Animation Prototype

27th Aug 2012

The last you heard from me about animation was when I was talking about the animation for a prototype, using cool round squashy dudes!

However, we’ve rapidly moved on since then, hopefully towards something you guys can play, so now we have REAL-SHAPED PEOPLE. I drew these to get an idea of how the animation works and to give us a timing template for when Kit comes in and redraws the art to make it awesome.

One thing I’ve learned about animating for games is how important it is to get a feeling of context while you’re making the animation. For example in the past I would animate a walk cycle, a jump animation and a falling animation independently of each other, and feel perfectly happy with it. But when I saw it in the game, the walk cycle may be too slow for the rate the character is moving at, the transition from jumping to falling may be clunky, or the animation of the jump just doesn’t feel as fast and energetic as the actual jump is.

So after that I would repeatedly hassle a programmer to put them in the game and see how they looked, then I’d go back to my desk, try to fix it, hassle the programmer again and again until I’ve iterated enough to have got it right. Then I decide we need a “landing” animation when the character hits the floor and the programmer throws his keyboard at me.

Argh, right? Wouldn’t it be much better if I could just program a rudimentary controller so I can play back and swap between animations myself? This is where Flash really shines, I can get a test rig together in a matter of hours, programming and drawing in the same environment, and really get a feel for what the game may require. While the code I write in these animation demos most likely won’t be used at all in the actual game code, I can at least give Max a good idea of what I’m likely to expect the animations to be and likewise help define the feel of the game earlier.

Here is a GIF of it! :D

Animation Progress

22nd Jun 2012

Hello again! I’ve now reached the point where I have an animation demo to show Max. Once he’s given it a lookover and hopefully waved his arms around with ecstatic approval, I’ll export the component parts of the animation and we can put it in the game and see it in action! This is also a great time to show you exactly what I’m showing him… but in animated GIF format! Remember them? :D Brace yourself, here comes the TECHNOLOGY;

This animation kinda consists of 3 parts;

1) The “physical” animation. This is the flex and bounce of the Stunt Guy / Brawler sprites, and the way they speed up, slow down and look like they have “weight”. This is very important to the feel of a game, if the weight feels too light the game can feel fake and uninvolving, but if it’s too heavy the player will end up mashing the input device trying to get things to move faster and just get over there a little bit quicker and AARRGGGGHH

2) There’s a “collision swoop”, which demonstrates to the player where the attack is going and what it’ll hit. This will probably happen every time the player attacks, whether they hit something or not, so if they miss, they know why.

3) Finally there’s a thwack which will be spawned at the point of collision, showing the player what was hit and where! This is where the aforementioned sweat and teeth will fly out from, and doing these parts are my favorite bit. I also find it helps to make the noises as I draw them, it adds verisimilitude. KER-SPLAT!!

Of course, the next step will be to put it into the prototype. From there things can still change; we may find that the swoop looks bad in the game, or that the thwack gets too busy when there’s a lot of them around, or we may run into a technical limitation, or we may just think of something better! Game development is fluid, the only way to really know if something works is to test it where it’s supposed to be.

So yeah, this is the kind of stuff that we do all the time, but that noone ever really sees except us. But now, also you! :D

Animatin’ Prototypes

21st Jun 2012

Hi! I’m Paul, and I’m an animation and art and sound and explodey bits guy here at Kempt. I’ve just been doing some conceptutal animation for the prototype you’ll hopefully soon be playing in the app store!

This project is interesting for me beacuase unlike most games we develop, the game has to be understandable and playable at every iteration. So while normally we would be adding these effects later in the game, making use of full animation, HUD feedback and particle systems, this time we’re working with placeholder art in a bare-bones engine.

The art will be changing dramatically over the next few weeks, as will the game, so to communicate the actions of the player and the baddies in a bar fight I’m using a few basic animation effects and squishing the placeholder graphics about.

The characters are currently just these cool little circle guys so I thought it would be fun to squash them around like those pull & squash ball-bouncing animation exercises, to see if I can get some personality into them with just the squashin’! When the game starts coming together we’ll develop the animation to do what we want, communicating positive & negative to the player and smashing blood, sweat & teeth all over the place; but for now we’re going for some basic reactions so the player knows what’s going on in the prototype.

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