Trash of the Day: Thursday - Moving the Trash

Marcell here with another trashy log, this time about animation.

Our goal was to have animations that reflect the cute and chaotic style of our gameplay. From the development of the prototype, through the first and then the final versions, they went through several iterations, adding and removing some of them, as the abilities of the raccoons changed, and then I made a major animation overhaul before the release in February, to exaggerate all of them.

For the prototype, we had downloaded a temporary low-poly raccoon, which i then animated for a basic walkcycle, bite, stunned and dash abilities. These were rather realistic, preliminary and unpolished tries at making the raccoons move, trying to find the style we’re actually looking for.

As a note here, it is important to mention, that this was my first time having to animate quadrupeds as me main task, so the earliest animations were literally my first tries at animating raccoons.

Soon after, we started working on our own assets and one of them was the new raccoon. We settled on a more cutesy, chonker style, with floating legs. I was then responsible for rigging the creatures, where i tried and tried for a week, and then had an animation ready, usable result, and thus our own raccoons were ready to become precious trash.

The implementation of the animations went pretty easy, as Jan did the coding part, giving me variables to use, which i later learned to create myself, so that he only has to define and connect them to work. I set up the Animation Blueprint animation states in unreal, with Basic GroundLocomotion, Item GroundLocomotion, specific abilities and many overrides, like the raccoon being bonked, that had to be able to be played any moment, over any other animation.

For the human (described later), the implementation was similar, with the biggest difference being Kerstin the programmer to work with, creating the variables and abp-s, etc.

Anyways, back to the raccoons

At the start, the raccoons were still able to dash, which was an animation where they rolled forward. They also had a stun animation, where they sit down, panting, looking a little sad. This animation later changed into an idle animation at the character selection screen. Another animation, which is very very rare, so if you see it, you’re very lucky, is the raccoon-washing animation. Back when we didn’t have our chaotic, always moving clouds, we had washing areas on the map, where you could bring your items and wash them. This of course needed it’s own, long animation. When the ability was retired, I moved the animation from the ingame animation blueprint (ABP) to the selection screen ABP. Now it has around 0.5% chance to play amid all other idle animations.

The last update to the raccoon was after lot of feedback that the legs are not visible and parts of the animation go lost because of that. This coincided with the time for a general overhaul of the animations, to exaggerate them even more, so I quickly edited the model, the rig and then ALL the animations with the feet now pointing outwards all the time and are a little more pushed out from the body.

The Raccoons needed an enemy though! The humans of the house of course. The humans got a chill personality when unaware of the raccoon, flailing their arms around, walking comically, making large movements when doing stuff. When they see the raccoons and become aggressive, their movements become more rigid and goal oriented, to BONK the raccoon out of the house and retrieve the trash stolen.

I am especially proud of the bonk, in which the human takes a plastic flexi-hammer and bonks the raccoon. I rigged the hammer too to exaggerate the animation and fun effect even more. This was super tedious to time in Unreal though, as Kerstin told me about the possibilities of it having to be faster or slower, interrupted and completed. Keeping all this in mind, it was a challenge to create an all-round working animation that would work in every situation, but we got there.

Many animations then got even better with VFX added to them by Jeannette, like the little lines at the mouth of the raccoons when they bark, the little dust particles when they run fast, the red lighting that coarses through the ground when the humans use their hammer.

My last task was to create environment jittering, which plays whenever the raccoons run against or slap house furniture and foliage. These were simply controlled by 4 or 5 curves that make for different rotation jittering, played at random.

Generally I’m overwhelmingly happy with the result. Play the game, try the things out, laugh at my animations :D

Good Luck and Have Fun!


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