For every gameplay feature that makes it in, ten were cut so that it could survive. In the epic battle (or collaboration, depending on your team/company) between Designers, Programmers, and Animators to see these features get shipped, some core fundamentals often fall by the wayside. In games animation, it is very common to approach quality of movement in the wrong order; starting from the ground up.
Foot planting, phase matching, complicated IK solutions, procedural layering; they all have their place but we often sacrifice much to keep them working. In film, animators long ago realized that audiences observe characters in a very specific priority order. We start at the eyes, then the head, then the silhouette. Animators work very hard to give the upper body a sense of weight, obey the laws of force, and move in appealing arcs.
When it comes to in-game locomotion, we rarely get to see the eyes clearly as we’re mostly behind our character, so the next stop down the chain of importance is the head. Unfortunately, when we place such a high focus on maintaining solid foot-planting, we create a fulcrum point at the ground and our characters often pivot in extreme ways to compensate. This is especially noticeable in bigger direction changes and when aligning characters to interact with each other (melee, high fives, piggyback rides, etc.).
The competition for jobs in the gaming industry is getting increasingly fierce (many companies receiving 100′s of applicants for a single position), yet many applicants consistently make the same mistakes which hurt their chances of landing the gig. I’m going to cover some of the more common mistakes I come across, as well as provide some insight into what I (and most others) look for when reviewing an applicant.
There’s no shortage of cover letter, resume, and interview “help” articles and services out there, but anything that really covers it from start to finish with information that is specific to games (and more specifically, game animation) is scarce. Much of the advice offered for cover letters and CV’s is geared towards a corporate position and the demo reel direction is often targeted at a job in film or TV, which could put animators at a disadvantage.
I’ll run through this in chronological order from a hiring perspective: cover letter, resume, demo reel, interview. So, let’s get started! Read more