fredag 12 december 2014

Animation Analysis

This is one blog assignment that I actually found very difficult to write, we were asked to choose three games which I admire the animations of. This is something that I have never really considered, I think that bad animations is something that makes you feel that something is just not right while good animations go unnoticed as everything is as it is supposed to be. The games I chose in the end were Tomb Raider, Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed Black Flag.

Tomb Raider - Shooting Bow

The task was to identify key poses used in the game, for instance idle and attack animations, for Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed this was made difficult by the enormous amounts of animations so I tried to narrow it down to the basics.

Assassin's Creed - Hang/Swing (top) Walk (below)

Skyrim - Walk Ready (top) Walk Relaxed (below)

Tomb Raider - Walk

I do think that the poses and silhouettes are easy to read although there are some big differences between the games. They are easy to read because they all use body language well, with relaxed straight poses in contrast with the angled poses when ready for action. The line of action is also made a lot more visible in the ready poses where the angles of the arms, legs and bodies as well as the heads are pointing towards a centre of attention.

Run animations from all three games

It seems to me that what makes the poses blend smoothly is that they use the same starting position. I noticed that one thing all games had in common was that the characters always have their left foot slightly in front of the right which I believe will easily float into moving the weight to that foot and into a movement cycle.

Skyrim - Idle Relaxed (top) vs. Ready (bottom)

My favourite pose from Assassin’s Creed is probably the attack pose to the left as you can see his entire body turning and angling in anticipation of movement. The sword he wields is also used to enforce the movement.

Attack poses from Assassin's Creed

In Skyrim it is the crouch/sneak as it is very angled and expressive, it reads very clearly as something is about to happen. They have used a lot of angles, not only in arms and legs but also the head and between upper body and hips; it makes the player understand that there is danger ahead.

Skyrim - Crouch (top) and Sneak (bottom)

Tomb Raider is more difficult, they have managed to create an expressive body language that shows the character’s personality. I do like the relaxed idle poses as she touches her arm or wounds showing the player that she is in pain, it amplifies the story without using cutscenes or dialogue. There is also the sneak, for the same reasons as in Skyrim with the angles, in Tomb Raider however the angles are used differently to show that she is not all that confident and that she is scared. Lara is not as upright when sneaking as the Skyrim character that faces danger head on; she has her head down and keeps her arms close to her body which signals that she is feeling scared in contrary to Skyrim where the arms and legs are more to the sides as if trying to look powerful and fearless.
Tomb Raider - Sneak/Crouch (top), with Bow (below)

Tomb Raider - Idle Relaxed

I think that overall the sneak/crouches are easiest to read simply because it has such a great impact on the silhouette when the characters curl up and angles their bodies. This is also a very clear difference between the relaxed and ready stances as the characters curls up and angles in them as well.

Assassin's Creed - Crouch/Sneak

It is very difficult to think of what pose is the hardest to read since I feel that they are all readable. Perhaps it could be the ready idle pose in Tomb Raider where Lara has her bow out but her body is kind of slouched forwards in a slightly odd pose but I also think that it could be a narrative decision behind it. It shows a character that is not used to handling weapons and being in danger or battle and that is not very confident.
Tomb Raider - Idle Ready

Assassin’s Creed is similar to Tomb Raider with the idle ready; he also has a slightly relaxed body posture although he has his weapons out and is ready for action. There is a clear difference between them though; his body is much more upright, almost leaning the upper body slightly back with the groin area forwards as a result of bending the knees to be ready to move. His shoulders and head are also looking as if going a bit forwards, this pose shows a very different personality, he is confident and has seen battle many times before, telling any enemies that “you don’t want to mess with me”.

Assassin's Creed - Idle Ready

One interesting thing that I noticed was a big difference between Skyrim and the other two games. There seems to be a much greater variety of animations in Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed than in Skyrim, they are also much more expressive and less stylized. I think that this is based on the gameplay and style of the games. Most importantly both Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed are games that are focused on telling the story of the character; the player is allowed to be part of a moment of their lives where they must show personality and emotions to keep the players’ interest. This means that they have many unique animations showing different states of mind and abilities and that the body language is more expressive.

Assassin's Creed - Idle Relaxed

Tomb Raider - Using item (top), Climbing (bottom)

Skyrim however is a game where the character is uncovering the story of the world, it is not centred on the character and the players can create as many and different characters as they want. The character is more of an avatar than an important part of the story. The animations need to be applicable to whichever character the player wants it to be and therefore they do not show personality like the other two games. The movement is more generalised and stylized although very big.

Skyrim Attacks (Magic - top, Melee - bottom)

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