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Post KS Update 12: Anatomy of Animation, Map Efficiency & More

Welcome all you wonderful backers to another action-packed episode of Arcadian Atlas! This time around we've got tons of details from all across the game development spectrum. Whether it be animation, portraits, map-tunage, music, or behind-the-scenes on programming - you're in the right place!

So dive on in. The waters are warm and cozy!

Anatomy of Animation

Artistically, animation is the most pain-staking process of game development. It's a multilayered art, both literally and figuratively, and we wanted to give you a peak behind that process in more depth as we finalize the animations for our core classes.

Example Animation Sheet

Each core class has a list of essential battle animations, arranged in a sheet, that are consistent across classes. What's not consistent across classes? Attacks & Skills.

Keyframe Process

So when making new animations, we start with real-world examples and build keyframes from them. In the case of the above Apothecary Bottle Throw animation, I used myself as a base and built from it.
Skeletoning an Animation

New animations typically work in stages:

  • Raw Footage - a video or gif of real-world people performing the action to be animated.
  • Skeleton - the basic shapes of an animation, typically very rough. This is used to ensure the flow of the animation looks correct before detail is added.
  • Naked Base - the naked form all classes can use before hair, clothes, and other details are added.
  • Clothed - usually the final stage where all class-specific content is added to the naked base and added to that core classes' sprite sheet.

From Naked Base to Clothed

So in essence, any new animation we create is actually 3 animations, and from start to finish with the Apothecary Bottle Throw it looks like the example below:

Apothecary Bottle Throw Process

And that's just the specialized animations! We've got a whole slew of basic movements and actions to tackle.

Back to Basics

Ah, the essentials of a fight. We've got our Idling, Walking, Injured, Charging, Jumping, Flying, Landing, Death animations, and the list goes on! And remember, that's for front views, back views, male, and female troops. 48+ unique frames per class, 2 genders, 4 classes - that's 384+ unique frames just for basic animations!

Cavalier & Ranger Walk Cycles

Over the last few months we've been steadily chipping away at them, and we're happy to say we've not only finalized the designs for our male/female Apothecary and male/female Warmancer - but we've even knocked out all of their core animations! Yep, all 384+ of them!

Apothecary & Warmancer Walk Cycles

And now we move on to the specialized attacks for each class, one of which Becca's been hard at work on below:

Hammer SMASH!

Serving Fierce Face

Let's face it (see what I did there?): little Apothecary and Warmancer sprites are super cute, but sometimes we need to look a person square in the high-detailed eye and give them a good talkin' to.

Portrait Process

So Becca and I have been hard at work on portraits to go with our sprites. Because there's nothing sadder than walking into a tavern and the tavern-master won't even look you in the face. That's enough reason to brawl right then and there!

Cavalier Portrait Process

Improvements Abound with Odin

And as pretty as these lil' dudes are walking, slapping, and smashing about - a video game has to be as efficient as possible. Patrick recently upgraded our Unity build with Odin Inspector, a powerful tool that's allowed him to streamline how maps, cutscenes, and menus save data and juggle database information.

We've gone from complicated and rather ugly excel files for items to completely in-engine databases with images and separate, easy-to-read and alter fields like this:

Database Improvements with Odin

But it's not just for databases! Odin has far-reaching implications for space saving, with the potential to reduce both disk and RAM space requirements by upwards of 90%! That's huge for download size and run speed! In fact, we're already applying it to how maps are constructed and saved:

Odin's Vast Improvements to Map Building & File Size

So while we absolutely adore the animations and art side of Arcadian Atlas, this is easily what is making us most happy!

Oh, but we forgot that we're even improving how animations are handled in the background ; ). Blend Trees will allow us to better organize all of our isometric animations within Unity so that we can finish hooking it up to our unique characters and classes faster! Possibly 75% faster! NUMBERS! BIG NUMBERS EVERYWHERE!

Blend Trees to Reduce Animation Work

Tavern Tunes

But wait, there's more! We wanted to serenade you out with the latest tune Moritz is working up for our tavern patrons. Because if there's one thing you want while getting a bit tipsy (or enjoying a nice virgin piƱa colada perhaps?) it's some jazzy tunes:

Oh, and why not grab a contract to smash some more things while you're at it?

Speeding Into Summer

That's it for now, but keep your eyes peeled on our twitter page for glimpses of what's coming up in the Arcadian Atlas pipeline as we get closer to beta!

Arcadian Atlas Twitter

And we'll see all you crazy kids next time with juicy details of skills, fighting' poses, menus, and all the clockwork that makes this beauty tick!

Scenario Editor and Items Galore!

Welcome again to another excitement filled look at the development of Arcadian Atlas!

This time we've got some updates on our Scenario Editor for Arcadian Atlas, the backbone of our transition from the world and cutscenes to battles, along with a heaping helping of items we've got in the works. So without further ado.....

Scenario Editor

Think of the Scenario Editor as the system that glues all the other systems together to make a battle - items, skills, random enemy stats, not-so-random enemy stats, player stats, and even allies (characters who pop in, but aren't technically on either side permanently).

Player Placement with the Scenario Editor
Squad placement? Yep, that too is handled by the scenario editor, as you can see above. Each battle, even random fights, are handled by the scenario editor, and each map is built to take advantage of various Enemy/Player deployment points to vary your strategies.

Enemy and Ally Placement with the Scenario Editor
Once deployed, this battle would look something like:

But Wait, There's More

You probably were noticing a lot of other options on the right half of the Unity screen above. That's because the Scenario Editor handles a LOT of information. Not least of which are things like:

  • Player, Enemy, Ally placement locations, names, starting status effects, and AI guidelines.
  • Random Enemy Generators, complete with options for random class, stats, skills, and items based on character level.
  • Story Beats - are there story moments in a battle? Before a battle? Yep, all handled here.
  • Field Effects - is it stormy, clear, particularly dark and spooky out? Look no further!
  • Rewards - ah, sweet sweet loot. We can tweak rewards from this section for each encounter, so you make that hard-earned cash!
  • Battle Conditions - how do you win or lose a fight? Defeat all enemies, just one big bad, or take out a group of dangerous mages? You can have multiple options for each!
A myriad of options handled by the Scenario Editor

Constructing the Castle: Items

Because the Scenario Editor is such a huge undertaking, we're focusing on it in sections. Next up is getting our items fully functional so they properly feed into the stats for the character generator, which of course means Becca's been hard at work on some gorgeous item icons for us:

And looks like someone already found something on their first outing into battle:

Item Design Backers: Start Your Engines!

You know what that means, right!? All our super-backers who came in at the Boot, Helmet, and Accessory Design level get to start the design process for some extremely rare and unique items! Over the next two weeks they'll be receiving messages from us to start the design process, and we couldn't be more thrilled to see your creativity in the game!

So to send us all out with some extra creative juice, here are some sample items we've got planned for the game:

And until next time, keep it classy all you gamers! Keep it classy!