“To Die or Not to Die” –Death Animations in Guns, Gore & Cannoli

As you can see in the trailer above, there are obviously many enemies and weapons in Guns, Gore & Cannoli (Steam). Everybody who has ever played an action game knows that most of the games feature the same weapons all the time. We all know the pistols, shotguns, magnums, heavy machine guns and stuff. We tried to add a few extras like the Teslacoilgun to spice things up, but most guns are kind of ‘the classics’. The way we wanted to bring variation to the killing of enemies was by the way they die.

First we animated four normal death animations for each character. They get riddled by bullets or get their head exploded by a headshot and then fall on their face or their back. Those are kind of the standard kills in the game.


Then there’s the flamethrower and the Molotovs. We absolutely wanted to avoid particle effects in the game as much as possible. Fire is always tricky in games because of its irregular and constantly changing form. So when an enemy is burned up in Guns, Gore & Cannoli we use sprite sheets. These sprite sheets were all animated frame by frame like it was very commonly done 20 years ago. The only problem is that we’d have to make a sprite sheet for all the different enemies burning up which resulted in 4 different burn animations.

  1. The first one was for regular human-shaped enemies.
  2. The second for the crawling enemy without legs.
  3. The third was for the rats
  4. The last one was the balloon zombie that’s upside down.


The next special death animation was the ‘melting-by-poison-gas’. Instead of just coughing themselves to death we thought it would be cool if enemies died by melting away. This also resulted in different sprite-sheets for different enemies.


A very cool one is the electrocution effect. We made skeletons of the four types of enemy shapes to make it look really cool. After the electrical burst-out the only thing that is left of the enemy is its skeleton which then tumbles into each other leaving just a pile of bones.


The last special death animation is one of my favorites. When the fat cook or barrel throwing enemy get killed, they bloat before they explode into pieces. Their head gets blown into the air and bounces on the floor afterwards.

One of the problems using these sprite sheets was –of course– the performance of the game. Using sprite-sheets of 50 -sometimes 60- frames was very heavy on the devices. So it was a real adventure to make every sprite sheet as small as possible to make it work.

Everything combined we had to animate twelve different sprite sheets and had to animate twenty-three different character animation deaths. I gotta admit it though. It was a hell of a lot of fun to do!

Benjamin Claeys (Claeysbrothers Arts)
Benjamin Claeys (Claeysbrothers Arts)http://www.claeysbrothers.be
Together with my brother Matthias I am one of the members of the creative art studio ClaeysBrothers Arts. Most of our work concists out of commercial or instructional animations or cartoons for schoolbooks. But whenever we have the time and money to do so, we try to make videogames. Guns, Gore & Cannoli is our first big PC and console Game. Previously we worked on several mobile games for clients. For Guns, Gore & Cannoli we came up with the entire concept and Story. We provided all the graphics, animations and leveldesign. The programming was done by Crazy Monkey Studios. It has been a great experience to work together so we hope we can continue this great parnership.

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