Archive entry by Ste Pickford on Sun, 26 Nov 2006
These are all the individual sprite frames of the main character from Zub, on the Spectrum, our Mastertronic game from 1986.
Although not the first game either of us had worked on, Zub was the first project on which John and I worked together.
Zub was a pretty sparse and empty game. We choose to spend the limited resources we had (both development time and RAM) on making a great main character, so even if there wasn't that much to the rest of the game the player would enjoy jumping around as Zub.
John had written a cool 'sprite editor' on the Spectrum, which was better than any other tool available at the time, and I made good use of it creating quite a lot of frames of animation (by the standards of the day) for Zub. We even lavished 5 frames on a death sequence, which was very extravagant!
John also spent a lot of time working on the 'feel' of Zub, making sure it felt nice to jump around, to walk, etc. This was virtually unheard of at the time. There were only a few weeks allocated to program the whole game, so this would be broken down into the minimum time required for each essential programming task; get character walking - half a day, get character jumping - half a day, get character colliding with floor and platforms - half a day, get character colliding with vertical walls - half a day, etc. John spent two or three days messing with the variables controlling gravity and inertia, movement speed and jump height, animation speed and frame pauses, until he felt that it was satisfying to control Zub. For this he got into a lot of trouble for wasting time, making the project late, and losing money.
Sprites for 2D video games, both then and today, tend to be drawn facing in one direction. When the sprite needs to face in the opposite direction the sprite is 'flipped' in the x or y axis, using the same data but with the pixels drawn on screen in a different order. Some wag in the Binary Design office pointed out that as Zub was drawn holding his gun in his left hand, when he was flipped he then appeared to be holding his gun in his right hand. We were annoyed at the inconsistency of this, so I drew a little two frame 'flip' animation where Zub appears to pass the gun from his left hand to his right as he switches direction. I thought I was so clever!