This is an example of the "body shot" that our Maya script outputs for each piece of gear and each character model in Prism.
This is just a quick status update because it's been a while since the last one. I spent a considerable amount of time the last couple weeks researching and developing Maya scripts.
Previously, we were using a program called SpriteWorks to render our 3d models down into sprite sheets. While I still think this program is very useful for people who have basic needs, it no longer sufficed for the demands of Prism.
The reason is that SpriteWorks only supports a few file formats. The file format that we found most reasonable to work with was Collada, or the DAE file format. DAE required us to save each piece of gear and animation as a separate file. This became unwieldy, but not because we couldn't keep it organized. Small differences in the files crept in, such as numbers of frames. There was simply too much upkeep.
Our task, then, was to find another solution besides SpriteWorks. There aren't many options out there! Instead, I spent a great deal of time learning the ins-and-outs of Maya and MEL (Maya's built-in scripting language).
I now have a simple batch command that renders down any given model with a specific, isometric perspective camera. It automatically loads and unloads each animation clip one at a time and rotates the model at 45 degree increments.
I created another script that uses ImageMagick to create a sprite sheet using the "montage" command line tool. I then load the entire sprite sheet into Photoshop and posterize / make certain adjustments. Finally, I have created a BYOND script that loads the sprite sheet, chops it up, and exports an appropriately named DMI.
The entire process is pretty much automated. Because of how gear is rendered in Prism, some manual adjustments need to be made, but this takes roughly 2-3 minutes for each sprite sheet. The challenge, now, is to find a frame rate and color level that I am happy with, without taking up too much memory.
Please "vote up" the below feature request if you've been following Prism and want to see the game art with as much quality as possible!