Sweet. Two weeks in a row!
So far, so good. It’s Friday, I’m adding a DevLog to the blog…that’s how good habits start, right? I spent most of my week working with animation. Wonder how long I can keep this up?
Animation means: time to get moving!
I finished up a reorganization and rewrite of the code that determines how the “Action” Button operates in the game. The thing about “actions” is that they have to have…well, action. No matter how well programmed your character controller scripts are, they’re WORTHLESS without a well animated character reacting to input.
So far, Jenny has been a prototype character in almost every sense of the word:
- Animation from Kenney’s character prototypes asset pack. (If you don’t know who Kenney is – you should. Visit his site!)
- Tools and props don’t line up with motions.
- LOTS of animation clipping with props (feet in ground, axes that pass through Jenny’s head…)
- Rough transitions / no transitions at all.
I thought you used an animation set?
Kenney’s resources are incredible. I start every project with at least 3-4 of his asset packs. All of his assets are free (though if you’re able, support Kenney’s mission and donate!) – this means they’re EVERYWHERE. For my game to accurately reflect my vision, I prototype and test using asset packs, then customize and refine as I go. The moment you customize ONE thing, you break the harmony / simplicity of premade asset sets.
In terms of animation, Jenny needed to stand, walk, run, kick, pick up / thrown objects, talk, use tools…you get the picture. Each action requires a custom animation.
I had some choices to make:
When you’re a hobbyist Indie GameDev, you have to make tough choices concerning the quality of your game. Most of us can’t afford to hire a 3D modeler and an animator to create our content, much less afford the software typically used to create and edit the stuff! Fortunately, the open source movement and the proliferation of Indie Games as an artform has created A TON of helpful (and often free) options. Seriously good stuff!
Here are a few of my favorite Animation resources (I’ve used each of these multiple times this week!)
I’ve been a longtime Patreon of Kenney, and have used his asset packs to help my students dive into the world of GameDev without the hassle of being a good artist. I use Kenney’s character packs as an quick foundation for character animation – his free packs are fully-featured, and great for prototyping levels and trying mechanics.
Adobe Mixamo is a free library of animations and a powerful character rigging system. The cool thing about humanoid characters is that they can use a library of animations from assets, MOCAP libraries, or repositories lixe Mixamo. I uploadedJenny’s character model to Mixamo, searched their library of animations, customized them a bit, then saved them for use in Unity…FREE! All you need is an Adobe Account. I wonder how long Adobe will keep this incredible resource free?
Armed with Mixamo’s base animations, I need to edit them to specifically fit Jenny’s model, reflect her character’s personality, and improve the flow between them. There’s no shortcut for this – you need to edit. Programs like Maya are EXPENSIVE, Blender is awesome, but adds another level of complexity to the process. I found this little gem in a Humble Bundle, and have never been happier. It’s a fully featured animation suite that runs directly inside Unity. The developer has tons of great tutorials about animation on his YouTube channel. A free version is available to get you started – but this was money well spent for me!
This one isn’t so much about animation, but it’s a free way to design Manga-Style 3D avatars. It’s designed to make VRChat avatars – but using some wizardry, you can export these into Unity (that’s a whole other blog entry). This is how I designed Jenny. The software is free (Pixiv makes money by selling virtual clothing and accessories to use on your models). I’ll delve into more detail in another entry.