Interloped is a love letter RPG set in the year 201X with Sci-Fi/Fantasy elements that consists of 10 chapters. Follow the hero's as they travel to coastal towns, mines, a haunted forest, and more.
First we must ask ourselves, what is walking? When I was somewhere in my preteen's my Father took me to see Asimo when he toured Purdue. Seeing him and his earlier attempts made me realize what walking was: walking is a series of controlled falls. Asimo's current version, if I can recall correctly off the top of my head (I'm sure my preteen self could tell me/you in a heartbeat), is somewhere in the 10-13 revision range. They showed a video of earlier builds attempts to walk, and they all failed in the same spot. Putting the foot down.
That bring us to the walking cycle, what exactly is it? In short its: contact, lift, peak, fall, contact. However, words are useless so let's look at Eadweard Muybridge's photos.
We see as he walks he has a slight "hop" or "fall" to his step. For Muybridge there is a greater fall since his stride covers quite some distance. This rise and fall in the walking cycle is very natural, and it's what most people are used to seeing. That why when watching autonomous entities, it looks a bit off.
Style is key when making any work of art, its what sets you apart from your peers. When designing Interloped, I wanted to go for a full walking cycle. One of my favorite RPG's is Mario & Luigi series. The animations they use have a nice 8 frames however, the movement they have I call the slide. Both legs move in opposite directions with little to no bend in the knee's. The style is always amazing, but the movement is not what I was aiming for. Other RPG's such as Earthbound use a 2 or 4 frame walking cycle. For the two frame its one extreme, then flipped for a step. In Mother 3 though, released in 2006, had more space and each character has 4 frame of animation.
On my look for nice 8 frame animations I stumbled across a picture outlining the walking cycle of Opus, from the comic Bloom County®. Being a huge fan of the comic's I had to put the pictures together and see what Opus looked like taking a stroll.
Seeing him come to life made me smile like something I never had, it was a shame the idea of a cartoon never took off. What I loved about the gif though was that not only did it have the style of Bloom County® but it also had style of the character. This is what I was striving for, for Interloped. Each character has a style and personality to their movement.
With this in mind I set off create my style for Interloped, something snappy yet still realistic. After experimenting with ideas I thought to myself,
"The leg just goes through a cycle right?"
"So why should I animate two legs?"
"Well, because that's what we need."
"Hear me out, what if I just animated one leg and played the 'second leg' on the opposite frame a pixel off?"
"My god, that just might work."
With one leg in place, I was easily able to copy it on the frame 3 in the future and place it slightly offset and presto a beginning walking cycle. By no means is it done, or but it is a start to something. With more work slowly it looked like characters wouldn't be a static destined to slide along the floor.
I wanted to test how it would look like with what I did to Opus and have a cycle advance forward, sadly...
He moves too much on the step forward, and that gives him a herky-jerky feel. Although In his movement in-game it's not too bad, the constant movement kind of evens it out. Either way there is still much work to be done, and the walk cycle will always interest me.
Join me again next time as I talk about the Running cycle!
I might do the same technique and just use one leg and see how it looks, and even out the arc.
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