One thing my sprite artist (the awesome @stollcomics) had been doing was varying the head, as needed, in different expressions. For example, here’s a sample of (inked!) Adam heads, and I think it makes for a much more expressive sprite than the usual “static head and moving facial features” thing.
However! In the process I think we also discovered why head movements aren’t a normal thing in visual novels – because it takes really long to draw and ink so many heads, which multiplies out even more when you want hair and facial hair variations. (We were expecting to have a final Adam sprite, colors and all, this weekend, but instead he only got around 70% done with inks.)
Given that, I think we’re going to be going back to the “usual” visual novel style with a static head and moving facial features. It won’t look as good as these, but it’ll be a heck of a lot easier on him, and generally means this process won’t take as long given the 13 other sprites we have to get through.
It’s particularly unfortunate that a lot of this awesome art isn’t going to see the light of day (other than this post, I suppose), but I’m really glad that we ran into this early in the process (on the first sprite) instead of after doing a couple of simple ones and then having to go back and redo those, as well.
Learning experiences, I guess!
(This also means, of course, that the next game release is delayed for a couple weeks while we redo the expressions and get the new sprite colored.)