Episode 37 – Game-Imation

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TOPIC: Animation Inside and Out
Guest: Daniel Floyd, Animator at Pixar Canada and Host of Extra Credits

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

Let’s play a game. Guess why we went months between episodes.
A. We got busy
B. Mike/Ryan/Both moved jobs/homes
C. We couldn’t get our crap together
D. Any of the above

Yes, those are all proper answers.

This episode we talk with Daniel about a Gordon Ramsay for games, handheld devices, free-to-play, animation sharing, story, better character performances, what we have been playing and how much we draw. Damn, it feels good to be back.

Well, back again. again… again.

And if you haven’t checked out Extra Credits before, you really should. It covers some really great topics in an incredibly smart and honest way. It has been on The Escapist and now Penny Arcade, so if you have some how missed it, yet found us, then you use the internet in some weird ways.

Download link (right-click and save as)

Show Notes:
The ReAnimator Map showing where we have all lived since we started the show
Satellite Soda Daily Draw Challenge
Game Feel by Steve Swink
Why Touch Screens Aren’t The Future of Input Design
Raph Koster’s thoughts on Story

9 COMMENTS

  1. Nice job on the map Mike. This shows us that the amount of moving an animator does correlates directly to the amount of dependents the animator has.

  2. and Chris Sanders was on American Dog, then left and went to Dreamworks and worked on How to Train your Dragon. I swear I knew that, sorry for the misinfo.

  3. Nice to see you get Daniel Floyd on as a guest! I’ve been following Extra Credits ever since the Uncanny Valley video first appeared.

    I miss your podcast and hope you’ll get enough free time again to continue.

  4. Nice episode, good discussion once again. Especially liked the point: game animation is kind of an art of making animation generic enough to be appealing after you’ve seen it the six hundreth time (but still as good and fit for the character as possible). Nice to hear, that I’m not the only one who has battled with this dilemma. 🙂

  5. Great to have y’all back!

    On the guy who upends tables, I’ve heard stories of how Miyamoto is very strict about making sure the games he presides over are what he wants them to be, visionary style – would/could he be ‘a’ Gordon Ramsay of games? I don’t know much at all about how Nintendo creates games as opposed to how other companies do, and I’d like to know more, if it’s a model to follow, or if there’s backwards elements that need to be adjusted, or if the praise for Miyamoto is very deserved or just out of respect – if you have any insight on that, I’d like to hear it.

    Love the idea of having Ganon, or some villain steal voices. It’s a silly notion, but a whole game like that would be an animation treat – pure body language! And I agree with you on Skyward Sword voice-acting – Especially with Ghirahim, I would have loved to see his exaggerated, flamboyant motions matched up with his dialogue. Same with many of the other characters.

    On reusing animations, I’m with you. No one person in real life ever does the exact movements the same twice, so if multiple people do it, it becomes very artificial. There are animations, though, that are just so fun to watch that I always look forward to seeing them, like the ones in Ghost Trick. I think if animation is reused very often, it should either be the most beautiful animations, like a performance on stage, or the most mundane and ‘invisible’ motions that no one would notice. I… dunno if that’s talking out my butt. If there was a giant library of animations, including a billion walk cycles, and jumps of various types, then it’d be much harder to notice them being reused – it would be interesting to see a character jump, or start walking differently every time you press the button (but still maintaining height and speed and whatnot). Or would that potentially confuse the player if they’re too different in appearance?

    Thanks for the great discussions, very awesome to have Daniel on there, and looking forward to hearing of all of your currently unannounceable projects!

  6. Thanks guys!

    Ian, I think you’re right re: reuse. I think Mike was meaning more of an infinite library of animations to pick from like a library and use (which companies like Mixamo are trying to do).

    There are two problems in doing so in an actual game engine: budget. That is, actual production cost and memory allowance.

    The first one is obvious: more animation costs more.

    The second is the one that non-game devs miss. Animations are just a small sliver of what is required to live in a console or computer’s RAM in order to make the game work so there’s a limited amount you can pack in to make things smooth. To make matters worse, if you have three different walks available instead of one, the temptation becomes to make them distinct. But people are really good at spotting walks and you’re better off making ONE completely generic walk, unless you have the money AND the memory budget to fit 15-20 different walks in, which a big bloat in both of those budgets.

    Not that it’s impossible. Games made with virtually unlimited budget like GTA4 can solve the $$$ problem while adding variety by having a library of animations, only PART of which is streaming at any given time.

    The more visible example of this is cars in the older GTA games: Let’s say there are 50 different types of cars but you’ll notice that only 5-6 are around at any given time. GTA4 did a much better job of concealing this but I’m sure it still does the same thing.

    We could do what they do with animation and have a big pool that rotates in and out. Of course, the value of this depends on what kind of game. In GTA, the city is the most important character and immersion gives it life.

    In COD on the other hand, the name of the game is if it moves, shoot it. Variety in walks (except for being wounded or in special circumstances) is pretty low on the list of things worth investing time, money and memory in.

  7. My conclusion from Episode 37:
    Games are expressions of art, and art is subjetive, hence games can take infinite forms and, therefore, animators have a huge range of possibilities to express an especific feeling, emotion or thought to people.
    And, because of that, there’s no absolute way to create a immersive game. There’ll always be a huge amound of choices (on the game design) that will fit on the product purpose, but that one choice may create the perfect “game-feeling”.

    That was great! Another great podcast, guys.

  8. Love the map! I’m so jealous of the tracks Ryan has made in a relatively short time. I hope animation allows me to see the world as well in the future.

  9. Thanks Kyle! (and sorry for sucking at following our own web page). For single, adventurous animators with a few years of experience under their belt, the world offers a lot of great options!

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