Trying to wrap my artist brain around this and thought I'd throw it out to the forum: I was creating assets for my game and realized that flipping my art wouldn't be "correct" in a few situations. Mainly situations where you are carrying a civilian/NPC (see attached picture). My question is: Do people even notice this kind of thing? Is continuity important in games or do they just get a pass?
<img src="http://dl.dropbox.com/u/56104169/ContinuityQuestion.jpg" border="0" />
Flipping doesn't matter. People are used to the idea of people switching which hands are holding the sword and shield from tons of video games doing so.
Having a consistent style though, is important. Mixing pixel art sprites with HDTV painted sprites isn't going to look right.
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Seconding what Arima says, what's more important is that it 'feels' right, which means keeping the style consistent. Obviously in a 3d game these kinds of issues are more apparent, but for 2d sprites, so long as it flows, there's no problem at all!
You're probably right, though I probably will still add a separate set of images for when the player is carrying a person.
Basically, the way I have it worked out now is that the player's head, arms, chest, and whoever they are carrying will be a static image on top of an animated body and cape. So each carry-able NPC will only have 4 images to deal with (1 holding image and 1 transition frame of the NPC being set down/lifted up for the two directions). The most care will be given to the animated body and cape.
Continuity only matters in fluid motion. Lets say you're making a game where you shoot when moving and when you shoot you hold your gun out. If you have two different animations for this and the run cycle resets when you start shooting, people will notice and will be bothered by that. There is an illusion of fluidness that is being broken.
In general people are okay when breaks when they hit buttons, as long as the transition is jarring enough. 2d fighting games with chain combos have no in-between between comboed moves. This is surprisingly not weird, because each hit sorta causes a key point where one animation can end and go into another one. There is no lingering transitional weirdness -- that's just removed. If you ATTEMPT to transition, you gotta do it right.
So like, if your character had a turn around animation but when it finished, the girl was reversed, people might notice that. It's a sudden shift in weight that betrays the animation that's just going on. If you just have the animation flip right away, it's too sudden to even notice. The whole composition is changing at ones. The leg example above only happens because you have an expectation of where the legs should be due to implied motion.
Now if you did do a turn-around animation, you could do it simply by having him turn away from the camera, hiding the subject and removing the mental expectations, or have him turn toward the camera in like 3 frames and having her switch sides during it. Even if it seems nonsensical, you're doing it that way more so the shapes of the woman and the colors the eys are tracking don't suddenly jump from one place to another. In fact the reason a sudden flip is okay is because all the shapes are in the right place. Physical logic has been defied, but that's not as important as compositional logic.
This is an extra long answer just to say you're totally okay.
kayin, those are excellent points. The cape is making a lot of these transitions necessary. I really like your idea about turning away from camera and might explore that option in the future. I'm trying to limit the amount of extra work I have to do on this and that might help shave a couple frames off.
Yeah exactly... It is important.. I am crazy to be expert in same field.