Character DevBlog #1 The Beasts

Hello there, fellow freediggers and Krater-dwellers.

Finally! The long expected character devblog is ALIVE! I’m Maddy, one of the three-animator-team here at Fatshark and the main animator for Krater. This is the first of a series of posts featuring a specific character or character group from a development perspective. We’ll show you enemies, player characters and NPC’s, a bit of all. No, no. Of course we wont tell you TOO much, I promise we’ll leave out stuff for you to discover on your own.

Me and the character team will show you bits and pieces of our work process, from concept to models, rigs and animation. We’ll share our thoughts and trials and errors, hopefully you’ll find it interesting and who knows, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two? If not then maybe you’ll laugh, point fingers and tell us how to do it better! We want to get you involved in our wonderful world and the making of it. Give us your thoughts and comments, we’re all ears!

This first post will be about the enemy group we like to call The Beasts. Ok, I know what you’re thinking, perhaps somewhat generic. But all games need that first level enemies, right? Doesn’t mean they can’t be awesome ^__^ And yes, they are awesome.

First concept of Hounds and Bears

Let me introduce the first group of the Beasts, The Hounds. If you’ve played the pre-Alpha you’ve surely run into a few of these already, if not I can tell you that the Hounds are ferocious canines. What before the Untergang used to be man’s best friend are now turned into poisonous rabid monsters and freakish mutants. I won’t go in too much on the lore of the Beasts, I’ll leave Magnus to fill in with some info later on.

Making the hounds we wanted them to be of the same enemy group, so they’d share a specific set of behaviors. But we also wanted the individual type to have it’s own abilities and type of damage. So, we started out with the generic Hound, the most “normal” of them, and created a model, rig and a set of animations. The idea was to base the other of that one, and then give them each their own abilities later on.

As Fatshark Lead animator Mikael Hansson described in an earlier post in the forums, we use Maya for the rig, setting up bones and skinning, then we use Motionbuilder and the Motionbuilder control rig for animation. Yes, we actually animate hand-key in MoBu. Mikael, being from a long MoBu background, has both the skill, experience and the patience required to make the most out of the control rig. I, on the other hand, have none of that and find myself often kicking walls and screaming abuse in the office kitchen after hours of fighting gimble locks.

As you can see the rig is fairly simple, and the models looks so similar we figured using the same animation set would be be easy. Though, we did want some of the Hounds to have broader shoulders, longer legs, or perhaps be more muscular, so a few rig tweaks each would help. And, still being a simple rig, surely that wouldn’t completely screw up the animations when importing them, right!? Oh how wrong we were. After rigging and skinning them all, turned out the animations went all over the place. Legs hovering in the air or buried a meter under ground, necks twisted in painful poses and body parts turned inside out. It was either doing individual animations for each and every Hound, or adjusting the meshes to fit the one -first- rig, without moving it an inch. Since we want to be able to add animations and new Hounds as we go along, without it costing too much time, we went for changing the meshes.

Hounds, in engine, rigged and playing the same set of idle animations

Our vision of the Hounds is to be able to add a “pack” behavior, since they mostly hunt in groups. We have a few ideas we want to try out, but for now (pre-Alpha/Alpha testing) they appear in packs but act and fight individually.

The next category of Beasts are the Bears. The Bears are stronger than the Hounds, fighting individually rather than in groups. It’s a more advanced enemy, requiring skill and planning to fight. They will have more abilities and a lot of health.

The bear-rig and animation set is basically set up the same way as the hounds. Luckily we learned from the Hounds and this time we used the same rig, without adjustments.

Bears and Boar, in engine, rigged and playing the same set of idle animations

The same rig and animation set is also used for our boars. The boars have their own attacks and abilities, so despite being based of the bears they are a bit different to fight. On the rig-side it is quite funny. Because of its body structure and huge head it actually uses the bear-head/neck bones for its snout. It made for some interesting movements when we applied the bear “sniffing” and “looking around” idles. A few minor tweaks to the animations and we got it working pretty smooth.

That’s all for now peeps. I’ll be back with some playblasts of animation and character spins shortly.



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2 Responses to Character DevBlog #1 The Beasts

  1. Oskar says:

    Really nice!

  2. Voinescu Marius says:

    :O Good design they look cool, cant wait to fight them all in game, keep it up, oh and are you also planing to make mutated moose ?