Thinking: Animated characters interacting with other animated characters.

This is something that have bugged me for long, but that I didn’t start to seriously think about until now. It’s animations. Or, rather, how they seem to not care about what’s around them.

The problem I’m having with them is that animations might look great on one character, but it looks like crap interacting with other animated character. The best example is MMO PvP between close combat players. Two persons wave their swords at one another, and seem not generally taken by that. Suddently one of them falls down in his/her usual way and die. What? So that sword-waving didn’t bother the one who later died? Why did this swing kill it? As a spectator, you get confused. Why doesn’t the animations play so that they dodge, parry or miss most swings, and hit at 60% hp and 30% hp, on which the hit one starts to act more hurt until the killing move which throws it backwards with some ragdoll-stuff?

I could generalize to weapon-based close-combat in general. Not even a game like Soul Calibur lets a hit feel powerful. Yes, a meter goes down, but so what? I can’t see anything on my character! A sword is meant to kill on a hit, meaning it should be top-priority to not get hit!

Anyway, enough with the whining. One game that seems to be doing this really good is Medieval 2: Total war (or that’s the impression I’ve got). They really seem to fight each other and then kill, even if it’s still just the same attack-status that’s active. I think Dawn of War got that fairly right, as well, with their death-animations. I’m not sure these are actually valid examples, as I haven’t played more then the demo of them, but they’re good examples in any way. It’s really odd they’re both RTSes, by the way, because the fighting isn’t the core deal in these games, anyway. Another RTS-example is zerglings attacking buildings, which starts to burn and finally explode.

So, my core point is: Let us be able to see how a fight progresses without having us know how much the health-bar is at, and let it feel believable!

One Response to Thinking: Animated characters interacting with other animated characters.

  1. Johannes Smidelöv says:

    Looking back at this a year later, I see a few things: One, it’s fairly badly written. “my core point”? It sort of works in Swedish, but that’s not at all what it’s called in English. Two, this looks like an art-issue more then a game-design issue, at least on the surface. But I guess the reason characters don’t block, parry and dodge more is that some systems uses this as a mechanic, and if the characters would dodge at times when it’s not a dodge, it’s confusing. And it wouldn’t be any good to ramp up that percentage either.

    But my opinion still stands – characters carelessly beating each other up without bothering until suddenly falling down looks weird and kills a lot of immersion.

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