Strange Stars: DevLog 6
One of the most important aspects of Strange Stars is its distinct art style, inspired by cartoons of the late 90s and early 2000s. As we’ve mentioned in previous Devlogs, this stylistic philosophy and portfolio of inspiration drive a system of design that is used in every aspect of Strange Stars’s art. This includes, of course, animation.
While the current “jerky” animation style might not be wholly inaccurate to every cartoon aired across Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon, we have found it to be less than ideal for giving the player a satisfying game “feel”. That is why our lead artist Laura (wallabites99) has begun the Herculean task of overhauling some of the major animations within the game, starting with Fly Guy’s movements. Our hope is that these new animations will not only provide a more satisfying visual for the player, but also further serve to further advance and expand Strange Stars’s visual style by adding more “funk” and attitude to Fly Guy’s movements.
Here is Laura on the matter:
“In our sprint to achieve an overhaul on visual progress, I have been working on the lofty feat of character animations. So far, everything has been animated in a manner I can best describe as puppet animation— I cut up each of Fly Guy’s moveable parts (arms, wings, feet, etc.) and move them around to get different poses. This was fine, and while it gave us an animation that definitely worked, there was a lot of room for improvement in the personality department. The animation method wasn’t very flexible in terms of adding any cool extras, because I had to work with the pieces as they were sized and shaped.”
"However, the wonderful art of hand-drawn animation allows for a lot of cool extras. I can change anything I want because I’m actually drawing each frame. Now, this can be quite time-consuming (especially considering we’re aiming for 24 frames per second… that’s 24 drawings right there!), but the kind of quality we can achieve using this process blows the old animations right out of the water. I can make Fly Guy’s runs and jumps bouncier, stretchier, and unapologetically cartoony! The art direction has always been totally unhinged and I think it’s about time the animations started to reflect that, too."
"For inspiration, I was primarily drawn to the exceptionally fluid animations found in the one-man indie project Guinea Pig Parkour. I had been following the game’s Twitter account for a while now and every time it came across my feed I was astounded at how “gooey” every action felt. Classic games and cartoons like Earthworm Jim and Ren and Stimpy were also great sources to pull from, considering they are pretty much the apex of all animations squishy and squashy (sometimes gross, too). I usually wear my interests and influences on my sleeve so I had no problem incorporating some of that nostalgic silliness into Strange Stars… crank up that strange, baby!"
While these new animations are still a work in progress, we intend to start rolling them out in builds released over the next few months. As new versions of the game continue to drop, keep an eye out for new movement and animation. Feel free to let us know what you think, not only about the animations featured in this log, but in any you happen to come across in future builds.
Art style is an incredibly important part of the development process for Strange Stars. While the philosophy and inspirations behind that art are well defined, how we go about bringing those ideas to life is constantly evolving. As the game itself is further developed, the art is further explored and evolved alongside it. Keep an eye out for other new pieces of art in future builds, and let us know what you think of them.
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