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Animation Timing Vs Combat Design


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As an animator working in games, I'm all too familiar with the difference between what I animated and what happens by the time a designer adds that animation to the game. Sometimes I have control over this. Usually the designer gets it in game and that's when I realize they had to tweak the timing on things to make it fit whatever design they had, or changed it to.


This is a log of all the animation in Warframe that bugs me, but only the stuff that affects game play, because we'll dance that dance till the end of time. Before I start, I want to say that the animation in Warframe in general is very good. It's just the difference between game play events and animation that have issues, and sometimes just animation tricks.


- The end of the reload animation for the AKLATO and LATO Vandal don't match the end of the actual reload. When the animation is done moving, the reload circle is maybe 95% done. The animation should not end before the code is ready for input. This makes me switch weapons too soon. I realize the circle is THE GOD'S TRUTH, but the animation would do well to match. If you  have to err on one side or another, err on the side of the animation finishing after the actual reload is done in code. (This probably happens with other guns, but those stand out right now.)


- Everyone knows it, and even DE has made fun of it in the first live stream: After knockdown, the getting up animation takes too long, and perhaps a bigger offender, it looks like it's done about 0.5 seconds before you're allowed to do anything. When I animate, if the pose is very similar to the idle pose (or whatever pose you're returning to), then the animation is done and the action is done. You can't make the player stand up slowly, then look like they are idle, but shift their feet for another 0.5 seconds before control is given back to the player. It feels awful. Either the getting up time needs to be shorter (please) or the animation needs to LOOK longer (I don't prefer this, but it'd be better than it is now). That way it doesn't look like my space ninja is picking his nose for almost a second before I can move him again. Once again, it's better to err on the side of the animation looking like it's interrupted, rather than standing there without control of my character. Ideally, these would match perfectly.


This doesn't go into the other options for getting up, as that is another matter. Working with what we have though, getting up eases out way too much.


- Unequipping melee. I get it. When my character is holstering her swords onto her back, it's swapping from weapon models in her hands to weapon models attached to her body. There's no elegant solution to this in modern game animation, but that's why we, as animators, cover these things up. I'll use my current Warframe Banshee as an example. After using the dual heat swords, Banshee puts her arms behind her back to attach the swords to her body. The problem here is that when her arms go back, they go in quickly, then ease out into the pose where the swords snap to her body. This looks really bad, because you can see the seam between when the swords are despawned (or other method involved, not sure which method WF uses) and the moment when the swords appear attached to her model. What should happen is Banshee whips the swords out, pauses for a second, and quickly moves the swords where they need to go. The frames right before the seam should be large gaps. This covers up the seam between hand and body. There should be no frame before the seam where the hands are really close to the body. If you want those arms to ease out, you can do it after the swords are on her body. The player won't notice this trick. Since I have to stare at my frame's back all day, it bugs me all day.


This is just a pipe dream, but maybe you guys can get a little physics blended animation, just for deaths (when it won't matter as much if physics messes up; door+ragdoll anyone?). When I shoot a guy and he falls down dying, it shouldn't go from animation of guy running to floppy ragdoll. There should be at least half a second of the guy falling down with some purpose. Perhaps the only time he should go 100% limp is if his head explodes. If an indie game like Overgrowth can do it, surely DE can work in some of this into their Evolution engine. Hopefully PhysX allows it.


I may add more as I remember them.

Edited by gell
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This was a very interesting read. +1, because I hope the devs (and more people) will read this.

I am glad to see the opinion of an expert on a matter like this. I'll admit it myself, I also saw some reload times being shorter than they were supposed to be and not-too-perfect animations, but truth be told I find that, overall, the animations for this game are very well-done. There still are a few things, like you said, to make perfect, but I am sure the problems will be addressed in time.

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Interesting read indeed.


Considering the knockdown and standing up - it's not only awkward, but we are also pretty limited in ways we can stand up. We can't do any fast flips, any knockdown to roll, nothing, yet we can run on walls... it's not only inconsistent but it feels wrong and it also leads to stun locks in some situations.


Wrote a bit of related info here Thoughts On Controls, Movement, Customization, Melee, Ninjaing, Etc.


Such as:


6) Allow us to switch ranged weapons while performing melee attacks - already started a related thread today, which is describing the current problem with this - https://forums.warfr...ng-after-melee/
Basically, when executing a melee attack, the ranged weapon is instantly holstered, melee weapon attack(s) is performed, and after that the same ranged weapon is drawn.
Problem occurs in case we want to switch the ranged weapons after the melee attack. What happens is this


As you can see, I have Paris drawn before the melee attack. Right after the melee attack animation ends, I immediately push the weapon switch key (you can notice the changing of weapon in bottom right corner). One would expect the drawing of the switched weapon, but instead, the Paris bow is drawn, and then switched to the other ranged weapon by the command, which was already input few seconds ago.
It would made much more sense allowing us to switch between the ranged weapons freely during the melee attacks. It makes sense, since the ranged weapons are holstered before the melee attack, so there is no need to return to the previous weapon and than changing it, to the other.

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