Mak Hound Challenge

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Roots
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Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Roots » Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:15 pm

One of the art assests that we've needed for a very long time is an animated sprite of the Mak Hound. The Mak Hound is basically the equivalent of a horse in the Allacrost universe. These creatures are domesticated and used for farm work, transportation, and other uses. They are gentle giants in nature typically.


Creating this sprite is no easy feat, and its not something I think I am capable of doing by myself with my current skill level. So I'm pitching the challenge to create this sprite to whomever would like to take it on. The sprite can be any size, although it should probably be taller and wider than a normal human sprite, which is 32x64 pixels. The animation can be any number of frames that you need to make the walking looking nice, so don't feel constricted to the 6-frame versions of our human sprites.


We did have one artist make a number of attempts at this sprite long ago, but unfortunately she was never really able to produce anything that we could use in the game. The animations she produced are not very smooth, but perhaps these could be used as a starting base for anyone willing to give this a shot?

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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Psiweapon » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:40 am

WARNING: BOLD MESSAGE AHEAD.


Ok, ok, I know you're quite tight when background and gameplay correlation is involved, but... In my humble opinion, this critters' concept isn't nearly as epic as it should be. I know it's called "mak hound", but this concept isn't going to impress anyone! They're giant riding dogs. They should look impressive *and* frightening. That would work a lot better going along the warg route.

A fierce head, bristling fur for the temperate weather ones, a mane for the desert ones. Powerful legs, not spindly horse legs. And frightening doesn't necessarily mean evil-looking, it can as well look noble. This should really be a lion dog.

I'll give a shot at a new concept, but I don't know if actually animating it is within my zone of competence, so you might as well wipe the seventh planet around the Sun with my suggestions.

One can't live by Rule of Cool, that's something Johnny Bravo taught us all when we were little, but sometimes, you have to follow it.
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Psiweapon » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:56 pm

I was thinking something along the lines of this:

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Hmm. I'm not sure how many digits do canines have in the front and rear paws.
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Roots » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:12 pm

I definitely like your concept better. Also the idea of a "lion dog" is cool. :angel: He looks tough, but not vicious, and that's exactly what I think we should go for.
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Psiweapon » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:43 pm

Yes!

I even managed to give it a kind face!

It's probably got something to do with the fur near the mouth, don't you think?
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Roots » Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:21 pm

Yeah, the fur hides its gnarly fangs :)
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Namakoro » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:44 am

I gave 'em a shot~ My thought is prolly closer to Psiweapon's rather than the original concept artists'; I wanted to take aspects of big, strong, protective dog breeds (in this case, a mixture of Rhodesian Ridgeback and Karelian bear dog) to make something a little more rugged.
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Here he is with bells on:
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Aaaand, to see how he looks with in-game art, here he is with the character from the original post as a rider:
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Thoughts/objections/critique? If this design is usable/can be made into something usable, I can give a shot at animating him.
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Jetryl » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:41 pm

:approve: I like it. Namakoro's idea of making it look more "rugged" fixes exactly what I disliked about the top-of-thread concept art, which looks like a cartoon rendition of some modern, dopey-looking showdog.

My only thought is that it might look more natural with a much shorter set of legs; it looks a bit giraffe-ish, and I think it'd look more appropriate if built more like a pack animal - right now, like giraffes, it looks fragile and hyper-specialized, and the things giraffes are specialized for (eating high leaves) seems antithetical to what these guys would breed the dogs for, which is some combination of load-bearing, and protection.

Which would perhaps be something quite like a husky in proportions.

Nevertheless, great stuff. :)
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by rujasu » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:46 pm

I think it looks great. Jetrel may have something with the shorter legs, they are pretty long at this point, though I don't know how much shorter they should be.
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Namakoro » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:29 pm

Thanks guys. ^_^

With longer legs, I was going with more of a... well, a horse kind of anatomy, since they are mounts... And anatomically, using shorter-legged dogs as mounts would be uncomfortable at best and likely very difficult. (Longer-legged dogs sometimes use a single-suspension gallop similar to a horse's while running, in which the spine is held fairly straight, but shorter-legged dogs use the cheetah-type run, in which the back is bowed and then extended... here's a link where smarter people than I explain it better than I could. =P)
Ideally, I think, you'd want a mount with as similar a gait to a horse's as possible, or you'd get thrown from the saddle when the spine begins to arch and flex. Similarly, for a pack-animal, unless they're pulling sleds; otherwise, even if everything is tied on securely, it's going to slip uncomfortably on the animal if there's a reason for the dog to run.

BUT, of course, sprites are aesthetic; it's all about what looks logical to most people, isn't it? I'll make a second version to see what everyone thinks looks best~ ^_^
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Namakoro » Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:46 am

I made two alternate versions~ Here are the three, in descending order of tall-ness:

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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by gorzuate » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:38 am

I do like the one all the way on the right best :)
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by rujasu » Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:52 pm

I think they all look good. The one on the right is a good height, I think, keeping the legs long enough to seem basically plausible for a mounted beast. I think going with that one would be a good idea.

Feel free to start animating it; I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks walking around in the game! Thanks for the hard work!
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Roots » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:41 pm

Just now discovering Namakoro's work (since I've been away for over a year) and I have to say: wow, you nailed it! I think it looks absolutely awesome and look forward to seeing it in action. :approve:
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Namakoro » Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:52 am

Whoot! There's life in this project again. 8D

It's been a bit since I last worked on this animation/other views, but I'll get dig up my files and get back to work. =3
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Roots » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:14 am

Awesome! I'm really glad you're back. You did such an awesome job with the hound and I've been eager to see your animation of it. The side animation is all that we should need right now, so if you can work on that first that would be great. :approve:
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Namakoro » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:36 am

Animations tend to take forever.... so I figure I'll post it as I work? That way people can tell me what to fix while I'm still working on other parts of the animation. Got the front legs to cycle the way I wanted them to today. ^_^ Forgive the shoddy .gif; I don't have my usual digital art programs on this computer yet, and had to throw this together on a browser-based animator. ^^()

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Next I'll get the hind legs moving, then the head/tail, then see if the body itself needs to move or if it looks natural without.
Thoughts/crit?
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Roots » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:14 pm

Good idea with the periodic updates. It looks great so far. The only thing that sticks out to me is that the animation cycle isn't fluid. It looks like the hound is "pausing" between each pair of steps, if that makes sense. Maybe that's just the fault of the shoddy .gif animation? Each individual frame looks absolutely perfect though.

Keep it up. I think you are tackling one of the most difficult animations in this game and your work exceeds my expectations thus far. :approve:
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by gorzuate » Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:47 am

I'm really liking this hound :D
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Re: Mak Hound Challenge

Post by Roots » Sat Dec 06, 2014 12:24 am

After a long time waiting, we finally have some full animations for the hound thanks to Buffo.

Initial Draft:
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Semi-Finished:
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Finished:
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With a muzzle & harness:
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Looks awesome. :approve: We still need to get north/south facing animations for this sprite and animations as well, but this isn't as urgent since we don't use the hounds in these orientations now. We can certainly get away with using only the side view/animations for our current release. So adding these animations is low priority, but still something we'd like to do at some point. This will also be a small design challenge for us, as the collision box area of the sprite may change in these other orientations due to the fact that the hound is much longer than it is wide. (This is more of an issue for programmers to worry about).


There are only two issues with the finished versions of the sprite:

1) As I mentioned when Buffo posted this, I don't feel like a muzzle is appropriate for these creatures. They are supposed to be loyal work animals similar to a horse. They are not aggressive animals that attack and bite. The rest of the saddle/harness is perfect though.


2) I noticed last night that the animation uses six frames. Six frames is our standard animation for sprites. The problem is that one of those frames is supposed to be the still/standing frame, and that frame is not used in this animation. So we have one more "motion" frame than we are used to. See the reference below.

EDIT: I was mistaken and what I said in the underlined portion above is incorrect information.

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Now, we have two choices before us. The first solution to this problem is to change the animations so that we remove one of the motion frames and replace it with a standing frame, similar to human sprites. This requires work from our artists. The second solution is to write code to support non-standard animations in the game. This requires work from our programmers.

My personal preference is the second option. The reason being is that I don't want to place unnecessary limitations on our artists when they need to animate creatures and other objects. Even if we don't choose this solution today, I feel at some point in the future we will need it. I don't think it will be too much work for us to do. Might be a good task for a new programmer to take on as its not too difficult and something that can be done relatively easily. Until we get this support in though, we can't use this animation in the game so we'll have to add it in later once we're ready.
Last edited by Roots on Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Noted incorrect info I originally wrote in this post
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