Oh sure, not a problem at all.
I’ll do my best to give you a decent breakdown, I’ve always found deep satisfaction animating and will happily recommend to others. Good luck with your studies!
So in this case, I knew I had a hard deadline on the Friday to go off on my ‘mat’ leave and the team mentioned ‘it would be awesome if they had some threat animations’ on the Monday evening that week.
I am very fortunate to be trusted with a wide scope of free reign to come up with creative and characterful animation solutions in-keeping with the style, gameplay and design of Boundless.
So knowing I had 4 days to provide a solution to that request - I got quickly to work.
You’ll have noticed that animation is a difficult job to quantify, but I broke down the tasks at hand as follows to make sure I could deliver 7 creatures with threat displays in the 4 days required.
Monday (end of day)
Creative thinking process and planning: 2 hours
On the spot idles are achievable within the time allocated as they exist within the coded frame work already as an ambient state. As soon as you add any form of traversal or extra behaviour, the animations will be more technical requiring more engineer support and thus will take longer.
The planning entailed breaking down the design requirements of the threat behaviours for each creature and baring in mind the complexities of each rig to get the animations done in time realistically.
Finally, for me the most fun and creative part… going through the creative process of assessing each creature’s personality and gameplay behaviour within the context of what is desired (this is where you see the personality tweaks to the Roadrunner and Hunter threat behaviours in particular).
Hopper: 1.5 hours (Simplest Rig, Straight forward aggressive Design/Behaviour)
This rig is by far the simplest with the fewest bones. Knowing that I needed the time for the more complex rigs, the Hopper should be the easiest win to animate and a good gage to see if my plan is achievable in the time allocated.
Little additional flourishes include the weight shift on each foot which will allow turning on the spot to look a bit more natural.
Spitter: 3 hours
Sharing the same rig as the Wildstock, Hopper and Ground Basher - these creatures take a similar time frame to animate. The extra time here is taken into account that the Spitter has a tail and arms (more than the hopper) to animate.
The tail shake is a big indicator of the Spitter’s agressivity, thus it was important to have that visually animate uniquely to show his attacking intention.
Wildstock: 4.5 hours
A little more time than the Spitter is taken into account the ‘length’ of the animation. I could of course just animate a stamp of the hoof only - but since the flow of animating was going well that day (I was on course) - I added a further flourish, a scrape of the the hoof after the stamp to avoid the action being too robotic. This lengthened the animation but considering you see the Wildstock almost more than any other creature - I feel that extra ambient animation flourish was well invested.
In-game export and testing: 1 hour (Getting the first 3 exported and to the engineers for in game integration)
Cuttletrunk: 6.5 hours (Most complex rig)
So I knew the Cuttletrunk takes a lot longer to animate and I would need to be in the animation ‘zone’ to tackle him successfully within the time desired. More creative thought process is taken up here also because he is such a uniquely imaginative creature to the world Boundless and has a certain personality style.
He has a very unique rig set up with many, many, many limbs to animate. The time here is simply taken up by having a lot more bones to animate and not having much real world reference to work from.
Road Runner: 4 hours
Having got over the difficult hurdle of the Cuttletrunk, I knew I could split the day with the 2 creatures that have more bespoke threat displays based on their character/personality and how the gameplay is acted out.
The wee bit of extra time here was spent based on having a bit of fun with the creative thought process going on with the Road Runner and Hunter posing in particular to exude more quality of character.
Hunter: 4 hours
Like above, knowing I was on target - I had more leeway, fun and freedom to give these creatures more characterful threats based on their differing personalties. You can’t get more polar opposite from the Road Runner to the Hunter!
Show and Tell:
This is usually held after stand up in the morning where you can present your work to the team and have a bit of a Q and A session.
Ground Basher: 4 Hours
Wrapping up the Ground Basher knowing the time frames of the Wildstock and Spitter, I knew it was achieveable to finish the creature set that week having only the Basher to be done on the firday.
Home stretch to making everyone happy and leaving on a high. (Yeah)
Finishing the day with a Forum post to share this development with the wider community is always a nice way to finish up also.