This Week In Monster Roller: Skeletal Animation Process

Hey there Rollers!

Today we’ll have a short post about animation. In simple terms, we have a ‘skeleton’ of the monster whose parts all move. How we define these parts (usually called ‘bones’) and animate them determines how well they move. Fittingly, this kind of animation is called skeletal animation. The process of making all the bones add up to a body is called rigging.

As a simple example, a cat animation will have the body, tail, face, eyes (separated for blinking), and 4 legs. Depending on how complex your animation must be, you can also separate the ears, the joints for the legs, the whiskers, and so on.

Here’s what it looks like, straight from our animator’s computer: (Hi Macoy!)

Defining the ‘Rigging Templates’. As much as possible we want to reuse rigging templates so that we don’t have to waste time rigging every new monster. In a game with potentially over a hundred monsters, this is very important. So we have to tell the engine ‘This rig is for this monster’. In the picture below, Puffapy’s rig is the simplest one: it only needs a body.


Then in 3DSMax, the animator takes all these cut up assets (provided by the artist):

Snap 2015-04-09 at 02.24.23


Each part (or bone) has a mesh, which is a polygonal model of the part. Pictured below are some parts (torso and shield).05 03

This ‘model’ is needed by the computer in order to interpret HOW to move the part. If you define your mesh well, you will be able to manipulate the part or model to do whatever animation it needs (like breathing, attacking, and so on.) How well something ‘moves’ also depends on what the engine can handle. Our engine supports keyframe animation (usual tweening stuff) and vertex animation. These topics will be discussed in the future, so stay tuned!

Returning to our Womburr (that’s the name of this new monster), after putting in all the individual parts together, the rigging is almost there:



And this is what the final idle animation looks like:wubber


Hope you guys enjoyed this short post on animation. Stay tuned next week for more.