I'm working on a 2D action RPG. One of the issues I run into is art; in the vein of Flash games like FF7, Secret of Mana, or Epic Battle Fantasy, I would like to actually display the weapon with the player while they're walking around, and swap it out with a different image when they change weapons.
As a simple example, if I have a bronze and gold sword, when walking around, attacking, etc. you would see the bronze or gold sword image accordingly. This is an oversimplifcation, because I'm not sticking to only recolouring based on the weapon; I may actually change the design (not 100% sure about this yet).
As such, my core question is: how can I design this to minimize the amount of artwork I need to make for each weapon?
It seems like I need to create standardized weapon sizes (eg. 18x36px sword), positions relative to the character to show them for each frame, and I need to create a sprite-sheet for each frame. (I have four directional images for walking, each with four frames of animation.)
This means, per weapon, I need another 4x4 frames of animation; that's a lot (for a non-artist like me). The other approach would be programmatic animation; but how will that work? I have to worry about:
- Positioning must be always similar for each weapon (different sizes?)
- Occlusion; the whole weapon appears when looking down, but most of it is hidden when looking up; how can I standardize this?
For reference, see (really) FF7; they did a fairly decent job of this, albeit in 3D.