Actormation - posted 23/09/02

In order to make a game character believable, you have to make them move in such a way that they don't destroy the illusion of life. The trick that no-one has achieved before is to attain this believability without compromising the responsiveness of the character.

Some things that ruin the illusion...

  • Emotionless characters who don't "act".
  • Animation "snapping" between different actions
  • Feet sliding on the environment
  • Characters not animating when turning on the spot
  • Standing or walking on thin air
  • Walking up and down slopes as though walking on flat ground
  • Not leaning when turning
  • Not showing effort to accelerate or decelerate
  • Sliding along walls when colliding

Every time one of these things happens the player is thrown back out of the game world and into their living room. Many developers tend not to appreciate just how intensely this reduces the players ability to become engrossed in their games.

Responsiveness vs. Animation fluidity
Games generally compromise one in order to archive the other. Galleon doesn't compromise either of them.

Actormationbasically gives us predictive behavior. Normal game character systems work something like someone stumbling around in the dark. Our characters, however, are aware of the environment around them, they anticipate what to do and then do it. As soon as the player gives new input to the character, it instantly reevaluates what it can and starts to adjust accordingly. This way we have a perfectly fluid character that reacts as soon as is physically possible to player input.

This makes our system completely context sensitive. Since the character can "see" that there is a low object in front of it, it "knows" it can vault up onto it. Or if there is a small hole in front of it, it knows it can squat down and crawl through. All of this is achieved while still retaining complete responsiveness within an arbitrary polygon environment.

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