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Animated Units for Civ 2 ToT

Discussion in 'Civ2 - Scenario League' started by Civinator, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. Civinator

    Civinator Blue Lion Supporter

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    Animated Units for Civ 2 ToT

    Mercator´s animation tool for Civ 2 ToT sprites "CivSprite" is there for a lot of years but it wasn´t used as nearly all civers (including Mercator himself) thought it is more of a theoretic value and not useable for normal modding.

    Mercator´s tool still can be found here: http://www.civgaming.net/mercator/mapedit/downloads.html

    Some years ago, I made a thread at Apolyton to show some animated units converting Civ 3 units with Mercator´s tool. The thread still can be found at Apolyton, but all graphics and sprites are gone due to the decline of that site: http://apolyton.net/showthread.php/169829-Animated-Civ-2-ToT-Units?pp=30
    So my old pc cought fire some time ago and I lost a lot of my old Civ2 modding stuff, I had made some backups and will see, if I still have the old unit sprites of the converted Civ 3 units. These units in my eyes looked very spectacular in Civ 2 ToT, but beside an enormous amount of work that was needed to do such an unit, they had a severe drawback: Firaxis had forgotten to add the defensive graphics to the unit sprites in Civ 2 ToT! So one animated unit attacked the other unit with wonderful animations and the attacked unit only stood in the landscape and did nothing until one of both units was killed and the death animations did start. Bad quality in the initial releases of Firaxis is not only a story of Civ 4 and 5, even Civ 2 ToT had some major flaws in its design, but as the animated graphics in Civ2 Tot were so ugly, that nearly evrybody stopped to use them, most civers didnt take notice of that flaw. When Mercator found no way to add the missing defense graphics to his tool, I stopped the work on the animated Civ2 units.

    Now with the move of the Scenario League, that gave me such a lot of knowledge in modding Civ 2 long ago (that at present I have unfortunately mostly forgotten by modding Civ 3 over a lot of years), I was remembered to add animated spaceship graphics to my space mod with an abstract way of combat, to overcome the missing defense graphics in the unit sprites.

    Here I made an - at least for me -astonishing discovery. I have reflected much too long about the backsides of Mercators tool and much too less about the different possibilities of the different unit sprites. It was the sprite of the catapult (unit 23) that had a different structure for movement and fidget (idle graphics) than most other graphic sprites in Civ 2 ToT. This unit only used one image for movement and fidget in every direction and it could move on the map! The use of these "one-image-sprites" reduces the number of graphics that are needed for animated units massively as dozends (and with the mask images hundreds) of movement- and fidget graphics are no longer needed.

    But it still comes better. The units with the 1-image movement sprites exactly move like the unanimated Civ 2 Tot units, but now combat and death graphics can be added to these units in an acceptable amount of time (with other words, they can regain the graphical possibilities of units in older versions of Civ 2, that many civers in Civ 2 ToT were missing - so the units do not exactly behave like in the old versions of Civ 2).

    To start the "massproduction" of animated Civ 2 ToT spaceships I added an explosion cloud for all death animations, so there was no more work to do for these images, too. Now there is only left to copy the image of the unit in the Civ 2 ToT units file and to paste it ten times in the last image numbers of the sprite images. For the combat animations an additional paste of that image to the first five images in the sprite file is needed, than the combat animations are added to these five files and than these files are pasted in turns of five to the remaining 45 image slots of the sprite. With this methode I created 30 working animated spaceships in only some hours this weekend.

    Spoiler :




    For the abstract combat animation of SF units, I used old explosion combat animations of Civ 2. For ancient units the old combat animation with the crossing swords can work well. May be some of you have other abstract Civ 2 combat animations. In that case please let me know.

    But it even came better: These units are working without problems next to unanimated Civ 2 ToT units - the normal Civ 2 ToT units only show no explosion when dying and no combat animations. So if you add only one or some animated units to the other units, they should be able to interact with the other units.

    Another observation I made when using these 1-image-units was, that these units didn´t need static sprites. They showed the image of the normal Civ 2 ToT units-file. I was surprised to see the civ 2 symbol for an Kilrathi unit that was contained in the Civ 2 ToT unit file on the map of my testgame, when the unit wasn´t in action, while the animations in that unit´s sprite didn´t carry this symbol. It seems the civ symbols can stay on the normal Civ 2 ToT units file for identification duties on the map, and for combat the place of the symbols in the unit graphic can be used for combat animations.

    Attached to this post is a zip-file with the 30 animated spaceships I created this weekend for Civ 2 ToT. They work very well in my space mod replacing the SF-Mod in Civ 2 ToT.


    How to do these animated graphics?

    1. Download and install Mercator´s tool.

    2. Create a folder and unzip the bmp-files of the Excelsior folder into that folder. I gave the folder the name of the new animated unit.

    3. Replace the images in the Excelsior folder with the bmp images of your new unit.

    4. Backup Sprite 23 of the "Original" folder of Civ 2 Tot.

    5. Start "CivSprite" and open Spritefile 23 and the Bitmap folder containing the bitmaps.



    6. Import the bitmaps to Sprite 23, make the bak and exit CivSprite. Sprite 23 now should contain the new images.

    7. Copy Sprite 23 and rename that copy to the spritenumber you need for that unit.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. JPetroski

    JPetroski Chieftain

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    Wow - this is a really cool discovery!

    So if I'm following you right... If a designer is willing to give up having units "flip" sides (East or West), then they can have an attack animation?

    This opens up many possibilities... Crossing swords, sure, but now in theory you could have different attack animations for different units? Perhaps crossing swords, arrows flying, javelins, bullet streams, explosions, munitions...

    Again, this is very cool. Thanks for sharing :)
     
  3. Civinator

    Civinator Blue Lion Supporter

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    While moving these units over the map they flip sides like a Civ 2 ToT unit without animation and can have attack and death animations.

    May be you test the sprites I have attached in the SF-Folder of ToT, but don´t forget to enable the animated graphics and move your normal sprites (including the static sprite) in a separated folder. I´m also interested if they work in other games, too.
     
  4. Catfish

    Catfish Chieftain

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    I once described that method as being insane, but in fairness, I probably hadn't considered the single-frame movement and idle sequences for the catapult. I've since hex edited animated sprites (for terrain), which I also joked about at the time. :D
     
  5. Civinator

    Civinator Blue Lion Supporter

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    If you would count the letters in your post above, you could see, that you pressed the buttons on your keyboard about the same number of times as I did it for doing the files of the spaceship of the Excelsior-class (only an estimation - I didn´t count them :lol:). With other words: Creating such an animated unit isn´t a big effort any longer. :)

    Yes, it were the observations about the 1-frame-files in that unit sprite and the behaviour of such an unit in the game, that let me post this thread. The number of images in such a sprite is more than halfed, compared to the average number of other unit sprites (85 to 200) and 25 of these 85 images (the death animation) can be fixed, so there are only 60 images leaving. The only fiddling around with those leaving images can be 5 images of the combat animation (images 000 -004), if the position of the unit isn´t proper for placing the combat animations (for example in my sprite about the Sparrowhawk-class spaceship).

    If my observations can be confirmed by other civers, this could be a major progress in doing masses of Civ 2 ToT unit sprites. :)
     
  6. CurtSibling

    CurtSibling ENEMY ACE™ SLeague Staff

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    Good info posted there, Civinator!

    Been contemplating doing some animated units, and will have to refreshe myself with
    the process. Also finding ways to speed the "mass production" method for creation.
    For example, death animations could be a "one size fits all" exlosion for all units.

    Even with staric units, it would be nice to have battle animations in ToT again!
     
  7. Civinator

    Civinator Blue Lion Supporter

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    The explosion graphic I have attached to the opening post in this thread could be "one size fits all" as it seems, the maximum operable size for a sprite image is 64x64. May be the explosion can be done better. I´m no graphics specialist. :)

    About my old animated Civ 3 units for Civ 2 ToT: I`m sure I have backups of them and can post them here again. :)
     
  8. CurtSibling

    CurtSibling ENEMY ACE™ SLeague Staff

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    Please do post these, Civinator! It would be a good platform to get started! :)
     
  9. Civinator

    Civinator Blue Lion Supporter

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    Here are the Civ 3 units that I converted some years ago. Different from the massproduction sprites for Civ 2 ToT I showed in the first post of this thread, these sprites are playing in another league and doing them was a massive amount of work.

    The units have the sprite numbers that are assigned to them in Civ 2 ToT (Original game). Behind the sprite number I wrote the name of those units. To prepare these units for gameplay in Civ2 ToT the unitname behind the spritenumber must be deleted. These units are only completely operable with a static sprite containing these units. The sprites for the completed units are attached at the end of the post. The speed of the gif-animations is not the speed of the animated units.


    Swordsman:








    Archer:










    Samurai










    Rifleman:










    Churchill Tank:










    Not finished yet:

    Ironclad:






    German MG:



    Sherman Tank



    Junk:

     

    Attached Files:

  10. Civinator

    Civinator Blue Lion Supporter

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    Coming soon: Galactic Conquests for Civ 2 ToT



    "Captain, sensors reading a battlewaggon coming out of hyperspace behind us."

    "Relax ensign, this is a battlestar of the Lost Colonies, they are on our side. At least they were, when we contacted them the last time. Close up the Enterprise to firing range against the Kilrathi Ralari"

    "What´s that - fireballs coming out from the Kilrathi ship!"
    "Th - that was the Excelsior, captain"

    "My god, the cats have plasma weapons - and beind us a bioterminator is on his devastating way to Sagitaria. Full speed ahead to the whormhole back to our galaxy, the milky way."

    (Reminiscence to CGW "Hanging from Orion´s Belt")
     

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  11. Civinator

    Civinator Blue Lion Supporter

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    One question: Is there still a mod or an scenario existing for Civ 2 ToT with many (simply) animated units, or can I say Galactic Conquests Civ 2 ToT is the first mod with animated units for Civ 2 ToT?

    I hope the mod will come close to eastern. The units are ready since a longer time. The work now focuses on the pedia and the presentation of the mod.
     
  12. CurtSibling

    CurtSibling ENEMY ACE™ SLeague Staff

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    It would be a dream to get various units up and running, so we could create various scenarios with these amazing works! :D

    I am wondering how hard it would be to bring back the "explosion" in ToT, that indicates a unit being hit (as in MGE)...?
    I'm willing to help you make animated units, in any way I can assist to cut down workloads, but I will need to be taught!

    Once again, bravo, sir!
     
  13. CurtSibling

    CurtSibling ENEMY ACE™ SLeague Staff

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    One thing I wish to ask too:

    Can the animated units still be given team colours via spirtegen or similar apps?
     
  14. Catfish

    Catfish Chieftain

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  15. CurtSibling

    CurtSibling ENEMY ACE™ SLeague Staff

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    Good show - I want to experiment and bring back the combat explosions for a unit set.
     
  16. Civinator

    Civinator Blue Lion Supporter

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    Thank you all for your kind words. :) For the animated short story above I used original unit sprites from the upcoming spacemod. So you here see original attack animations and death explosions as they occure in the game. The only difference is, that the animation speed in the game is a little bit faster.

    As Catfish answered, this is no problem. The tool "CivSprite" has the masks graphics included. So you simply can use them. The Spritgen is nothing other than a "castrated" CivSprite -better to use the original.

    This can´t be done with the normal unit sprites of Civ 2 ToT. May be someone will find a methode to mod the healthbar-graphics that go down with every hit in a way, that shows the reduction of health as explosions on the units.

    With the Civ 2 ToT sprites there are some strict sequences: Battle animations that must be in the graphics of the attacking unit and death animations that must be in the graphics of the dying unit.

    For the simple animations, you only must do a cut and paste job with the excelsior graphics template I posted in this thread.

    For converting Civ 3 units I will write a kind of a tutorial when I have the time for it -so I think, here a lot of steps can be improved by members of the scenario league. I´m really no graphics specialist. On the other side, if I´m able to do these units, everybody else is able to do this, too. :)
     
  17. CurtSibling

    CurtSibling ENEMY ACE™ SLeague Staff

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    Thanks, dude!

    I suppose even adding a random explosion that acts in place of the "battle" animation,
    while the unit stays static would be a nice addition...What I would like to achieve is to
    have units like fairline's, but with some combat effects when they attack.

    A death animation would be good too, but that is a different job...

    I will study your method as described, and try some experiments soon!

    :)
     
  18. Catfish

    Catfish Chieftain

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    SpriteGen was originally created for the specific task of hiding the health bars for non-animated, single-orientation units (by far the majority in Civ2). Mask support was added later. When dealing with single-frame units, it is the superior tool: the procedure is much faster and simpler, and the output static.spr file is approximately 1/5 the size. Since it can't process multiple frames, you've got no choice but to use CivSprite when animating units.
     
  19. Civinator

    Civinator Blue Lion Supporter

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    Curt, attached to this post is an early prototype of the fairline Jagdpanther used in your great Eurasian War scenario. I think I have to find better explosion graphics for the combat animation of that unit.

    The zip file contains the sprite of the Jagdpanther and the single bmp-files that can be put together with CivSprite to become the working Jagdpanther sprite.

    So if you want to experiment with different combat animations you only have to change the single bmp combat files for that sprite. :)
     

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  20. Catfish

    Catfish Chieftain

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    I was stuffing around with unit animations yesterday. I produced a 2-frame SPR file (hex editing) that flashes crossed swords on the screen during combat and causes units to fade away upon death. Combat is certainly more visible. Individual unit sprite files were very small: around 6 or 7 kB each. However, CivSprite is allergic to the format and I have to copy the frames over from another sprite file using a hex editor. I don't know if it's worth pursuing. I've attached a short Xvid AVI file demo.

    [Edit: OK, back from mowing the lawn. I've figured it out. The last image offset needs to point to the end of the file (+1). It's now CivSprite-compatible. I've attached a 2-frame unit sprite. The first frame is the standard icon, as it appears in units.bmp (+ mask layer); the second frame contains the same unit with superimposed combat icon. A monkey should be able to implement this effect now.]
     

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