Thursday, 22 October 2009

Animation Redesign

The way animations are handled in XAGE has been redesigned to provide more flexibility and aid with AGS conversions.

XAGE previously allowed standards to be created in a fairly quick and easy manner but also lacked some flexibility. The order of the animation frames was important, as they needed to be tagged with various preset labels, "BodyWalkDown_Start" etc. There was also a duality with there being two animation mechanisms - the inbuilt tagging and custom animations (already much like AGS sprite loops). The preset tags have now been removed and now all standard animations (walking, talking etc.) are handled by user-built custom anims. This provides a little more flexibility and efficiency at the expense of time, as it takes a few seconds to set up the standard animations manually and link them to a character.

XAGE still doesn't implement Views in the way AGS does. I can definitely now see the benefit of them, as it enables the user to easily change the character's outward appearance, though there are a few (in my opinion) archaic design decisions that are slightly unintuitive, such as having the standing still frame as the first frame of a walking animation. Likewise I like having the animations frames tied to the character, even if this is inefficient. It seems cleaner and more intuitive, in the same way each conversation in XAGE is tied to a character as opposed to one big Dialogue pool.

The Editor has had a few overdue improvements too, including the ability to preview custom animations without having to run the game (a particularly large timesink when developing The Fourth Wall):


I'll be happy if I can get Awakener's scripting errors post-conversion down to less than 100.


Ben304 said...

I've been interested to see where you were going to take this, as it seemed to be the next big hurdle.

It's impossible to tell how well this all works without trying it out, but it is good to see a good reduction in number of post conversion errors :)

Clarvalon said...

There are a few things left to clean up, such as playing sounds during specific animation steps, but I should have another Silverlight build for you in a few days.

If I sat down and fixed everything manually I could probably have a 98-99% accurate port in a few days, though the trick is to get to that stage automatically.