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An Observation on Character Animations

posted by ReverendTed on - last edited - Viewed by 486 users

Today I was going back watching some of the Episode trailers (really awesome work on those - just plain fun to watch), when I came upon the "phone" trailer for Episode 1, announcing the duo's return.
What really struck me was the quality and variety of animation - it felt more "pre-rendered" than the in-engine cutscenes we get with each episode (which makes sense, considering that it was). The interaction as Sam is on the phone and Max is frantically grasping for it just looked really neat.
Now, I know that there are a handful of custom animations in each episode - Max's death scene, "playing cards" together, the War Room introduction, but a lot of the gameplay just feels like three characters (Sam, Max, and Someone Else) standing around using recycled and fairly generic speech animations.

Again, I have to qualify that statement - I know that the writing, the sardonic humor, the incisive wit is the raison d’etre of Sam and Max, and so far I've been more and more impressed with it as the season has progressed.
I also know that there are significant limitations imposed by a development cycle as ambitious as this one. Every line can't be synched up to a customized facial and gesture animation, and I understand that. (And every puzzle can't be a brain-twister.)

It's just something that stands out to me as I play.

I've certainly enjoyed the last four episodes, and I feel like I've gotten my money's worth (I purchased a season pass) from this season already.
I love the artwork, the music's terrific, and the writing has been pretty close to excellent. But the simplicity of some of the puzzles, the quality of some of the sound samples, and the repetitive nature of the speech animations are, in my opinion, low points in an otherwise stellar offering.

Thoughts?

13 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Some of the animations are a little repetitive yeah, but considering we are getting a new episode every month it's to be expected. By the time we hit season 2 I'm sure they will have a nice little arsenal of character animations.

  • I'm glad that the animation was done in game engine instead of an artifact riddled prerender video. You can see more detail on the walls and such. I'm impressed by everything in this game, especially the high resolution models.

  • @Hero1 said: Some of the animations are a little repetitive yeah, but considering we are getting a new episode every month it's to be expected. By the time we hit season 2 I'm sure they will have a nice little arsenal of character animations.

    I agree, even as the Season goes along, I think they are adding new character animations; for example, I don't think the animations of Max picking his teeth, eating lint from his bellybutton, and coughing/swallowing phlegm were in the first episode. (I might be wrong though...)

  • @numble said: I agree, even as the Season goes along, I think they are adding new character animations; for example, I don't think the animations of Max picking his teeth, eating lint from his bellybutton, and coughing/swallowing phlegm were in the first episode. (I might be wrong though...)

    Those animations were in there in EP1. Along with the armpit-fart thingy. Heh.

  • @VoodooKing said: Those animations were in there in EP1. Along with the armpit-fart thingy. Heh.

    Bah, I guess I wasn't paying attention. I thought there was only the armpit fart, random menacing, and picking his butt. I guess the twiddling his arms in the air was also there.

  • @numble said: Bah, I guess I wasn't paying attention. I thought there was only the armpit fart, random menacing, and picking his butt. I guess the twiddling his arms in the air was also there.

    Yeah I liked those so much that I left the game running as a screensaver on my office laptop.

  • I've noticed that since Episode 3 Max uses to have "unsymmetrical" expressions... I really love his mouth that way!

  • I too noticed subtle facial expressions. Both Sam and Max can frown and the mouths don't just open and close, but seem to have some more muscle movement there.
    I like it, I like it very much!

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