I animated two key movements for Mark 15: the jump, and the lever pull.
I used this video to help me with my theoretical research.
The first key thing I learned that in games, the visual identity is out of the animator’s control, it should be able to adapt in order give player control (“Free roaming as opposed to fixed or planned”). There’s no set camera.
Also, it’s way faster, and there’s gotta be potential for looping (i.e. it needs to start and end at the same point).
He references Jonathan Cooper – a professional game animator – a lot, who established these 5 key rules/extensions from the typical 12 animation principles. I will follow these closely in my own animations.
- Feel, be prepared to scrap some of the animation to feel more control. But, still needs to feel realistic. Balanced between sluggish and realistic.
- Fluidity, how smoothly and coherently actions blend together. Idle to run, idle to jump, jump to run etc. Should all start end with potential to crossover into the other.
- Readibility, how the action reads in multiple angles. Relative to staging in 12 principles, but broader. it doesn’t just have to stage around the camera.
- Context, how it’s used within the story of the game. Nuance and quirks that apply to the character. Mark 15 should feel cute and small.
- Elegance, applies to design as well. Efficiency of animation system. Level designers and scripters. Unique actions for variety of objects, but also streamlining. Will depend on pipeline time, budget etc.
Setting Up for Animation
Philip’s rig was great, but there was a slight problem. The textures weren’t working on it. At first I was worried, but I researched and found out that you could reskin the rig quite easily.
I ended up getting the updated Mark 15 and copying each skin weight across, then copying key frames from any of Philip’s animations across. It all worked well, and allowed me to animate:
Based on my knowledge of animation, I initially started with this:
I sent it over to Conor, and he sent me some valuable feedback:
I applied these notes, and ended up with this as my outcome:
The one thing I still had to do when in game was split the jump. Unreal requires a leap up and a landing as separate animations. I did this quickly and sent through to the games team, although I didn’t get a response.
The lever pull was a fun one because it offers a lot of possibility to really show the personality of Mark 15.
Here’s my start:
Again, I sent over to Conor for feedback and he gave me some valuable notes, specifically about follow through and asymmetry.
I took all of these into account and resulted with this as my outcome: