Let's Get our Hero Movin'!
Published on July 21, 2006 By ScottTykoski In Game Journals
Alas, the first week of my 18 week Christmas project has come and gone, leaving me with 119 days remaining to complete the task.

This week I started by taking baby steps and focusing on the "Walking" animation of our hero (edit: unintentional pun, I assure you). The other animations shouldn't take a week apiece, but will still need my attention in the following month.

Here's my current "Animation To-Do" list for all characters that can be controlled by the player:.

Elfington's "Idle" Pose

1.) Idle: Just Standing there, ready to brawl (see above).
2.) Idle_Bored: We've all see Sonic tap his watch impatiently, Link test his swordplay skills, or Mario take a quick nap when the player doesn't press any keys for a long period of time. I'd like to get this extra bit of animation polish into this game....perhaps Elfington can sit and start working on a toy or read "Elves Quarterly" something.
3.) Walking: This is the animation you'll be seeing the most (which is why I needed to take a week to get it right). This is when the player presses right or left on the keyboard.
4.) PreRunning: When the player double-taps left or right, I want Elfington or Panza to break off into a sprint. Before the sprint, I need a quick anticipatory pre-running animation.
5.) Running: The full on sprinting animation when the player needs to move with a quickness.
6.) Skidding: If the player is running and changes direction quickly, a nice skidding animation will help sell the movement.
7.) Sliding: This is a move from "Lightweight Ninja" that never had much of a purpose, but this time I'd like to have areas that you can reach only by sliding. This happens when the player is running and presses the down button.
8.) Ducking: If the player is idle and presses the down button.
9.) Crawling: If the player is ducking and starts moving left or right.
10.) PreJump: Another anticipatory animation, happens right before the player physically jumps.
11.) Jumping: When the player jumps.
12.) Falling: When the player either reaches the pinnacle of the jump, or if they walk over the edge of a section of ground.
13/14.) ClimbingUp / ClimbingDown: When the player finds a ladder or other climbable structure they want to get friendly with.
15.) Hurt: Player gets hit by an enemy and takes damage.
16.) Dead: Player loses all their energy.
17.) PreAttackX: An anticipatory "Wind Up" animation before the player attacks. There can be any number of these, but at least 3 if I want to work combos into the game.
18.) AttackX: The actual blow that will damage an enemy that's standing too close.
19.) PrePickUp: You know how the "Pre" animations are used by now.
20.) PickUp: The animation for when the player picks up an object.
21:) Holding_Idle: Most of the above animations need versions for when they're holding an object...
22:) Holding_Walking: And...
23:) Holding_PreJump: These..
24:) Holding_Jumping: Are...
25:) Holding_Falling: The Ones.
26:) Holding_PreThrow: Oh, and of course Player will be able to throw the objects they pick up, for both puzzle solving and attacking.
27:) Holding_Throw: See above.
28:) Holding_Ducking: And the player can Duck while holding an object.
29:) BottomOnFire_Ascending: There's a "Hot Coco" factory level where the player can fall in vats of boiling coco, which will cause them to shoot up into the air holding their rear in pain. This is the animation we'll play during that
30:)BottomOnFire_Descending: And then they fall (hopefully not back into the hot coco).

So, 30 animations for every player controlled character. That would be Elfington, Panza, and two others, bringing the total 'Hero' character animations to 120. Luckily I only need about 6 animations for enemies, so I'm not that bad off there (though I keep wishing I would've started sooner, a phrase already muttered in my Intro journal).

Original "Walking" Animation Concept - Now the Running Animation

When making a character based game like this, I like to tackle the walking animation first because it accomplishes three major tasks.

#1 - It forces you to chose a style: By getting the base artistic style down early, you can blaze forward confidence that what you make is pleasing on the ol' eyeballs. This is the type of game that needs to look fun to play, and hopefully the choices I've made will result in a final products that people want to try just from the way it looks.

#2 - It give you something to code: I've found that, when working on a large project with a small group (or just by yourself) the most important thing to keep yourself driven is to make continual incremental advancements. It's easy to keep working on the art side but still feel overwhelmed when you realize all the code that needs to be written. By having an animation or two to code up, you can start to see your project come together and keep your personal morale high.

#3 - It's A Fun place to Start: You can tell alot about a character from their walk, making it an enjoyable (if not a bit difficult) task. You can begin to flesh out your hero's personality and hopefully end up with a cool little animation to boot.

Sketches from another Attempt at Elfington's Walk

I was lucky enough to get a acceptable walk cycle on the second attempt. The first one looked too much like a run, and actually became the base design for the "Running" animation. I tried to slow down the second one, making it more of a deliberate, lumbering, cowboy-esque march. For a geeky little elf, he means business when it comes to taking out the baddies (a word that, on second glance, looks dangerously like 'babies').

Click on this window and use the Left and Right Keys to move Elfington Around

Now, there are some details that need addressed. The bright green straps need to bounce more...right now they look like little sticks. The Idle animation also pops in when the X Momentum reaches 0, even if a key is being held. These things need fixed, but overall I'm really pleased with how it's coming along.

Next week I'm going to tackle a few more of the animations listed above, as well as begin storyboards of the cutscenes that I desperately want, but may not have time for.

Let's hope the next 119 days goes by nice and slow...I'm going to need all the spare hours I can muster.

on Aug 02, 2006
That is truly Awsome!