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Animations and effects

One of the things I first learned to do when modding video games was to make animated textures. I started out with CIV 2, and moved on to CIV 3 from there. Back then there weren't any 3d graphics, rather we rendered 3d images in to sprites. Usually such sprites were stitched together to make a sprite sheet, or put together using some arcane script to create a .flic animation.

At the time I didn't know anything about even basic scripting, and I really wish I could go back and teach myself. I used to stitch the images together manually, using Corel Paint, or some other crappy image editing software. Some animations had 15 or more frames, with 8 directions, equating to 120+ painstakingly hand placed tiles. It took hours!

These days I use python and PIL to do the whole process automatically. I can even get fancy effects like blending images to loop the animation.

An acid splash animation.

I seriously recommend PIL to any other developer, it's a great little image library and you can automate a lot of your tasks with it. Whether you're making explosion animations, or animated sprites for your characters, or just compiling a bunch of art in to a single texture or image atlas it's easy to stitch together the frames using code in just a few seconds.

It can even make animated gifs, though the process for doing so wasted so much time I went ahead and used MakeAGIF.com

Right now I'm making a bunch of animated textures for the game, from magical effects to mundane stuff like torches or sparkling item effects. One effect I'm trying hard to get is a simple sparkle effect, this will be used as the 3d model for small treasures like gems or keys or the like, which will be too small to see in the main view of the game world. You'll just spot a sparkle on the floor and have to head over to check it out. Only by picking it up will you know if it's an important key, or just shiny junk.

I love the idea of players seeing a sparkling object across the other side of a pit. They will have to decide whether to try and cross the pit, and whether the expected item would be worth the effort. Of course, usually it would be, otherwise players are going to get annoyed, and that's not an optimal result.


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