InDee Toons: Customizable Animated Game Characters

Discussion of tools and resources for game developers

Post » Tue Apr 01, 2014 4:07 pm

I know Spriter, I tested both Spriter and Spine, and found Spine a lot better.
Spine has the option to attach different images to a bone (attachments) and you can also create different sets of attachments (skins) and use them with the same animation.
Anyway, to use this, the skeletons have to be very similar.
B
4
S
1
Posts: 21
Reputation: 394

Post » Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:15 pm

Dee wrote:Okay, I agree with you and I thank you for your feedback.
However there are some things to consider:
As the characters differ in size, bone length and other things, people would have to adjust the parts first to match the animations.

Most animation packages already offer said customization easily.
Dee wrote:Let's take the example of the wizard girl holding the axe instead of the staff, the glow effect of the axe would have to be repositioned onto the axe, as the axe is a lot shorter.

You can pin the effect to the axe. In fact, most effects can be done better with OpenGL/DirectX directly in the game engine instead of baked animations, so pinning the effect becomes even more desirable than precompiling.
Dee wrote:What would a character pack consist of? Only the precompiled sprites together with the source files of the skeleton and the animations? So you would have to purchase another character that wears an eyepatch if you want your toon to wear one? Or would a complete character consist of all possible parts applicable to him, already resized and worked into the source data?

The character pack would consist of the skeleton, animations and parts in the form of spriter/spine source files, as well as precompiled sprites, each on a folder, in PNG format.

If you want to mix and match characters, you have no choice but to use spriter/spine source files and resize/position them yourself. This shouldn't be hard for a game developer - programmers' difficulty lies in actually drawing the parts in the first place. Of course you'll need to put some effort into making sure parts are universally cross-compatible (ex: all hats should fit all characters).
Dee wrote:(Of course the would have to be various different attack animations for each toon, as you cannot stab with an axe, compared to a dagger,...)

I discovered a kickstarter project named "Indie Graphics Builder #2":
Image
The characters can only be composed of different parts because they have all the same basic doll with the same shapes and sizes.

There's nothing stopping you from using the same "doll" in your project as well - in the form of a base sekeleton. This way you can include animations for stabbing and swinging to the basic skeleton and apply said animation to all models.
If you want bigger and smaller characters you can do that too, so long as you keep the proportions the same. Some animation packages are smart enough to apply animations to skeletons with different limb sizes, you should probably look into that.

(Also I'm a backer on the kickstarter you mentioned. He's missing exactly what you're offering).

Dee wrote:I really love the idea of heavily customizable characters, I just don't see how this could be done for high-res sprites of that kind.

I don't see how resolution is an issue.
B
36
S
8
G
8
Posts: 532
Reputation: 6,903

Post » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:14 pm

So with all that feedback taken into account, my new concept would be this:

You choose a pirate character, you get a premade toon in form of pre-compiled sprite packs.
In addition to that, you get the spine skeleton file, including different pirate-themed parts like 3 different hats, an optional hook to replace the hand with and let's say two weapons.
The spine file with the bones being the same for all characters, contains a lot of animations like different attack animations for all kinds of weapons you can think of.
On top of that, you get a pirate head generator, which is an additional spine file, allowing you to create a custom head from various different hair styles, eyes, and so on.
This individual head can then be exported and be used as the head of your character.

If you want the pirate to hold an axe instead of a sabre, you can get a fantasy character that is made the same way, uses the same skeleton and provides compatible parts, so you can replace the sabre with the axe (and you would have to replace the glow effect sprites, too).
How do you like that?

I have been working on a custom head generator for female faces.
In this video, you can see how the customization opportunities are almost endless.
youtu.be/a2izozm_C_Q

Fimbul wrote:He's missing exactly what you're offering

What exactly do you mean?

Fimbul wrote:I don't see how resolution is an issue.

My tests for the sprites of a precompiled epic toon including all stretch goals except of the mounts (lighting layers and normal maps) resulted in a file size of around 50MBs for one character. Of course compressed. But with this new concept, there shouldn't be a huge increase.
B
4
S
1
Posts: 21
Reputation: 394

Post » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:38 pm

Dee wrote:So with all that feedback taken into account, my new concept would be this:
...snip...
How do you like that?
...snip...
I have been working on a custom head generator for female faces.

Sounds exactly right :)
Here are some tips:
  • Make sure to precompile *some* character+weapon+animations (for those that don't have spriter/spine and/or don't have an engine capable of animating skeletons) - doesn't matter really if the final file size ends up being 2 Gb.
  • Try to make a spriter version as well or you're severely limiting your target audience

Dee wrote:
Fimbul wrote:He's missing exactly what you're offering

What exactly do you mean?

He doesn't have any animated characters for a platformer/sidescroller/fighting game, even though he has platforms and backgrounds for those kinds of games. His animated charaters are for a top-down RPG.


Now, that being said, keep in mind I'm not the target audience for your project, since I'm not interested ATM in an undead type game (maybe if you asked me a few years ago :lol: . Now I'm more interested in futuristic tile-based games). I advise you to look around at the kinds of games the community as a whole likes to make and work on them. The Zombies+variations (lich, undead sheriff, etc) are cool, but they are enough I think. You probably need a knight, an archer, orcs , ninjas, normal pirates, vampires - not to mention normal people with normal clothes. Those would see a lot more use than, say, this guy.

Some other misc tips:
  • The sorceress/witch looks a bit too much like a vampire (was that intentional?)
  • Steam can distribute your package, even though you're not a software or a game (that kickstarter you linked to will be on steam)
  • If you ask for suggestion in gamedev forums, you'll probably get more publicity than saying "here's my kickstarter back pls" (dramatized for effect). Go for programmer-heavy forums, artists are not your costumers.
  • Create accounts and participate in the forums (even if only on the open-topic section) a bit before advertising, this should make moderators less wary of you. You may even get a pass (if you ask first) at posting to the more public parts of the forum.
  • Might make sense to split into precompiled per-character packages and sell them separately on sites such as graphicriver
  • Since you're using spriter/spine, it makes more sense to focus on faces/clothes/armor/decorations. You may be able to reuse the same body for different monsters.
B
36
S
8
G
8
Posts: 532
Reputation: 6,903

Post » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:02 pm

Wow, that is a ton of wonderful feedback, thanks so much.

Fimbul wrote:doesn't matter really if the final file size ends up being 2 Gb.

Okay, seems like I have to upgrade to a paid dropbox account ;)

Fimbul wrote:Try to make a spriter version as well or you're severely limiting your target audience

I can only think of this as a stretch goal with delayed delivery on the spriter files, as it would take a lot of time for me to learn to use spriter professionally.

Fimbul wrote:Now, that being said, keep in mind I'm not the target audience for your project, since I'm not interested ATM in an undead type game

I know my samples are too much focused on zombies and the like, although almost half of the 50 planned characters are still open to the backers' needs.

Fimbul wrote:The sorceress/witch looks a bit too much like a vampire (was that intentional?)

Yes, I wanted her to be a bit less cute than gnomes are usually depicted, by giving her a twist with those sharp teeth and dark eye sockets.

Fimbul wrote:Steam can distribute your package, even though you're not a software or a game (that kickstarter you linked to will be on steam)

I'm going to take a closer look at Greenlight again, I thought you could only provide games and software there. I'm also not sure if they distribute a lot of different small packages of a project separately (but they should, like they do with DLC for games).

Fimbul wrote:If you ask for suggestion in gamedev forums, you'll probably get more publicity

I started promoting the project way too late, as I was always afraid of theft of the idea (I know you shouldn't be).

Selling packages via graphicriver and similar sites is a thing I will look into when everything is published.

Fimbul wrote:Since you're using spriter/spine, it makes more sense to focus on faces/clothes/armor/decorations. You may be able to reuse the same body for different monsters.

Exactly this is what I'm planning to do. The body can actually be the same for all toons, as you can customize it in color and proportions anyway when working with the Spine files.
And this is what allows for mixing and matching of the parts.

*edit:
Another question:
When I provide the skeletons and animations and all the parts and the head customizing feature, everybody can create a unique toon in a few minutes or seconds.
Does anybody know about legal stuff? How could I prevent people from creating a lot of toons and selling them on graphicriver themselves?
B
4
S
1
Posts: 21
Reputation: 394

Post » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:13 pm

I have updated the kickstarter with the new techniques and nicer looking characters (I also changed the original post of this thread).
The video, the reward tiers and stretch goals have been changed and I am now working on the new toons with exchangeable body parts.

The changes in short:
  • The source files for Spine will be provided for every toon, containing skeleton and animation data
  • The images for the body parts will be provided and can be mixed to create unique toons
  • Every toon now comes with a custom head generator

Here's a preview of some female heads created with the custom head generator:

Image

Thanks again for all the great feedback and helpful tips.
B
4
S
1
Posts: 21
Reputation: 394

Previous

Return to Tools and Resources

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: fredriksthlm and 3 guests