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New sprites for companions?

Posted by HiPhish 

New sprites for companions?
January 02, 2014 08:16PM
Hello Nuvie team

I was wondering if it would be possible to replace the sprites for the Avatar's companions with custom ones. it's really annoying that my guys look like every regular fighter, ranger or bard, especially during combat with other fighters, rangers or bards, and it is especially annoying that Iolo and Gwenno look both exactly the same. That's why I tried to make a little proof-of-concept attempt at re-skinnign their sprites:

I'm sorry, I couldn't figure out how to upscale the image without applying some fancy anti-aliasing filter. So far I have only re-skinned Iolo and I changed Gwenno's hair. I used the character portraits for reference as to what each one would be wearing and what their hair colour would be like and I only used colours found in the image and character portraits.

Before I go on I would like to know if it would be possible to have support for such a mod, like you just place a folder or a ZIP file containing the images and a text file with instructions for Nuvie in a certain directory and the game picks it up. I could even imagine a complete re-skinning mod that would replace each important NPC's sprite to resemble their portrait, though personally I wouldn't go that far. Would this even be legally possible, considering we would be distributing modified sprites from Origin?

Tell me what you think of the idea. I also welcome suggestions and critique for my spites.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2014 08:17PM by HiPhish.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 03, 2014 12:23AM
I've mentioned how horrible the generic shapes was awhile back. I'll try and talk with Eric tomorrow to see about implementing this. I don't think the shapes should be included with Nuvie due to copyright issues. It should be fine as a separate download.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 03, 2014 09:23AM
I don't think it should be included either, simply because of file size. If people want to play with the original sprites there is no reason to waste time and disc space. It's like a high-res texture mod for other games. Obviously the extra graphics for the fullscreen interface are needed, so they have be be shipped with Nuvie.

there are 14 companions (not counting Sherry), each of them has four directions they could be facing, each of these has two walking frames and one sitting frame. That's a total f 14 x 4 x 3 = 168 individual sprites. We could also use individual paper dolls for each companion in the fullscreen interface, I think the individual Avatar dolls are really cool. If the original artist is unavailable I would like to try my hand at them.

The main problem with Ultima VI is its interface, but Nuvie has solved most of it so far: drag&drop support, double clicking, corpse containers instead of dumping everything onto one huge stack and interaction with distant objects. Once the fullscreen interface gets stable, i.e. not crashing when trying to use a moongate or opening a container that's inside another container, it will be near perfect. I may not be a coder, so I would like to improve other rough aspects of the gam instead.

EDIT: Is there a way to extract the original palette and sprites? The way I did the above was by taking a screenshot from Nuvie and then coloruing the sprites by using the eyedropper tool to grab colours off other screenshots. There has to be a better way of doing this.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/03/2014 10:47AM by HiPhish.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 03, 2014 11:41AM

I've uploaded the u6 palette in gimp pal format.

You can find it here.


There is a u6 tile image floating around. A quick search on google for "u6tile gif" should find it.

Re: New sprites for companions?
January 03, 2014 12:19PM
Thanks for the palette, but I don't use Gimp, I use Pixelmator, so I would need the palette in OS X colour picker format (.clr); I can open it in TextEdit and enter the RGB values manually, but if you have the palette in the colour picker format it would be quicker instead of entering 256 individual colours. I found a set of tiles and portraits on this site, in case someone digs up this thread in the future:
EDIT: never mind about the palette, I entered the values while i was watching a video, so that's done.

That's 16 frames per NPC (three walking and one sitting for each direction), a total of 224 frames. I would really like to know if this can be implemented before I take this serious, I don't want to do over two hundred sprites in vain. Maybe it would better to start with the paper dolls first? That way I would have a reference for what each companion is wearing.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/03/2014 09:53PM by HiPhish.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 04, 2014 01:56PM
OK, I decided to do the dolls first, seems like a more reasonable first goal until I get a feel for the sprites. I did Dupre, Shamino and Iolo, please let me know what you think:

I added the Avatar dolls for comparison. If you're wondering why Dupre's armour is sleeveless, that's what he is wearing in the opening cutscene.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 04, 2014 09:30PM
Gwenno and Segallion join the party:

These two and several the other companions will be more tricky because I have very little material for reference, only their faces with a slight hint of clothing, so I have to take quite a few artistic liberties.

Gwenno is wearing yellow, and I interpreted it as a dress; it doesn't really make sense for an adventurer, but it fits the portrait. That red cloth thing around her waist (do these things have a proper name?) I completely made up, because I wante to add something to the waist. Just having a white dress looked to plain and the red colour adds a strong contrast. The waist in general is an area where you can add a strong contrast, which is why I want every doll to have some sort of belt.

Segallion is standard stuff, blue shirt (as seen on the portrait) and dark pants, those could be boots as well, I don't know. I think his skin should be darker, but I couldn't find a colour hat looked good next to the background. The hair is only one pixel wide, so I can't use any colour I want.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 04, 2014 10:53PM
Eric says he should be able to implement the new tiles.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 04, 2014 11:39PM
Awesome, I'll get to it once I'm done with the dolls. Speaking of which, I had a change of mind with Gwenno:

I tried to make her look more like the artowrk on this site, with mixed results. The vest covers her waist, losing her feminine form. I tried to keep the outline of her chest with shading, but still when I zoom out I can't help but feel like I'm looking at some Arabian Nights genie. I work with layers and I can toggle anything on and off at will, even the bent arm, so I will leave her for now.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/04/2014 11:40PM by HiPhish.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 05, 2014 01:51AM
The light tone of the undershirt makes it look like there is no shirt underneath the vest. It really makes me think of Disney's Aladdin. At this level of detail, she probably needs visibly long hair. Maybe give her some hair like the second Avatar but mirrored so it looks a little different if both are open at once.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 05, 2014 09:37AM
I've added support for non-avatar actor doll images. I've also committed the images for Dupre, Shamino and Iolo.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 05, 2014 01:42PM
Thanks, I've tried it out, looks pretty nice, if I may say so smiling smiley This raises another question though, what about the classic interface? It still uses the same generic dolls for all characters, including the Avatar. I know the classic interface has a different background colour, so we would need another set of images for that, right?. We can also see the doll of each NPC when casting the pickpocket spell, so they could use custom dolls as well, although I have no intention of doing that at in the foreseeable future, it would be overkill for something the player rarely ever sees.

The next question is how to distribute such a mod. I think the best way would be to just bundle up everything in a ZIP file and place it in a specific directory, but that's just from a user standpoint.

About Gwenno, she has short hair in the portrait, or at least tied into a knot, so I can't give her long hair. I don't want to deviate from the portrait, because that's exactly the problem I'm trying to solve here. That's why I tried to give her slim waist and a dress, which worked in the first draft, but the yellow dress looked too plain against the background, especially if I'm going to use the lighter background from the classic interface as well, so I tried adding the vest. I'll leave her for the end when it's time to give everyone a final polish before calling it finished.

Anyway, here are four more companions: Sentri, Leodon, Leonna and Gorn:

When I'm done I can export my project into Gimp or Photoshop format and we can add it to the repository for future reference. I would also add the Gimp palette, the palette image from the documentation page and my OS X palette so future artists can just jump in. At least that's my opinion, you decide if they belong in there.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 05, 2014 05:06PM
The background color should be transparent for the doll tiles and doll_bg.bmp should have the doll removed and be separate tiles so it can be used as a default if it isn't an identical one already in use. Then the tiles can be used for both backgrounds. I'm not sure if U6 has an alpha. 0070fc is the transparent color for the gumps, I don't know if this is true for the indexed shapes.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/05/2014 05:10PM by Malignant Manor.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 05, 2014 10:09PM
I read this in the IRC log and I would like respond
I don't know if I'm keen on having the new dolls on the original interface

These dolls are clearly a departure from the art style of Ultima VI, the original artist did things a certain way and if that's how people want to play Ultima VI they should be able to. That's why I am in favour of keeping the new dolls a separate mod instead of including them with Nuvie. Or have a menu option to use the new dolls or the old ones. I think the mod approach is better, because it would allow anyone to create doll- and sprite packs without needing to be included with Nuvie. There could be a companion pack, a major NPC pack and a misc. NPC pack. People who disagree with my interpretation would be free to create their own pack and distribute that instead of arguing if my dolls or their dolls are more faithful to the original. Of course this is all assuming anyone aside from me would even be interested in these dolls, but time will tell.

Keep in mind though that I am not a programer, at least not on the same level as you guys, so I don't know how hard to implement an external file system would be. A while ago I came across a talk from Ryan C. Gordon (icculus) about open source in game development and he mentioned PhysicsFS, a project of his that creates such "virtual" filesystems:
I played Dungeons of Dredmor, which uses PhysicsFS, and modding is dead-simple, you litereally just drag&drop a ZIP file into a directory and that's it. Here is a video of his talk:
Jump to 15:15 for PhysicsFS.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 06, 2014 10:16AM
Virtue Toys inc. is proud to humbly announcing their new series of "Avatar and Companions" dress-up dolls, now featuring such beloved classics as Blaine, Jaana, Julia and Katrina. "Avatar and Companions" dolls make excellent gifts for Codexlifting Day, so get them while supply lasts, beg your parents or steal money from your local Fellowship branch if you have to, just buy them!

Anyway, I added gloves to Dupre, a attached a bag to Shamino's belt and a sword to Sentri's belt. Gwenno's dress has been shortened, the line between chest and dress has been strengthened and I reverted her arm back to default. It made little sense to change on character's posture and leave everyone as default. The sleeves of Sentri's armour are now shorter, as on the Japanese cluebook artwork, and Leodon's hair goes over her should like in her portrait.

This leaves us now with just Sherry and Beh Lem missing, they will be trickier because they aren't human, but I'll see what I can come up with. I think once I'm done we (me?) should send this to Ultima Codex and see what people think of the new dolls. Remember that I can just toggle on and off any accessory, so don't hesitate to bring in suggestions.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 06, 2014 03:40PM
This forum doesn't really get any traffic so you won't get much, if any, suggestions here.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 06, 2014 05:00PM
Well, there is you and Eric, your opinions aren't any less valid winking smiley If you have nothing to say I'll get in touch with the Ultima Codex, they could hold a poll and everyone can add their opinions. I was thinking about posting on the Shroud of the Avatar forums as well, but I have no interest in that game and I don't expect all of the users there to be interested in Ultima IV, so I don't want to register. The Ultima Codex is the de-facto main site for all Ultima news these days.
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 06, 2014 10:24PM
I'm fine with anything but the generic paperdolls smiling smiley
I have really no opinion on whether any of those need tweaking or not smiling smiley

But, yes, if you want to have more opinions on those you best give WTF Dragon a shout to make a post about it...

The documentation and the FAQ are your friends. So RTFM!
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 07, 2014 01:10AM
Actually, I check this forum daily, I just tend to lurk.
I've also been following this with quite a bit of interest, just nothing to say yet as I'm being beaten to it. smiling smiley
I will say this though: good job and keep it up! grinning smiley
Re: New sprites for companions?
January 07, 2014 10:03PM
Aaaand, I'm done! Here it is, the complete set of paperdolls for all companions, including Sherry and Beh Lem

Sherry was a major pain in the butt, I had to start over several times. At first i wanted her to look flat like the other dolls, but I just couldn't pull off a mouse, she looked more like roadkill. Eventually I settled for a perspective like her portrait, she stick out, but at least it looks good.

Beh Lem was tricky as well. First of all I wasn't sure if Gargoyles are naked or if they wear at least a loin cloth, there are both kinds of artworks. Eventually I settled for a naked gargoyle, because the gargoyles in the ending cutscene are naked as well, but I gave him at least a belt with a boomerang holster, because he needs to store his inventory somewhere (unless gargoyles have skin bags like kangaroos). I have no idea how to interpret the blue straps on his portrait, so I added those blue belts across his chest, as some kind of armour. The portraits of other gargoyles and the ending cutscene shows that even though gargoyles are naked they sometimes adron their bodies with some minor accessories.

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