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 (