Sprites, what are they?

I’ve heard of them, but what are they?

A sprite is anything that moves in a game (relatively to the terrain). An alien, a power-up, and a rocket are examples of sprites.

Isn’t this word also connected to the old kind of bill-board stuff? Like 2D Aliens and 2D equipment etc?

Usually though, when someone says sprite in a 3d-context they mean a 2d image, like a billboard. Basically, anything that wasn’t background in the old 2d-games was a sprite. In the beginning people used to make a difference between sprites that were handled by special hardware so you didn’t have to clear the background every frame, but no one cares anymore.

Many thanks for the replies. Sounds like sprites are now artifacts in graphics technology museums.


Oh, they aren’t. for example unreal used them to simulate fire, or quake3 for the smoke of the rockets?

Hmmmm. So, technically speaking, what is a sprite? There are some great examples of how they are/were used, but why would I want to use them? At the moment, they are not tangible to me, like a texture or a poly.

Think of it this way then, a sprite is a textured poly that always faces the viewer, i.e. billboard.

[This message has been edited by DFrey (edited 09-07-2001).]

Thanks DFrey,
That makes sense to me.