Wasteland 2 Animation

Hi Wastelanders,

My name is Josh Jertberg, and I have the incredible fortune to be your lead animator for Wasteland 2. I want to open the channel of communication for anybody that is interested in discussing the application of animation in our project:

http://wasteland.inxile-entertainment.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=2829

This will be a spot I can check frequently so we can discuss the animation. If you have an interest in the inner workings of game development, maybe I can give you insight from an Animator’s perspective.

Animation in Wasteland 2 was an unknown for me, never having worked with the Unity engine before. I did know one thing in my mind though when we started: I wanted to hand-key the animations. It’s an ambitious goal of mine and one I hope fans appreciate in the end. It’s my feeling that I can bring more personality and flexibility to the animation, as opposed to using motion capture. Plus, let’s face it; as an Animator I will be more artistically invested in my hand-keyed animations. Even with the best motion capture actors you are many times stuck using what you have recorded. The unique aspects and camera of this game do present some good opportunity and challenge for me as an Animator.

One of the struggles as an animator in games is the animation system. A good system can make or break the look of the animations. The animation is broken into so many different pieces that if you don’t have some decent way of controlling that, the entire flow of the animation can feel off. Animation systems have evolved a LOT in the past few years. Wasteland 2 is not a controller driven game and many of these systems are designed for analogue input. I needed a simpler solution and I think I’ve found one.

Browsing the Unity store for animation solutions I found exactly what I needed. I am familiar with the use of an animation tree to drive in game animation states. Sage: Anim Graph Editor is a tool that allows me to intuitively build animation trees that drive the different states of the characters. This is all accomplished without me writing a single line of script. I have no talent for that, but Sage helps me overcome my inability to write script in Unity. I have built up one heck of an animation tree for our rangers so far, and I love the level of control I have over the flow of the animation. The Rangers have a lot of “states” they can be in, so being able to manage and build those states myself is liberating.

Going forward I want to dig deeper and highlight more of this tool and my process. Hopefully this can be a starting point for deeper conversations as development progresses. This project and the opportunity given to us by our backers is unique and refreshing. Reaching out to the fans during production is not something I’ve done in the past, so this is new to me. If anyone wants to ask questions or discuss Animation and game development, I am hoping this will be the place. The more discussion I have with fans that take an interest in the animation, the better it will be.  At least that’s my hope. Let’s see what happens. Thanks again for all of your support.

Special thanks to Andy at Altered Reality Entertainment.  http://www.alteredr.com/sage/

Josh Jertberg

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8 thoughts on “Wasteland 2 Animation

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  3. Any sexy and funny ‘states’ will be wonderful. Such ‘Ooops, so smelly’ gesture, and smoking, ‘kabooom’ gesture, ‘Come on’ teasing hand moves, cans kicking…

    It’d be nice if a NPC can ‘dance’ shooting while listening to Ipod.

    I hope your animation would include those ‘big talking heads’ if there is no cinematic.

    Melee combat… some characters can have those cool oriental fighting moves in video games… minus the special effects.

    Actually… I know it may be kinda hard but… I really hope that (eg) when victory after a battle, the ‘stage’ include a bank of animations which will be performed randomly. Can you imagine going to so many places, gunning down so many creatures, yet every single animated move is repeated again and again in so predictable manner?

    Will there be those cinema effect as in Fallout 3 (eg) when you have made a critical kill? If there is, then maybe we can have more of such animated effect such as when the team first move into a new area, when a member is near death, when a drug or blessing boosts a character… or when the character is feeling horny. :D

    I hope that there will be funny animation depicting funny moments or ‘easter eggs’… such as Elvis Prestly dance moves when found a working radio, jump of joy when hit upon a secret cache, doing religious gestures when visiting special grave or encountering special creatures… or an occasion when the ranger can ‘move and speak’ as Obama.

    Also, with Pop culture such as Super Junior, PSY, SNSD… can there be easter eggs when encountered that the team has an animation stage to dance together?

    Wish the team all the best. A forum is too troublesome to log into, so…

  4. Hi there! I would love to see different states for all of the caracters. I think it will be hard task but lovely one :) ) I would like to see too how the interaction between two caracters is applied, for example – fighting with melee weapons between two characters, or even interaction through conversation (gesticulation). Here I want to show you some animated characters: http://youtube.googleapis.com/v/OPrOonmaG00
    I think this dudes made an amazing think! :) )

    • What about the Built-in Mecanim in Unity 4, it is possible to create blend trees, states, associate them to animations, retarget animations, etc without a line of code. I deleted all my animation code for a small small prototype I am doing and replaced it for a few assets with Mecanim.

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