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cybrbeast

It's probably much too late, but the Project Zomboid sprite generator is amazing

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Look at this video

http://youtu.be/8vXgtoxV6fE

If I understand it correctly, with this system you only have to make a model and then animate it. When you change textures, armor, or weapons of the model all sprites will be automatically generated. The soldiers can easily looks different just by changing a texture. You could even add wounds if they are hit. Adding female soldiers would be trivial, adding crouch-walking, prone positions and the like would also be quite easy. The possibilities are endless.

I think the development is probably too far ahead to use this. However the devs have also said that making all the sprites for female soldiers, or prone positions, are not done as they would take much too long to implement. Using this system to redo all the previous animations as well as new ones might actually not take that much extra time. Especially now there's a lot more money from the Kickstarter they could dedicate someone to implement it.

Of course developing the animation system would probably take much too long, but maybe the Zomboid team would be willing to license it for a modest price, or a small cut once the game become profitable.

One can dream :)

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That sounds pretty much like the system they already use.

The xeno sprites are then painted over by hand to make them look better and fit with the style of the rest of the game.

It would be easier if that last stage was not done but the game would also look worse for it.

New ones would need to undergo the same process or there would be obvious differences between them and the older ones.

I am not really sure if the video means they are using 3D models in the game now or not though, I am not very familiar with that game.

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No Zomboid is all isometrically sprite based, it's just that the sprites are generated from 3D models without the need to then paint them over. Looking at the video in 1080p I think the effect looks quite good in game. Also you can make the motion quite fluid as you don't have to make all the frames. As you also see they can easily add a different weapon model and then all different soldier types and armors using that weapon can be easily generated from it.

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There is more detail about their approach in a blog post

http://projectzomboid.com/blog/index.php/2012/05/on-the-reanimated-dead/

This was first created during the Easter break, which we decided to use as something of a left-field design brainstorm session. Our use of hand-drawn sprites was starting to be of real concern – the process was becoming unmanageable due to the sheer number of frames, clothing pieces and directions required. We were generally having to shy away from necessary animations, or resorting to ones with a mere one or two frames.

As such we’ve built a new system that uses pre-rendered 3D models that are consequently rendered into sprites. On top of that we then use various techniques to increase clarity when they’re shrunk down so we can emulate the old graphical style as much as possible alongside the crisper animations.

We recognise that some people may miss the retro-look graphics, along with the baldy alien zomboids, but unfortunately the move away from individually hand-drawn sprites was fundamentally necessary for the development of the game. Sprite and animation creation now, genuinely, takes a hundredth of the amount of time it did previously.

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I notice the zomboid vid has a sequence where the character is purple and wielding a baseball bat. I take this to mean that they can simply change out the baseball bat for any other melee weapon without changing the sprite for the character?

I think the engine that first "coder" selected to use makes this impossible for Xenonauts? They need the weapon to be included in the sprite. They can't just combine 2 sprites like that.

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Gorlom, as far as I understand it the weapon is colored in the 3D generator. The output can still be in single sprites. I didn't know Xenonauts required single sprites though.

*edit

Seeing this video, you are right, the weapons are exported separately. However I'm sure the engine could also output it as a single sprite instead of separate ones. This does mean there will be an enormous amount of sprite data.

Edited by cybrbeast

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That might be the case but that's not how they are doing it. The purple unused character model and bat still generate sprites called Baseballbat_#_attack_bat_##.png and Baseballbat_#_run_Weapon2_#.png He is even mentioning "mask" and that it would be too much work to do it regularly (like Xenonauts has to) in this segment of the vid.

What Zomboid is doing is replacing weapon sprites individually without changing the character sprite. Xenonauts can't do that. That means if you have 3 weapons and 3 armours you get 9 individual sprites in Xenonauts, but only 6 in Zomboid.

As an end result it's easier to change things in Zomboid then in Xenonauts since you need to render the sprites for one weapon in zombiod but need to render a full set of sprites in each armour for every weapon you add in Xenonauts. (and reverse, a full set of sprites for with each weapon for each armour you add)

plus the thing where Xenonauts hand paints all the sprites after rendering them makes it a bit more time consuming :P

Edit: Ah, I assumed you knew that Goldhawk already generates their sprites on the same basic principle (Since Gauddlike mentioned they do). and were discussing the improvements that masking and exporting weapons and armours separately brought.

As far as I know Xenonauts already does this, but can't do it separately or to the same extent as Zomboid.

Edited by Gorlom

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I'm not familiar with how Xenonauts exactly made their sprites. From what I hear they hand paint all of them and every time someone suggests a different character or animation it is said that making them is much too time consuming. Sprite creation for Zomboid is almost fully automated from the 3D models.

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No, they don't hand paint them from nothing. They have 3d models that they take a screen caption of to generate a sprite, much like zomboid, then they hand paint that sprite to increase it's quality and give it the distinct 2d feel.

It's a bit more work then zomboid but not as much as you thought. Still enough to mean that not every little idea can be added.

Edited by Gorlom

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The same process is used.

The xeno team have 3D models that they use to create their character models then they export them into 2D spritesheets.

The hand finishing was done to improve visual quality and to give them all the same look.

The weapons wouldn't work so well if you tried it the same way.

For example a sword, baseball bat, crowbar etc can be pretty much handled the same way (obviously not for proper sword play, just for slugging) while a machine gun is held and used differently to a sniper rifle, which is different to a pistol which is different to an assault rifle and so on.

That would mean the character would need to stand differently and carry the weapon differently in most situations.

This would make generating the weapons separately difficult, probably more so than if that system had been used from the start of course.

The sprites are not individual, they are generated onto sheets in the same way.

The main difference is the finishing and the fact that they are generated with weapons in hand.

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Sadly this wouldn't really work because we have to use the sprite generator that is specific for our engine. It's a pain in the ass, but we've got a workflow for it sorted now (basically we pay a guy in Indonesia to do the back-breaking labour for us).

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