Chapter 16. Animating for Games
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ANIMATION IS TRULY MAGICAL: Being able to make an inanimate object move and show emotion is a powerful skill. There are many aspects of animation, enough to fill a book in itself; in this chapter we will focus on real-time animation and the various aspects of its creation, with the goal of bringing our Kila and Grae characters to life. Once we have established a few ground rules, I will demonstrate how to generate a basic walk cycle.
If you would like to learn more about the basic principles of animation, many helpful books are recommended in Appendix B, "Reference and Further Reading."
To prepare for animation, you must know everything your character will do and how they should do it. Your lead animator will work closely with the designer on the project to compile an animation list that will then be passed to you.
In Chapter 1, we introduced some of the design elements associated with our characters. You read a brief background story that helped to portray the characters' personalities, and basic information in the form of bios offered more insight into who they are and why. All this character information will now help us decide how Kila and Grae will walk. We know Kila is a dancer, so we can enhance her feminine walk, adding a bit more sway to her hips and giving her a sexier look. Grae, on the other hand, is a colossal beast; we want to feel the power behind each purposeful step as he lumbers around.
With these ideas of how the characters will move and interact with the game world, you can then go on to gather some reference material. More than likely this will be in the form of movies (DVDs, videos downloaded from the Internet, or something you have filmed yourself). Once you have a solid idea of the movements required, you and your team can discuss how they will be implemented into the game engine and what techniques will be used to save memory.