It took a day longer than I wanted but I finally got Abigail’s run ready for exporting. I could always spend more time polishing but I think its looking pretty good for that time I had.
Taking reference from Alice’s run cycle I wanted to get the arms swinging in a relaxed way. I liked the way Alice’s run displayed both femininity and self-assured strength, a trait I want Abigail to embody.
I wanted to find some reference before I started working on Abigail’s run cycle. The femininity of Alice’s run is defiantly something I want to emulate here. The frame rate of the game and screen cap meant I couldn’t get an exact loop. However aliasing the frames I do have, I can see that Alice doesn’t have a lot of vertical translation. Her legs motions are quite exaggerated comparatively.
I came across this video, by Jamie Titera, who was responsible for a host of combat animations in Disney Infinity.
Watching the whole thing was great, seeing how Jamie has imparted the different characters personality into their attacks.
I found the attack loops for Jack Sparrow, Anna and Elsa to be particularly applicable to my character. You can see them at about 7 min in. I like the way Jack lifts off a little during his swings, and the transitions between attacks into the heavier finishing move. Anna and Elsa’s attacks are also interesting as Abigail is physically very similar. Their attacks are perhaps more airborne than I want my animations to be however the slam animation at 7.37 is very similar to an attack I would like to create for Abigail.
Over the last week I have been working on getting in some key poses for Abigail’s combat animations. We decided that the combat animations would be priority because with those we can start to see Abigail in game. Other animations like run cycles and jumps can be handed by in engine translation of the T pose.
Getting the cultural elements into the game earlier will help us see if our intended cultural comment is coming through. Since a lot of the more subtle aspects of this message aren’t within my skillset to implement, I wanted to get the tasks that I can complete ready, so they will not hold us back later.
I took influence and inspiration from Alice madness returns, and Darksiders II gameplay. These games embody the exaggerated, powerful, combat feel we are looking for Abigail to portray.
So far, working pose to pose, I have created key poses for the block, 2h attack and 1h attack animations, focusing on the anticipations, contact and follow through poses. Powerbot, our stand in, character’s contact is on frame 9, and currently while playing the game it feels like a slow, heavy hit. For this reason I decided to keep the heavy attack at frame 9 contact for now. Needing to display at lighter, faster hit with the 1h I assigned its contact to frame 4.
This difference in the contact speed will allow me to build more anticipation in to the heavy 2h attacks. Looking at combat gameplay videos of our influences, Alice madness returns, and darksiders II, even though the snap to anticipation is instantaneous there is a significant hold on the anticipation pose, compared to the 1h attacks. This hold gives the weapon a greater feeling of weight. This comes back to Swinks (2006) principles of virtual sensation. I want the player to know the heavy weapon is heavier and more damaging than the light weapon. The 2 frame transition to an anticipation pose should give the player the feeling of “instantaneous response” (Swink, 2008 p 301-306) while the hold will display the difference between the weapons.
Focusing on the key poses this week has also allowed me to consider the amount of exaggeration these poses will show. I have been speaking to Callan and Soren about this, and all 3 of us prefer the more exaggerated anticipation poses of Alice. I feel this works because of the juxtaposition of her absurdly large 2h weapon and her small stature. In the same nature Abigail’s 2h mop weapon was refined to be more top heavy, with the intention of replicating this style. I intend for the exaggerated style to portray a greater sense of power and excitement, allowing the player to enjoy the absurdity of Abigail fighting with a mop instead of a sword.
All of this of course being a first pass, getting these animations ready will give me time to, see them in game, refine my animations and take feedback onboard.
Becoming more efficient and refining my skills is always a goal. I’ve animated a 2h weapon in the past, for smaller projects, by using link constraint on the weapon to one hand, and counter keying the second hand to the grip. Coming up to working on many more complex attack animations I knew I couldn’t work in such an inefficient way this time. I was sure there would be some way to rig up a 2 handed weapon.
The good stuff begins about halfway through. This process will be useful for not just for game characters, but I feel film animations could be sped up by this method also. Especially since I am using link constraint to animate with.