Day 2: Blast from the Staff
Published on April 26, 2011 By ScottTykoski In Elemental Dev Journals

First off, sorry this was a day late...we had a 4 day Easter weekend that cut into my weekly journal. It won’t happen again (until our next Monday off) 

Todays animation is the ‘Cast Ranged Spell w/ Staff’ motion. In FE, we’ve added the ability to make weapon-specific spell casting animations (a wizard with a staff with cast differently then a warlord with a sword, etc.) as well as made tweaks to what animations are played for what spells (adding a targeted RANGED cast and a less specific GLOBAL cast, for spells that hit multiple targets).

Step 1: The Rough Pass
The major motion of this animation is for the caster to pull back, charging his/her magical energies, then shoot it forward, through the equipped staff and at the targeted enemy. These two poses tell that story in the worst possible way....let’s fancify it in the next few steps.

note: In the video, you’ll notice that I’ll pull up to a top-down view occasionally. Proper rotation of the torso and shoulders is something that’s easy to overlook when just viewing an animation from the sides. By checking the top, I can make sure those rotations are there and things aren’t looking too robotic.

Step 2: The Timing Pass
Buildup feels a bit better now...he holds it longer, and even uses his off hand to, uh, wave at the staff? Eventually that’ll be him conjuring the magic   again...please don’t judge these early steps.

This video also shows the controls for the aspect of animation that folks were asking about with diary #1.  Despite there being 70+ joints in the human skeleton, therr are only 20-ish controls, so you’re not forced to hand animate every little bone. I’ll show the genius of the rigging system in a future diary....for now, let’s keep polishing.

Step 3: The Secondary-Motion Pass
OK, toned down that hand gesture and added a bunch of secondary movement. Showed it to Paul and Akil, who suggested that the caster wouldn’t turn his head away from the target, and that the off hand shouldn’t take part in the casting (just have it steady the casting arm, instead).

Step 4: The Polish Pass
Implemented those tweaks the guys suggested and animated the cape and armor pieces to end up with something pretty solid. One universal theme we’re trying to instill throughout the ‘casting’ animations is to treat the firing of the magic as a ‘force’ on the cape, so when that spell is thrown, it kicks back the cape in an appealing way (not saying we invented that idea, but it really sells the idea that a big spell is being cast).

And there we have a slick little motion for when certain staff-weilding casters use their magical abilities on the battlefield. One other comment Paul had, about half way through, was that the motion was a bit too ‘youthful’ to be used universally, so for anyone that wants a more mature, Gandalf-y casting animation, know that I made some in that flavor as well  

The Indie Spirit Lives On
One thing we’ve talked about in the various WoM post-mortem posts has been the transition from ‘Indie Team’ to ‘Big Team’ mentality. My professional career was fostered in the spirit of the Indie developer...4-6 hyper-talented people filling in any gaps with hard work and optimism, so I have a special place in my hearts for these types of projects, and these types of developers.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to throw a ‘Indie Project of the Week’ in at the bottom of these animation diaries. An extra outlet for some talented indies to reach a few more gamers, ‘cause at the end of the day, success for these guys is simply getting their games played.

To get this rolling, I want to bring up a game project that I’m backing via Kickstarter called ‘In Profundis’, a random cave exploration game with realistic water and gas physics. I played an XBox indie ‘Miner Dig Deep’ that turned me onto the idea of these casual rouge-likes, where mining for loot takes the place of fighting for loot. It looks like it’s going to have some nice choice/consequence design, so check it out if you’d like to try some cave-exploration w/o the deadly monsters

Thanks for getting this far Cya’ll next week for more Fallen Enchantress animation awesomeness!!!!

Comments (Page 2)
on Apr 30, 2011

Lord Xia
Can we please have a one handed spear!!! Spear and Shield seem like they never make it in video games.

Yes! Greek style! But in the martial sense not in the twisted, irreverent Xia sense. But maybe he was referring to an actual spear & shield--thrust/block/parry in a non-bawdy way...idk? (if he says  "one-handed anything...I am curiosly skeptical ) i tend to search for the subversive tone in any post form Xia---that is a compliment btw....

on Apr 30, 2011

I was thinking Spartan, not Roman War Helmet...

on Jun 28, 2011

What about a weapon trait that allows the use of spears in one hand. ^^