I mean, I know there will be some flicker, that's practically unavoidable if my main character is 4 sprites wide and there are two 3 sprite wide enemies in front of him. But... we'll see.

That's interesting, an actual NES game, I'll read about the hardware limitations from the NES in my free time, may be really useful to have those in mind for a future critique!

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #12 on: April 29, 2021, 10:42:14 pm
Sword slash.
I'm thinking if I should add another frame. Kinda thinking about the constraints still... trying to figure out the best approach. As in: if I should add more frames to make it smooove, or if I should just do the main keyframes, then IF I have room to spare, I'll add more frames. :thinking emoji:

« Last Edit: April 29, 2021, 10:57:59 pm by fskn »

Online SeinRuhe

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #13 on: April 30, 2021, 05:33:58 pm
Look at that! It makes me feel proud in an odd manner :-[

It looks really, really good, attention paid to the muscles when moving is just perfect. And that smear? *Orgasm noise*

As it is works really well, if you want to add a little more extra smoothness to it just exaggerate a bit more the overshoot (Make the sword a little more diagonal, and a little bit closer to the floor, not much) and add another recovery frame, believe me, it will look smooth as butter.

Something like this: (I didn't add the extra frame because I'm afraid of restrictions but I highly recommend to add it)

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #14 on: April 30, 2021, 06:03:23 pm
Mmm... That looks nice.

Well, first of all, YOINK. XD
Also, thanks a bunch for your critiques and compliments.

I changed the initial frame because that arm while clear wasn't...looking...very nice. I mean, I have just 3 colors to work with, but still I wasn't very happy with it (I'll post the most recent version below, but it still won't have any of your suggestions added to it as I was just working on it when I saw your reply).

That frame with the sword extended forward, yeah, I was struggling with it a bit. On the one hand, it was pretty clear. Straight pixels. But on the other hand... It was almost too clear. So I had done some attempts at bending it downwards a bit and wasn't really sure... But I'll give it another go. Thanks, SeinRuhe!

Here's what I have so far (again, without the latest suggestions):



By the way I had your punch animation open in Photoshop and used it as reference for the sword slash anim. I really love your overshoot frame, and how simple it is yet how much it adds to the overall movement.

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #15 on: April 30, 2021, 07:51:46 pm
Alright, so... I didn't add a new frame. Instead, I redrew the recovery (?) frame to make a better transition between frame 1 and 3.
And instead of making the sword on frame 3 go down a little further, I made the "hit" (frame 2) go down a little more, and frame 3 is now a bit of a bounce back (?), going back up slightly.



I'm not sure if I should be using smears, though, because they may take too many hardware sprites and probably can't be reused for, say, a crouching slash. I gotta test that next...

---

EDIT: Quick test with the sword going down on frame 3 from a previous attempt:

« Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 08:08:57 pm by fskn »

Online SeinRuhe

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #16 on: May 01, 2021, 12:23:40 am
I really dig the last edit, I have one question though: Why not spend a bit more tiles on graphics while making the game shorter? Something like what Arcades used to do, they looked way better than consoles because of this, less content means more room for existing content.

BTW, this video gave me lots of insights on technicalities if anyone wants to see it before doing critiques.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWQ0591PAxM

@Fskn if you haven't you should really watch it too
« Last Edit: May 01, 2021, 12:30:13 am by SeinRuhe »

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #17 on: May 01, 2021, 01:47:00 pm
I really dig the last edit, I have one question though: Why not spend a bit more tiles on graphics while making the game shorter? Something like what Arcades used to do, they looked way better than consoles because of this, less content means more room for existing content.
Thanks.
I don't really know how long the game will be in the end. So far I have a very rough and vague idea of what I want and a few sprites. xD

@Fskn if you haven't you should really watch it too
I had seen that before, yes. The kinds of optimizations Morphcat did to fit their game are pretty incredible and inspirational.
Now, I don't want to follow exactly the same route as them despite loving extreme optimizations and wanting to do some of that too... But I'll need to talk to a programmer to actually build the game later on. After I have much of the planning and graphics done.

I don't think I will be able to fit everything into just two graphics tables (one for background and another for sprite tiles), so "something" will need to be done.
Some games use bank switching (? I guess that's what's called anyway) not just for different stages, but for different character moves. Games such as Ninja Gaiden 3 and Moon Crystal come to mind (the latter is ridiculously well animated for an NES game), but I'm sure there are many more. I don't want to use that in excess, but something like that is gonna happen.

Looking at the Ninja Gaiden 3 sprite table, they seem to have reserved half of that for enemies, items and power-ups. So if I follow that, it wouldn't leave me much room for my main character animations, but we'll see. I'll do the most basic stuff, see how I could fit that, then see if I can have more, etc. going step by step.

But the challenge of fitting a whole game into such a limited space is one of the reasons why I want to make an NES game and not, say, a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive game.
(for now. xD)

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #18 on: May 01, 2021, 10:46:51 pm
Quick and dirty walk test. Background is temporary, UI is temporary, name is temporary... Everything is temporary!



I'll probably add another frame before the "spread".
« Last Edit: May 01, 2021, 10:49:36 pm by fskn »

Offline SeDiceBisonte

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #19 on: May 02, 2021, 08:29:52 am
I know that's heavily WIP, and this is coming from a position of not understanding the limitations you're working with, but I think having two frames with the legs so close together doesn't work very well with a constant moving speed. It's currently creating the impression that he's gliding–the leg movement doesn't look like it's actually powering him.

I think that could either be solved by having him move in bursts, if it's a sidestepping effect that you're after, or by "averaging" the leg positions across the three frames, so that they move a similar amount in each frame. I'm no animator, either, so that might be terrible advice, but my instinct is that with only three frames, you won't want any two to be so similar.

That aside, it really is a great sprite–really readable, and there's a great atmosphere already from the combination of it with the sketched background.

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #20 on: May 02, 2021, 11:45:37 am
Thanks, SeDiceBisonte.

Yeah, he's definitely gliding and to some extent he will anyway because I (probably?) can't devote too many frames to that animation. But maybe that effect can be mitigated. For this animation in particular I had the characters from the first Mortal Kombat in mind, but did it completely without checking any references, and I should have. Seeing it now, even Johnny Cage moves his feet a little more than what I did there.

But I'll look into that. Maybe this guy should have a heavier walk... He probably should be going up and down 1 pixel when his legs are closer together.

I think I want to make him move at a regular speed because it could be a bit of a pain to implement if he doesn't.

Offline cels

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #21 on: May 02, 2021, 11:58:14 am
The way he's walking now really gives the impression that he's trying to keep his balance to strike at any minute, like a kendo competitor or a samurai. I think that's really cool as a walking animation if (a) this is more of a slow paced game with blocks, parries and counters or (b) there is an option to run when walking is too slow. I agree that it looks great already (if Bisonte's point is addressed), I'm not sure I'd prefer a bounce. Will be interesting to see, depending on the pace and style of the game. I would assume that it's probably not total mayhem with dozens of enemies at the time. Otherwise, he's going to need a really powerful left hook.  ;D

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #22 on: May 02, 2021, 06:39:54 pm
Added a new frame (yeah, I know, I'm going slooowly...), changed some things here and there:




Old > New (in red, hand animated)
https://i.imgur.com/mkcQ05A.gif


The pacing is somewhat consistent...

I'm thinking his boot... things, sleeves, fur(??) are making it a bit hard to follow the movement of the feet. But I'm not sure if that's that problematic.

---

Perhaps if I darkened the left leg when it gets behind the right one...

https://i.imgur.com/jy64qmu.gif

« Last Edit: May 02, 2021, 06:53:28 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #23 on: May 06, 2021, 01:10:47 pm
Since SeinRuhe is apparently putting his career before pixel art, I'll offer my thoughts:

- The new animation looks great. Much better than before.
- I think it's a good idea to darken the leg that is behind the other. Maybe you can even go further and make it dark brown?
- Now that I've bought Aseprite, I can actually test different animations myself. And I'm pretty sure I prefer him not bouncing up and down as he walks.  I seem to have given him a limp. ;D
- I also tried to make his right leg (our left side) move a bit evenly because I felt your version doesn't move the right leg too much between frame 2 and 3. And I tried to darken his boot as he puts one foot in front of the other, including the fur.



Don't know if this helps but an attempt was made.  :lol:

EDIT:

Those shoe laces are not easy to get right.

« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 01:14:57 pm by cels »

Offline fskn

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Re: Barbarian sprite with NES specs [C+C]

Reply #24 on: May 06, 2021, 09:59:17 pm
Haha, yeah, I had tried doing exactly that with making him go up a pixel and ehh... No. Too weird. So I kept him steady. It does look like a Harvey Toons walk, though.
But OTOH it will help me keep the tile count down.

Also I was undecided to paint his leg dark brown (and I had tried doing that too), but upon seeing your edit now I think it looks better...

I like your frame 2 better. It's clearer, doesn't make everything look like confusing blob.

Thanks for the edit, cels.