I'm getting ready to start on my character animations. I've just been using placeholders for now while I worked on general gameplay mechanics and the HUD.
The character is going to have 2 or 3 weapons, and I wanted there to be the ability to upgrade them visually (different color, appearance, whatever).
This is an isometric game (like Baldur's Gate or Age of Empires II), so everything is sorted by a family with z-order sorting. This is what makes it tricky. If I just add in new animations, I don't have to worry about the z-order not working since I have already set the characters up. However, if I create a weapon as a separate sprite and then pin it or position it and have it trigger accordingly, I still need to make sure it sorts in the proper z-order.
This picture of Golden Axe on the Genesis will give you an idea of the types of animations I have.
There will be forwards and backwards walking animations. There will be an attack animation. And probably an idle animation of some sort.
Now, normally when pinning a weapon sprite, it would probably be on the handle of the weapon and pinned to the character's hand. However, this would put it higher on the z-order sorting since the "lower" object is put in front. The character's origin is at his feet, and the weapon origin point would be up at his hand.
The z-order would have to stay consistent when he is walking or when other characters get in front of him. I tried making the weapon sprite box the same size as the character, but it starts to get a bit confusing as to where to put the origin point and making sure it stays consistent with the character's animations, so I don't know if that's optimal.
Now, I can avoid this by simply making new animations for the character with each new weapon, but this will start to add up quickly. I could also make the weapon invisible during the walk animation and have a few less animations to worry about, though it would look a bit silly it would still work.
Anyway, I'm trying to figure out the best approach.