Keeping it Simple

by Steve Bowler on March 13, 2008 · 1 comment

in art

Awhile back, when Super Street fighter II Turbo HD Remix (ST HD for short) announced and started showing their newly drawn sprites, I had two reactions, in this order:

  1. Holy shit!
  2. How are they going to animate that?

Evidently I wasn’t the only one wondering, because they’ve just announced that their outsourcers couldn’t handle the 6 tones per character shading they originally implemented, and had to lean on Udon to retool everything and make them much simpler, in order to be able to finish in time.

Old Ryu:

Noisy Over Detailed

Deliciously Clean and Easy to Animate Ryu:

Deliciously Clean and Easy to Animate

But more to the point, what a vast improvement! When the art is simplified, it becomes so much easier to concentrate on the movement, and not get lost in the swimming details that don’t quite inbetween just right.

Granted, as still images, a lot of people are going to say that the top Ryu looks better. And if we were just talking about a fan art or a drawing I’d say they were right. But when stuff needs to animate, especially 2D art, the simpler you can make it while still keeping your core values (highlights, shadows, cloth, expression, poses), the better off you’re going to be.

The best example of how bad overly detailed animation can look would be to point people to sand animation, or fully pencil rendered animation. Y’know, the old “art house” style animation you see on Sesame Street from time to time. There’s just too many details to properly ‘tween, and while beautiful, it winds up becoming a swimming jittery mess that just doesn’t read, and I don’t think that is what consumers would want, ultimately, in a fighting game.

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