Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Grace Kids

Here you go, round 2 of the Spiderwick anims -- Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace.

For me, animating player-controlled characters is usually a bit more satisfying. They are also a bit more challenging. How the animations feel when the buttons are pressed will take precedent over how they look.

Here are some of the challenges we usually have to deal with when trying to strike that balance between responsive controls and believable motion:

-----First off, very little anticipation and quick recoveries are general rules when it comes to player characters. Jumps are even more tricky. Running jumps should probably have no anticipation, otherwise the jump may feel sticky. Landings probably should not translate too far forward even though momentum might dictate this. Players will likely want to stop on a dime when they land, and not worry about overshooting off a ledge. To further complicate things, jump animations are usually split into several pieces. This is to account for all the different terrain heights and the various landing senarios.

-----Regarding the jumps in the game, I thought it'd be interesting to have the character almost not make the jump every once in a while. The trick was then to get him back up as quickly as possible, since (for this game) there wouldn't be any button presses to climb up from the hanging position. In the end the "near-miss" anim was still too slow and unresponsive so we had to stick with the regular jump and land for every instance.

-----When memory space is an issue (as well as time) we can't have 2 sets of anims just to accomodate the character having an equipped weapon or not. That's why you'll notice that Jared's bat may feel a bit light. The anims have to work for when he has a weapon in hand as well as when he doesn't.

These game rules and constraints are all good, though. Because I'm a gamer myself, I tend to embrace and appreciate these challenges as opposed to just seeing them as fustrations.

Hope everyone's not getting too bored of all these in-game anims. I'll try to mix it up with some 2D artwork and maybe some personal workflow stuff in upcoming posts.


Saul Ruiz said...

Thanks again for sharing TJ... Your work is inspiring. I didn't realize that there was so much to face when animating for games... The challenge does seem rather daunting at first but i can see how this can be fun. I really like what you have here... and from what you have told me about your time constraints... this work is genius. I am looking forward to your posts.. awesome work TJ.

Rini Sugianto said...

damn tj these were awesome! but yeah
those time constraint and having to animate without very little to no anticipation used to drive me nuts

Nikki Lukas said...

hi TJ! I'll never get bored of any of your animations, whether it be for work or personal. Its always fun to look at your blog.

TJ Phan said...


Erwin Madrid said...

Wow! I never knew you were so good in animation. These are so much fun to watch. I'm glad you started a blog this year.

Scott Watanabe said...

Awesome animations. They make me want to play the game. Great job.

Brenoch Adams said...

Great stuff TJ. Really digging the integration of all those subtle kid-like mannerisms. Nice!

Michael Richard said...

Well said.

samvolcano said...

TJ , how did you do the FX part ? geometry+opacity ? or particles ?