Spicing up limited animation on character sprites

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Twoflower
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Spicing up limited animation on character sprites

#1 Post by Twoflower » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:29 pm

I'm making my first visual novel, having admired the genre for some time. But one thing is really sticking out to me in my game -- a lack of any sort of dynamic movement. I mean, duh, it's still image character sprites on a background, that's pretty normal... but I'm wondering, are there ways to spice up that formula a little?

Maybe add a little bounce to a sprite when a character's excited? A jitter when they're nervous? Some squash and stretch? More 'traversal' back and forth across the screen for pacing, or something? I've got a handful of ideas, but not many.

What sort of little tweaks do you like to see to make still images feel a bit more lively? Or do you prefer a more static view that doesn't distract you?
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Re: Spicing up limited animation on character sprites

#2 Post by Jackkel Dragon » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:11 pm

I generally prefer static characters, personally. Even lipflaps can get a bit distracting when I'm trying to read. But when doing this method, you need to have a lot of expression/pose changes to keep things interesting.

I think a good game to look into is 9 hours, 9 persons, 9 doors (999). In that game, the portraits are mostly static, but sometimes have little animations that play. Like the little girl will bounce into her happy pose, or the big guy will throw his head back into his laughing pose. That way you can have at least some visual movement without having something too difficult to implement or too distracting to the player.

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Edit 2: I don't know how static your current portraits are overall, but having them move across the screen or visibly leave the screen when they exit can help to emulate movement. Like having character A on the left side and B at the right side of the screen, then having B move to the center when patting A on the back in narration. That sounds like one of the things you already mentioned though, so that might not be news.
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Re: Spicing up limited animation on character sprites

#3 Post by Imperf3kt » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:47 pm

If you've ever watched anime, particularly parody and comedy anime or read a manga, you'd probably notice a lot of exclamation marks, sweat drops, anger veins, sparkles or stars around a characters head/body, dark purple foreheads etc.

Personally I like to animate these instead.
For example:
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f2/9d/6f ... bda62f.jpg
Note: image hotlinked so may not work
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Re: Spicing up limited animation on character sprites

#4 Post by akareed » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:18 pm

I personally think little animations like the ones you mentioned can really make your game a lot more lively. I know that in some mobile card games, the sprite barely changes at all, but small bounce/shake/whatnot can still capture some feeling to it. As a visual learner I always think little animations can still carry a lot of life.

Not just the character sprites, but think of moving the camera, too(zooming, panning,...). I notice that it can really make things feel way less static. Directing/coding these are a lot of work, so sometimes one might not think that it's worth the time/effort for it.

Hope my insight helped! ^^;
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Re: Spicing up limited animation on character sprites

#5 Post by Donmai » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:46 pm

Take a look at Juniper's Knot:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=14812&p=192917
https://dischan.co/downloads/
to see what a little sprite animation can do to a game.
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Re: Spicing up limited animation on character sprites

#6 Post by numituwi » Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:25 pm

Animation can be good! But I think they should be used sparingly. If every character is animated during an event it could lag your game or lag the player's game.

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Re: Spicing up limited animation on character sprites

#7 Post by sessurea » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:55 pm

If you're interested in a cool little trick to create dynamic transitions between poses, I highly recommend this tutorial. It gives a good idea of how to squash and stretch with different poses, and the principles apply beyond just the type of poses in the tutorial.

I definitely prefer these types of animation over static characters. Really adds to the gamefeel, giving the player a stronger sense of input. And unlike fully animated characters, animated transitions don't draw the eye away from the text.

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Re: Spicing up limited animation on character sprites

#8 Post by etoir » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:10 pm

I think small bounces and jumps add a lot to characters when they are used properly. It is easy to over use them though, and then they just make the player tired. They should be used sparingly, and thus be more noticeable.

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