21 January 2011

Adding Weight to Your Game Design Part 8: Secondary Action - by Michael Jungbluth

      Posted 01/20/11 11:01:00 am   Part One - Squash and Stretch : Part Two - Anticipation : Part 3 - Staging

Part Four - Straight Ahead & Pose to Pose : Part 5 - Follow Through & Overlapping Action

Part 6 - Slow In, Slow Out : Part 7 - Arcs


Weight is a physical and emotional sensation that people feel everyday.  And conveying that in a visual way can be incredibly challenging.  But it is something animators do all the time, and the principles they use can be applied to game design. 

In fact, it needs to be, as many of these principles are sacrificed by the animator for the good of playability.  Thankfully, since both animators and designers have to juggle multiple disciplines to bring their creations to life, they speak much of the same language.  They just use a slightly different alphabet.   

Each part will lay out the 12 principles of animation, and how they are not only used in animation but how they directly relate to game design.  Both animators and designers will realize quickly that many of these are unspoken truths, but the benefit comes in knowing that they can now speak to each other on a deeper level.  A level that takes animation and design past being purely functional, but now fully functioning towards creating an honest experience. 

It is how both can add an extra sense of weight and purpose to the game and the characters within it.  Many of these fundamentals are inter-connected, and it is through a combination of all of these working together that you will have characters that move with weight and emote with weight.  And that is what will stick with players.

 “It is important for the animator to be able to study sensation and to feel the force behind sensation, in order to project that sensation.” – Walt Disney

Secondary Action 

Applied to Animation

Secondary action in animation is everything from hair, to capes, to tails, to flags.  It is the parts that aren’t necessary to the core action, but add extra visual flare.  When you look at a person, the root of the body is the main action, and everything else is secondary.  It is ambient, but reliant on whatever it is tethered to.  It is the icing.  It is also a great way to see where the weight of something has just come from or where it will be going as secondary actions are often very light and almost weightless.  In fact, a lot of secondary action is shown by using follow through and overlapping action. 

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