I have a rather small, but important dilemma facing me: To reload animation or not to reload animation, that is the trouble.
On one hand, there's no feedback in any way, shape or form to suggest the gun is being reloaded. In fact, I'll find myself even forgetting there's a delay between when I hit the reload button and when the gun actually reloads. I'll be like "Hey! Why can't I keep shooting? I know I have more ammo than that!" I could add a sound effect, something I will be doing eventually, but I feel like it would be a little amateurish to have a reload sound and not a reload animation.
On the other hand, it's an 8 directional game, and since I plan on having different guns, there can be no one, single, universal reload animation. This means each gun will have several frames of reload animation, 8 times each. So let's say I have a 6-frame reload animation, that totals up to 48 frames. Allowing for each gun to have no more and no less than 6 frames of reload animation, let's say I have 5 guns total. That becomes 240 frames. The more guns, and the more realistic I make the animation sequence, the more work I'll have to do.
One solution would just to be to do it GoldenEye 007 style where he lowers the gun, a reload sound is played, and the gun is raised again, but that wouldn't look good coupled with the gun reload speed system I painstakingly coded. Some guns take more time to reload than others. For pistols, you just pull out the magazine, but for shotguns, you actually have to feed the shells into it. With a break-action shotgun, there's even an extra step of pulling out the old shells before you can put in the new ones.
A second solution would be to go the retro route, use game logic, and just have one or two neutral reload animations. Like in most retro games, to upgrade something, a character just hits it with a hammer, no matter what it's made out of. I could just have the character fiddle with the gun a little while a reload sound plays. This would greatly reduce the amount of work and number of animations I have to work in, and cover the feed-back base well enough, but it also greatly reduces the realism. (Not that the game's going to be very on the realistic side anyway, but you get my point.)
When something in a game works right and feels nice, you don't notice that it was done right. But when something's just off about it, you notice. Feedback is a big deal, so I think I'm going to air on the side of making it work right, by making it clear when a reload is taking place, even if it means taking the easy, retro route about it. As cool as it would be to see the character pull the empty magazine out of his pistol, reach for his belt, and exchange it for a new one and chamber a round, it would be too time consuming to do that for every type of weapon. And realistic animations aren't going to work on every gun. Like mentioned above with the shotguns, or like with magnums, it wouldn't make sense for the player character to slide a magazine out of them and chamber the round by pulling back on the gun. I'll hold off for now, though, and see if I can come up with something else. Doubt it, but we'll see.