And now a post by Shane Stevens! I am Vince Twelve, and I approve of this message.
Hello superfriends! It is I, your friendly neighborhood pusher of pixels reaching out to you with my first ever developer-type thing. Today’s subject is, of course, the Evolution of a Sprite.
Few finished game elements exist in their original form, and what you and I see is the product of multiple revisions on all fronts — from a simple inventory item all the way to a background. Lucasarts’ The Dig, for example, underwent massive graphical revisions between the initial design and the finished game, and you can see some examples of it here. You’ll notice that Robbins is blonde, and there was even a fourth character scrapped from the story.
Let’s take a look at a series of changes made to Anna, one of the main characters of Resonance. Here is an image showing various stages in her development, and I will explain each one below:
1. Phase One: Concept. Rough version of Anna I quickly sketched when Vince first approached me about doing the art. It lacks detail, adequate shading and the proportions (particularly the head) are pretty off. I had no idea what kind of style Vince wanted at the time (and he wasn’t sure either), so this was just the start.
2. Phase Two: Anna’s Asian? Vince decided that he wanted more realistic proportions, though not to the point of sacrificing facial features. Edit two was a result of shrinking the head size and trying to make her look a little more ethnic. It was also the start of proper shading for her face with a better range of skin tones.
3. Phase Three: Rework. Anna gets a pretty extreme makeover with better posture, longer legs, a more shapely figure and straight shoulders. She is also taller and her color choice has gone from drab to cheerful. Her face and hair have been changed dramatically to provide a visual contrast to the earlier versions and to offer more variety to help Vince decide a look he was happy with. Shading was also bumped up considerably.
4. Phase Four: Hair Part One. I went back to the hairstyle of Phase Two (which Vince really liked) and left everything else alone.
5. Phase Five: Hair Part Two. A longer hairstyle that Vince ultimately preferred.
6. Phase Six: Anna Lives! I wanted to get away from the two-tone wardrobe and added a while blouse, which Vince greatly preferred over the previous version. I could keep throwing out edits and making changes but Vince insists this is the right look for her; when you’re a perfectionist it’s nice to have someone else tell you when you’ve achieved a goal, since you will often just keep grinding your wheels over the same material and never actually get anywhere. Besides, he’s the boss!
So now you’ve seen how a sprite can evolve from something rather simple into a complete character that is (hopefully) pleasing to the eye!