Over the summer I gained in interest in fighting game design and started to design my own character and animations based of characters from Blizzard’s Heroes of the storm. With this I created a number of animations and attacks entirely out of my own ideas which I enjoyed very much. However it took longer than expected and as such I didn’t finish the project. I enjoyed doing this in the summer and for this project decided to expand on this idea by creating my own original characters instead of using existing characters like I did in the summer. The goal I set myself was to create 2 original characters and a stage for them to fight on. My intention is to design the characters and the stages so that they would give clues to the universe that they live in, however I doubt that I could do this fully with only 2 characters, however if I did a full roster of 8 characters and stages I think that it would be possible.
I started out by creating a variety of sketches of fighters of different types and from different time periods and mythologies to see what sort of design I like most. In the end my favourite ideas were to either do one based on robots like a more stylized version of rising thunder, or a fantasy based one based on the character creation ideas of Dungeons and Dragons.
I started out by looking at and from these images practicing drawing all the different species that exist in most fantasy worlds. As I intend to create my own fantasy world but D&D is a good example to look at as they gather fantasy tropes from a lot of different sources.I will likely use 2 human sized figures as this way I get to use other fighting games for reference in terms of any animations that I am struggling on.
After this I decided to look at the different classes that characters can be. An idea that I had at this stage was to have the 8 characters consisting of the 8 different classes, Bard, Cleric, Druid, etc. However I had an interesting idea for my our fantasy world that I found interesting. The idea that I had was that every person in this region is a magic user however they were invaded by a race of orcs that cannot use magic but can control metals with their mind. As such it would be a detriment for the citizens and armies to use metals as such their architecture, technology and approach to warfare has been shaped by this dilemma.
As such it makes sense for one of my 2 characters to be an orc and for the other to be an indigenous human. As for class I drew designs for a Bard, a Paladin and a typical wizard, from which I liked the bard design the most. One of the reasons I liked this design was that I had the idea that he had lost both of his arms and instead he had wooden prosthetics controlled by magic that he would fight with. A lot of research that I did for this project was looking at different medieval clothing styles so that I can have a unique look that is recognisably from that era.
From this stage I had to think about the fighting game engine that I would use to help me decide what sort of moves I would give each characters. I decided it would be a four button game (A,B,C,D) and as such each character would have 12 normals; 4 standing, 4 crouching and 4 jumping. I would also give them a throw and at least 2 special moves. As such from here I started sketching out ideas for each normal and special move for both of my characters. My idea was that A attacks would be faster and D attacks would be slower and stronger. Additionally crouch D would be a universal anti-air and each character would have a ‘sweep’ that would knock the opponent down.
When I went to convert my ideas into pixel art using Photoshop I did it completely freehand and didn’t draw over any pictures of my sketches, this is so that I wouldn’t be too locked down to my ideas if I wanted to change something, as well as giving me additional practice into drawing figures quickly and precisely. I started out by creating my characters’ basic neutral stand and from here only changed the parts that were different, which meant that I didn’t have to redraw the whole figure every time which made working a lot quicker. With animations that caused characters to turn or move these were drawn from scratch and reused whenever I wanted to recreate a similar movement. This gave me a lot of insight into the work that goes into creating animations, however I enjoyed it immensely so I would definitely do this again. However I know realise all the ways that I could have improved it if I knew better in hindsight. One thing that snuck up on me later into the process was the fact that I kept forgetting a animation that was super crucial to the characters that didn’t occur to me when I was designing the more glamorous sections of the character. This includes a walk cycle, stand and crouch block, stand and crouch stagger, knockdown, wake up and idle stance.
Here is the process that goes into creating my pixel art. I created the main figure without arms and then drew in each layer individually to give the impression of movement whilst saving time.
When it came to designing the stage that they would fight on I started out by looking into existing fighting game stages for the layout they tended to use. I realised that each stage was split into three fairly equal sections; where the characters walk, the background and the horizon/sky behind that. As such I used this template for designing my own stages. For my orc character I wanted to create a stage which was a castle made entirely out of metal which bent and moved in the background. However I worried that this movement would distract from the characters in the foreground such as is the case in older SNK games. As such I decided to create the Bard’s stage. My idea for this is that it could take place on a country road, by a tavern or near a castle. In my final design I tried to incorporate all three images. I’m pleased with the final image, especially the colour. I watched a video about colour theory concerning hue and saturation. As the characters are brighter I generally used a lesser hue and saturation so that the characters pop out more. Additionally I made it so that the saturation would decrease as it went further into the background, creating a sense of depth.
After creating all 400+ frames of animation I used Photoshop’s in built animation software to stitch together an exhibition of the animations I have created. Understandably this took a while but was satisfying when it works well. Unfortunately the biggest time waste in doing this is that it is easy to accidentally ruin previous frames so there is a lot of going back and fixing things that got changed accidentally by moving layers or changing what’s visible.
Another problem I had when timing my animations which I didn’t even realise was a factor until I exported what I assumed would be my final animation. It turns out that my computer runs at a slower frame rate than the exported animation ran at, meaning that the hundreds of frames that I had individually timed were now off from what I intended. However this is also somewhat of a double edged sword, as some parts which I wanted to make faster now looked better at this faster frame rate.
As you cannot upload mp4s to wordpress I attempted to get around this by putting them both onto youtube. However this made the video very blurry so you will need to look at the copy on my hard drive.