Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

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Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#1 Post by frylander » Thu May 03, 2018 2:52 pm

Hi there,

On the process of making my game I'm facing new problems. I had lots of sprites planned and sketched already, but after working on the sprites for several days I find myself not enjoying making them anymore.

Art for me was always something enjoyable that I did when I felt like and had a good time doing it, but in this project it became a chore, and considering the huge ammount of work that I need to do in order to finish the game, it's a big, long chore at that.

Still, I put a lot of dedication into this project alreayd and I don't want to leave it hanging. Instead, I'm looking for ways to enjoy the process again so I can continue its development.

My idea now is to make the game only using CG, and not a single sprite. This means that a whole scene would have a single or few CG's for it with small variations like arms, eyes, etc specific to that CG, but very few.

I prefer this because unlike with sprites, I can have more freedom when drawing, doing interesting perspectives or angles, while sprites are always pretty flat.

But I'm not sure if it would be good or if people would like it. I think it could set a good mood if done properly and it would get me to enjoy more the process, but I thought I could ask in here for feedback on that matter.

It would greatly decrease the ammount of work in the programming too since it's easier to get a CG in there rather than, say, 4 characters sprites.

If anyone's wondering or in case it's relevant, I will use lots of ambient sounds and SFX to set up the mood too, even some simple animations like rain, etc.

I don't know, just tell me what you think or if you have any other ideas for me to create the game without cutting my veins over the art, lol.

Thanks for your help, I will keep thinking about this in the meantime and take a rest from drawing until I figure out what to do.

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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#2 Post by fleet » Thu May 03, 2018 4:02 pm

You said "But I'm not sure if it would be good or if people would like it. "
I don't use sprites in my visual novels, all of my art is CG.
Nobody who has critiqued my visual novels has said "This would be better if you used sprites."
Jack Norton used the same technique in his commercially released Vera Blanc visual novels

Make the VN the way you want to make it. Some people will play it, some won't. I hope you enjoy making your visual novel.
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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#3 Post by Mammon » Thu May 03, 2018 5:09 pm

If the VN is all CGs but too repetitive and stagnant in the scene, for example showing a CG suggesting a quick motion like jumping but writing a whole 10k words of scene around it or using the CG a dozen times over, it can be bad. With sprites at least that flatness doesn't highlight the lack of dynamics by not suggesting there should be any. However, if you can do it right, which depends on what kind of CG you make and the story you tell, it would actually be better.

Not to be the pessimist, but will you really be able to finish all the CGs before hitting a similar demotivation moment? If you stopped halfway with the sprites, then there's only a bigger chance that this will happen with the CGs. There will be a lot more of them, A LOT MORE, compared to the sprites and you'll have to make the backgrounds for them every time. This might seem like the better idea now that you're still sketching, but won't it be taking the fun out of things when you'll have to draw the details of the bricks or the leaves on the trees every time? With the sprites, at least you'll eventually be done with a character and then you don't have to make the exact same one again. There's more artistic freedom in that first design, but in the CGs they'll have to look alike every time.

Don't think that because you lost interest in the sprites right now means that you'll never enjoy making them again. I myself also experience these demotivation moments when I worked on it too many hours of the week, over-motivation can easily leave you drained similar to how a sugar rush is followed by weak wooziness. Just take a bit off rather than going in a whole new direction, and see if the problem persists.

(P.S. Fleet's games are with 3D models like the ones in their avatar, not hand-drawn ones. If you do go on the CG route, then going 3D CGI might be a good idea. It's a lot more work per sprite, but a lot less if you'll be using that sprite many times in many CGs.)
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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#4 Post by frylander » Thu May 03, 2018 6:52 pm

Well, I too believe this may be in part just me being overworked and tired. I mean I've spent several days non stop with the sprites, the problem is that I want to have a good mood for the story, that's why I wanted to make different heads/bodies for the two main characters, and that is all done, well the sketches at least, but I find it to be a lot of work in a tedious sense, like I have to be very careful with my layers and placement of the sprites, naming, etc.

Also my Photoshop files are already very slow with the sketches alone, if I were to add shading on top of that I can only imagine how slow that could get.

And yes, pacing is one of the main issues for the CG route, however I think that in that regard it's sort of balanced, because I have some chapters as you know that are quite static, taking place in the same location for the most part if not all of it. For instance the last chapter would be a single CG + variations. While others are more fast paced and would require several CG's.

The reason why I dislike doing the sprites is because:

1:It requires a lot of work, both artistic and technical and what you can do with them is either limited, or you end up making lots of sprite variations (like I did). This means that the end result isn't exactly what I would want. (for instance I wanted to show off the clothing of my characters but due to size differences between characters I ended up cropping my characters at wast/belly button level, losing a lot of info about the sprite.)

2:Sometimes I don't feel like drawing a still figure, I want to draw an action scene or a dramatic moment. If I were to draw CG I could always, instead of being forced to draw the same character's eyes over and over, draw a specific CG that fits the mood that I'm in.

3:The more work I put on the sprites (ammount), the more work I have to put on the programming side of things and while possible, it would require a considerable ammount of work and pushing my expected release date way further than I can/want.

As for the backgrounds and all of that, I'm not any artist much less an envoirment artist, my backgrounds won't be professional by any means. They will be... well, backgrounds. They will only be there to set a space, lighting, mood, and little more. With this I mean that I won't put much work into them, in fact if I do close ups, the backgrounds can be very vague. My focus will be on the characters, their emotions and actions.

I'm still unsure about what to do, as you state it will still be a lot of work, just different. I think that if I were to go back to sprites I would simplify it a lot unless I want to go mad. For now I'm going to make tests on the prologue with sketches to see how it plays out with CG.

Maybe I just need to rest from drawing for a while like you said, I just don't like resting because I feel like I have to keep working on it. Perhaps I'm pushing myself a little too much here. I will try to make the prologue with CG and then with sprites to see how they feel like, and I will try to make an inventory of how many estimated CG's I would need in case I wanted to do the game with CG.

As for the 3D, yes I did consider making the game in 3D, or even using 3D references for the backgrounds, but I think the 3D look doesn't fit my story, I want a very dark, creepy look for it and the 3D art always pops too much.

As always thanks for your helps, Tomorrow I will try to have the prologue done so I can post them here for the sake of getting feedback.

Edit:

As I thought, I spent like 2 hours now drawing and they went flying, while I had to spend like 3 hours to draw a set of facial expressions because I couldn't bring myself to do it. Even if its more work, I think this should come as easier or at least more gratifying for me. I already have the prologue done with CG sketches, tomorrow I will make a video to post it here to compare both versions (with sprites and with only CG).

I also have another test for a final CG to see if the style fits and all, I think it looks dope (except for the background which needs a bit more of work for the sake of not being flat surfaces, but not much more.)

Image

What do you think about this style for the CG's? With red linework on characters and lineless, undefined backgrounds. That should make it way easier to produce more CG's in less time and the end result has some style/mood to it.

Here is a link for full resolution: https://image.ibb.co/jxhvES/PSD_CG_Lisa_apareciendo.jpg

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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#5 Post by Mammon » Fri May 04, 2018 3:10 am

If you can keep this level of art up for the entire story, then it could work as your art style. Especially considering this is your first project. I'm not sure if such backgrounds will still work with the victorian mansion that will be a lot more bright and detailed, nor can I tell yet if this style will work with smaller characters that are further away and where the red line will thus be relatively bigger to the rest. There's one tool I recently learned about, DesignDoll, which will probably be useful for posing all these CGs quickly and keep them in the correct proportions.

If the script wasn't already finished I would've suggested you wouldn't work on and off between it and the sprites, the variation probably would've fixed the issue without taking a break. Perhaps working the script into code could do the same, depending on whether you like it or not coding can be a real mindless chore that can rekindle your art itch by being less mind numbing. Or you do like it, and no such thing would happen. Whatever the case, just don't throw out the sprites yet in case you'll later learn that the CGs aren't the way for you after all.
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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#6 Post by frylander » Fri May 04, 2018 8:35 am

Glad to hear that this art could work, because most likely it will end up being similar to this. The background here does need more work because I kinda rushed it even more than I usually do, but it was late at night and I wanted to get some feedback overnight.

Meaning that the art on the characters would look like that while the backgrounds could look a bit more detailed, or depending on the circusntances, even more abstract. Basically my way of seeing it is that, the bigger the characters are in the scene, the less importance the background has. Smaller characters would mean me putting more detail into the background.

As for the small characters with the lines, I can say that those wouldn't have such thick lines. Mostly because when I do such things I always zoom in and get a smaller size brush, meaning that when zoomed in they would look thick, but when zoomed out they would look thin in comparison. So that shouldn't be too much of a problem, in fact I just keep iterating on my sketches until they look nice anyways so in case I need to change anything, I can do it without a problem.

Also this background is less detailed because it's not very relevant, it's just supposed to be some random part of the city, more iconic parts like the mansion will be more detailed at least the first time they are seen for the sake of setting the location and ambience. That's my idea at least, and since the backgrounds are in different layers than the characters I could always re-use some to some extent, maybe zooming in or something similar.

Also with this method I can have more control over what is seen, meaning that here for instance I contrast a bright character with a dark background. In the mansion as you say, if I want to have a bright background, then I would darken the character for contrast. This is something that I can't do properly with sprites.

And yes! Design doll is very useful, I have it installed already but didn't consider using it. Partly because at first it feels like cheating a bit, I didn't want to rely on that to learn to draw. However now that I'm a bit more skilled on poses and figure drawing, and considering this is a somewhat serious project, I could indeed use it to speed up the process and keep proportions the same. I will use it if I ever find a pose that is too complicated for me to draw myself.

And the script is not only finished but also implemented in code, meaning that the text-part of the game is already done. All characters have their dialogues and all of that in the text box, all I need to do really when it comes to coding now, is replacing the GUI and putting in the sound/art. Other than that it's pretty much done.

The sound is easy and I already have lots of SFX, music and Ambiences to use, so the only tricky part for me is the art, that's why it's being such a problem for me.

The hardest part if I go for the CG route will be keeping my characters consistent, but for that I would just need to come up with a recipe to draw my characters face and body proportions so they at least look similar on the first sketch, and then I would iterate on all of the sketches so they are as consistant as possible.

Of course the work I have done on the sprites won't be discarded, they will remain there in case I change my mind, but I found working on the CG to be much more easy and satisfying to me. It feels more like drawing art, an illustration. I can play around with things more and have way more liberty, that's what I like.

I will post the video of the prologue with the CG sketches later, I have still to record it, and I will try to keep doing CG sketches to see if I get burned out in the same way as with the sprites. If I do it's just a matter of resting from time to time and deciding what route would work best.

As usual thanks for the help and feedback!

EDIT:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFdk0YQQtVo

Here is a link for the video of the prologue as a demo. Sorry about the bad sound quality, and bear in mind that obviously the CG you see in there is only meant as a placeholder so I can keep working on the programming side of things, and will be iterated on. The most final CG in there though still not quite, is the one poster above in this post.

Let me know what you guys think, and as I said there are quite a few images there but that's because the prologue has some action scenes which aren't as common later on. Does it have a good flow/ambience with the sound effects and the rain animation? How does it look overall?

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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#7 Post by Fuseblower » Fri May 04, 2018 10:27 pm

Using only CGs sounds perfectly fine to me. The idea to make a single sprite and copy/paste a bunch of facial expressions on a blank face seems not only boring but even wrong to me as well. After all : an expression takes up the whole body, not just the eyes and mouth.

On another note : I would look out for this (taken from Will Eisner's excellent "Comics and Sequential Art") :

Image

"Show, don't tell" but also "Don't tell what you're already showing". The text shouldn't contain descriptions of what is already shown in the CG.

You could think of the CG's as illustrations in a book. They don't need to take up the whole screen or be inside some frame. They don't even need a background. They only need to tell a story. They're CGs, you can do with them what you want and the same goes for the text if you don't go for the typical visual novel with sprites.

I noticed that most of your CGs are still sketches and the ones that are colored are shaded somewhat cursory.

How do you feel about making 200 line drawings? And how do you feel about coloring those 200 line drawings? In my experience : coloring takes more time than making line drawings. If you're only interested in interesting poses then coloring might feel like a chore. After all : the line drawing will contain everything about the pose already. Perhaps a style like that of Will Eisner in the picture above might be more to your liking. He was a master in drawing expressive poses and he did it only with a couple of lines. If you cut out the color then you'll cut out more than half the time.

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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#8 Post by Mammon » Sat May 05, 2018 3:28 am

Looking at your video, I saw A LOT of CGs. As in, those 200 Fuseblower mentioned might need an additional zero added. I'm aware that this is a fight scene and thus much more dynamic than the rest of the script, but still that's a lot of CGs suggested by this scene. If you don't lessen the amount and think about how to reuse your images optimally, I can't see anyone finishing your length of project like this. Much less with the intense continuous making of CGs and the time limit you have.
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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#9 Post by frylander » Sat May 05, 2018 6:32 am

For fuseblower:

Yes, that's exactly how I feel! I had different bodies for my main characters with several expressions for eyes, mouth and eyebrows, but it didn't quite look right to me on some parts because it didn't quite translate the moment of the story, it felt a bit flat.

That's also even more true to me considering I think of my stories more as movies rather than novels, so I have a very specific idea of what I want to convey and how I want to show it. That's also why I think CG may be the best route for me.

As for the "dont tell what you are showing", that indeed would require for me to iterate on the script once I have finished all the CG's, for the sake of not being constantly changing it. Meaning that once I've settled completely on the art I would go over the script again and decide what's worth scrapping and what not.

And don't worry, coloring/shading for me is one of the most interesting parts, and the way I do it makes it quick anyways. The part that I hate the most about drawing is doing clean linework, because it takes a lot of time for it to feel "right" or clean enough, and most of the times I still like my sketches more. That's why I'm sticking with cleaning my sketches a bit instead of drawing clean lineart on top. It will look messy as shown above, but hopefully it can come up as my style of choice. That should speed up the process, since I should be able to sketch multiple CG's a day and also paint multiple too.

For Mammon:

Don't worry! I am well aware that I have to distribute them well. What I plan to do is some sort of mix between making sprite art and CG art.

For the sake of speeding things up I will have a few of the more iconic backgrounds like, very high quality, 4K for example. I will import those into my Full HD CG projects and use different zoomed in parts of them as backgrounds for some of the CG's that take place in the same areas, that alone should speed things up a little and keep them consistent.

Also I do plan to reuse a lot of the CG's. For instance just in the prologue I have in mind to reuse the "girl strangling man" CG and the "girl throwing the man" CG. And later on I have in mind lots of CG that can be easily reused/modified. Have in mind that I want this story to be mostly intimate, this isn't lord of the rings so there aren't going to be many characters at once in the screen for the most part, meaning that most of the drawings will be pretty close up. I want to focus on the emotions of the characters.

Also also, the parts that are more relaxed and still will be mostly still images with few variations. When they are having conversations for the most part I will have a still image of them talking just for the sake of setting the mood of the scene, and maybe add one or two arm variations for the sake of variety/conveying something. But other than that I don't plan to describe everything in the CG's as literally as in the prologue. That's just because it's a fight and it's the beginning, meaning I want to hook the player with lots of CG and tell them "hey look, this is how the game is going to be more or less, if you like it keep playing"

And since I'm always going to have my characters separated from the backgrounds, I could always reuse them for different scenes if it fits. For instance I could reuse the CG of the presentation of the little girl in a different background, maybe modifying the expression, but you get the point, I can sort of reuse the CG as if they were sprites too, only that they are more artistic, something which I like.

Going back to what fuseblower said and as you know, I describe a lot the actions of my characters, so it's not necessary for me to show them literally again in the CG as long as I have a good rythm going. My main focus with the CG's will be treating them like movie editing, something which I'm more comfortable with.

This means that my main goal will be to set a CG, and before the player gets tired of looking at it, change it. If I can do that, it shouldl be a success. If I can convey a scene in a single CG without it getting tiresome, that's what I'll do. I will only add additional CG's if I think they can add significant mood or emotion to the scene. So on the most iconic parts like the plot twists, I will have more CG's.

In the end for me the most important part is to be comfortable with what I'm doing. Because I'm the kind of guy that works very hard on what he likes but completely forgets about what he doesn't like. Meaning that If I try to force myself to do something I don't like I will either end up scrapping it or doing a terrible job at it. If I do something that I like I'm more confident that the end result should look better.

Tell you what, this is something I wanted to do before even doing art but decided against it because I wanted to use the sprites, but now it makes more sense. I will make an inventory of the CG's I plan to use, per chapter. This will be useful for the sake of seeing if it's too much, too little, and to see if they are more or less even across all the chapters. I will then post it here so you can give me feedback from your experience.

I started doing it but only got to chapter 3 before going in to make art, and until that point I had an average of 7-10 CG's per chapter with like 5 of them being reusable for later points. Considering that average keeps up now I would end up with about 180 CG's, probably 200 considering the fight scenes. Though that estimate was when I still planed to use sprites, so it might be different now. If I reuse characters too instead of whole CG's I should be able to speed up the process.

Anyways no more rambling, I will get to the inventory and come back to you with more info on it, maybe I will try to clean up more the CG above so it looks closer to what I intend to have as a final CG for the sake of demonstration.

Either way, do you guys think that even if I had less CG's at some points, it could still have a good mood on the scenes thanks to the ambient sound, the sound effects and the music?

Thanks for your great help as usual, your feedback is being very useful and helpful!

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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#10 Post by fleet » Sat May 05, 2018 1:12 pm

I looked at the demo. The art fits the story well. I did see one problem. It's raining, but the full moon is shining in the streets. If it is raining as hard as shown, the full moon would not be shining.
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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#11 Post by frylander » Sat May 05, 2018 1:46 pm

fleet wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 1:12 pm
I looked at the demo. The art fits the story well. I did see one problem. It's raining, but the full moon is shining in the streets. If it is raining as hard as shown, the full moon would not be shining.
Lol, true. That's no problem still, I plan to have different intensities in the rain, so I will only make the rain at the beginning softer.

And glad to hear that you think the style fits the story!

As an estimate of the CG needed, I made a quick inventory up to chapter 6, and here are the results:

Ch1: 25 CG's
Ch2: 13 CG's
Ch3: 8 CG's
Ch4: 11 CG's
Ch5: 7 CG's
Ch6: 14 CG's

Now, take in consideratin that I didn't incluse the CG's that are already drawn, meaning that all reusable CG's only appear the first time in this list. Also note that some if not most of these are mostly variations of each other, since the actions take place almost in the same place.

Each chapter has about 1 to 3 locations at most. The only exceptions for that are the chapters 1, 8 and 11 which are longer than the rest and have more locations, so those will need more CG dedicated exclusively for them, as shown in the previous list.

For the rest I estimate an average of about 10 CG's per chapter. With each chapter there should be less work to do since I will reuse the more casual drawings that aren't too specific for a scene. For instance If I need to have a character sad and I already drawn that character with a sad face and body pose too, I will just copy paste it, change the background and maybe change the overall sketch a bit. That should help with the workflow.

I'm also considering for the sake of making things easier, using instead of whole images with backgrounds, have a single image with a better background and the rest of variations be showed in like pop-up images in the middle of the screen with a simple black fading background. This means I can have more variations easily which can save me whole drawings while keeping a good rythm.

Things like, if I want a character headpat another one, instead of making a whole new drawing with a new background or a variation which may not be ideal depending on the previous CG, I can just draw a very close up detailed face with the hand on the head, and have that pop in the midle of the screen with no background.

This could also save me a lot of time in the action scenes, having things like dagger swings without backgrounds as shown in the demo, or punches, dodges, etc.

What do you guys think? I believe that the pop-up images without background could greatly improve the rythm and make it way easier and possible to do so many CG's without going crazy. It also lets me focus the player on whatever I want to show, be it an expression or action. Like having a close up of the eyes of a character only on the screen.

All that combined with the ambient sounds, SFX and music should create a good mood. I would leave more to the imagination of the player, I guess.

Let me know what you guys think about the idea, I think I will at least try to use CG only for now to see if I go crazy or not. It should also prove to be a good practice to improve my drawings!

And sorry if I seem too undecisive on this subject, I just want to make sure about things before doing them and since this is my first game ever, it's tricky for me. At least I have clear the sound part and the script which is already a huge part.

Thanks as usual!

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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#12 Post by catgame21234 » Sat May 05, 2018 1:50 pm

If I may? Just read the first post and skimmed the other noers but I wouldn't mind throwing my hat into the fire. Sorry If I am reciting posts in the process.
I plan on making a game myself with a similar type of mindset, however instead of fully investing in CGs you use what tools are available to you. Sprites are used to convoy emotions and lower work amount ono the artist at large. If you are going to dump all your resources in CGs as an indy you should have just considered going into a different field or had some sort f system going with another artist to get your work done.
Sprites are used when action is expensive, us as designers and as the artist, we are making puppets. Puppets to put on a show for the player to interact with. Pretend we are making a shadow puppet show, you'd want to reuse as much of the same paper as you can. Save the scraps. then use the scraps to make other assets with them. With CGs you cant…really do that. You cant repurpose sprites, you can't copy and paste things, you cant speed up production.

There are a lot f games made by the tripple A indrestry that use "VNs" and "CGs" dating all the way back to my memory the SNES but they're even apparent in games today. I'll be useing fire emblem as an example

Spoilers for Fire Emblem 4 Genealogy of the Holy War
www.youtube.com/watch?v=43udINCSON4&ab_ ... rdequester
This is displaying the death of the whole first cast, your main hero lost their wife who was memory whiped and the main villan took her as his bride
. Watch how both with just music and character sprites you can feel the tention of the moment, how she is being dragged away from her lover
in the last moments before his execution
. With useing the limitations they where able to tell a great story ueing what tools they had at their disposal.

Let's fastforward to this game Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adventure for the DS.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYx8gfW ... Cyberman65

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kYCUPQ ... eshaAdrien

I highly recomend just studying how this game is able t deliver it's story, it'd be a good exsersize. We can use any animation cutseans as "CG" place ins.
Study how "good" or "bad" the cutseans are out of context.
Which game presented their story better? Which has better writing? Which one has more charm? Which one has better character art? Which gets you invested in the story more? How are character sprites used? Do you think that everything being raw CGs would have made it better? How? Would it made it worse? How and why?

Lastly let's jump to the 3DS To Fire Emblem Echoso (no major spoilers just watch out for the sujections area)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wpwj0Aq ... sCutscenes
This is the intro to the game and it makes use of CGs and we can pretend that the animation would be CGs as well because we can brake down any animation into a storyboarding prossess.
Lok at how much information is given yet so little.
Yet, I feel that you are underestimating the power of sprites.
My favorit thing in the game is not these cutseans, but rather these small character interactions–that i feel– are only made posiabol with the type of story delivering tools we have with VNs and Sprites.


https://youtu.be/LoUCas_8we0?t=1109

watch this interaction between these two men and stop when they conclude at 18:29
From just music and damn well facial exspressions and amazing voice work I learned everything I ever needed to knoow about these characters with minimal effort done on the artists (drawing) part in the grand schema of things.

We can't make games as pretty as these, but we can deffently use what tools we have to deliver a story. Because it matters not how good or pretty the art is, if the story falls through the cracks and isn't interesting to watch then we wont sit through anything.

lastly, let me show you the power of a sprite having minimal work done in the art department, something we could theoreticaly make, but be supported so hard by booth the music choice,Amazing voice acting, (posiabol) background knowlage of the characters in question (but i feel you can appreshate this without knowing about these characters, and did I say amazing line delivery and voice directing yet?
It's not what is written that makes this interaction funny




It is not the CGs or the sprites that make this such a rememberabol moment to me
It is the overall direction that the creative director made, from the voice casting to lines that where kept in the final cut, to the overall clean presentation and consistant character work that make this moment greate

and to be honest I cant see this moment like this playing out in a game full of CGs. Some things are just…best done with sprites. Just like a shadow puppet show. This is the things that get us invested.
We can get invested in a puppet show and cry over the story that it's told, or laugh at the jokes that they give us. Remember that whenever you are doing a performance work of art (such as making an experience for people) that you can trust the viewr, or player, to allw their suspension of disbelief to be wider and hey'll be willing to enjoy your slide frame show of characters talking.


And on a last point and a rather short one at that, You dislike making sprites?
Find a method where you then enjoy making the sprites.
Do you have the right style? Did you plan everything out? is your script finnish and you have markings of what emotions you need? Maybe mark up your script with emojis so that you can translate to you faster what you need. There's so many text based emojis out there that you can use that have a wide aray of expressions that are amazingly complex so if you want to go in and give your people individual exspressions you have foot notoes fr that. have you thought about having the sprites interact with one another? Draw two people in the same sprite fighting one another and say actor A is strangeling actor B and they're like hitting the sides f the very player space, meanwile actor C is in the background (as a sprite) looking horrified. You can even do minor eits to the background if they where in public like the blob loking people turning around and some shocked faces at what's happening.
Right there, you suddenly just made a dynamic compassion from just character sprites alone and drastically cutting your work load because you don't gotta think about perspective and things of that nature.

Oh, and lastly, take examples out from our cousin media of presenting our stories, comic books.

Image
See how only 1 panel has a bunch of detail in the background, but then generally other panels hardly have anything in the background?
This is because artist are lazy and don't want to draw everything.

Image
You can easly translate these moments out of sprites and a static background (more or less).

Image

Artist want to find short cuts, Artist want to reduce work load.
Sprites allow you to do that.
So find a way to reduce your work load.
Find a way to use sprites.
Sprites are tools, so find a way to use them in the style you see fit.

Otherwise well… you are going to end up like this guy I think.


Don't be this guy.
No body wants to be this guy.
I don't want t be this guy.
I wouldn't even wish the people who wronged me in my life or the man who'll eventually murder me too go through what this guy has.
And all that could have done to prevented this cruel and unusual punishment was just some preplanning and some foresight dude.
Save yourself now wile you still can.
Because you can.
Oy! Just call me Catti.
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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#13 Post by frylander » Sat May 05, 2018 2:34 pm

Woah catgame, you made some interesting points!

Alright, let's start from the beginning...

Yes, I do understand that the sprites are tools to save time and workload! In fact at first I had planned to do most of the game with sprites. However that not only was stressful for me because of the workflow, but also resulted in other problems such as a more difficult programming of the game and the actions falling a bit flat.

Basically I had a system that allowed me to have several bodies and heads and I could swap them at will mid-game, but because they were torn sprites made of several parts, it meant that they had to have restrictions. This means that I cant change the neck's position for instance, or similar stuff.

That meant I had limited artistic liberty to work with. And in the end even if I had several heads/eyes/mouths/eyebrows and arms, it all felt flat because of that.

What I have in mind to do now with CG's would allow me to reuse them, since I plan to keep the characters separated from the backgrounds, and most of the times they will be drawn in simple perspectives which would allow me to reuse them later.

And yes those videos you showed do tell a story easily, but then again those stories aren't precisely dramatic like mine. If my game were about a comedy or something similar which doesn't require so much dramatism, I wouldn't mind the sprites at all.

As for that video of fire emblems having a comedic chat, I do believe that most of the comedy there is delivered by voice lines. That same scene played out without voices would lose a lot of it's mood, in my opinion. If I had voices in my game I could convey those emotions and dramatic moments with them, sadly I only have "talking beeps".

As for the comic media and getting being as lazy as possible, believe me, that's totally me already. Why do you think I plan to use my sketches for the final CG's instead of actual linework? Lol I'm lazy but also practical, I try to find a good middle ground on that subject.

However and now that you mentioned it, the thing about "finding a way for you to enjoy making sprites"...

I'm thinking that maybe I could try to find a middle ground. I could scrap the sprites with arm variations and similar that give me no freedom, and instead make whole poses in a single drawing. That would mean more poses of course, but also more dynamism and dramatism which is what I was lacking. That also means they would be easier to reuse since they would be in a 2D Plane.

Hmmmm it could work, maybe.

I will re-do the prologue using that method to see how it plays out, then I'll make a video and post it here for the sake of letting you guys compare and give your opinion too.

I did have in mind making sprites interacting with each other too as well, I had lots of big plans for the sprites, too many probably, that's part of why I scrapped them. It was getting out of hand and a lot of work, like I had athe sprite of the little girl with 5 bodies, 5 heads each one with a different set of arms, and THEN on top of that, each head/body/arm had variations. That's a lot of work. It meant that I had hundreds if not thousands of possible combinations, more than I could ever have needed, but perhaps It was too much.

A more artistic approach on them could solve my issues, having dedicated poses for specific parts of the story. Thanks for your suggestion, I will try it, I'm eager to see how it plays out! If it worked, it would save me a lot of work indeed.

Have a nice day!

Edit:

Also also! I forgot to mention one of the issues I had with the sprites!

Size difference! The little girl is almost always on scene and her heigth is at shoulder-level of the rest of most characters. This means her body is only bisible up to the belly button in the sprites. If I try to make the sprites smaller, because of the style with small eyes, their emotions are very hard to see.

That was also one of the reasons I thought going the CG route could be better. Either way I will make a test with those artistic sprites and see how it goes.

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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#14 Post by catgame21234 » Sat May 05, 2018 4:14 pm

frylander wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 2:34 pm
Woah catgame, you made some interesting points!

Alright, let's start from the beginning...

Yes, I do understand that the sprites are tools to save time and workload! In fact at first I had planned to do most of the game with sprites. However that not only was stressful for me because of the workflow, but also resulted in other problems such as a more difficult programming of the game and the actions falling a bit flat.

Basically I had a system that allowed me to have several bodies and heads and I could swap them at will mid-game, but because they were torn sprites made of several parts, it meant that they had to have restrictions. This means that I cant change the neck's position for instance, or similar stuff.

That meant I had limited artistic liberty to work with. And in the end even if I had several heads/eyes/mouths/eyebrows and arms, it all felt flat because of that.
Why not handle that outside of the engines? You wouldn't be making it in the engines you'd be making it the image program you use the feed in the sprites. You'd be making all the "puppets" first then you put it into the program. And if you have photoshoop you can learn how to automate the function

I use actions just to flip my canvas space or little smaller actions. I'm sure this is programed in other devices.
A fun thing I do just for fun is edit some characters heads for this one browser game I play. I often RP as the offical charactesr in question and I like going one step beyond for my presentation for my players so I always make character sprite heads when I can.
http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/cc/ ... t_27241799
Pages 1 and 2.
And from my limited understanding of coding if you have the image created you can just name that image file what you want and then have it ono the program. This might in of itself make a very very very very very very long list of images you do use, but it allows you for incremental edits you would need on the fly.
Here's an example of the RPs I run in motion.
Image


frylander wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 2:34 pm
What I have in mind to do now with CG's would allow me to reuse them, since I plan to keep the characters separated from the backgrounds, and most of the times they will be drawn in simple perspectives which would allow me to reuse them later.
So …simple perspectives
…not attached to the background.



So sprites right?
I know this video is in a joking tone, just trying to make things feel light. Know I'm still trying too make a serious point :)
A sprite by any other name is still a sprite. I think you're just struggling with the execution.
Coding is not knowing the language mostly, it's about being able to problem solve. I think your problem is work flow and organization.

Hell here's an example I made using the sprites that I showed you before. And if I was ever to use a spoof test game I think I would use premade sprites or a whole sprite list of other cannon stuff.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVAKoxn ... kepie21234
frylander wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 2:34 pm
And yes those videos you showed do tell a story easily, but then again those stories aren't precisely dramatic like mine. If my game were about a comedy or something similar which doesn't require so much dramatism, I wouldn't mind the sprites at all.
…I think you are getting caught up with the exicution. You're missing the forest in the trees for this one.
A story can be made out of any parts, any tools, period.



We buy into the fact that the man wearing make up is intact an android and this is a moc trile in space disiding the fate of a character and if they are to be a slave or dismantled .
These same …tools, from the camera work, to the make up, screen writers, actors, ham fisted points, stage prop, sound editing, video editing, voice talent, actors, storyboarding, preproduction, all that and more can make…something stupid and corrny as this.



The point of what I am showing you is not; "Go copy what they did".
What I am trying illustrate is that you should be having a keen eye for how things are designed and exicuted, then you can take that and do things you want to do with it. Learning techneeks in short and there's nothing wrong with that.
Its like learning how to paint flowers for a very long time, learning how to do them in hyper detail, then when you are done "studying" you use that to paint a hellzonoe full of skeletons and swearing at god as you re-create the opening parts of dante's inferno. From yur days drawing flowers in hyper detail you know how to draw vaines, you can reporpuse your skills at drawing water droplets too drawing realistic blood, and so on.
frylander wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 2:34 pm
As for that video of fire emblems having a comedic chat, I do believe that most of the comedy there is delivered by voice lines. That same scene played out without voices would lose a lot of it's mood, in my opinion. If I had voices in my game I could convey those emotions and dramatic moments with them, sadly I only have "talking beeps".
Go play a game called Zero Escape 999
or if you don't have the time go read my impressions f the game as I was taking notes on it. You can find it here (just doing a raw link to save time)
viewtopic.php?f=63&t=47512

The version i played consistaned of nothing but bleeps but that thriller had me confused, scared, hopeful, laughing and crying all at the same time. I put in a lot of reaction images in there so even though it's raw text you can "see" what exspressin I was feeling.
You can convoy emotions through the little touches.
One trick you could get from studying other games is how suspense and biuld up t a moment changes how you feel
So maybe the "bleeps" arn't in themselves inpactful or scary at all


but maybe the absence of them can make players feel very uncomfortable.

When you establish something as a norm, your players will always take it for granted. So long as it stays the way it is they can trust it, but as soon as it suddenly changes you make them "feel hurt". This is why backstabbing is painful in real life. They betray the trust you put in the relationship.

In that RP i refrenced above and general paths that I do play out with other people I often give my players options during conversations or important points, I even give them during say fight or actions senes to help direct the flow of play, help them to respond faster, help if they don't know what to do, ect. You can compare this to making branching paths in VNs, it's praticaly 1 to 1 outside of the live feed back.

Image


My player in question offten takes a very long time to respond, so when my player stupidly interacted with a brain controling life distroying space abomination called the Shade, and didn't properly proptect themselves from doing so, I then violated something they took for granted, two mechanics of play that they depended on and signaled it with a graphical element; corupted text.
The two mechanics of play I took away where as follows: The free time to respond, and ready made options.

Image

Now that they where infected I started to slowly take control f the character more and more and it was apparent through choices. If your player or character you are "mind controling" has a weak will they will brake down and not know what to do without the guidence and they become puddy to your NPC.
IF they have a strong will they will chose their own action and path.
And the more pressure yoou put on that person the more intence actions they'll do too try to get back t the status quo.
My player prompted to blow their own head off to try to eliminate the shade from their head. Which woorked untill they rewound time

long story.

Point is, you can build suspense though simple tools.
To refrence the Fire Emblem holy war that i said earlyer
With only litteral sprites to work with, when the wife was getting back of her memories of her husband, we see her character turn around to try to go back to him, before a grunt grabs her and drags her away. Then the husband (the playabol character and thus we're invested in) is killed and we as the player feel HORABOL about it. or are ment to feel bad about it because of past ineractions and being betrayed like this. Theres a lot of forshadow that leads up with this and we see the husband cope with the missing wife for like over years. And our last reunion with her was metiforicaly and litteraly ripped appart and set aflame infront of our very eyes.
Not thoruogh CGs, but from limited tools
That'd be so hard too show thorugh CGs, and i'm talking as an ilistrator, but i can see how you can show this thorough movabol objects insted.
frylander wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 2:34 pm
As for the comic media and getting being as lazy as possible, believe me, that's totally me already. Why do you think I plan to use my sketches for the final CG's instead of actual linework? Lol I'm lazy but also practical, I try to find a good middle ground on that subject.
Make it work, don't do it because youo are lazy.
Refrence the last few episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion (yaknow that anime) the original airing

[
frylander wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 2:34 pm
However and now that you mentioned it, the thing about "finding a way for you to enjoy making sprites"...

I'm thinking that maybe I could try to find a middle ground. I could scrap the sprites with arm variations and similar that give me no freedom, and instead make whole poses in a single drawing. That would mean more poses of course, but also more dynamism and dramatism which is what I was lacking. That also means they would be easier to reuse since they would be in a 2D Plane.

Hmmmm it could work, maybe.


Best of luck!
Have a nice day!

frylander wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 2:34 pm
Edit:

Also also! I forgot to mention one of the issues I had with the sprites!

Size difference! The little girl is almost always on scene and her heigth is at shoulder-level of the rest of most characters. This means her body is only bisible up to the belly button in the sprites. If I try to make the sprites smaller, because of the style with small eyes, their emotions are very hard to see.
Dude, octoms razor it. Nothing is sacred in development.
Make design choices around that limitation if you want it to be submitted in realism You can easly work around that.

Image
Elevate them up disbite them being shorter

Image
Have the character be small enough to be in frame at all times at any eyeleve, perhaps by flying- hitching a ride- or both!

Image
have them stand on a rock or some other object as their character portrait

and before you say

and before you say "oh that last one cant be done in an VN if it wants to be taken seriously and ect ect."

one word.

Pyre.


Image

You see that? you see what he's sitting on? You see what that dog is sitting on?

A box.
A box is like rock.
And it's a damn good game with a moving story to boot too.



In fact.
Just play Pyre.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/462770/Pyre/

Consider it home work, stop what you are doing, and just play Pyre.
You'll thank me later.

And wile I'm at it, since you love CGs, and subtle details so much play Transistor and analyze how they use CGs to emphaize a story and how they make you feel in the moment. Pay attention especially when there is no background music or well *cough* Pay extra attention as you play to momments when Diegesis is and isn't being used.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/237930/Transistor/

This is your home work, required readings. You're making a video game, so go educate yourself.
Play them. Enjoy them. Study them. Then Play it again wile Studying them to see why you Enjoyed them in the first place.

I'm confident you will thank me later.
Good luck!!!


Edit
and just to drive it home I just want too say this.
If you doubt studying things out side of the genra you want to create will help you make what you want to make, just remember that t same techniques it took to direct and make The Godfather (1972) where the same ones to make The Lego Movie (2014). The same art forum, with the same tools more or less (ignoring animation) made two very different movies. Just think about that for a wile. Never say "this can't work" before saying "But how CAN it work?"

Go read some interviews of Alfred Hitchcock (yaknow the movie guy) of how he tells stories, his techniques can be applied to every media.
Oy! Just call me Catti.
An inspiring developer but mostly artist. You can see my artwork here. Want to get ahold of me? Click here so we can talk fast on discord.

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Re: Game with only CG art and no character sprites?

#15 Post by frylander » Sat May 05, 2018 5:52 pm

Yes catman, I use photoshop and I already had a perfect workflow going. I could make a mouth/eye/eyebrow/arm or whole sprite, export it or the whole set of a character within seconds and have it ready to use in the program. That's not what I meant.

What I meant is, having so many options equals having to program every time a character lifts a freaking eyebrow. It's not the same as having just a few separated expressions, If I wanted to have someone angry I literally had to look for the eyes, mouth and eyebrows to create an angry expression. While that sort of creates many combinations, it's a pain in the ass to work and constantly be looking for the correct expression.

I too use actions to flip my canvas, expand selections, etc. but again, not the problem I meant.

And with those CG's not attached to the background, they are sprites but not at the same time. They would act like sprites, but they wouldn't be limited like them. Meaning that I could get close ups unlike with sprites. I could get wide shots, etc. And reuse them when convinient. Sprites, for the most part, are always the same size, that's the main difference. Also, I could reuse other perspectives too when it fits.

There's not much to code here to begin with, but I do know that coding is problem solving, I did study a bit of programming these past 2 years and I do like that. I would describe my problem as an artistic struggle per say of not knowing how to convey what I want in the most optimized way possible. Sprites are optimized but may lack something that I want, and CG may not be very optimized but provide something that I look for.

And before you say it, yes I do know that you can tell a story with any tool, that is not the point here. My point is, which tool is the best tool for what I want to convey. While you can theoretically use any tool to tell any story, I would like to see you try to tell a deaf guy a story via an audiobook, obviously it's not going to work, is it. Just like that even if possible, it's very different telling a mute story than one with sound, or one in black and white or with color. Everything has a reason. Just because you can do it doesn't mean you have to do it that way or that it's the best way. Just like you said, sometimes breaking the norm has some effect on the player.

For some reason I cant see that star trek video btw.

And yes I do want to learn techniques and what not that is why I'm here asking for help and feedback, I did download lots of VN games to play as reference but I don't have much time for that.

And yes, talking beeps can convey some mood, more than emotion I would say, but you can't deny the fact that they are vastly more limited than actual voice lines. Again, not saying you can't do anything with them, just pointing out the obvious.

As for the sprite size difference, I wanted to convey the difference in their heights, especially if they are oging to interact in the sprites, otherwise it just comes of as weird or awkward.

And while I'm not saying that game is bad or anything, having the little girl standing on a rock or a box to be same height not only would be ridiculous but it would absolutely kill the mood of the entire game and make 0 sense considering my characters are walking most of the time.

Everything is easy if you just want a workaround, having some sort of "portraits" to act as the face of your characters, but I want something more along the lines of an actual theater where the characters actually feel like they are in a space. If I were to settle with just portraits of my characters talking, I would have no issue at all, but I want to do something else, that's the thing.

And don't worry, I am well aware that the current gaming industry for instance takes lots of hints from cinema. I did study cinema for two years and game development for another two, so I can see easily their relations with each other.

And what I meant if I didn't make myself clear is that the ammount of work to make the sprites the way I was making them compared to the result didn't pay off. Of course you can make any game with sprites, but again, that is not the exact problem I was having. It's if whether or not I should use CG instead.

In fact at some point I thought about discarding CG completely and having only sprites interacting with each other, but decided against it. I'm thinking about lots of ways I can make this game happen, so don't worry about that, it's just hard for me to settle on a single way because all of them have their good and bad things. Hence why I asked here to get some external opinions to see if I could decide.

Anyways, I will try to have the prologue done in sprites by tomorrow, to see how that goes.

Thanks for your in-depth feedback!

EDIT:

I've tested a bit the sprites, and so far it's looking much better than with the old sprites. Though I had to make some modifications. Before they had like a square portion of the screen for them to use, now they can take as much of the screen as I want, meaning that I can make sprites as tall as wide as the whole screen, which should be useful. I only have to take care as to not cross the left and right borders in case I want to move the sprite around so it's not cut-out, but other than that it should be fine.

This feels like a good compromise between an artistic and dynamic approach to the sprites and a good, easy workflow. I also have an easy way to make the sprites interact even without having them on the same image, so that's cool.

Tomorrow I won't be able to do it though since I'm going to the cinema, but expect a video demoing the prologue with sprites by the end of monday.

So far I'm liking this approach, have a nice day everyone!

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