Sharks are one of those creatures where ASCII and graphical versions of the game are really at odds when it comes to how difficult it is to depict the creature.
In ASCII the shark looks roughly like this:
So that's pretty simple :) But as an animated graphical sprite the shark adds a very special challenge:
it moves in the "depth" plane rather than horizontally or vertically relative to the "camera". That means our limb-based movement animation is just no good. Custom frames are a must.
"Depth" (or z-axis) based movement is really tricky to get right. We want to get the sharks body to visibly bend, but at the same time the silhouette will remain largely unchanged. Not an easy feat!
On the upside the movement itself is pretty straightforward, so I can probably get away with just winging it instead of analyzing references in great detail (or so I hope! You be the judge ;))
So how do we get started? First, add a modified "base" frame as the body, and two extreme frames of the shark bending inwards and outwards:
OK, that's not exactly promising, but bear with me. Next I added some inbetween frames. And more floating. The shark should definitely move up and down in a slow but noticeable way. It is underwater you know :)
Better! The movement feels quite fluid. But still looks like a flat sprite oddly bending ;) Here I decided to simplify the sprite to remove some rough changes between frames.
This is much better, but to be honest I'm still considering if this good enough. One thing is the gif above doesn't quite give the lovely sharks justice. They feel better in-game as the timing in the gif above is slightly off(many pardons for that). Still, this might be one of those sprites we return to ;) We'll decide based on feedback from the animation test version. Hopefully sooner than later!
Still, hope this was an interesting insight into some of the more exotic animation challenges.
PS. As the big announcements come closer, I hope Lucas, our tireless sound magician, will join us here on the blog next week. We've had comments here and there asking what it's like to make ADOM sounds. Might be a good moment to show off the new weapon sounds perhaps?
Until then - Axes High! And stay safe near sharks ;)
PS2. Blog shifted to Monday this week as a one-time occurrence, but don't worry we're sticking to our weekend schedule :)