- GDC, Zeemotes, and Kinect combat on Gamasutra
- Anthony’s new company, Kermdinger Studios, is wildly successful-esque
- Detection, feedback, rhythm, and queuing
- First playtest with new combat gestures
- Global Game Jam!
- Meet the Power Claw
- Action in Motion is Back in Action!
- Playtesting and Polish
- Work Since Halves – Prototypes 5 & 6, effects, animation variations, more attacks!
- Preparing for Halves!
Author Archives: action-in-motion-admin
After finishing up prototypes 5 and 6, the team moved directly into the final few weeks of the semester where they focused on playtesting the product, iterating based on feedback, and polishing the final demo as a whole. Informal playtests have been conducted all semester when smaller features were implemented, but since all prototypes were finished and integrated the team put together a full day of formal playtesting to see how the full experience felt to various individuals. The team received a lot of great feedback, but the two most overwhelming and impactful comments were along the lines of:
- “I can’t target any enemies and I’m having a hard time hitting them. I feel like I’m just slashing at the air in an arbitrary direction.”
- “When I hit an enemy, I pass through them and have to turn around. Could you maybe hit them back a little so they always stay in front of you?”
In response to these two pieces of feedback, we implemented a targeting system and improved enemy hit reactions so they actually stumble back and stay in front of you for a more manageable combo. The targeting system was something we had not planned to implement, but in response to the overwhelming amount of feedback regarding the lack of targeting we put in a left arm targeting system. When the player winds up for a slash with their right arm, they can use their left arm to point in the direction they would like to turn and aim, and when they get relatively centered on an enemy a “target” reticle pops up around that enemy and allows the player to slash directly at that enemy.
Beyond the playtests, the team has also been busy polishing all existing elements of the final demo. Dismemberment has been added to the game to enhance the gratification of killing an enemy beyond simple ragdolling, and with this the sync kill now has scripted dismemberments that fit the slashes exactly and make the sync kill event sequence more rewarding.
Blocking has also been implemented so the player can choose to block enemy attacks when necessary. This is performed by a simple gesture (hands above head, in front of face), and this causes an energy shield to appear in front of the player and block any incoming damage from enemies.
Finally, new textures have been added to the hero and enemy Riggs that make them stand out against each other even more and help them telegraph their movements better. These textures are included in the above screenshots.
The team will be making a final push towards soft opening and finals to get in any last changes and polish elements before the semester is over.
The team has been very hard at work since halves presentations.
On the programming side, prototypes 5 and 6 are finished and the programmers are now working on polishing the existing material and adding in more content as planned. Prototype 5 consisted of more blended slashes being implemented, and Adam wrote a Unity Editor script to let him mirror animations to speed up the implementation process. More slashes are being added to the hero character to give the player variety in the way they attack, and the blending and math work continues. For prototype 6, Anthony implemented several environmental and special effects as well as all of the UI layer and the big payoff moment in the game, the Sync Kill. The Sync Kill is a quick time event (QTE) sequence in which the camera switches to a cinematic mode and the player basically interacts with a cutscene when prompted to trigger the next part of the cutscene. When completed correctly, the end result is a very fluid set of three kills that the player feels like they performed.
The artists have been diligently working on adding more animations, developing the UI elements, and working on effects for the world. Patrick has been busy creating particle effects for things such as wall smashes and hits on the enemy, and he has also been tuning the enemy animations and adding more variation to their behavior. Pei has been designing and painting all of the UI elements, including the Sync Kill gesture guides, the health and charge meters, and the combo counter.
Below are some examples of effects and things that have been implemented since halves!
1/2 semester presentations are today for Action in Motion and we’ve been incredibly busy preparing our demos for this presentation. We’ll be showing two demos today as well as a good bit of our finished artwork.
On the art side:
- Enemy Character is modeled, rigged, textured and animated
- Hero Character is modeled, rigged, textured, animated and has a cloak with a cloth sim and weapon trails on his wrist blades
- Environment is modeled, textured and has next-gen deferred rendering in place
On the programming side:
- Prototype 3 (Artificial Intelligence and Zeemote joystick integration) has been completed and AI now chases and swarms enemy while looking for an open position from which to strike
- Prototype 4 (Per-bone blended attacks and combos) has also been completed and an in-to-out combo attack is possible with the right arm
The completion of Prototype 4 is very significant because the real meat of this project was getting this blending technology working between 1:1 captured Kinect input and pre-authored animations. We are very happy with the result thus far and will continue to refine our algorithms to make the blending as smooth as possible.
And now for some artwork and screenshots!
Quarters walkarounds last Monday went smoothly and our demos were well-received, so we are in high spirits! We just finished up work on our first two prototypes, which were basic combat and locomotion. This week, we start work on prototypes 3 and 4:
- Motion-Combat integration and AI
- Combos and Advanced blending
These two prototypes will cover a broad range of content that will be critical to developing the feel of our experience. Motion-Combat integration refers to the transition between locomotion and combat (moving with the joystick vs. 1:1 control), and the enemy artificial intelligence will be further enhanced. Combos, or combination attacks, will be strings of attacks that flow smoothly and do more damage when strung together, and we will continue to improve our per-bone blending techniques to tune the feel as much as possible.
Our artists have also been hard at work developing our hero character, his animations, and his cloth-simulated overcoat. The enemy Rigg is currently being textured as well, and all this content is being integrated into Unity as it comes in. More info on the hero Rigg as it gets further into development.
As we near the end of Week 4 of this semester, our team has been hard at work preparing for quarters. We are 1 week into our 2-week cycle for the first two prototypes, and we are incredibly happy with our progress. Patrick has modeled, rigged and animated the enemy Rigg character and the character has successfully been imported into Unity, and Pei has been diligently working on Action in Motion’s promotional material and just finished up some beautiful designs for the poster and half sheet (see previous post below).
Adam and Anthony have been working on the first two prototypes: Locomotion and Basic Combat. Adam has put together quite a nice locomotion system with a smart camera that follows the player’s movement and rotation in world space. He has also written a motor that allows us to control the amount of blending between Kinect skeletal input and pre-authored animation on each individual bone which is a huge step in the right direction for the ultimate goal of this project. Anthony has mapped the enemy Rigg to the Kinect skeletal tracking system temporarily until the Hero Rigg is completed. He has implemented a collision detection system and ragdoll physics on the enemy Rigg which allows the player to “avateer” (control via skeletal tracking) their character and punch and enemy Rigg to send them flying and tumbling into the distance. The basic AI for the enemies to follow and surround the player is also in place as well as some of the gesture detection framework.
We will be showing their progress on the first two prototypes in the form of a “hit the ragdoll” demo, a locomotion demo and an avateering vs. animation vs. blending both demo. We will also be showing off their finished concept art, models and animations during quarters.
Below is the official Action in Motion poster design. Pei and Patrick worked incredibly hard on this, so we hope you enjoy!
This past Monday, August 12th, Microsoft Studios invited us out to meet with some heavy hitters on their development teams that had done work very relevant to our project. The trip was incredibly helpful; they easily saved us a month’s worth of work as well as filled us in on a great deal of research and information we would have never come up with on our own. We owe them a great deal of thanks, and we look forward to sharing the results of this project with them!
This is the inaugural post for Action in Motion! We are a four-man student pitch project at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. The goal of this project is to produce several gameplay prototypes for a hack-and-slash game using the Microsoft Kinect. More information to come soon!