, 21 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Folks have been asking so here are my thoughts on Mass Effect Andromeda's animation. Hopefully people will better understand the process.
First though; going after individual team members is not only despicable, but the culprits and choice of target revealed their true nature.
Just as we credit a team, not an individual, for a game's success, we should never single out one person for a team's failures.
That said, animating an RPG is a really, really big undertaking - completely different from a game like Uncharted so comparisons are unfair.
Every encounter in Uncharted is unique & highly controlled because we create highly-authored 'wide' linear stories with bespoke animations.
Conversely, RPGs offer a magnitude more volume of content and importantly, player/story choice. It's simply a quantity vs quality tradeoff.
In Mass Effect 1 we had over 8 hrs of facial performance. In Horizon Zero Dawn they had around 15. Player expectations have only grown.
As such, designers (not animators) sequence pre-created animations together - like DJs with samples and tracks.
Here is the Frostbite cinematic conversation tool circa Dragon Age Inquisition. (Source: frostbite.com/2014/08/creati…)
Here's the cinematic conversation tool for the Witcher 3. Both tools make it fast to assemble from a pool of anims.
Because time denotes not every scene is equally possible, dialogues are separated into tiered quality levels based on importance/likelihood.
The lowest quality scenes may not even be touched by hand. To cover this, an algorithm is used to generate a baseline quality sequence.
Mass Effect 1-3 populated default body 'talking' movement, lip-sync and head movement based on the dialogue text.
The Witcher 3 added to this with randomly selected body gestures that could be regenerated to get better results. gameanim.com/2016/03/23/cin…
Andromeda seems to have lowered the quality of it's base algorithm, resulting in the 'My face is tired' meme featuring nothing but lip-sync.
This, presumably, was because they planned to hit every line by hand. But a 5-year dev cycle shows they underestimated this task.
(All this is exacerbated by us living in an era of share buttons and youtube, getting the lowest quality out to the widest audience.)
Were I to design a conversation system now, I'd push for a workflow based on fast and accessible face & body capture rather than algorithms.
While it hasn't 100% proved this method, Horizon Zero Dawn's better scenes succeed due to a use of facial mocap.
The one positive to come out of all this is that AAA story-heavy games can't skimp on the animation quality with a systemic approach alone.
The audience has grown more discerning, which makes our job more difficult but furthers animation quality (and animators) as a requirement.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Jonathan Cooper
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!