Do you Have any tips for cre­at­ing game-friendly rigs?

Geral­dine Atkins, Durham

3D World - - ARTIST Q & A - Antony Ward replies

Through­out my ca­reer, which now spans over two decades, I’ve cre­ated a wide va­ri­ety of rigs. These have in­cluded more high-end sys­tems for TV shows like Ab­ney & Teal, Floogals and

Wolf­blood but in con­trast I have also built a whole host of lower-end rigs for a va­ri­ety of games.

You would think that one rig sys­tem can fit ev­ery­thing, but you’d be sur­prised by how dif­fer­ently you need to ap­proach each project. The sys­tems you choose de­pend en­tirely on the char­ac­ter and how the client wishes them to move and emote. On top of this, they may also need a spe­cific an­i­ma­tion style, or a pre­ferred set of an­i­ma­tion tools in­cluded. So even though the base sys­tems could in the­ory be the same, how these are ul­ti­mately con­trolled and ma­nip­u­lated is de­cided by the client and the an­i­ma­tors.

When cre­at­ing a rig for film or TV you’re free from any re­stric­tions that would crop up in game de­vel­op­ment like joint counts, ver­tex weight in­flu­ence and skele­tal struc­ture. This means you can be creative and use all the tools at your dis­posal to give the client the ex­act move­ment re­quired. Want to use a lat­tice de­former to squash an el­e­ment of the model? No prob­lem. Need the base skele­ton di­vided into sep­a­rate el­e­ments? Sure, that’s fine.

If you’re mov­ing from the VFX world into the real-time one you may feel like your hands are tied, and you have much more to be aware of. These rigs must fit in a cer­tain

box and be con­fig­ured a spe­cific way, plus you need to main­tain the abil­ity to bake the an­i­ma­tion onto the joints and re­move the rig so that it’s ready to be ex­ported and passed to a game en­gine.

There’s lots of fac­tors to con­sider when it comes to game rigs and tak­ing the wrong di­rec­tion from the start could mean a com­plete re­build. To help you avoid this, here I will high­light a few key ar­eas to think about be­fore you start any game de­vel­op­ment rig.

build­ing rigs for games can be a mine­field of re­stric­tions and rules, but start­ing with the right in­for­ma­tion can save headaches fur­ther down the line

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