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I'm making a 3d character that emulates a sprite. The game as a whole emulates the feel of a classic RPG game.

Old games like Ultima Online, or Diablo...or similar late-90's generation...

For an average run sequence, they must have had general targets for "smoothness". I'm curious if there was an old industry standard of that time for "sprite frames for this action" in game design.

Example. A walk sequence in Diablo. How many frames would they have targeted in those years?

I'm looking for a general guideline to emulate "that cool 90's RPG". I'd love some advice.

If there was no such standard, and designers of old were as hacky as they tended to be, I'll also take a good educated opinion on the matter.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This looks like a question you can answer yourself by consulting sprite sheets for the games you're interested in paying homage to and counting the frames. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Jun 6, 2020 at 23:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think if you stick to 4 frames per action - you'd be pretty good into 90's. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 6, 2020 at 23:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GeekSince1982 thanks. That was my estimate too. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 7, 2020 at 1:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ 8 frames. After looking up some Diablo sprites and Ultima Online footage, I can tell you that their walk cycle is 8 frames. Also, some actions may take up to 20 frames (Edit: 16 frames is common). I also looked up Ultima 8 sprites and it uses 9 frames. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theraot
    Jun 7, 2020 at 7:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Theraot that looks like it could be a good answer, especially if illustrated with examples to get a sense of what each of those 8 frames does. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Jun 7, 2020 at 11:04

1 Answer 1

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Original Diablo uses 8 frames for its walk cycles.

Here we have the Black Night walking cycle:

Black Knight Walking

Black Knight walking animation.

We can see it takes 4 frames on each step (4 frames for the left, 4 frames for the right).

The 4 frame for each step are:

  1. Contact: Both feet in contact with the ground, far apart.
  2. Down/Recoil: Legs bent. In the animation above we don't see the lower part of the far leg, only down to the knee.
  3. Pass: The previously far leg is passing to the front. It is clearly not making contact with the ground.
  4. Up/High point: The leg that has now moved up and to the front in anticipation of making contact with the ground again.

Repeat for both leg.


Other animations can take up to 24 frames. Here a 16 frame action:

Black Knight Attack

Black Knight Attack animation.

This animation is (by my count) 5 frame windup, 4 frames attack, and 7 frames recovery.


Finally this is a 24 frames animation:

Black Knight death animation

Black Knight death animation.


The animations above were taken from taken diablo.fandom.com, where they were uploaded by the user Deathcharger.

You can also find sprite sheets on spriters-resource.com (which I'm only suggesting for learning purposes). There the user sutinoer has uploaded Black Knight sprites from Diablo.

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