Does the Lack of Transition Frames of Animation Bother You in Small Budget Games?

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FlackByte

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Poll Does the Lack of Transition Frames of Animation Bother You in Small Budget Games? (104 votes)

Yes. 35%
No. 65%

Watching some of the reaction for the quick look of Battle Chef Brigade and some people seem to mind the way that game is animated. For me, if it`s not a fighting game, or a precision platformer, or any game with really short response times, things like transitional frames and input delay don't really bother me.

Also, secundary question, why is "looks like flash game" necessarily a bad thing for people? Two of my favorite games of all time, Super Meat Boy and Binding of Isaac, started as flash games and have "flash game aesthetic".

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liquiddragon

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I think it just depends on the game, how it looks and feels. In BioShock, the death animation seemed to have way too few frames but for some reason, I really liked that and it's one of the things that comes to my mind when I think about the game.

In terms of flash games, they tend to look cheap.

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jeremyf

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In the case of battle chef, the character moved pretty smoothly when she was running around and fighting. So it was distracting to me when she was snapping into different poses during dialogue. It's more of a consistency thing.

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FlackByte

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@jeremyf: This is really interesting to me. Could you tell me what kinds of games you normally play without noticing the animation or where you think the animation is really good (non-AAA games)? So I would have something to compare with. Do you have any experience with visual novels (they tend to have the snapping dialog)? If yes, do they bother you there, or is just the contrast in Battle Chef of the more animated combat and a dialog with transitionless animation?

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FlackByte

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In terms of flash games, they tend to look cheap.

I wonder why that is. I think it's because, since the majority of them is free, they are perceived as cheap. In theory, if a game is good and well made, the way it looks shouldn't matter, right?

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Redhotchilimist

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#5  Edited By Redhotchilimist

The thing I remember bothering me about Battle Chef Brigade was the complete lack of any shading. Games with a lack of animation frames that bother me... The one that jumps out at me is the Street Fighter 2 remake that Udon did. They replaced all those sprites with huge drawings that mimicked their poses perfectly, and it looked like garbage. Part of that's the art style, but part of it is making something that looks like a cartoon in still images animate with as few frames as a video game from 1991. It looked like this, but the type of graphics they were going for should animate more like this. Capcom even did this themselves back in SF3 with some of the best animated sprites I've ever seen.

As for games with the flash aesthetic, they often just... look like what they are? Like you take one or two bits of a character, squash and stretch them, and rotate around whatever limbs are affixed to them. Compare Binding of Isaac or Castle Crashers to that other indie game that was animated by hand, Cuphead, and you should be able to tell the difference. That's not to say Flash-like things can't look good. Stuff like Gravity Falls, Wakfu, Rayman Origins or Vanillaware's games make good on it by not just having a strong art direction, but mixing in 3d and hand-drawn animation. But in a lot of cases it looks comparatively cheap and easy because it is. And if you think that looks just as good, then good for you, but I sure don't.

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jeremyf

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@flackbyte: I guess the obvious answer is Cuphead, but that's going for something different than Battle Chef. Snapping doesn't really bother me in visual novels, though I'm not super into those anyway. Like you said, it's mostly the contrast that distracts me. Not a deal breaker by any means, just something I noticed.

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liquiddragon

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@flackbyte: There is a particular look, like UE3, ppl associate with flash. I know with Super Meat Boy they gave the game a comeplete make over when it came out on XBLA, it doesn't look like the original flash game. Every aspect of a game matters and if a good game has bad visuals, it's good despite its presentation, not because of it. I think it's good visual elements don't matter to you as much but based on how far we've come in that department, ppl really care about how games look.

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FlackByte

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@redhotchilimist: I don't think they look just as good. If I were to, say, compare Cuphead and Isaac by art alone, there would be no contest, Cuphead is a masterpiece of art design in games. The question about flash games is more about the way some games are dismissed by art style alone, when many of them are great games. That said, we all have pet pieves and things, that even at first glance annoy us, it's also a bit about that.

To "flash-like games" being easy to make, I somewhat disagree. Isaac for instance, has a lot of design chops behind it, with really good proc-gen (a thing that many try to emulate and fail), and feels really good to play. Some games of the same genre look MUCH better (like Gungeon) but. because the art informs so much of the rest of the design in those games, they don't (to me) feel as good and fun as Isaac.

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#9  Edited By FlackByte

@jeremyf: Cool, thanks for answering. If I ever make a game, I'll keep in mind how inconsistent animation, even in different parts of the game, might take some people a bit out of the experience.

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#10  Edited By FlackByte

@liquiddragon: Humm...Very interesting. I wouldn't say presentation doesn't matter to me, but you are right in assuming it's rarely a deal breaker when a good game looks "cheap". But you are definitely right, presentation is really important. With so many games coming out all the time, small games need to use every thing they got to call attention to themselves.

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#11  Edited By FlackByte

@redhotchilimist: In fighting games, and fast twitch games, I'm completely on board with you though. I made sure to exclude them for the reason that the animation and the gameplay are so intricately linked. The question is more about games where the animation doesn't really affect the gameplay, but it still annoys some players.

PS - Skullgirls is great.

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Redhotchilimist

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#12  Edited By Redhotchilimist

@flackbyte: I specifically meant the artwork itself was easier to make, not the game as a whole. I don't think the quality of the art needs to have anything to do with how good something feels to play, considering how amazing SF3 looks and how good it still feels to play. But I suppose it's an artform in its own right to be able to make both aspects work together and not against each other. Considering most of the studios that make these games with either flash animation or traditional animation are indie studios(or in the case of the UbiArt games, smaller development teams inside of the different Ubisoft studios), I think it just depends on the talent involved. Vanillaware had less than 20 developers last I checked, but they made all of this. I don't think Cuphead had any more.

I guess my point is, all of these developers are tiny. Being "small-budgeted" is a fair reason to look like you are, but there are talented and hard-working developers out there that put the rest to shame with the beautiful games they make, and they fairly get more eyes on them than games that don't present themselves as nicely. Like yeah, you shouldn't judge a book by its covers. But I also don't feel like Super Meat Boy or Castle Crashers got overlooked, despite the Newgrounds look. Those games were highly praised.

For the question about when it doesn't affect the gameplay: It's always annoying if it looks bad, lol. Everyone's got different breaking points obviously. I always thought Bioware's games looked pretty bad, especially their people, and it was a baaad idea to zoom all in on their faces. Then Mass Effect Andromeda came out and looked so bad that most people now agreed with me. You should try to look as good as you can! And then hide the ugly bits where people won't notice.

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#13  Edited By FlackByte

@redhotchilimist: That's a valid and interesting take. I suppose art really is a deal breaker for some people. Which makes sense, it's where the game makes it's first impression. It's a shame though. There are many really good games that have flawed looks, a really bad presentation or are straight up ugly. And thinking about it now I play a bunch of them: Rimworld, Dwarf Fortress, Crusader Kings 2. But I see your point and you are probably right, that's the way most people will see these games.

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WheresDerrick

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#14  Edited By WheresDerrick

I don't care about stuff like this very much at all; as a matter of fact, I actually prefer if the controls take a priority over animation, meaning if the character snaps into a direction or animation when I press the button, it's perfect to me.

What I don't like is when the animations look bad in the first place. Matt Hazard's melee comes to mind where it looks like they slowed down the punching animation by half so it looks like hes lightly tapping enemies instead of punching them hard.

Wayforward's games typically have lots of animations in their characters and even small stuff like the character switching from looking right to looking left has an animation of the character turning. It looks cool, but I also don't mind if it's like in Mario where he instantly turns around with no extra frames of animation.

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Redhotchilimist

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#15  Edited By Redhotchilimist

@wheresderrick: I wish I knew more about animation on 3D models. For instance, it looks like the animations in GTA, Bioware games and Uncharteds are what control their movement. They need to actually turn, they won't stop on a dime etc. And for me that feels weird and wonky. But on the other hand, I've been told that Dark Souls 2 's movement is independent of the animation, and that feels weird and off to me.

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OurSin_360

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#16  Edited By OurSin_360

It depends, i am watching the quick look now and it looks like they are going for a specific look (70's/80's anime/animation). But the match 3 objects look out of place which is why it gets the "flash game" look, which was basically taking things as separate objects and moving them on a plain rather than actually animating them (drawing frames etc). Kinda looks like a mobile game overlapped on top of handrawn art, i think most of this game works visually but that part kinda sticks out.

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ripelivejam

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I need to go back to it, but Pyre kinda bugged me when I realized it wasn't as lavishly animated as their previous two games (the matches are something different but they don't seem to happen too often, so far). Considering it's more of a visual novel/adventure game and supposedly quite a bit longer than their previous games it's understandable, I suppose.

Battle Chef Brigade has a great look, and I noticed the lack of frames but it hasn't bothered me so far. I like the sort of sketched/penciled/"unfinished" aesthetic.

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Rebel_Scum

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No the lack of transition frames doesn't bother me one bit.

Now about flash art. What I don't like about it is the very thick, bold & black outlines of everything. I can still play flash games, heck made a few too, but I don't like the art style that goes with it.

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#19  Edited By BrainScratch

Just like any kind of animation work, it completely depends on the animation style, art style, and scenes in question.

You can easily use fewer frames in something in the style of South Park or Monty Python to the point where the lack of frames is part of the style, but that doesn't work for something like old cartoons or certain styles of anime.

South Park: The Stick of Truth can have fewer frames since it's part of the style, but if Cuphead had any animation with fewer frames it would stick out like a sore thumb. (I know these aren't small budget games, I'm using them as examples).

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Dray2k

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Personally no,@johnymyko already stated my thoughts on the matter. It mostly depends on the style the animation adheres to, but I also would add that the gameplay (especially what the gameplay actually archives) is also important. Ain't no statisfying jumping without laying out the fundamentals.

As an example, Super Meat Boy only works because it was really well planned out and tested. The game, while still having the old flash game esthetics kind of there is still looking nicely on another level. For instance, the backgrounds look much better and the whole thing is smoother while the animations reflect this certain change in style and gameplay greatly. With smoother gameplay comes different ways on how to reflect the movement and as a result, Super Meat Boy does feel so much more statisfying while feling the overall gameplay improvements if you compare it to its the first Meat Boy.

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In regards to the animation in Battle Chef, it was less the lack of transitions and more the stiffness of the animations in general. There's no idle animation for example, just a completely static image, so when it suddenly jumps between running and not running there's a jarring cut each time. If you look at the animation when the character is stirring the pot, the character is completely motionless besides the arm, and that's including her unblinking eyes, which mostly breaks any illusion of life or movement in the character.

When it comes to the "cutscenes", it would've been better if they'd gone the visual novel/JRPG route of having mugshots. As it is the reaction "shots" they have in the game come across as way too subdued and the skewing of the sprites they do to try and add some motion just cheapen the art instead of enhancing those reactions. And placing all those static reactions on the characters in the actual game world ends up making everything look static.

Feels like I shouldn't be too harsh on the game since there's a lot of unique assets just based on what I saw in the Quick Look alone, and I can't see them animating all of it without putting a shit load of extra time and money into the game. That said with all the standing around and dialogue scenes in the game, they definitely could have looked into more budget-friendly avenues that would have made that stuff look less jarring/awkward.

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People were bothered by the animation in Battle Chef Brigade? I wondered if there’s a dividing line of opinion there over context. Back when I was in middle school, which I guess would’ve been the early oughts, I was way into Toonami. I thought the animation in BCB nailed the aesthetic I remember from my childhood anime’s, which I assume was the designer’s intent.

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#23  Edited By Welding

It definitely bothers me for Battle Chef Brigade.

I think comparing it to Pyre doesn't work at all; as they are both trying to do very different things: Battle Chef Brigade is attempting smooth combo-based combat, Pyre is a visual novel. When combat does happens in Pyre, the characters are fully (and I will say, beautifully) animated.

The size of the character sprites and their lack of animation really turns me off of Battle Chef Brigade.

As a rule of thumb, the smaller the sprite, the less frames are needed to convey motion.

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The lack of frames only bothers me if it affects the gameplay. The lack of such frames on enemies can make it pretty hard to dodge attacks if the game fails to provide another way to give tells. Otherwise, smooth animation is nice, but even a choppy animation style can be made to work with the right stylistic tricks so it doesn't bother me too much.

As for games that 'look like flash games' I personally just hate tweening and never really liked it even for Flash animations. I can't stand how all the limbs look they they're held on to the main body with tacks and just rotating around.