Do you Have any tips for creating game-friendly rigs?
Geraldine Atkins, Durham
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