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Advanced Animation in Games

Advanced Animation in Games

Hello! I’m PineappleDoge, and I’m an animator! Animation is the gateway between the player and a game-world, allowing them to feel emotionally involved. For many new developers, adding animations can often come in these forms:

  • Custom enemy animations (walk, idle, attack, all that jazz)
  • Animations for custom player moves (insert any skill moves here/flashy move)
  • Actions that can’t be fully explained without it (lifting up a box, throwing an object)

These animations are essential, but are only scratching the surface of what animation can do on the Roblox platform. I’ve learned that animation is a big factor in a game’s sense of immersion. While certain games don’t need to be immersive to be great, players love to feel involved in the games that they play and the world that you build. To see how animation boosts immersion, we’ll look at the genre of MMORPGs in Roblox, which offers many opportunities for players to feel engaged.

Tip 1: Keep Animations Informative and Snappy

No one likes waiting. One of the worst feelings in a game is encountering delays. You might not know if it’s you, or the game not responding. A simple way to combat this issue is by letting the player know that their input, whether it’s a sword swing or a button click, was received. Even if it’s something small like a color change or a slight shake, these small animations add up to help make your game feel more responsive.

While adding many effects and details can be fun, keep in mind the initial goal of your animation and how it improves your game. If it’s meant to be a quick sword slash, don’t have excessive windup before actually swinging. If it doesn’t work for what it’s intended for, it needs to be revised.

Tip 2: Don’t Limit Yourself to 3D Character Animation

When you’re animating for a game, it’s obvious to think of animating the player, NPCs, and mobs, but I see so many developers overlook an underexplored animation medium on Roblox: the art of animating the User Interface (UI). Having interesting and responsive UI animation can really make a game “pop!”

In addition to providing information in a clear and concise way, it can also make the simple act of traversing through menus feel like a blast! Even doing something as simple as playing an effect tween when you hover over a button or having a loading bar in loading screens can go a long way.

In the example above, notice how extra effects make a menu feel more interesting. Small animations like these make the game feel more responsive to players and eliminate moments of “Is it me, or is the game just not responding?”

Having animated effects can be especially useful in games where the player has downtime before being able to experience the game (such as load screens). In the example below, a little bobble to the text label adds a bit of livelihood to this screen.

This little animation gets the job done by giving the player visual information about the progress, but it could be improved. We could add more flashy colors or a gradient to give it more flair, or we could use some advanced UI techniques, such as 2D sprite sheets!

One great resource on advanced techniques and tweening UI is Introduction to 2D Animation by Roblox developer Kenami. I highly recommend giving it a read!

Tip 3: Let Animations Tell the Player About Your Game Mechanics

Does your game have a stamina system? Perhaps it has weight types that separate heavy and light weapons? Or maybe it has elemental strengths and weaknesses? If your game has any of the above, why not take advantage of these weapons by giving each weapon type a different “animation kit” to differentiate each weapon? If you’re going to have a big heavy blade on the player, let your players know it’s going to deal a LOT of damage by giving it a powerful animation!

Credit to @PineappleDoggo1 (Twitter/Roblox)
Credit to @Reds (Twitter/Roblox)

For example, say you have a system or status effects that are less notable, but still play a big role in the game (such as running out of stamina or being set on-fire). While having a UI pop up to let the player know “Your stamina is depleted, wait a bit for it to regenerate” can get the message across, it risks taking away a game’s immersion. Instead, have the avatar play a tired or panting animation when they run out of stamina, or have the avatar move erratically if it’s caught fire. This will help get the message across without pulling the player out of their immersion in the game.

Tip 4: Use Animation to Turn Good Actions Into Great Actions

If you’re making an MMORPG, chances are that the core of your game follows this general format:

  • Player fights and kills monsters/other players.
  • Player gets rewards such as money and experience.
  • Player uses those rewards to get better stats and kill more monsters.

If your game is mainly PVE or PVP focused, sell the impact of your player’s attacks with animations in a way that reflects the weight of that player’s weapon. Additionally, a good attack animation can be made so much better with good sounds, effects, and a good recoil animation for the enemy.

This doesn’t just have to apply to just combat animations though. Does your game have a double jump? Why not add a separate animation to show the difference between your normal and double jump? Taking extra time to refine certain aspects of your game with great animation makes a game feel more polished and engaging to players.

Conclusion

Ultimately, I believe there’s a lot of untapped potential on the Roblox platform when it comes to animation and improving the player experience. There are so many things you can do to boost immersion by using animation I didn’t even touch in this article, but I think this is a good start for anyone looking to upgrade their game’s animation.

Big thanks to @Reds on Twitter, @CupFei on Twitter, @Miratsui, and @RobloxJed for giving me valuable insight, and I hope this article showed you some neat implementations of animations in your game. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!