An animated 512 or 1024 sprite is huge and the 1024 especially is going to use a ton of VRAM - probably about 80MB. Large images (512 and up) are a huge bottleneck when compiling, though they are cached and don't need to be recompiled until you change them or reload the project.
Hmmm, okay. I was hoping to use them at that image size so that I could use a zoomed-in 'vanity-cam', allowing the player to zoom in for a closer look at his character, and not have to put up with blurred textures all around. It could also be used to get a closer look at the environment, either for purely aesthetic reasons, or for quests involving tracking for example, and looking for signs of vegetation disturbance or footprints. I may have to drop this idea, and stick to a static camera distance if larger textures are an issue.
As far as I know, larger textures aren't a problem for GPUs to render (as long as they support them - stick to 1024 and under), though it will take longer to transfer all those textures to the GPU at the start of the frame. That's generally not an issue, though. The bigger concern is a GPU not having enough VRAM - then it will have to swap textures every frame. Your main problems are compile time and VRAM use.
If you're aiming for 256MB cards (which doesn't mean you have 256mb to work with - the OS uses some, etc.) it might be okay depending on amount of other stuff in the scene, and you could leave the trees animations out and put them back in as the last step before exporting to an exe.
Without having a 256mb card myself, how would I know whether the game is suitable for them? Is there a MB or VRAM usage I should be aiming to stay under, or would I have to test the game on a 256mb system?
You sure you can't use that animation system in real time on only the onscreen trees? It would be smoother, use less VRAM, load faster and could be dynamic as well. Unless it requires a ton of cpu time, obviously.
That's the idea. When a breeze blows across the screen, it animates the trees, shrubs, and long grasses as it passes over them. But I imagine that every tree and object that can be animated would be a problem regardless of whether the animation is playing, since the images used in the animation would still need to be loaded up. Is that right, or are the images only loaded up when they are needed?
Many thanks for the feedback! ^^