Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Revivification of Spriting

I hope everyone had a happy new year. I apologize that I have not been updating this blog, as my life has recently become a bit hectic, but I hope to return to a regular posting schedule soon.

Onward to the topic at hand: Sprites. To explain, sprites are the type of art work used in 8, 16 and 32-bit games. There was a surge of Sprite comics about a decade ago with the rise of Bob and George and other projects like it, and it was quite popular for fans of those comics to create their own characters and artwork. I was one of these fans back in the day, and learned a bit about creating sprite sheets for animations.

With the popularity of smart phone and tablet games, sprites have come back into the scene as a viable artistic style for designers. Angry Birds, for example, uses sprites, and is a million dollar business now. It is either a coincidence or a natural progression that those who were fans of the sprite comics ten years ago now have skills that are marketable. I wouldn't be surprised if that was how many of them started.

Not to insult sprite artists, because they do magnificent work, but this medium lowers the bar for amateur game designers. So does the entire smart phone platform, of course, but sprite work in particular is an easy style to learn.

I find myself a little sad to think that it may be phased out once more. The DS was the final handheld system to use sprites, though the PSP had them in select titles, and the smart phone platform may migrate in that direction as its gaming potential is explored. I feel as though there would be holdouts for a good measure of time, seeing as mobile games tend to lean towards casual and quick playstyles. But that doesn't change that it is one of my favorite art styles and the most memorable (in my opinion) in video game history.

I think I will return to that hobby. Certainly could be useful.