re-vamped character model and animations

Friday, February 22, 2008

The last week or so I have been taking a shot at re-doing our first player model for Zero Gear, the original model didn't sit right with a lot of people or me included. Luckily I stumbled into contact with Edwin Rhemrev, a concept artist in Rotterdam. We talked about how much we enjoyed kart racing games, and offered to do some concept pieces for us. He came up with a lot of differently styled and awesome looking characters. This is the one that I based my character model from. After a couple days of modeling I had the base model done that everything else would build upon.

Once this step is complete, I unwrapped and textured the body and head. This step involves some tricky and/or tedious work assigning how the flat 2d texture is wrapped around the 3d model. Luckily there are a lot of different tools to help you do this, just imagine trying to cut out a set of skin tight clothes out of a piece of paper for a doll, in a shape so that all the seams match up perfectly to fit the contours of the body. Sounds pretty tricky, doesn't it! These are the flat textures I created to wrap around my character

Here is what he looks like with the textures applied.

Now we have something that looks like a character, the next step is making him move like one.
To animate the character, I make a skeleton that fits the proportions of the body and has joints in all the proper places. Then I have to assign all the verticies to correct bones in the skeleton, and after that is done I can animate the bones in the skeleton to move in whatever way I wish and the body will follow. The entire animation process is something I have been learning as go, and it has filled me with a lot of respect for animators, as it is clearly a discipline to master in and of itself. Here is a screenshot of the program I use to animate the skeleton:

The animation is done using "key-frames" on a timeline. In a nutshell this involves moving something to a position and setting a "key" and then moving the same thing to a different position and setting another "key" farther down the timeline. Using this process, the animation between those two keys are filled in for you and the result is a smooth transition between the two positions. Here is a short video I created of some animations I created for this character.

There are still some additional steps to be taken to get the character into the game, but it is mostly complete at this stage. I will be following this same process to create multiple other new characters for the game. After finishing this guy, I posed him in a little scene and rendered out a poster-type image for fun. Click on the links to the right of the image for a number of different sizes.


Corey said...

I love the style and direction this game is going in. I'm already like dreaming of its release. I can see my self playing it for hours! It looks like you've made a lot of progress from scratch. You have made it pretty clear that customization is important to you as developers and I couldn't agree more.. Any idea what kind of powerups/weapons you guys are planning on?

Brian Cronin said...

Thanks for the support Corey!

We have some ideas for powerups/weapons/etc but have been too busy lately with other core parts of the game (graphics, sound, networking, etc) to put much time into that kind of stuff.

Stay tuned!

MikeH said...

Nice work. I'm looking forward to seeing the viking and the guy with the helmut in 3d!

Brian Cronin said...

"I'm looking forward to seeing the viking and the guy with the helmut in 3d!"

You won't have to look forward for long :)