Update 12: Anatomy of Animation,
Map Efficiency, and More!
Welcome all you wonderful backers to another action-packed episode of Arcadian Atlas! This time around we've got tons of details from all across the game development spectrum. Whether it be animation, portraits, map-tunage, music, or behind-the-scenes on programming - you're in the right place!
So dive on in. The waters are warm and cozy!
Anatomy of Animation
Artistically, animation is the most pain-staking process of game development. It's a multilayered art, both literally and figuratively, and we wanted to give you a peak behind that process in more depth as we finalize the animations for our core classes.
Example Animation Sheet
Each core class has a list of essential battle animations, arranged in a sheet, that are consistent across classes. What's not consistent across classes? Attacks & Skills.
So when making new animations, we start with real-world examples and build keyframes from them. In the case of the above Apothecary Bottle Throw animation, I used myself as a base and built from it.
Skeletoning an Animation
New animations typically work in stages:
- Raw Footage - a video or gif of real-world people performing the action to be animated.
- Skeleton - the basic shapes of an animation, typically very rough. This is used to ensure the flow of the animation looks correct before detail is added.
- Naked Base - the naked form all classes can use before hair, clothes, and other details are added.
- Clothed - usually the final stage where all class-specific content is added to the naked base and added to that core classes' sprite sheet.
From Naked Base to Clothed
So in essence, any new animation we create is actually 3 animations, and from start to finish with the Apothecary Bottle Throw it looks like the example below:
Apothecary Bottle Throw Process
And that's just the specialized animations! We've got a whole slew of basic movements and actions to tackle.
Back to Basics
Ah, the essentials of a fight. We've got our Idling, Walking, Injured, Charging, Jumping, Flying, Landing, Death animations, and the list goes on! And remember, that's for front views, back views, male, and female troops. 48+ unique frames per class, 2 genders, 4 classes - that's 384+ unique frames just for basic animations!
Cavalier & Ranger Walk Cycles
Over the last few months we've been steadily chipping away at them, and we're happy to say we've not only finalized the designs for our male/female Apothecary and male/female Warmancer - but we've even knocked out all of their core animations! Yep, all 384+ of them!
Apothecary & Warmancer Walk Cycles
And now we move on to the specialized attacks for each class, one of which Becca's been hard at work on below:
Serving Fierce Face
Let's face it (see what I did there?): little Apothecary and Warmancer sprites are super cute, but sometimes we need to look a person square in the high-detailed eye and give them a good talkin' to.
So Becca and I have been hard at work on portraits to go with our sprites. Because there's nothing sadder than walking into a tavern and the tavern-master won't even look you in the face. That's enough reason to brawl right then and there!
Cavalier Portrait Process
Improvements Abound with Odin
And as pretty as these lil' dudes are walking, slapping, and smashing about - a video game has to be as efficient as possible. Patrick recently upgraded our Unity build with Odin Inspector, a powerful tool that's allowed him to streamline how maps, cutscenes, and menus save data and juggle database information.
We've gone from complicated and rather ugly excel files for items to completely in-engine databases with images and separate, easy-to-read and alter fields like this:
Database Improvements With Odin
But it's not just for databases! Odin has far-reaching implications for space saving, with the potential to reduce both disk and RAM space requirements by upwards of 90%! That's huge for download size and run speed! In fact, we're already applying it to how maps are constructed and saved:
Odin's Vast Improvements to Map Building & File Sizes
So while we absolutely adore the animations and art side of Arcadian Atlas, this is easily what is making us most happy!
Oh, but we forgot that we're even improving how animations are handled in the background ; ). Blend Trees will allow us to better organize all of our isometric animations within Unity so that we can finish hooking it up to our unique characters and classes faster! Possibly 75% faster! NUMBERS! BIG NUMBERS EVERYWHERE!
Blend Trees to Reduce Animation Programming Lag
But wait, there's more! We wanted to serenade you out with the latest tune Moritz is working up for our tavern patrons. Because if there's one thing you want while getting a bit tipsy (or enjoying a nice virgin piña colada perhaps?) it's some jazzy tunes:
Tavern Main Screen
Oh, and why not grab a contract to smash some more things while you're at it?
Contract: Slapping Vagrant
Speeding Into Summer
That's it for now, but keep your eyes peeled on our twitter page for glimpses of what's coming up in the Arcadian Atlas pipeline as we get closer to beta!
And we'll see all you crazy kids next time with juicy details of skills, fighting' poses, menus, and all the clockwork that makes this beauty tick!