An AMA with Automaton Animator, Rob Moody
- Will gun animation be up to par with PUBG or will we get Fortnite quality guns?
Hey man, we’re really focusing on having great quality animation for the weapons, especially for first person. PUBG does have some good first-person animation, but we’re striving higher than that, if you want to reference other games with better weapon animation, Rainbow Six Siege and the new Escape from Tarkov has it nailed down. There’s so much awesome attention to detail in their animation, the animators are so talented! This is the kind of formula I want to inject into our game.
For example, I animated the first person USP animation set, and when tasked with creating a sprint animation loop, I tried to take it as far as I could in the time allocated.
I first created a 4 step sprint cycle with sway variation, then created an ‘into sprint’ animation where he blends from a jog cycle keeping two hands on the gun for the first 2 steps. The idea of the into sprint was to convey weight and anticipation running into the sprint, without actually adjusting the speed of the player controller.
Then to add more, I’ve created sprint leans for left and right when pressing A or D on the keyboard, and a slope system that raises or lowers the gun on the screen when running up or down hills in the game. Players are going to spend a long time looking at the sprint animation in game, so I felt it was worth the extra time investment!
Sprinting into - loop variant
Sprinting up and down slopes
- I'm not sure if this is related enough but when a player uses a gun such as a pump shotgun, if he has a possible 8 shells in his mag tube and shoots 2 will it do an animation of reloading 2 or will it play the full 8 shell reload animation as some other games do?
Hey man, yep, the shotgun has a different reload system to the other guns currently in game.
We split the animations into 3 parts. StartLoop - player reaches for the ammo pouch, AmmoLoop - player feeds a shell into the gun EndLoop - player pumps the gun and blends back to the idle pose.
This allows us to repeat the AmmoLoop as many times as needed. So If you fire 3 shots, we play the AmmoLoop 3 times. Followed by the EndLoop. Hope that helps! Here’s a gif of the current state of the Ithaca reload in our test build, you can see the 3 animation states working with each other.
Partial Shotgun Reload:
Full Shotgun Reload:
- Will there be any kind of snap cover in Mavericks?
Hey there. By snap cover, I'm assuming you mean sticking to a wall to take cover and entering a cover system… So after a long design back and forth, as a studio, we are currently against using snap cover in the game for a number of reasons.
Firstly, our focus for the game is first-person and, in general, snap cover in first-person can feel janky and a little disjointing. Most games that implement it well (The Division for example) are strictly third-person which enables the player to see more with a larger field of view when in the snap cover state.
Another advantage to not using it is to give the player more fluidity when moving around the environment. For example, the player would be less likely to get stuck on an object, and it would stop them from pressing ‘enter snap cover’ on their keyboard whilst they’re being shot at...that would be rage inducing! We want the player to be able to position themselves how they want with minimal restraints from the game. Currently, being able to stand/crouch/prone while leaning and strafing feels good enough.
However though, it’s ultimately down to design, will have to see how the feedback from The Forge goes!
Hope that helps!
- Are there plans for in-depth gun animations? For example, In Escape From Tarkov, you can check mags, chamber, etc. Do you plan to implement anything similar to this? Thank you!
Hey dude. Arrr, Escape From Tarkov looks so good, man. The animators are seriously talented. We want to up the attention to detail in the animation bank too! One of the next animations on my list is an alternative to a reload animation when your mag is full. This could be taking out the mag and checking it, tinkering with the rail or simply cleaning the gun. It’s an opportunity to do something creative and inject some personality into the game.
As for now, currently in the game I’ve done some weapon inspect animations, here’s a couple of gifs of the shotgun and handgun inspect animations:
Another example is that I've tried to make it clear as to which state you are currently in by changing the base pose of the crouch and prone states. When in crouch you raise your gun a little higher and tilt it. The idea behind this is so that the player immediately knows what state they are in, just by looking at their character's hands.
- What are the current plans for melee animations and possible hand-to-hand take-down animations (e.g. garrottes, neck-breaks etc), and when can we expect them to be part of the game?
- When do you plan to add vaulting animations to the game and are you looking at doing anything new with that?
- Will there be any partial-crouching animations (or other partial positions like that), like SCUM offers, so that we can position our character's head height or gun position more exactly than just the usual standing, crouching or prone? Similarly, will we be able to shoot behind us while prone, by the character lying on their back without having to spin around, like Battlefield V has introduced?
- Will the character's mouth move while using proximity chat (if there is proximity chat)?
We have been throwing around ideas for this in the office. We’ve learnt a lot from creating ‘Deceit’ and their execution animations using CryEngines STAPH system. Some executions shown here: https://youtu.be/L3Ky6E1Sslo So I’d feel confident doing some cool neck-snaps in close quarter combat, say you approach the enemy unaware from behind. But ultimately this is down to design to decide!
Vaulting is definitely in the pipeline. We’re beginning tests on that soon and it’s something I would really like to see in the game. We want it to give the player fluidity as they traverse the environment. As for something new with it - I don’t think it’s anything new. But we want different animations depending on the speed to approach the vault, walking vault for example would be much quieter and a longer animation than a sprinting quick leap that would be easily heard.
From what I’ve read in our game design doc, there are no plans for partial crouching, We have set heights that the player character must be within to match the size of the environment props the team are creating. This ensures that the player is firmly in cover when they approach certain objects. As for prone, yeh man that's awesome! I first saw it in Rainbow Six Siege, it's definitely something Id love to do. I’ve had long discussions with Lawrence, one of our designers, where we are both laying on the floor moving around in the middle of the office while people walk over us to get to the kitchen! Haha. We want to have a system where players can move from their front to their back and possibly base it on what kind of environment you are in. For example inside a room, you’d prone on your butt, this allows you to see more and navigate the room easily. Where as in a huge field, the player could be on their front, giving them maximum cover and a good position to snipe from.
This isn’t top on our priority at the moment, but it is on the list! It would add a lot to the immersion.
As far as animations go, what will the pace be? Pubg can feel a bit sluggish when it comes to vaulting and climbing and getting in and out of prone.
Will the animations trend faster pace like blackout?
Yo! Our current plan is to be faster than PUBG, but slower than Blackout. I’ve recently been in a long meeting with Joel (our gameplay programmer) talking about just this issue.
I think we agreed on a speed similar to Battlefield 3 haha. The idea is to give the player enough speed to get places quickly but not give the game an arcadey feel like Blackout does.
- How do you make the hitboxes?
Hey, to make the hitboxes for the character, we create ‘proxys’ which are small cubes attached to the skeleton of the character. This is then taken into the game engine and made into a shootable surface, acting as a hit box.
I took a video to show you an example of the proxys on a character from Maya, our 3D software package we use at Automaton.
- Will you make sure they don't re-rack bolts while reloading while there is still ammo in the old magazine?
Yeh man, this gets to me too. So to combat this, we have a reload system of partial and full reloads.
Partial reloads are triggered when you reload while there is still a bullet left in the chamber. Meaning there’s no need to pull the bolt back and this is shown in the reload animation. This also means that the animation can be quicker too. For the handgun we followed the same rule, and created other variations of reloads to be quicker for the player, so there is an advantage to reloading without firing all your bullets.
Here are some examples:
- What are some of the funniest animation glitches so far in development?
Haha we have a couple! This one isn’t so much a glitch in the game, but makes me laugh everytime I see it. It from waaaay back when we were prototyping motion capture in the game. I forgot to attach the motion capture data to the arms of the character and it resulted in this: https://imgur.com/a/mGofflf
Who is the gentleman in the mo-cap suit in the teaser video? Is he ex/active military?
I also think I read that due to balance/hitbox reasons there will be 1 size in the character models, but does it mean only 2 types of movement for all? I mean male-female movement, but no specifications or unique moves relating to the faction etc?
Ha, that’s me in the suit man. No military experience, just a plain old animator. I have been taking acting classes and studying firearms though so hopefully I’m not too far off the mark.
Yep, all dudes and girls will be the same size body wise to keep it fair and competitive. However, as a stretch goal we REALLY want to animate the factions differently. COL guys are a bit crazy, so they should look a bit crazy! More hunched over, a bit sporadic in their movements, shaking. LSF guys are military, Syndicate are rich gangsters, so you’d expect them to hold themselves proper, straight back, proud etc. A lot of thought has been put into it, and it’s something we really want to do. It would be cool if we could blend each stance in, depending on what gear your character is wearing. For example, if you have 3 out of 4 items of clothing on that are COL clothing, your character would start to hunch over more, and shakes would blend into your run cycle. There’s so much room for scope and we cannot wait to dig our teeth into it as animators.
- I understand if it's too early to ask this question, but will there be animated cutscenes during our adventures in the MMO or should we expect more traditional interaction with NPC's?
I’ve heard talk of massive cutscenes for big events in the game, as for NPC interaction, I'm really not sure. It’d be really cool to do some innovative as I know the standard thing to do is to have a few idles and talking animations playing. It needs a lot of thought!
- Will we be able to see others inspecting weapons?
Yep third person inspect animations are planned!
- Since Mavericks seems to be set in a semi-realistic environment (which looks stunning by the way), will the player movement and general animations follow along a more life accurate style or go the route of Blackout with the over-the-top player movement and gun reloading animations? Thank you! Can't wait to play.
Hey man, we’re sticking to a more grounded approach for animation. I personally feel that blackout’s speed and over the top animations fit Blackout perfectly. But it’s not the game we are creating. Our aim is to have fluid, semi-realistic animation that dont hold up the character during gameplay! The animation style needs to fit a game where at range, the gameplay is very tactical, and at close range its more fun/fast paced and arcadey. That's our plan!
Are there any implemented or planned animations for ladders, both upwards, and downwards (i.e. an animation that plays to get you onto the ladder from the top).
Will you be able to exit animations if you need to? For instance, if you are reviving a teammate and you come under fire.
From an animation perspective (as opposed to gameplay), could it be possible to create:
an animation to drag knocked-out teammates
an animation to drag loot
an elimination animation of sorts to kill enemy knocked-out players
Yep this is planned as far as I know, we haven't started the ladder animations quite yet though!
Yep, we want the player to be in control at all times. Unless there are certain situations that Design feels that the player should be punished for exiting early of course! But as far as I know, you can exit reviving or healing at any time.
I have just been talking to my Senior Animator about just this. He’s created animations where you drag downed teammates in previous work and it's definitely something we’d be up for doing! Again, Design would have to clear it all first! I love the idea of dragging a loot box, imagine the ambush tactics!
As for elimination animations, this is so up my street. I replied to a comment earlier about potentially using the same execution system we had in deceit. So it would play a canned animation of a random execution. It’d add a lot to the game!
How long does it take to 'do' all of the animations (firing, reloading, inspecting, throwing, etc) for a single weapon?
Are you planning for individual weapons to have their own unique set of animations, giving different weapons their own 'feel' etc?
For example heavier throwables having a more laboured throw animation or larger weapons having slightly more encumbered animations etc.
If so is this something that we can expect to see early on or will you be using a more generic 'one size fits all' set of animations to begin with?
For a full set of animations, including transitions to and from states, I’d say a weapon could take anywhere from 2.5weeks to a month for first-person. And for third-person possibly 1 month to 2 months. This is purely because the sheer amount of animations needed to create a good feeling third-person character controller is around 4 times more in number of assets. Then you have a testing phase on top of that, which often find lots of things we need to go back and fix!
For first-person, yes we are planning on having individual reloads and inspect animations. Things like idles and sprint animation can be shared between similar guns, but I’d really love to give a little bit of love to each gun that I get my hands on. Make it distinct in some way and give it its own little identity! And yep in your example, we would definitely have different throwing animations for a heavy throwable when compared to a light one. However this might only be seen in first-person - third may be a generic throw animation. We will have to see what the Producer thinks when scheduling us!
This really depends on what it is. For third-person, we are going for a generic set just so we can get the motion capture working to a high standard, we can then go in and mess with faction postures etc, (some hunched, some proud). For first-person however, we will implement the individual details much earlier in development.
- Will the animations be fast paced or slow? Pubg can be slow sometimes Imo. Also will they be pristine upon arrival in the forge?
We’re aiming for a semi-realistic style. In terms of animations it’d be not so strategic as PUBG, but not so fast and arcadey as COD: Blackout. I wrote about this in another comment further up, but ideally the animation would compliment the gameplay, enough to make it feel tactical at long range, but fast paced and a little bit arcadey up close. We could do this by applying that to the weapon you’d use at range and close up.
As for pristine upon arrival of The Forge… nooo! We have a lot of work to do in The Forge and listening to feedback from players is top of the list. If people feel an animation is too fast or awkward, we as animators want to go back and re-do those animations. We want the animation in the game to almost feel invisible when performing actions, allowing the player to control the player character seamlessly. Hope that helps!
I made the translation for PT_BR of the post organized with the videos in my site, who wants to have a look
Brilliant AMA!!! love all the little animations you've shown us!!
Pack me onto the hype train and ship me off to over-excitement land!!! :D :D
There is so much here, I have to go back to read more cus of how long this Q&A is. Well done.
RockhoundBlack is going to have a fun time with all the clips.
Do you guys have an estimate of how big the game is going to be on launch day? 40GB?? 100GB??