HOW MUCH CAN YOU EXPRESS ON SPRITES?

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Well, I am currently planning a big project, but as big project, it means that if I choose wrong I might end quiting. The project is only storytelling completely linear, no gameplay, but it has a lot of character. So the project is still on ideas and story planning. So I am choosing whether I buy VX Ace, or Use renpy.

What renpy gives me, is a pretty simple and organized way to write dialogues and display everything, but, as it is an engine for -Visual- Novels, it mostly demands it to look good (yes, I know, there is Higurashi and Umineko, which I consider great VN). But with the huge cast it will be impossible for one person to make all the expressions, clothes, and stuff in a decent quality. What I would achieve is more or less the quality of a faceset of an rpgmaker game which are static faces. with different expressions. So the the things that renpy offers me wouldn't be used too much due the huge amount of work.

So, I was thinking to change to VX Ace for this project, and get rid of all the facesets, and let the sprites do the job, but because of it being a linear I really want the sprites to express in a realistic way, so how much do the sprites can express themselves? and how much will change having to do a cast of around 80 characters drawings to sprites?

A kind of rage quit


Not so important: Have to add that this change will also help me with tilesets instead of backgrounds, instead of having to draw each background and coloring the tilesets can save me a lot of time.
The ability of sprites to express themselves is entirely dependent on the size and anatomy of the sprite. A bigger, more realistically built sprite will probably be able to pull of tons more actions than a smaller one. It's also largely dependent on your skill as a spriter, or the skill of the person you hire. If you're clever enough you can work outside of the boundaries of a limited size.

Something to keep in mind is that sprites don't necessarily have to express themselves like normal people. Just look at games like Final Fantasy 5 or 6- the characters jump and bounce around, wave their arms heavily, spin, and laugh with their entire body.

The good thing about animating expressions with sprites is that making a template that includes all of them will let you simply colour the characters over it and have a complete page of animations for that person. In that way having 80+ characters isn't a huge problem if you have the time and the will to finish all of them.

Don't know if any of that helps. I'm not so good at explaining things.
If you are making a visual novel, the typical way to do it is to draw portraits with slightly different poses and expressions. Many visual novels use a cell-shaded or semi-cell shaded anime style, because anime characters are quick to draw and easy to draw stylized expressions for; you don't have to worry about muscle movement or small details, as you would with more realistic portraits.

If you don't want to do much drawing, RPG Maker VX Ace does come with a face and sprite generator that will give you anime portraits for pretty much any kind of character you want, and while the generator doesn't technically create expressions, changing an expression with simple spriting is quite quick and easy.

Here is a tutorial by Archeia_Nessiah with lots of useful info about using Renpy:

http://rpgmaker.net/tutorials/514/

http://rpgmaker.net/tutorials/515/

Good luck!
Even small sprites can express themselves very well. I mean, look at FF6 and FF4. Their sprites were great when it came to using poses and movement to express emotion. Also, thought bubbles~
@Liberty, Yes, I though about bubbles n.n
@Lucidstillness, thanks but for a lot of characters being just simple it all would look generic and just thinking that makes me think it would be a waste of effort on the long run :/ although I might consider cell-shading for next projects were I have less characters :)
@MrCharles, it actually helps, I only have experience designing default templates of rpgmaker, I rarely design out of the box, so any advice of that kind does help me.

I think that the thing that differs,is that while the sprites are more abstract than character images, they are a lot more versatile in terms of animating. On the other side, character images are a lot more explicit so they can give you the correct feeling in a much more easier way, since you are watching the character, which is kind of the purpose of the facesets on rpg maker. Although since It is a big project I am trying to get rid as much as I can and at the same time making as much as possible with it. In this case I really think sprites are the best option, but what worries me is, can I handle to give a long story with just sprites and dialogues, and making the characters unique :/?
So scrap the facesets. If you don't have them, you force the player to focus on the sprites instead of the faces.
Also, I don't use facesets to convey emotion. I use them to show which character is talking at that time. I change the face set, I change which character talks. Of course, if you have a name in the box you don't need the identifying faceset.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
You'd be surprised how much little edits can make a big deal, even having a sprite close its eyes can convey a lot of emotion. Also, editing sprites can be a lot of fun.

I have seen sprites do very naughty things, they are very versatile. :3
Brady
Was Built From Pixels Up
3134
I'd say that it's a one-or-the-other thing with facesets andd sprites. People generally only focus on one (at a time), and generally won't notice or care if there's only one to be seen.

My last VN project was a Pantomime and I wanted to spend as little time as humanly possible doing art or edits, so went with (what Solitayre said) the small things. Eyes closed, a wink, laughing, and then after that just relied on the sprites movements, directions, jumping, spinning etc and frequent emotion-bubbles. That's essentially zero artwork involved for a lot of extra characterisation, which is probably the kind of thing you're after with a massive cast.

A lot can be conveyed by simple things like that with the right timing in the event process; start with small edits like that and then just work it up if you want more complex ones afterwards. Although I agree with CharlesMugford: set your sprite style/size in stone and make a template character with emotionsets, then your actual cast can be quickly and easily drawn over it~
Hesufo
I am pretty interested in hooking up sometime. Screw me.
1199
I'll just leave this here:

author=Hesufo
I'll just leave this here:

Dude that game had some sad events, specially the ending. :(
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