Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Major Project Evaluation

My major project was again entirely collaborative this year. This was a double edged sword in some ways, as it meant I had to manage time to fit in with my colleagues schedules. The upside was that it was really fun, and it allowed me to contribute more to making the project a success. The four projects I chose fit well with where I want situate myself in terms of skills. The rigging project, while only as quarter of my total workload, was very intensive. Having to produce two rigs of sufficient quality in a restrained time really helped my workflow, and then being able to animate with not only my own rigs, but my colleagues gave me insight to the strengths and weaknesses of both. The Unity block sat well with my rigging skills, as I was primarily concerned with animation and character setup and AI. Overseeing the process from rigging to implementation gave me an insight into how to plan and execute game projects.


Overall, I felt the rigging module went well. I managed to create two rigs in four weeks that the animator's seemed to respond well to. There were features I would have liked to add, but did not have time, but I tried to prioritise feature additions by how much benefit they would give the animator. The main problem with the rigging module for me was a time imbalance. The dragon rig took longer than the Fae rig, which I had anticipated; the dragon was a more unique character with a physiology I had not had experience rigging before, whereas the Fae was a biped so I was more within my comfort zone. This made the Fae a little bit rushed, and I would have preferred to have had a little more time on the rig.

The main areas I would have liked to have been better were to do with the staff system. I knew this would be a challenge, as it required the IK arms to be very robust, so I made sure there would be stretching, and the ability to lock the hands to the staff. The staff can also lock to the characters back. These functions were fit for purpose on Echoes, but because they were created via parenting rather than using script expressions, there were areas where the system was weak. The hands had to be at zero position/rotation to stick to the staff, which meant interpolation could get messy if not controlled  Ideally, I would have better parenting and keyframe controls held under one simple UI.

Usability is another area I would like to be better. A number of times I encountered animators not using features because they simply did not know they were there. I provided read-me files with explanations, but a text document is hard to remember when getting on with animation, so I want to look into having switches like IK/FK, global/local, and selection sets available from a custom UI.

The Unity project went well, and we achieved a great deal on the project as a team. We pushed the project further than we thought we could, and though the final game is a little rough-edged, it is in working order ad the elements are all functional. We knew from the beginning that as none of us are programmers it would be difficult to build a working game, but I think we overcame most of the hurdles we encountered and found solutions to most of the problems.

Playmaker was a huge advantage to us, as it simplified the scripting process, particularly when dealing with animations. We still found ourselves using a lot of javascript, but this would have bn much more complex without combing it with playmaker's state machines.

Being in charge of the AI, I had to come up with very simple solutions to very complicated problems, and have it look fairly convincing. AI is notoriously difficult to program, and ours are incredibly simplistic. However, I think that they work reasonably well, and though gameplay feels very much like a game, with little sense that the characters can think, the combination of the AI we have and the art and animation really helps the characters to feel alive.

The player controls were something we wanted to try and get very solid, and I think overall they work well. Occasionally there are areas that could require more polish; when running down a steep hill the character will continually fall small amounts at a time, which is jarring for the player. Overall though, I think the game feels responsive and functional, so I would call the unity project a success, and a massive build on the work I produced for mongols vs ogres last year.

I love animation, and it is often frustrating that with a more generalist skill base (unity and rigging taking up 50% of my time) I have less time to work on my animation skills. For Echoes, I think there are mixed levels of quality to the animation, depending on the character and the animation and the time I had to put them together.

The bark basher was challenging, but very enjoyable. The character had a distinct personality, and being a huge boss character, it was great to see his animations in game. The heavy shields provided two interesting problems. First was animating them convincingly whilst still giving the Bark Basher enough mobility to effectively fight the player. Second was making sure that we animated his shields at a consistent weight throughout all the animators. Whilst it didn't matter for showreels so much, in game there would be no distinction between animators so it would be jarring for the shields to switch weights all the time. The weekly meetings really helped us to nail this down and kept everyone working to a similar style.

The Fae was reasonably straightforward for the most part, being a standard biped. The staff I felt could have benefited from better controls, as I struggled when trying to pass it between hands or spin it a great deal. The  main staff control had a tendency to gimbal lock if rotated too much around the x-axis, so the axis could occasionally get skewed. Many animations suffered from jarring endings due to the need to get back to the idle pose, but this is less noticeable in game so it was not a major issue.

The Dragon was great fun to animate, and the only real issue I had had was with the FK tail, it was difficult to get it smooth, though turning on ghosting helped. After I added the dynamic tail it allowed the final layer of polish to sell the animation.

I only had one animation for the centaur, which is a shame because I found him a lot of fun to animate. Te dynamic between his horse lower half and human upper half made him feel quite primal, and it was a fun challenge to try and get that across in my attack animation. The animation was a little locked down to one axis and I'd have preferred to get the centaur moving around laterally more, because in the final game they can appear a little direct, which doesn't leave much room for showing off the artwork.

The animations for Genevieve had a good base, I thought, but needed refinement  Here animation for playing on the ruins needed more cleanup and smoother motion, and more exaggeration when she almost falls. The animation is tiny in the game though, as she is so far away, so I didn't clean it up as much as I should have. The wave animation is very rough, and didn't make it into the game, but I think it had the foundations of a decent animation. The animation for the outro cut-scene went well I thought, though I didn't have time to render it off at full quality before the hand-in. I got the particles and smoke effect set up, which was a lot of fun though, and the final version will get done at some point soon.

The project went well overall I thought, and though there were plenty of hurdles and problems, I felt that they provide me with clear direction as to where to invest my energy into the future as I improve.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Website is live!

I got round to making a website at last, and its now live at Its still lacking a proper showreel, as I'm finishing major project next week, so I'll be able to put together a better reel then.

Also recently I tweaked the dragon rig to have a dynamic tail. Here's a peek at a test I ran with it:

Fun stuff, there should be tons of new stuff in the coming weeks as we come to the end of major project, so I'll post up as much as I can.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Dragon Update

Not long left now, and I'm just posting up a quick update on the dragon animations. I've restructured the claw attack a lot, and I think it works a lot better like this. The attack is anticipated better, and it has greater energy now. The end needs a bit of tweaking, as the first flap feels very unnatural. This is close to done though, a few tweaks and another pass at the tail and I'll call it finished.

At the suggestions of our tutors, we have added a big dragon to the end of the summer level, to act as a level boss. This means we need a few new animations, and fortunately a few people have agreed to take on a couple more. I've taken on the death animation for this big dragon, and I've been playing around with it. Here's what I have so far:

I like the feel of it, though I need to play with the timing and the weight of it. There's some jerky movement in the wings as well at the start that needs to be ironed out. Overall, its a little melodramatic and Shakespearean, but I think from the low front angle it should put across the size to the player.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Inspiration: Valve

Valve are one of the biggest game studios in the world. Often described as the 'Pixar of games', they have a long history of producing critically acclaimed games, and are beloved by the game community. Valve are also  famous for their work environment and ethic, with all their employees working willingly on projects of their choosing. 

They built their name on the Half-life series, on which their pioneering work led the way in terms of narrative and storytelling in games. They were amongst the first studios to realise that game characters could give a performance that elevated the story and added great depth to the gameplay.

They went on to create much loved recent successes with the likes of the Portal and Left 4 Dead games, not to mention the multi-player shooter Team Fortress 2. All of their games have a versy strong art style and solid design, with a focus on the player as the most important aspect of their game.

Valve is a giant in gaming culture, and along with the massive commercial success of their Steam PC gaming platform, they have kept to their roots, favouring effective game design and narrative over rushed release schedules. The company is renowned as a fantastic work environment, and their ethics transfer well to any team effort.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Bark Basher Damage

I've worked on the Bark Basher heavy damage animation a fair amount since the last time I posted. There's now a section at the end in which the character spins around to face the player. This was added in as the second part of the animation will be triggered when the player is behind the Bark Basher, attacking from the rear. The animation still needs some clearing up, I'm not particularly happy with the initial reel back, it feels a bit jerky, but overall I think this looks a lot better than it did.

Friday, 26 April 2013

First Submittal

Time flies, and time you need to work on something even more so. First submittal has snuck up on us, and we're all trying to compile our work. This is our last chance to get the tutors to have a really good look at our work, and our last chance to get some in depth feedback.

Most of my focus was on the rigging I've done, as that will go (mostly) unchanged between now and the hand-in.

The reel is missing a few features, ones that I forgot to mention if I'm honest. I haven't made mention of the variable parenting for example. Its long and ponderous, but I developed it mainly for the marking reel for uni, rather than my own showreel, though I will use elements from it in my final showreel.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Inspiration: Rockstar North

Rockstar north is one of the oldest and most prestigious games development companies in the world, as well as being the largest in the UK. Their Grand Theft Auto series is amongst the most popular in the medium, and they meet with critical acclaim upon every release. The studio was founded in 1988 as DMA design. Eventually the studio grew into Rockstar Games, and as they expanded and opened up other studios, the Edinborough studio became known as Rockstar North.

The Grand Theft Auto series is infamous for its violence and controversy, but also famous for its technological advances. As a frontrunner in open-world gameplay, Rockstar is often at the centre of gaming news with advances in engine technology which allow for a greater level of immersion.

Relatively recently they included a real-time character physics engine called Euphoria in Grand Theft Auto IV. This piece of technology seamlessly blended the animations of the team with physics driven motion, to create stumbles, falls, and allow previously complex motions like climbing steps to be more easily achieved.

Above all this, Rockstar values storytelling as their most important asset. This is key to their success in recent years. Their writing and animation is cinematic and pulls few punches on subject matter, painting a stark picture of the lives of its protagonists. Their games blend gameplay and story into a smooth whole, and I would love to be able to work on similar projects myself.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Feature Feature: Noise Jitter Controller

In making the heavy damage animation for the bark basher, I had to apply some noise to the torso as he strains to stand up. I could have done this with key frames, but that would have been both messy and time intensive (not to mention difficult to change). To get round this, I came up with a way of applying noise to the movement. Its probably not the best way, but it's pretty simple and it works.

Note: I didn't make the rig, credit for that goes to Hollie Sheppard, who did an awesome job in a very short time.

Okay, first thing we'll need is some noise. I simply used a noise texture for this, and plugged in the time node to the time attribute in the map to keep it randomized. This will give you random noise every frame, which is perfect for my straining animation, but not for smooth, slower noisy movements.

To start, open the Hypershade and go to Create > 2D Textures > Noise, this will add a noise texture to your graph. We won't need to create the time node, as its always present in every Maya scene. The easiest way, in my opinion, of getting it into the Hypershade graph is to get it from the Outliner.

To make it visible, you have to make sure DAG Objects Only is unchecked. This will show everything in Maya in your outliner, but you can type *time* into the filter to find the time node. Once you have it, select it and add to graph.

 Now connect up the outTime from the time1 node to the Time attribute of the noise texture. This will give it random values over time. The graph will look something like above. If the middle conversion node doesn't show up, don't worry, so long as the Time attribute value shows yellow, you know it's connected to something.

We could wire up the noise texture directly if we wanted to, but the values would be tiny, as they'd be between 0 and 1. So to give us more control, we'll want a multiply divide node in there. So go to Create > General Utilities > Multiply Divide. Now connect the outColor of the noise map to the input1 of the multiply divide node. This will let you scale the magnitude of the noise using the input 2 of the multiply node

To let us retain fill control, I recommend grouping the control you're planning on adding the modifier to, and applying the noise to that. That will let you still move the controller underneath as normal. Add a vector attibute to the group using the attribute editor to control the noise in X, Y, and Z. Now put this node into the Hypershade. 

Finally, we do a simple two way wire to set up the control. Wire the output of the noise node into the translate/rotate/scale (whatever you want to jitter) of the group node. Then wire the vector attribute you just set up on the group node into the input2 attribute of the noise node.

And done! What we basically have now is a noise attribute scalable in each axis. The magnitude of the noise will be equal to the random noise value (between 0 and 1) multiplied by the value you put into the relevant axis in your channel box control. The nice thing is that because this is keyable, you can smoothly scale the amount of noise applied up and down.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Inspiration: Spicy Horse

I recently played through Alice: Madness Returns and I loved the blend of interesting storytelling, subject matter, and art. Developer Spicy Horse did an excellent job of blending all the elements of the game into a fantastic whole. The game was particularly inspiring for me, as it had a number of similarities to our own Echoes project. The naturesque environments with a surreal tweist are similar to our own environment themes, and the gameplay is simplistic and robust, getting out of the way of the art and story, which are the main draws of the game.

Spicy Horse is the largest independent western game studio in China. Based in Shanghai, the studio is a great coming together of cultural backgrounds. The studio has a mixture of western and eastern developers, all with their own take on the style. This allows their games to have diverse and interesting art styles.

In particular, I liked the way key features on the player character became a focal point on Alice. The dynamic skirt and hair really worked with the art style and made me excited about the possibilities opening up for complex dynamics in real time game engines.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Wild Things

I've been working on a couple of creature animations, one for the bark basher, and one for the centaur. This is my only animation for the centaur, which is a shame, because its a cool model and a good rig. It is however, a very cool animation that I get to do. I've managed to snag the melee attack for the centaur. I had a few ideas about how to do it, whether it was hitting with the bow or punching etc. In the end I went for a rear up and kick, as it looks cool, gives him some height so it'll be clear in game, and makes use of the character design. At the minute I like it overall, but there's some thigh jerkiness, and the landing feels very odd. I need to restructure his land, and tighten up the lateral movement to make sure it all looks natural.

 I've also been working on the Bark Basher. My final animation for him is the heavy damage animation. Basically, when the player does enough damage he collapses to the floor so you can go around and hit the crystal on his back for massive damage. At the minute its very rough and snappy, and it looks quite robotic. The attempt to stand and fail was good fun, and I learned how to set up a noise controller in Maya, which was good fun. I'm going to simplify, slow it down and smooth it out, then go from there.

Monday, 15 April 2013

More Dragons

My other animation for the dragon is the climbing. This should occur after the dragon lands on the trees. They should hit the tree, idle for a while, and then either fly away or climb up to a higher point. This animation isn't guaranteed to go in though, as it'll be up to me to make a judgement on whether that aspect of the dragons' behavior is worth the time it will take to implement. Hopefully it will be worth the time, but if I can have a greater impact working on other areas of the game, I will.

I'm quite happy with this one, its not quite finished, and it needs a lot of secondary on the tail adding in, but the overall movement seems to suggest climbing. The wings also feel slightly robotic, as they stick to a fairly consistent sideways translation, which could do with adjusting.

Friday, 22 March 2013


One of the most fun animations I get to do is the attack sequence for the Player Character. For the game, I'll be implementing two 'combo' strings, one by myself and one by Matt Watson. I was struggling with the staff interaction, as its tricky getting the arms to do what you want when they're IK-ed to the staff. The challenge is fun though, and one we anticipated when we decided to use a two-handed weapon.

This first clip is quite heavily copied from some reference I filmed. The overall movement works but it needs exaggeration. The issue I had with this style was that it was overly flourished, and didn't leave me much room to make it read better.

My second attempt was more successful. It is more suited to a fast attack, and I feel it reads better. The final, more powerful attack is currently a little low I think, and he seems to lose momentum on his swing before he reaches the point of impact. I think I need to build more torque into the poses leading up to the hit.

Were it just showreel work, I'd make it slower, but it needs to be extremely fast for gameplay purposes.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Inspiration: Rocksteady

Rocksteady are a fantastic UK based game studio, best known for their recent work with the Batman franchise. I love the strength of their art direction, and the weightiness of their animation. Helped by the Havok physics built into the Unreal Engine, their environments and characters work excellently to make their games have a real physicality to them. Impacts and movements feel heavy, and the characters feel very solid. I would love to be able to make the characters in Echoes have this same feeling of physicality to them.

The studio began in 2004, to a relatively quiet start. Their first game, Urban Chaos: Riot Response met with reasonable critical success, but did not propel the studio into the limelight. With the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009, Rocksteady rocketed into centre stage and became a well respected developer on a global scale.

Always, their design on the Arkham games has been focussed on making the environments and characters come alive. One of the ways they achieve this so effectively is by having their characters interact fluidly with the environment. Implementing this into our own game project would help sell our characters, but it requires a lot of technically challenging work in the engine, and organisation between the engine team and the animators to correctly set up these motions. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

There hasn't been a dragon in these parts for ages...

back to the dragons, and the little blighters are pretty fun to animate. Mainly I love the frills, which are an awesome design addition which help to sell the little lizard idea. I can only thank Ruth (the designer/modeler) for doing an awesome job.

The dragon attacks are a  difficult one to plan. We want them to feel organic and natural, but at the same time, its easy for them to feel a little game-y. The dragon hovers in idle and then swoops in for attacks at intervals, so getting these to feel less triggered and more natural is a challenge.

I'm quite pleased overall with this one so far, the poses seem to be going quite well and the movement seems to reflect his size. My main issues with this animation are the fact that the dragon needs more vertical movement in the pelvis to reinforce the flaps, and the readability of the animation. I may restructure to include more of an anticipation, with the dragon flying back and up at the start to telegraph the attack.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Animating the Bark basher

With the rigs now tested and in full use by the animation team, I can move on to the bulk of my own animation work. One of the coolest things about this is that I can play with some of the awesome characters and rigs produced by the rest of the team. I dived into the Bark Basher, as the rig was ready to go quickly, and the character was really fun. The primary challenge we are finding with this character is that we have to be very careful not to misjudge the weight of the shields on his arms. Its easy for all the animations to treat them slightly different, which will look very strange in-game.

The idle is very restrained, I didn't want him to move to fast or extreme because of his relative size. The sluggish movement helps to make him look big and heavy, though I may have to adjust the curves more to accentuate the effect.

This animation is part of the idle sequence, designed to be inserted at random intervals into the idle animation. The gist is supposed to be that the Bark Basher is angry and frustrated, and is slamming the ground, much like a gorilla would. I don't think that's coming across too well at the moment, so I might have to rethink how that works, and perhaps play up the 'roar' aspect.

The Bark Basher was rigged by Hollie Sheppard ( and modelled by Fen Evetts (

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Getting Moving with Motion

So with rigging out of the way, I move on to the animation of the project. With 5 characters to choose from I was spoiled for choice on what to start with. In service of practicality I decided to start with the Fae, as I had recently finished the rig. This gave me the chance to test out the rig, and make sure there are no quick fixes to be made before the other animators get around to it.

As I did the Dragon rig first, there was little point starting with the animation on it, as it has been pretty extensively tested by the anim team, who've been using it for a couple of weeks now. The results seem positive, and I've picked up a few ideas on what to do and what not to do from observing how they've been using it. Mostly, I've found the more viewport controls there are the better, and that the vast majority aren't using the filled controllers, so in most cases they won't be justifiable in terms of the time they take to set up.

But anyway, on to animation! I started out with the death animation. My first run wasn't going too great, so I stripped it back and restructured it. The second version works a lot better, I think, and has a lot more force to it. This willbe the basis for the death for high power impacts, like the centaur attacks or the Bark Basher hit.

Next I started on the sprint animation. I wanted to really push this one as its got to be an exaggerated difference from the regular run animation. I think the basic idea is working, but the animation itself needs a lot of cleaning up and sorting out. At the minute his hips and torso seem to be some kind of separate entities. The feet are doing odd floppy things at the moment too but I'll keep working at it.

A start at an animation where the player loses balance after the Bark Basher hits the ground. It didn't really work. But it is amusing.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Inspiration: Lionhead Studios

One of the areas I looked to for inspiration on Echoes was Lionhead studios, creators and custodians of the Fable franchise. Their art style is a fantastic mix of exaggeration and classic British sensibilities, and I love the way their animation style matches it perfectly.

Lionhead have a long legacy in the British game industry. Starting out as a breakaway group from Bullfrog Games; makes of beloved classics such as Frogger and Theme Hospital, they produced excellent games in franchises with a great cult following. In 2006, they were acquired by Microsoft and their Fable series became a flagship title for the Xbox consoles.

The first of their games I played was the god simulator; black and white 2, and later the Fable games. Throughout  all their games, Lionhead maintain a consistent visual style and theme. Their games downplay menu navigation in favour of focussing on the art and animation, which strongly contrasts the usual design of strategy and role-playing games.

In my work on Echoes, I want to utilise this same emphasis; keeping the art primary to the game, and not having it subsumed beneath the nitty gritty of gameplay elements. Lionhead’s aesthetic for animation also suits Echoes well, with a chunky, solid feel which helps to place it within the game, and make it feel more alive.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Mega Update: Rigging

I haven't posted anything in a good while now, so I should get back into the swing of things. To that end, I'm going update here with a chunk of what I've been up to in my studies.

We're now in production for Major Project, for which we have to produce a volume of work, split into four sections. My four sections are rigging, two sets of game animation, and some unity development. Currently I've finished rigging, and am moving on to animation, which I'm stuck into at the minute.

For this rigging section, I've rigged two of the characters for Echoes: the dragon and the player character. As I was working on a tight time budget (for me at least) of two weeks max for each, neither are as fleshed out as they perhaps could be, but I think I managed to get a fair amount of features in so the animators shouldn't have problems.

The first character I rigged was Ruth Beresford's excellent dragon. He's a nippy little dragon, rather than a hulking beast, with a bunch of fun design features; the frills in particular being great fun to set up.

Overall I was pretty pleased with the dragon. He's fairly feature intensive, with a few things I'd not done before. I wasn't sure the best process for animating the dragon, but I assumed FK wings and legs would be default in the air. When he landed he'll move like a quadruped, so IK wings and legs would be needed. Not knowing the best course for everything I gave him IK/FK wings, legs, spine and tail.

I also tried to keep the rig as simple as possible, but also give the animators full control. The frills for example, are controlled by just one rotating controller that pops them up and down through set driven keys attached to it's rotation. The finer detail bones can also be controlled by switching on Manual Feather Control too, in case the animators need them separately for something.

For the chest and wings I decided to try to create variable parenting. For the chest in particular, I wanted to give the animators the option to have it follow the hips, making it easier to offset. I set it up with hypershade nodes and condition statements to create a 3 way switch setup to control parent weights.

Another feature I used with the dragon rig is filled controllers. I found these were much easier to select on the fly, as they had a larger surface area than the usual nurbs curves. The drawback was that they took a lot of space up, and made it harder to see the model. They also took a lot of time to set up, as I had twice as many shape nodes to deal with. I thought the best approach would be to create them for the dragon, and have a switch to turn them on or off. Then I could just observe the animators using it and see how many found them useful.

The most challenging things to rig were the wings. They were a complex system that I'd not rigged before, and I found it particularly difficult to make them curl in without clipping. I got decent furl/unfurl and curl in controls going in the end, mostly through the Ruth's excellent topology work.


The second rig I made was for the player character, modelled by Dean Paupe. Having done bipeds before in Maya, I was less daunted by this character than the dragon. The player character rig is a little less feature intensive, but it still contains a few little bits to help animate.

The key things that differentiate the fae are his legs and his staff. I played around with a number of leg setups, to cover the IK chain with maximum control. However, in the end I found the proportions of the model were suited to just having a three-joint IK chain with a pole vector controller to twist.

The staff required a few tricks to get right. Essentially I knew that to animate attacks etc the best option would be to animate the staff and have IK hands follow. To this end, I needed to be able to snap the hands to the staff.

The solution was a simple parent constraint weighting set-up. My main criticism is that this is reliant on the transforms being zeroed, so it takes some manual interpolation to take hands off the staff after a complex motion.

A little testing also showed me the need for motion trails that originate at the ends of the staff, in order to allow nice clean curves. I simply placed nodes at each end of the staff for this purpose.

I also needed to attach the staff to his back when he's not using it. This essentially works in the same way as the hand snap, with a slight edit in that it also scales the staff down slightly. The purpose is to make it less obtrusive, and though we were originally wary of scaling it, the scaling was much less obvious to an outside observer than we thought.


For both rigs, I also created an IK/FK limb snapping script. I found that when animating the little girl, a lot of the animators were finding it problematic to manually match the arms up when they wanted to swap between. I had a limited experience of MEL scripting, having created simple workflow tools to help me out previously.

There were two parts to learn here, the first was how to actually perform the snapping operation. I did this following a tutorial by Zeth Willie, who explained the concepts behind the vector operations incredibly well. The tutorial was in Python, and I converted it to MEL for my usage. Not due to any views on script superiority, I just wanted to get to grips with MEL syntax better, as its the more complex of the two. Converting the language did help me to better understand what I was scripting, as it makes it impossible to simply copy it out. I got stumped a few times on syntax issues (the difference between ` and ' being a nuisance I found to a beginner MEL scripter).

The second thing to learn was the ui creation, which was much simpler than I'd anticipated. The scripting required was pretty simple, and I managed to make a UI that suited my needs reasonably quickly. I then linked up the scripts by creating sequences of commands for each button. They select the appropriate controller, and then run the appropriate procedure. As the scripts define their object variables using message attributes, I was able to make the script work for both the Dragon and Fae rigs.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Pre-production Produced

Pre-production is finished! So now we can move on to the meat of the project. Pre-production went pretty well, although I lost a crucial file containing all my rig diagrams on submission day, which will no doubt be a knock to my grade. Other than that, hopefully it went pretty well, though I likely could have balanced my workload into the grading areas better.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Genevieve's Games

As I'm currently waiting for models to rig, I'm getting started on a little bit of blocking out for the little girl. The character was an interesting one to animate. My initial impulse would be to animate her playfully, but the character in Echoes is supposed to be an almost immortal being, with an ambiguous past. The main focus of the character is the juxtaposition of these aspects, and the interplay of her mischievous demeanor and her sinister motivations. She leads the player into more and more dangerous situations, but also appears like a cute little child, so we want the player to be confused about how to view her.

The first clip is a simple wave from on top of a fountain. I'm not really too pleased with this one, I need to rebuild it to have more body motion and weight. I posted it here to show what I'll be working on, but its very early days idea blocking really.

The second clip is her playing on the ruins in the level. We wanted to get the girl interacting with the environment as much as possible, so this was a good way of achieving this. I quite like the animation overall, as its big enough to read well (the player will be relatively far off when they see it). The main problem is the occasional jerkiness and some unusual poses. I'll iron these out and finalize the animation in the coming weeks. For now though, I'll be leaving this to work on some other blocks.


Saturday, 5 January 2013

Unity! AI! Little Girl Monsters!

It turns out Unity is pretty fun, and I'm finding it much easier to work with than Unreal. That's probably because we're building our own stuff rather than trying to crowbar stuff into already existing frameworks. I've been building some AI with Playmaker. I've developed a couple that we'll be refining for the actual game. The dragon AI flits between trees then zips to the player and attacks. Its set up using a node system, so I'll just paste them to the trees once Ruth has built the environment. The centaur has a few ranges of aggro. There's idle range, then the range at which it attacks you from afar, then the range at which it charges, and finally the melee combat range. 

NOTE: The little girl is the only Unity ready model we have at the moment, due to the fact we've not started pre-production yet. Don't worry, she's fine. Stretchy limbs came in useful.