August 3rd, 2009

Sailor Steeler

Spriting, Mods, and the Future

In the past hour or so, I've discovered something very interesting. People have been modding the SFIV engine to do all sorts of crazy things with the characters. Since it's in the early stages, some of the mods have glitches, but the progress made so far both intrigues me and worries me.

It intrigues me because mods, while not easy, offer a flexibility that sprite-based characters lack. If you wanted to swap, say, Chun-Li and Cammy's movesets or alter outfits to sport a custom theme (rather than a palette swap), that would require actually redrawing the sprites for starters, and I don't want to get into all of the design elements that would have to be changed. While there is plenty of work involved in modding, at least from what I can tell, it doesn't seem like you have to actually reconstitute a character from scratch, which greatly lessens the amount of time that needs to be spent toward and end result.

This worries me, though, because then, once the first wave of mods dissipates, it may become the de facto method of making fan edits for "old school" characters. Unlike CAW and other such interfaces, the sky seems to be the limit with modding...but why would anyone want to mess around with sprites if they could get a more tactile result with the 3D. The only advantage sprites offer is portability, and while there will always be pixel artist enthusiasts, I worry if this isn't a death knell for sprite editing.