11 December 2009

Refinement: how to run

So I've been chatting to a friend of mine (relax, I have only one, nobody else to take my non-at-work time away from this project, I promise. Besides he's probably imaginary) about the animation doohickey I seem to have a trend of referring back to the very last post in these introductiony sort of pieces. Poor style and all that.

A quick note regarding the tag-based system of objects. It may seem a little awkward initially but is made simpler when you think of tags as folders. So a number of tags all used together to refer to an object is like having a folder within a folder, etc. All objects or assets are going to have predefined tags (I'll tag them) so this isn't a system whereby the user has to or even can change the tags (I will be adding a sort of "favourite" system so you can have quicker access to certain assets, but this only allows one to add tags, not change or remove others).

Going on with the topic at hand... the animation editor is still in the infancy of concept and, as such, has lots that needs to be improved upon. For starters I haven't mentioned anything about keyboard access. This is not to say it won't be in there. I live by the keyboard. I just didn't mention it because it's pretty boring to talk about how awesome the ctrl-alt-i shortcut is at importing an animation segment (even though we all know that's the most amazing shortcut ever). Keyboard shortcuts are paramount to a good workflow, and I'll be making sure I put in some good ones (I might even be nice and put in some Mac-based ones just for you weirdy "too cool for PC" guys*)

The top-level controllers of each animation (these ones: ) won't be enforced. The animation editor is quite modular and will allow for more permanent tampering but this is quite a central aspect of the gameplay in Sideline. So it'll be part of the editor for me and for people who mod the game (while retaining that part of the play style). But you can turn these controllers on and off per animation.

The animation system is also not the "everything" animator. I will be using Flash itself to do more basic frame-based animation. The editor is timeline based and also only really for programatic, dynamic animation. As in, stuff that may need to change on the fly. It's animation that is adjusted or moved around by code, whereas frame-based stuff is unchanging - think cell-based animation used by movie artists. You can have these animations change as needed - you just have to animate a whole new thing to do it.

The problem with dynamic animation is that it's more CPU intensive, something that I really don't want too much of as Flash is already a system hog. The more I throw at it (and it doesn't take much), the fewer people can actually run the game. And hell, I'd like people to actually play this, not watch a slideshow.

So the simpler animations will be done via Flash. It will render and calculate these sorts of things much faster that way which means I can toss a few more other things (particle, gore engine, better AI, what have you) into the game.

*I use a Mac at work but I am not a fanboy**. Every system has it's failings and as fancy as OSX looks, it's got its own problems. But is pretty cool, too, so please don't start a flamewar, there have been to many already.

**A balanced meal is essential, and although there are a few who can survive on fruit alone, you should eat your veggies. As much as I enjoy using any computer I often prefer mine to be kept personal.

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