It’s not easy to find animators who have the skills to make outstanding animations and the time to contribute to the project. Crazy, right? Believe it or not, animators are an extremely rare breed of game developers, and the animation department has been one of the few nasty bottlenecks in our project for a long time.
Back in the Gamebryo days, the plan was to find animators who could use 3D modeling software like Blender or Maya due to engine restrictions. But when we moved on to Unity, those restrictions were lifted, and we realized that we could definitely use little more activity into the animator team.
For a small while, we tried porting the animations created with Source FilmMaker over to Unity, since the SFM community was going strong and the animator quality was top-notch. Sadly, the animations didn’t translate as well as we hoped, so we reluctantly scrapped the idea. Back to “professional” Maya and Blender animators we went.
The animation team was empty for a long time, filled with inactive members and few consistent workers. Months passed with only six animations sent to testing, four of which wound up needing further work. The situation needed to change. The SFM community was still tempting us with the quality animations. We decided to give the conversion process another try.
It took us a few days, a couple dozen of different export settings, and several skeleton modifications. Not to mention putting the animations through two different modeling softwares. But it was worth it. in the end, the SFM animations showed up correctly in Unity. Or, almost correctly. Some animations looked fine in SFM, but still required some refining before moving to Unity. And some special transition animations were needed so our ponies wouldn’t sink into the floor while sneaking, or walk in the ceiling after a few jumps.
All things considered, the process took way more effort than we expected, but at long last, it all works. We can fully use SFM animations in our game. We can even transfer animations made on Source ponies to our models! Finally, we can bring on board some of the talent we’ve been craving for so long. Some of the animators might even seem familiar to you!
Also jigglebones! Yay for jigglebones!
Keep in mind that everything is subject to change, and some of the animations are likely to be refined in the near future. Now that the animation pipeline is clean and clear, there will be a lot more where that came from!
The Overmare Studios is looking for new recruits to the animation team! If you know how to handle SFM or the animation tools in any 3D modeling software, want to see your work used in a huge pony themed game, and don’t know what to do with all that free time of yours, then keep reading!
If you're an SFM animator, you need to know how to make smooth, fluent and natural skeletal animations. Flex animations cannot be used, sorry! You will be working within given instructions on given models, and you must know how to export the resulting animations as a DMX.
If you're an animator who uses Maya, Blender or any other similar program, you need to know how to create an IK rig (already made for Maya and Blender users). You need to know how to create natural looking skeletal animations based on given instructions and using given models, and how to export them as an FBX.
All animations must operate smoothly in a game environment, starting, stopping, and switching between frames cleanly and without hiccup. And remember, this is a team environment! All animations, SFM, Blender, Maya, otherwise, must match the current animation style.
If you read all of that and still think this’ll be a fun thing to do in your hours worth of free time, then we’d love to have you on the team!