Since the devblog's creation, many aspects of the progress of Wakfu have been addressed. Music, development, game design... But for the first time, we'll talk here of animation. Animation is that exciting job that consists in giving life to the game's monsters and characters. And yes, it is a job, and not the easiest there is, either! We'll see here together what it means to be an animator on Wakfu. We animate with the Flash software. We build a sort of "kit" for each character containing different views and all the elements that comprise it (arms, head, feet, legs, etc). We then get a puppet that we can modify, transform, decline, to give it all the poses we wish. [center] [/center]Once the puppet is done, we can move it around. For this, we proceed by "key frames", which is to say that we create the main poses through which the character must pass to make its movement. [center] [/center]At this stage, it's already possible to test the animation and to check the timing and accuracy. On the other hand, it's still a bit jerky. We must then create the intervals, the intermediary pictures that occur between the keyframes. In most cases, Flash allows us to make those easily through the use of interpolation. But this is a somewhat capricious process, and it isn't uncommon to have to do the "inters" by hand. Once the inters are made, the animation is much smoother. Next, all we have to do is the animation for all the different viewpoints. One view is far from adequate! A monster only moves diagonally, so four views are sufficient (see the Gobball above), but it must be able to do its animation in all four directions too. Luckily, both front views are symmetrical, so we only have to do the animation once and flip it around to obtain both front views. Same for the back view. So for a monster, we only have to create two animations (one for the back views, one for the front) for it to work in all cases taken into account by the game. For a player character, it's a little more complicated. A player can move in eight directions! [center] [/center]And here, we can't cheat, since these characters can have asymmetric elements (shield, shoulder pads, armbands, etc) it's impossible to simply flip an animation, it will have to be made eight times for anything to do with movement (walking, running, jumping...) and four times for anything to do with attacks, "emotes" and other animations, those being diagonals only. That's it for the technical aspect of Wakfu animation. But animating isn't just moving a character about, those movements must also be credible and in accordance with the creature's look. Wakfu monsters aren't real, it's our task to imagine how they'd move if they were. Quite often, we can simply find inspiration in existing animals. The Tofu, for instance, is a sort of hybrid between a chicken and a sparrow, its movements will therefore be at once quick and clumsy depending on the action it has to do. When a monster doesn't have an equal in the real world, we must call upon our imagination and this is where the job becomes the most creative. It's up to us to imagine a walk, an overall appearance that will express the personality of the monster. A Crackler, for example, will have a heavy and slow gait where its head will shake with each step, to make the impact and the weight noticeable.The coolest part of our job is when the time comes to imagine the attacks of monsters! As at that point, almost anything goes. We can imagine the most fantastic movements, using the physical characteristics of the monsters to the greatest degree, and there is room for imagination there! For a Whirligig, we'll use its wing as if it were a blade, a Crackler will use its head as a projectile, which will regrow afterwards... Wakfu creatures show such morphological originality that we rarely have to think for long before coming up with an attack animation. So this is what the job of an animator is like on a project as brilliant as Wakfu! Of course, as for everything else, there is a dark side... For us, it's the technical restrictions imposed on us by the engine and our lovely devs... but shush, that's a subject that will certainly be the object of another article... TikoNote to Fibojo: Thanks for your help with the translation.
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