Official Torment Animation Discussion

For all Torment discussion that does not fit elsewhere. No spoilers allowed.

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Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by DragonBerg » October 3rd, 2014, 3:43 pm

Hi everyone,

My name is Josh Jertberg and you have once again given me the great opportunity to be your Animator for Torment. I have just wrapped up most of my work on WL2 so I am full steam ahead on Torment. I had a lot of fun talking to many of you during the development of WL2 and I hope we can do the same here. I value everyone's thoughts and opinions and am often inspired by them.
I am going to open this up by asking for everyone's trust and understanding. I am attempting a non traditional approach to Torments animation. Torment presents an opportunity I have been interested in as a game animator most of my career. That opportunity is root motion. What the heck is root motion? Root motion is a system that allows the animation to drive the characters movement thru the world giving it a life like quality that cant be achieved any other way.This is in contrast to a traditional system that has code move and rotate characters position usually in a very linear way with animation simply being played on top. Torment is an emotionally driven thought provoking game. My vision is to have the characters movement enhance this feeling.
Traditionally a RM system is used in conjunction with an analogue controller, the stick provides a natural curve to input. Devising a smart way to emulate this with a mouse click was the first challenge. Currently I am using distance of the click to drive some of the logic of movement. For example a short click will keep the character at a brisk walk, but a longer distance click will put them in a run right away. There is much more to it than this but it has a very organic feel to it. A big challenge is that its a mechanical system that is non deterministic yet we need you to hit your mark reliably. I am using Unitys built in RM system mecanim, it has its issues and is certainly not perfect but it gets the job done. Another traditional aspect of RM is the use of motion capture animation. It makes sense as all the real world translation is built right in to the animation. I am hand crafting the animations for Torment and its something that is not usually done with root motion but as an animator it excites the hell out of me. Using hand keyed animation also helps me push the bounds of reality a bit to get a balance between realism and responsiveness. Our recently released teaser has a taste of this ambitious animation system. I cant express how excited I am to be working on this and the vision of the animation is something that I am personally very passionate about. I have been fighting to make it viable in Torment and I hope all of you will appreciate the effort in the final product.

Please feel free to use this thread to ask any and all animation questions and I will do my best to answer as much as I can.

Thanks again to all of our backers:)
Josh Jertberg
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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Gizmo » October 3rd, 2014, 4:23 pm

These always impressed me:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1P_B65XW4I [warning: realistic spider animation]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXDZZt7TEAo

Is anything of this nature possible in the Torment system? (I mean conceptually)

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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by DragonBerg » October 3rd, 2014, 5:05 pm

Gizmo wrote:These always impressed me:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1P_B65XW4I [warning: realistic spider animation]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXDZZt7TEAo

Is anything of this nature possible in the Torment system? (I mean conceptually)
wow... that's impressive. ha procedural technology used on those spiders kind of scares me...no need for an animator if its procedural;)
The one with the human motion is sick and I will be the first to admit that my fancy system in Torment is rudimentary compared to that. The artistic concept is similar in Torment though, the characters turn and change direction in a natural way always trying to maintain true motion.
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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Sabatasso » October 3rd, 2014, 5:25 pm

Look at the upload dates... It should've been standard in gaming at least four years by now.

Anyway, since you're the professional I hope you make the right decisions. I'm personally not too bothered with graphics and visuals but it's never a bad thing if it's good. I generally prefer a sensible middle ground between performance and aesthetics.
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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Larva » October 3rd, 2014, 5:36 pm

I imagine that with TB encounters every interaction has a better chance of leaving its mark, specially in this particular setting that has so many weird things (all those possibilities!).

Because of that fact (and the fact that you also appear to appreciate innovative ideas) I was wondering if you guys are in favor of more lengthy / *fleshed* out animations and maybe even some expressiveness to complement the dialogues and give even more personality to the different types of creatures.

Also what type of gameplay indicators can we look forward to in the animation department?

Something like:
A character could act one way and speak another (as to deliberately confuse the players in the middle of a pressing matter) this way the animations could occasionally become as relevant as the text in a surreal type of deal that makes us perceptive of conflictive developments that require contraposition to figure things out.

Or maybe:
A creature among many of its kind with a small, very subtle difference… A mysterious visual cue (maybe something that appears once in a while, when you might be paying it attention) that indicates something about it that you can learn to correlate, to an opportunity or a warning depending on the occasion.

P.D.
It’s really nice that you are so open to feedback.

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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by DragonBerg » October 3rd, 2014, 5:42 pm

Sabatasso wrote:Look at the upload dates... It should've been standard in gaming at least four years by now.

Anyway, since you're the professional I hope you make the right decisions. I'm personally not too bothered with graphics and visuals but it's never a bad thing if it's good. I generally prefer a sensible middle ground between performance and aesthetics.
Your right, fancy systems like that are rarely used in games because they can be very impractical. Root motion itself is not widely used due to its complex requirements and compromises.

A sensible middle ground is exactly my feelings too and balancing the natural motion with adequate responsiveness will be my focus.
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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by DragonBerg » October 3rd, 2014, 5:48 pm

Larva wrote:I imagine that with TB encounters every interaction has a better chance of leaving its mark, specially in this particular setting that has so many weird things (all those possibilities!).

Because of that fact (and the fact that you also appear to appreciate innovative ideas) I was wondering if you guys are in favor of more lengthy / *fleshed* out animations and maybe even some expressiveness to complement the dialogues and give even more personality to the different types of creatures.

Also what type of gameplay indicators can we look forward to in the animation department?

Something like:
A character could act one way and speak another (as to deliberately confuse the players in the middle of a pressing matter) this way the animations could occasionally become as relevant as the text in a surreal type of deal that makes us perceptive of conflictive developments that require contraposition to figure things out.

Or maybe:
A creature among many of its kind with a small, very subtle difference… A mysterious visual cue (maybe something that appears once in a while, when you might be paying it attention) that indicates something about it that you can learn to correlate, to an opportunity or a warning depending on the occasion.

P.D.
It’s really nice that you are so open to feedback.
This is the kind of stuff that gets me thinking, ideas I may have never considered.

Animation during dialogue is something of an unknown right now actually. Not sure exactly what the final solution will be. I will keep you guys posted as that system evolves.
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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Gizmo » October 3rd, 2014, 6:13 pm

DragonBerg wrote:Animation during dialogue is something of an unknown right now actually. Not sure exactly what the final solution will be. I will keep you guys posted as that system evolves.
Planescape had dialogs with implied physical actions. In one, the Nameless detects a thief actively probing his pocket, and is given the option to resist, or to actually study the thief's methods.

The option to grab the thief called a stat check to see if he could.

Could Torment have animated vignettes like these? [Playing the success or failure animation as the situation warrants?]

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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Sabatasso » October 3rd, 2014, 6:27 pm

DragonBerg wrote:A sensible middle ground is exactly my feelings too and balancing the natural motion with adequate responsiveness will be my focus.
Slap some music to that phrase and you got a hit! :)
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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Blacky » October 3rd, 2014, 10:27 pm

I'm not against new technologies, although this may not be the kind of game where graphical R&D is best done (but I may be wrong).

Anyway it's good to see some work done beside yet another useless (harmful even) photorealistnextgenshaderthingie… anything that truly improve the gaming experience is good.

The “compromise” word gave me pause however. I don't know anything in this field, can't imagine what those compromises might be, but I don't see either what could be cut from traditional play without too much harm.

I do have a note about usability. After the Holy Grail (internal world consistency, which is sacro-saint and should not be compromised ever) one of the most important thing are usability and design (not design in the sense of photorealistnextgenshaderthingie, that's not design at all, but in the true first meaning of the word. Usability, our physical interaction with the game does influence our emotional interaction with the game but shouldn't be sacrificed either.

To take a simple example from what you said, a longer mouse click to “push” on your action feels organic and logical, unless you start to run or you need to interrupt something happening in real time on the screen. Anything under the reflexes category should not impose a longer interaction. But, maybe the Crisis system would solve that, being turn based.
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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Blacky » October 4th, 2014, 3:15 am

To comment of what we seen so far of the animation, I remember saying to myself in the last video that I quite liked the running start-up and finishes. The way the characters have some momentum when they turn or slow down, the way they slow down, etc. It was very nice.

That's the kind of touch I much prefer over any graphical nextgen silliness…
Chez Blacky, jdr et autres
If things make sense in a real-world sense, I don’t think people give too much flak for it not being game-y enough, I think keeping the world sense together is the most important thing we can be doing.—Brian Fargo

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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Crosmando » October 4th, 2014, 3:31 am

DragonBerg wrote:
Larva wrote:I imagine that with TB encounters every interaction has a better chance of leaving its mark, specially in this particular setting that has so many weird things (all those possibilities!).

Because of that fact (and the fact that you also appear to appreciate innovative ideas) I was wondering if you guys are in favor of more lengthy / *fleshed* out animations and maybe even some expressiveness to complement the dialogues and give even more personality to the different types of creatures.

Also what type of gameplay indicators can we look forward to in the animation department?

Something like:
A character could act one way and speak another (as to deliberately confuse the players in the middle of a pressing matter) this way the animations could occasionally become as relevant as the text in a surreal type of deal that makes us perceptive of conflictive developments that require contraposition to figure things out.

Or maybe:
A creature among many of its kind with a small, very subtle difference… A mysterious visual cue (maybe something that appears once in a while, when you might be paying it attention) that indicates something about it that you can learn to correlate, to an opportunity or a warning depending on the occasion.

P.D.
It’s really nice that you are so open to feedback.
This is the kind of stuff that gets me thinking, ideas I may have never considered.

Animation during dialogue is something of an unknown right now actually. Not sure exactly what the final solution will be. I will keep you guys posted as that system evolves.
Do you know what Torment's solution for "action"-based skills will be? Like if your character is to climb or swim or jump across a ledge, do you cares actually plan to animate that stuff, or just do a fade to black (probably the better idea).
Matthias did nothing wrong!

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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Sabatasso » October 4th, 2014, 4:50 am

DragonBerg wrote:
Larva wrote:I imagine that with TB encounters every interaction has a better chance of leaving its mark, specially in this particular setting that has so many weird things (all those possibilities!).

Because of that fact (and the fact that you also appear to appreciate innovative ideas) I was wondering if you guys are in favor of more lengthy / *fleshed* out animations and maybe even some expressiveness to complement the dialogues and give even more personality to the different types of creatures.

Also what type of gameplay indicators can we look forward to in the animation department?

Something like:
A character could act one way and speak another (as to deliberately confuse the players in the middle of a pressing matter) this way the animations could occasionally become as relevant as the text in a surreal type of deal that makes us perceptive of conflictive developments that require contraposition to figure things out.

Or maybe:
A creature among many of its kind with a small, very subtle difference… A mysterious visual cue (maybe something that appears once in a while, when you might be paying it attention) that indicates something about it that you can learn to correlate, to an opportunity or a warning depending on the occasion.

P.D.
It’s really nice that you are so open to feedback.
This is the kind of stuff that gets me thinking, ideas I may have never considered.

Animation during dialogue is something of an unknown right now actually. Not sure exactly what the final solution will be. I will keep you guys posted as that system evolves.
This piece of discourse nearly blew my mind. It would be truly incredible if visual body language became a part of the dialogue. It would require a crafty camera position though, or some sort of "zoom" during dialogues which could put some extra strain (require unreasonably high resolution was probably what I meant) on background textures unless the background gets blurred or faded out to make the characters stand more out. If you know what I mean... English is obviously not my first language.

EDIT: It wouldn't even have to be extremely deep to have the desired effect. Other races body language doesn't have to be "understandable" by a Human or Tiefling although humanoid body language could be similar for simplicity's sake. Shrugs and slight hand gesticulation, raised eyebrows... I don't know if it would over-complicate things but it would certainly bring a totally new dimension to story and dialogue driven RPG's. It would most likely set a new and interesting standard regardless of how successfully it is implemented.
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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Larva » October 4th, 2014, 7:49 am

Sabatasso wrote: This piece of discourse nearly blew my mind. It would be truly incredible if visual body language became a part of the dialogue. It would require a crafty camera position though, or some sort of "zoom" during dialogues which could put some extra strain (require unreasonably high resolution was probably what I meant) on background textures unless the background gets blurred or faded out to make the characters stand more out. If you know what I mean... English is obviously not my first language.

EDIT: It wouldn't even have to be extremely deep to have the desired effect. Other races body language doesn't have to be "understandable" by a Human or Tiefling although humanoid body language could be similar for simplicity's sake. Shrugs and slight hand gesticulation, raised eyebrows... I don't know if it would over-complicate things but it would certainly bring a totally new dimension to story and dialogue driven RPG's. It would most likely set a new and interesting standard regardless of how successfully it is implemented.
If there had to be facial expressions such as raised eyebrows (that is both cool and a bit farfetched) I think it would be best to have them in the portrait section (like the doom/wolfenstein guys that react in certain situations) that way we would be able to appreciate everything that is going on. Speaking about what is goin on... if we could zoom in and out that would be both amazing for those who like to stare at every detail and also a great tool that could provide intensity/surprise to the scenes of the game. Oh wait, didn't we already saw it happen in that first glimpse? Yes a little bit in that maw offering part! I wonder how much could we zoom in and out.

Edit: Actually that is a really good question. Imagine seeing everything from a far away distance and then zooming in over your party. That would be a radical improvement that I definitely want to experience. Extrangely what excites me about this idea is that this is not a full 3d game where you can manipulate the angle of a camera freely. I think the reason I am attracted to the isometric perspective type of games is that they let us explore their world from that view, that comprehends more information while at the same time keeping it simple for us without making us deal with camera angles. I don't know why but I find that, that change of pace feels incredibly relaxing. TB should make it even more interesting.

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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by tuluse » October 4th, 2014, 3:44 pm

The root motion thing sounds cool and after it was pointed out, I noticed it in the Torment teaser video, and it looks very nice.

However, do you worry about annoying players by making movement take longer than it needs? Usually I just want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. Some minor slow downs won't be too bad, but if they're excessive *shakes fist*.

On an unrelated note, Planescape Torment had animated portraits, unfortunately they looked kind of terrible since they were made from low res 3D when compared to the painted portraits of BG and IWD. Does InXile have any plans for animated portraits? Man what a coincidence that InXile's two kickstarters are both successors to cRPGs with animated portraits.

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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by DragonBerg » October 6th, 2014, 8:47 am

Do you know what Torment's solution for "action"-based skills will be? Like if your character is to climb or swim or jump across a ledge, do you cares actually plan to animate that stuff, or just do a fade to black (probably the better idea).
This is still being determined, personally I like the idea of seeing the character perform the action.
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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by ksaun » October 6th, 2014, 9:25 am

To respond to a few of the comments here:
  • More involved and realistic conversation animations is a great idea, but it's out of scope for us. With the closest distance that we plan to get to the characters, the subtlety would be lost. (This is not unintentional -- part of how we are making TTON with our budget without compromising quality is by not doing things that we can't afford to do to a high quality. The closer we get to the characters, the more each one has to cost to look good and animate well.)

    Because of how central conversations are to TTON, doing more with them would be fantastic. But for this project, it's just too work-intensive. Perhaps for some later Torment game, something like what some of you have described would be possible. (Animating through the portraits is an interesting compromise, and one that we've discussed. But it, too, appears unlikely at this time.)
  • As Josh noted, we're still determining how we'll convey actions. But what we do know is that we are not constraining the narrative and conversations to actions that we can fully support with animations, visual effects, and sound effects. The designers/writers can describe anything they want in text. This is critical to us because we do not want the narrative to be constrained by our budget, with designers having to censure themselves because of the animations/VFX/SFX requirements. At least some actions will occur in text only.

    The scene in the video with the Maw "interacting" with Artaglio is an example of what it might look like when we decide to animate an event. In other cases, the scene might be described through prose.

    (And in addition to the cost factor of animating everything, there's also extra overhead due to communication between team members if a designer has to involve animators, visual effects artists, etc. in every idea. While of course we want as much communication across the team as possible, it slows down development if people can't charge ahead on their own for some things. This is especially relevant to TTON, with many of our designers not in the same office (or even continent).)

    Our plan is to, later in the project, consider all of the actions that crave animations and carefully prioritize them, animating the ones that provide the biggest bang-for-the-buck in terms of providing entertainment and supporting the game's narrative goals. Through this approach, we can scale our animation needs to fit our resources without any risk to critical work. (For example, we want navigation to feel GREAT, and the effort required to achieve that is somewhat unknown (as alluded to by tuluse's question). Josh can give it as much attention as it needs, knowing that we can scale some of the other animation work up or down as needed.)
  • Josh alludes to this, but I'd like to elaborate a little: while it's true that root motion isn't a bleeding-edge approach to animating, you will be hard pressed to find games that combine root motion with click-to-move controls. Root motion challenges are fairly well understood for games where the player is steering the character (e.g., using a console controller), but it is largely unexplored territory for a game with TTON's camera and controls. It is a significant undertaking for both Josh and the programming team, but one that we are hoping is realistic to solve. (It is not a certainty that we will succeed with it for TTON, however, though currently it is our intent to do so.)

    As Josh noted in his original post, he is passionate about this approach and the video gives just a taste of how it can benefit TTON. I have been impressed with Josh's commitment and am motivated to see his vision realized if at all possible. I believe that aspects like this approach to animation, through its aesthetic quality and consistency with the rest of the game, combined with the passion of its creator (much as Colin is passionate about the story, for example), help raise a game from "very good" to "transcendent."
  • As you noted, Blacky, our turn-based combat eliminates real-time/reflex considerations for TTON (exploration also does not rely on any reflex-based gameplay). Still, we do want characters to feel responsive and fluid and we agree with the importance of usability (per tuluse's comment also).
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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Blacky » October 7th, 2014, 4:34 am

That's not a given. Wasteland 2 has turn-based combat, still has several real time actions here and there.
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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by Larva » October 7th, 2014, 7:30 am

ksaun wrote:
  • Because of how central conversations are to TTON, doing more with them would be fantastic. But for this project, it's just too work-intensive. Perhaps for some later Torment game, something like what some of you have described would be possible. (Animating through the portraits is an interesting compromise, and one that we've discussed. But it, too, appears unlikely at this time.)
ksaun
¨

I like that word... compromise. In the case of non animated portraits we may even ask for the option of importing one for our own character. An option as simple as that, truly means A LOT to some people. Just saying.

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Re: Official Torment Animation Discussion

Post by -Archangel- » October 9th, 2014, 2:41 am

Can we expect cool spell animations like we had in PST?

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