Sep 15

Weekly Update #213: Sprite Variety

As mentioned in last week’s blog post, I’ve been focusing on sprite work for GENBA no Kizuna again. Patrons can actually get a little preview of two of Shinketsu‘s more elaborate new poses. He was certainly a lot of fun to work on since, out of all the characters so far, he has the greatest variety in expressions, only rivaled by Keiichi.

Because of that, finishing Shinketsu’s sprites was also quite a bit of work though. Due to the blood splatters, seams and tears all over his lab coat, getting continuity into their positioning across all of his poses was kind of a chore. But I guess I’m satisfied with how everything looks now, so I’ve been moving on to Rei again.

Being a rather calm and taciturn individual, Rei is much less expressive and therefore currently has less sprite variations than her teammates. She’s going to gain more variety later on in the game once Keiichi manages to get closer to her, but even for the beginning, I thought I’d like to have at least a bit more variation for her. So I’ve been thinking about adding one more pose.

The tricky part about sprite creation is that it’s very time-consuming work. And because of that, I don’t really want to create sprites that will barely be used throughout the game. Otherwise, putting the time and effort into their creation would be kind of a waste. I want to get as much out of the poses I do as possible. So whenever I consider creating a new one for a specific instance, I try to think about how I could tweak it in order to re-use it for different expressions/situations.

In SHINRAI, for example, Raiko had a “head tilt” sprite for when she’s making curious inquiries. Redrawing her head was a bit more work than just changing the position of her arms, however. After all, when you switch back and forth between her original head and the tilted version, you want the change to look natural and “seamless”, not off in some way. And there are a lot of things to pay attention to in order to achieve that. Certainly more than with a simple arm. Position of the eyes, nose, mouth, the way her hair falls, etc. It took quite a bit of time to get it right.

With that in mind, I didn’t want to use her “tilted head” version for only a single sprite variation. I wanted to find a way to re-use it somehow in order to make it really worth all this extra effort. And that’s how the “deducing” sprite version of her was born:

Both these sprites get used a lot, so in the end, I felt like it was definitely worth it.

Now, when I sit down and try to create a new sprite for Rei, I want to be sure that I can use the pose (or the head if it’s a different perspective) for more occassions than just one. If I can’t then… it brings up the question of whether or not it’s really such a good idea to create it in the first place. Sure, if it’s just one single sprite, it’s no big deal. But if that happens multiple times, which it easily can with such a big cast, then all of it adds up and the development time gets dragged out significantly. That’s something I learned early on during the development of SHINRAI.

Maybe some of you might have noticed, but for having such a minor role and only getting 8 sprites in total, Rihatsu actually boasts quite a bit more variation in her poses than most other characters in the game. As a matter of fact, 7 of her sprites are more or less unique (they re-use some aspects, like the position of an arm, but they are not 100% identical in pose) and only one variation is re-used for different expressions (“Surprised” and “Worried” share the exact same body):

(By the fact that these sprites are labeled with “Casual”, which is in regards to her clothes, you can tell that I was even planning to give her different outfits as well, haha…)

Rihatsu was one of the first characters I ever created, so I put a lot of effort into her sprites and wanted to do the same for all the other characters. It was Natsu who actually talked me out of it and asked me if I wasn’t going a little overboard, haha. Even Raiko has a few variations in the prologue that barely get used in the rest of the game. Like the one where she turns her head to the side:

So yeah, if I really had done this much variety for every single character, welp…

Of course, I don’t want to skimp out on variety in sprites and I know that some people mentioned in their SHINRAI reviews that they would have preferred even more. But at the same time, since it’s really just me drawing all these variations, and there are so many other things I need to do for these projects… I need to set a limit somewhere. Compromises have to be made, unfortunately.

Still, I’d like to think that GENBA is going to offer a satisfying variety in poses and expressions for all the characters. And I can’t wait to share some more previews very soon! But for now, I guess I should get back to work and finishing them in the first place, so…

Please enjoy the rest of your weekend and, until next Saturday, take care! :3