Success! I was doing some testing yesterday on NPC appearances, and it seems like it'll be possible to make the NPC sprites match their loadout. Voila!
Since I'm adding new factions, and some are non-hostile, there's an opportunity to add some more strategy to the game. Is that person hostile? Are they a threat? Rather than advertising all raiders and bandits images and names, I'm going to try this approach of showing what they're actually wearing. Some might have uniforms, but some might be in rags, and you won't know whether to trust them based on just sight.
For this to work, I'll also need to obscure their real names until something reveals it. So I might make all NPCs "unidentified man/woman" by default, and only show the real name if the player discovers it. Possibly along the lines of berries and botany.
One of the nice side-effects of this feature is more clarity in combat. Now, when viewing more than one opponent in battle, it's easier to tell them apart visually by clothes and carried weapon. No more endless bandits with the same sprite!
Currently, it only shows clothes and carried weapons. So you'll still need to use traditional methods to see the rest of their stuff. This feature also necessitated a change in artwork for the melonhead, to make them compatible with the human-sized equipment. They're taller now, with slightly less-ginormous heads. However, they should still be pretty easy to distinguish from humans.
Tomorrow, we'll have a look at creature identification. And then, maybe run some experiments with non-hostiles! Have a good one, all!