So, as implied by the last update, right now I’m taking a hard look at what needs to be done to get this game into an alpha phase: Getting everything so that it works on the most fundamental level, ready enough that I can start creating content for the game, even if maybe some of the fancier features aren’t in place yet. I probably should have thought about this sooner, but now that I am it’s providing a glorious degree of direction to my otherwise, at times, aimless labors.
Right now, I’m trying to nail down the character motion as completely as possible: Having a solid understanding of how Eve will move, what she will and won’t be able to do, is vital for purposes of level planning and design. Thus, I’ve spent all week, and will probably spend all of the next week or two as well, bouncing back and forth between developing animations for that movement, implementing them in code, and trying to make the coded movement behavior of the character match what the animations imply. Doing so makes it much clearer how Eve’s character design will mesh with the aesthetic of the world I’m creating and, more immediately important, reveals all sorts of minor holes in my motion/collision code that can use improvement. When it’s just a block moving up a slope, it’s easy to pretend that a few glitches or less-than-optimal movements are no big deal, but when it’s causing big ugly obvious transitions between otherwise handsome animations it’s pretty obvious that something needs improvement.
One final note: These are still planning animations, just primary-color planning versions. For the final animations, I will be printing these out and drawing from them, frame by frame, and scanning and coloring the drawn versions for use in the game. I’m going to wait until all of the animations are complete before I start drawing the frames in order to enforce a certain degree of consistency to the style, so don’t expect to see any finished frames for at least a few months.
The Jump Animation
This animation I’m not entirely satisfied with, since some of the motions still look kind of jerky and canned. I’ll probably revisit this one at some point before I draw the final frames in order to smooth out the leg motion, make the hair a little bit more fluid, etcetera. It’s close to what I want, though. The starting position of the legs implies a leaping motion without actually showing one, and the falling position of the legs implies anticipating a landing without actually having to detect whether she’s close to one (though that would be a cool effect, if it could be achieved well).
The Roll Animations
I am quite happy with how these turned out. Both the motion of the right leg rolling under her butt and the sickle dragged along the ground give a great sense of three dimensional space – the leg actually was kind of a happy accident, since I had originally thought the foot would be pushed out away from her and animated on that basis, but when I flipped the animations around to start the left roll I noticed that the ‘wrong’ version actually looked better. Having her heel come under her to push her up made a lot of sense, so I decided to roll with it (so to speak) and integrated it into both rolls, and I’m really happy with the result. This might be my favorite animation I’ve done so far.
Well, that’s it for this week. It’s going to be all animations for most of next week, I suspect: I’m going to be adding a few remaining transitional animations, such as rising from crouch and changing facing while crouched, perhaps touch up the jump animation slightly, and then I’ll be revisiting my movement and collision detection code to see if I can improve it to the point where motion feels truly natural. The ideal is to make a game that feels good just to play, to move around and exist in, even before adding any real gameplay mechanics: I look forward to trying to achieve that!