Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

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Dugi
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Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by Dugi »

I am observing this trend for quite long and it saddens me. And I am not the only one. Good looking units are being replaced by units that aren't better, with animations to be added (in year 2384). The result is that the game has less and less animated units (not speaking about saurians and such, that were replaced by good animated sprites with dozens of frames). In 1.10, it was the case of Fire Dragon and Rogue Mages (from Liberty). In 1.12, it will be the case of Skeletal Dragon, Scorpion, Knights, Cavalrymen and Elvish Riders. The song is always the same - an artist makes a good sprite, he pushes it into the dev version, then the enthusiasm cools down and no animations are actually made. Animation frames from the old unit are used (making the unit suddenly morph when having to fight), or there is just no animation at all (the fierce fighter dealing damage despite being a wax statue on roller skates).

I know that {edit: names retracted} and some others disagree with this, so there is no need for them to flame me. Some people just like the static appearance of the game, repeat questionable claims like 'no anim is better than bad anim' and keep ruining what was wesnoth beautiful at.

Somehow this animation:
Image
Is worse than this ANIMATION:
Image

If this trend continues, I believe that this (so called low quality sprites to be replaced):
with_anim.gif
with_anim.gif (20.86 KiB) Viewed 4863 times
Will become this (so called good sprites, with proper size and generally better look):
no_anim.gif
no_anim.gif (56.25 KiB) Viewed 4863 times
I think that this is not the best path. I think that it would be better to stop committing sprites that aren't animated to replace animated sprites. Also to add some quick, low quality anims to units that were never animated, like Nightgaunt or some Mermen.
Last edited by Sapient on November 26th, 2013, 3:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: retracted some names of other forum users from this post
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Crow_T
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by Crow_T »

A couple of thoughts:

It is a good point that new sprites should at least have a minimum of attack and defend animations. Even 2-3 frames can give the effect until more finished ones are done.

But, how many active animators are there atm? Zero? Sleepwalker did some amazing stuff with the dwarves, it'd be nice to get some funding out to the really skilled people if that's what it takes.

Its pretty hard to make good animations, and then beyond that to get mainline approval. Having the bar set high is good, but can be discouraging to new people.

More tutorials and resources never hurts either (unless I'm posting them, then people bust my balls :P )
http://www.gimp.org/
http://www.humanbalance.net/gale/us/
http://aseprite.org/
http://pixenapp.com/

That last example is, um, unnatural :mrgreen:
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Jetrel
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by Jetrel »

The problem is that we absolutely disagree with you - there's no value in adding poor, 1-2 frame "wiggle" animations to units. We feel that it looks significantly worse - that rather than looking like an obvious "work in progress", that it looks like an intentional, but poorly-done animation. Not only does it make us look bad, but it also runs a risk of dissuading people from improving these animations because they often may misinterpret them as being "exactly what we had intended to do". I've run into this problem on dozens of projects, with tons of different artists that I've talked to; it's very real, and it causes a lot of problems.

We also feel, purely from a long-term perspective, that it's better to have the new base images in the game, so that they're ready and waiting for people to try animating them. Importantly - this includes not just free contributors, but also people we potentially hire to do professional-level work, like sleepwalker.


We came to this decision after a great deal of deliberation, and we're not going to change it because it's working quite well for us. I've taken the time to explain our reasoning here, and I hope you appreciate that, and don't try to argue with it - this isn't up for reconsideration.
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AI
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by AI »

The animated fire dragon you show was never in the game, as it's not pixel art. The dragon that was replaced by the current dragon was this one:
Image
Its animations were on the same level as the skeletal dragon you showed.
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Dugi
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by Dugi »

Jetrel wrote:1-2 frame "wiggle" animations to units.
Animations are running quickly, and imperfections aren't so visible as they would be visible on the baseframe. People usually play with accelerated speed. And many of the cheaper, faster animations are still far from being a 'wiggle'.
Jetrel wrote:We feel that it looks significantly worse - that rather than looking like an obvious "work in progress", that it looks like an intentional, but poorly-done animation.
This is a nice thing to say, but it results in many units that weren't animated and aren't going to be animated. And the number of unanimated units is increasing and increasing. If there is a cheap animation, it motivates people to replace it with a good one, if there is none, they just leave it there forever. I see artists replacing animations, but not animating existing unanimated units.
It seems that you accept that unit with no animations at all looks worse than a unit with cheap animation. Maybe it delivers the message that it a work in progress (what are these obvious works in progress doing in stable versions like 1.10 anyway?), but common players don't care about that, it just looks worse for them.
Jetrel wrote:it's better to have the new base images in the game, so that they're ready and waiting for people to try animating them.
And you're waiting for somebody to animate them when there is only a very few people with the ability to create animations that meet your quality requirements (that is by the way keeping me from even trying to animate them). I have never seen anybody taking a unit, animating and you accepting it. If it happens that somebody makes animations, it is either a remake of an existing animation or an addendum to an existing unit. Entirely new animations are coming only with new units (like the 1.10 saurians or horsemen).
Your words sound well and reasonable, but the time shows that they aren't very practical, because the reality is different.
Jetrel wrote:e came to this decision after a great deal of deliberation, and we're not going to change it because it's working quite well for us.
It isn't working quite well, accept it. Soon, a half of units in wesnoth will be wax statues on roller skates attacking by psychokinesis and telepathy.
AI wrote:The animated fire dragon you show was never in the game, as it's not pixel art.
I know, and I never told that it was. But does it matter so badly that it isn't pixel art that instead of it, you use a sprite that is so large that it overlaps the terrain and other units in a really awkward way, attacks by bashing the target with its neck and has a purely psychic attack dealing fire damage?

EDIT: Please, before replying, read all posts made after this.
Last edited by Dugi on November 26th, 2013, 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
helmick2003
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by helmick2003 »

I would like to learn how to animate and help out, but
a) I've never been artistically inclined. I'm much more mathematical in my thinking, perhaps this would help in animation, perhaps not.
b) I don't know how to learn. I need "Sprite Animation for Dummies," but I'm not sure such a source exists. Do tell if you are aware of such resource.
c) I am worried it would be a fruitless endeavor. How long would it take a novice to make a single animation of sufficient quality to be considered game-worthy.

The resources posted by Crow_T look like a decent list of programs, do you know if any of them provide a decent "beginner's tutorial?"
The Black Sword
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by The Black Sword »

It certainly feels to me that the number of animated sprites in the game has been increasing over the years.

That's just my impression, I have no stats to back it up, but then you aren't presenting any either.
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bumbadadabum
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by bumbadadabum »

There are actually a lot of new animations as well in 1.11 (and 1.12). It seems like you're completely forgetting about those. I'm fairly sure there has been an increase in animations in 1.11.
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Zerovirus
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by Zerovirus »

dugi wrote:And you're waiting for somebody to animate them when there is only a very few people with the ability to create animations that meet your quality requirements (that is by the way keeping me from even trying to animate them). I have never seen anybody taking a unit, animating and you accepting it. If it happens that somebody makes animations, it is either a remake of an existing animation or an addendum to an existing unit. Entirely new animations are coming only with new units (like the 1.10 saurians or horsemen).
Your words sound well and reasonable, but the time shows that they aren't very practical, because the reality is different.
"addendum to an existing unit"

Well, yeah, what are we supposed to be animating except the units which exist? :|

I'm not sure I understand the point you're making here? Even if someone showed up with a fully animated sprite for a new unit, it'd probably not get accepted just because, well, Wesnoth isn't looking for more units in its mainline factions. If you're arguing that people aren't animating old sprites... Well, besides the ol' open-source caveat that artists will work on what they want to work on, you're sort of just wrong? There's definitely people working on animating existing units, like what Major is doing here: http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php ... 50#p561447

Or, y'know, you could always pay artists to do art like everyone else would. Sleepwalker's commissions have been excellent thus far, and if you really care about wesnoth's art direction you could perhaps set up a fundraising campaign on the forums for more animated sprites, or just pay the guy out of your own pocket if it comes down to that. There's not much else productive you could really do about the whole situation, honestly.
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ChaosRider
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by ChaosRider »

Hi :D!!! I guess all of you can know me as that one guy who ask too many questions in same time :P, as that one whose english (written) isnt perfect and that one whose a year ago asked his first question about wml coding. Not that long ago i started my own battle with gimp and using colors (what i didn't usually do on normal paper - maybe i was just too lazy) in my own sprites. But whats my main thought. Making new sprites arent a bad thing, creating sprites better than they were earlier but replace those who have animation on those that dont have it arent a good option. I think you should make some rules, standard for new animations of main wesnoth units. Something close to this:
Sprites for main wesnoth unit:
main sprite (not less than 1 sprite)
moving animation (not less than 3 sprites)
attack animation (for each attack 5 sprites)
die animation (not less than 5 sprites)
defend animation (not less than 2 sprites)
idle animation (not have to be but if you want to add it then not less than 5 sprites)

Thx these rules or similar your unit new animation will be enought good to replace earlier one.
Its a important part of Wesnoth, not that is a unit image is enought awesome, but is full this unit animation looks enought good. Also do not stop demanding of ourselves more, only this attitude we can make better our skills :P. I know creating whole animation takes more time and its not that simple as creating one unit main sprite, but its still looks better than one image.

edit: Btw mermans hoplite and this other one from 3 lvl dont have still animation :D... Who's up to take care of them :D ?

edit 2: Dugi from where you took this one animation for drake ? I think i could use it to ability to knockout enemies (as drakes were doing in Baldurs Gate :P).
Last edited by ChaosRider on November 26th, 2013, 6:11 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Adamant14
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by Adamant14 »

Dugi wrote:
AI wrote:The animated fire dragon you show was never in the game, as it's not pixel art.
I know, and I never told that it was. But does it matter so badly that it isn't pixel art that instead of it, you use a sprite that is so large that it overlaps the terrain and other units in a really awkward way, attacks by bashing the target with its neck and has a purely psychic attack dealing fire damage?
Like I told before (in an older post) I love Pixelminds dragon - much more than the current non-animted and oversized mainline dragon. And I don't understand the problem here. Pixelminds dragon looks great to me, what is the problem, what exactly means it is no pixel art.
Can someone please explain this to a non-artist like me.
Last edited by Adamant14 on November 26th, 2013, 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ChaosRider
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by ChaosRider »

Before you start changing animations or main sprites of those unit who have it already how about to take care of one of these units:
Spoiler:
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Dugi
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by Dugi »

bumbadadabum wrote:There are actually a lot of new animations as well in 1.11 (and 1.12).
Yes, there are. I never claimed otherwise. But animations aren't added to the new units that lack them totally. See bellow.
Zerovirus wrote:Even if someone showed up with a fully animated sprite for a new unit, it'd probably not get accepted just because, well, Wesnoth isn't looking for more units in its mainline factions.
There is a Fire Dragon unit. The sprite I've shown was not a new unit, it was a suggested replacement to a sprite that was considered bad. Instead of it, a new, unanimated and overly large sprite was used.
Zerovirus wrote:Sleepwalker's commissions have been excellent thus far, and if you really care about wesnoth's art direction you could perhaps set up a fundraising campaign on the forums for more animated sprites, or just pay the guy out of your own pocket if it comes down to that.
I didn't complain that artists animate what they want, I just told that it happens. While Jetrel seems to be assuming that artists will primarily animate the units that aren't animated, and that is why are they left without animations (and therefore in a desperate need for animations).

@ChaosRider
I think that your conditions are a bit too severe, but overall I agree with you. Thanks for support.
Adamant14 wrote:Can someone please explain this to a non_artist like me.
Pixel art is when the the sprite is drawn pixel by pixel with only a few colour levels, and not drawn by some (fuzzy) brushes and possibly resized afterwards like portraits. Non pixel sprites and animations can be much easier (but you have to spend a few weeks learning to use the software for it) to do if you create a 3D model of the unit and render it, possibly with an animation (that probably looks much better because you can create 20 attack frames just by setting up a few keyframes), but their overall style looks a bit different.
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Zerovirus
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by Zerovirus »

What, so you're complaining that we aren't animating fast enough? Just give it time, man. It's not like the older baseframes came into existence fully animated either, the animations were slowly accumulated over years and years of people chipping in bit by bit; go read some of the old Art Contributions megathreads or the Art Development threads for documentation on that. You're taking the old animations for granted, when in reality them were made through just about the same process as this.
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Dugi
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Re: Where does this evolution of sprites lead?

Post by Dugi »

Maybe it did work in the past, but it's not working in present. Maybe the quality standards weren't so high. New units with no animations are replacing animated ones, assuming that somebody will animate them once, but I don't see it happening. They can be easily staying on some fork to be pulled when finished animating, but no, they're thrown directly into trunk. There was a nice improvement in spriting between 1.6 and 1.8, but the change from 1.8 to 1.10 contained besides many improvements also a replacement of animated units by non-animated ones (and 1.12 seems to be going to replace even more of them).
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