The Only Certainty: Flat Sprites and 3D Movement

Been a while since I've talked about TOC. If you haven't read yet, the game will be making an appearance at the Norwich Gaming Festival in April! If you haven't had the opportunity to play the game yet, I'd highly recommend arranging a trip to this. If you played it at the Norwich Indie Expo last October, we'd still love to have you back to play it again. Sadly I won't be there in person, but the team's been hard at work on sound and game design so it's improved quite a bit over the course of several months.

In an attempt to really polish up the game, we've been going over ways to make the world of TOC more compelling. One of the ways is having the ship react physically when struck by obstacles. Hence the following animation tests for rotating a 2D sprite in 3 dimensions.

The first step was to make a framework based off of the current sprite. The goal here is to get this ship to move in the X, Y, and Z so that it feels a bit more 'alive', and not so conspicuously like a flat sheet of pixels moving across the screen. Drawing in lines makes it a bit easier for me to visualize 3D forms for some reason.

So I'm rotating the ship in a few different ways to see what works best. The speeds here aren't final--we'll want an animation that doesn't last too long since it will cycle whenever the player gets hit (read: a lot). But we should be able to get an idea of what sort of movement we want to use for damage. Maybe we can use different ones depending on where the ship is struck?

Before doing these, I honestly hadn't decided how the ship would look in any viewpoint other than top down, but it was a really good exercise in understanding it from every angle. It was almost as if I had multiple ways to interpret the structure of a flat image. How low are the wings? Do the engines look rounded or square when rotated? What's the tallest point on the ship? It's actually a really backwards way to work and I probably won't do it again for the most part, but it was an interesting method at least!

In any case, once the movement is decided, I'll fill them in like the current stationary sprite. Planning to have the finished animations (among other additions) for the expo!

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