At some point, programmer art must get replaced with something polished or no one will even want to blow anything up in your game. When the solution to every problem in your game is to blow things up, well, you see where this is going. So with that in mind it seemed time to trade in the old Chargebot and laser drone for something new and shiney.
The Chargebot sprite was literally the 1st animation created for Kite. It was endearingly bad but it did the job. Nine months later the production team has given birth to Chargebot 2.0! It’s a robot!
Shifting to a 4 way isometric view for the majority of unique enemies was a key decision. It cuts down the amount of work by 60% compared to the 8 way. By drawing and animating the North East and South East directions you can cover the entire movement range (after flipping). Yes the bots sort of crab walk around a little bit, they are only perfectly facing the direction they’re moving when it’s in the true NE, NW, SW or SE direction but it works, specially for melee.
In contrast the laser drone update was planned to be rendered as an 8 way. Original programmer art was a single sprite that was rotated according to firing direction. Being that it was simply an oval with a dingy, it was fine as a proof of concept, but looked like something out of Atari’s Pitfall (could do worse).
The update follows and meets the new higher standards and style guidelines that have been set for production art. It could do with a bit more detail but for now it’s looking good and as a bonus has that evil/cute look. Again, the 8 way actually requires 5 unique assets for the N, NE,E,SE,and S directions, the NE, E and SE get flipped while the gun sprite is drawn separately and has it’s own location and depth for each orientation. Also the N and S are easy to produce because you just draw the back of someone instead of the front so it ends up feeling more like 4 uniques. It’s quite an efficient way to render characters considering what you get out of it but it’s still 5 unique angles instead of 2 in the case of the isometric.
As a rule the 8 way representation is favored for ranged characters and the easier 4 way iso style for melee types. Short of rotating the sprite as you would in a pure top down game an 8 way is ideal for making projectiles feel and look right when fired. Otherwise you end up with a blaster pointed in one direction and the shots coming out at an extremely odd angle. With an 8 way rendering the most you’re ever off by would be 22 degrees which is just tolerable for a shooter. Compare to a possible discrepancy of 44 degrees from a 4 way isometric job and the extra work starts to seem worth it. For the melee type characters it’s not as important to look reasonable because there’s not ballistics involved, just short range crushing and slicing which doesn’t give away angles so much.