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Mod Design and Discussion
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Age of Kings Heaven » Forums » Mod Design and Discussion » Multiple graphics layers for units
Topic Subject:Multiple graphics layers for units
posted 06-22-19 02:04 PM CT (US)         
I have an idea and I wonder if anyone has tried it.

The mills, ships, blacksmith, etc. all have multiple layers to their graphics. All the ships use the same hull, but the sails differ by civilization.

What if someone did the same thing with units. For example, make a generic body or several skins for the same body (identical movements). Then make a number of different shields that would be placed with the units same as the moving sails are placed with a ship, or the wheels on a ram get placed with the ram body. You could do the same with headgear.

Now you can use the same set of slps for several civs, but use unique shields for each. The same could be done with helmets. This way you could make multiple combinations while animating fewer total units. One could use different shields and headgear for different civs. For example a Mediterranean pointed helmet could be used for the Saracens, Byzantines, Turks, etc., but each civ could have their own insignia on the shield. Then a more western spangenhelm could be used for the Franks, Goths, Britons, Teutons, etc., but with shields bearing a Fleur De Lis, spiral pattern, lion or red cross, eagle, respectively.
posted 06-22-19 08:23 PM CT (US)     1 / 3       
It would work on a technical level, but I'm not sure the art would be much easier to make. With ships, you have a stationary base on top of which sails do a few minor movements. But here, you'd still have to animate the shield going through complex motions as the unit moves, attacks, and (especially) dies. It'd probably quite comparable to remaking the entire unit with the same animations.

Though you would get some efficiency if you're permuting a lot of different assets (make one base unit, three helmets, and four shields instead of twelve variants covering every possibility), depending on how much you're mixing and matching different sub elements.

It would also make for appreciably smaller file sizes, but that's not much of a concern anymore.

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posted 06-23-19 02:11 AM CT (US)     2 / 3       
I feel it would be easier to give regional units.Amount of rendering time and anchor fixing would take a long time.
posted 06-23-19 02:51 PM CT (US)     3 / 3       
Good points.

I agree that it would only be useful if there was a lot of parts being inter changed and if those parts shared a set of anchors, like a shield the same size but with a different print. But there would have to be multiple elements changing or it WOULD just be easier to copy and paste the new shield and redo the unit that way.

I was actually thinking about this for a Lego mod I have been toying with. For the Lego minifigs, I was going to use a base animations for each unit, then add upgrades like shields and such. But each faction has their own shield and they differ in their color schemes. I also have different shields for different variants (a round shield for a siege unit, a triangular shield for the standard unit). In this case it might actually be easier to layer the graphics this way.

For example, I would make the following:
Base crusader swordsman without a shield animations.
Base forestman swordsman without a shield animations.
Base falcon swordsman without a shield animations.
Crusader shield animations for the swordsman.
Forestman shield animations for the swordsman.
Falcon shield animations for the swordsman.
Round shield animations for the swordsman.

That gives 9 total unit combos with only 7 animations I have to make.

Because the shields are roughly the same size, it should work with a single set of anchors too.

...but it may be a problem for the dying graphics where the shield often starts out in front of the unit, then ends up behind it. This might actually happen more often than I am realizing too. For example, a helmet without a head will show the inside of the helmet that the head would otherwise cover.

But it could work for cut and paste units, but it is probably only worth it if it is part of a massive endeavor with lots of interchangeability.
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