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News & Features Discussion  » General: Dana Massey: Why Not Well Animated MMOs?

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130 posts found
  Teiman

Novice Member

Joined: 2/29/08
Posts: 1328

5/15/09 7:19:07 AM#41

[quote]

I mean, seriously. Imagine if the outcry if graphical standards hadn’t been raised!

[/quote]

No one will notice.

 

Part of the problem of old games, is that as soon you have played a type of game with best graphics, you are spoiled.

I have played Quake1 for six years, with not problem, but after a few months playing something else, it hurts to look back at Quake1.

The thing is that "graphical standards" don't need to "raise". THAT IDEA IS WRONG.

And.. what is a enhancement?

Look to this version of Turret Defense.

www.vectortd.com

You could probabbly have graphics like this on a Atari 2600. Vectorial polygons. But is still cool today 2009.

 

 

  slntnsnty

Novice Member

Joined: 4/24/07
Posts: 67

You'll get electrified if you don't strike a pose.

5/15/09 7:28:29 AM#42
Originally posted by trancejeremy

What I find odd is that LOTRO has some of the worst combat animations I've ever seen, yet it has dozens of animated emotes.

 

Oh the deliciousness of reading this on mmoRolePlayingGames.com

 

  Deewe

Novice Member

Joined: 5/02/08
Posts: 1976

5/15/09 7:42:53 AM#43
Originally posted by slntnsnty
Originally posted by trancejeremy

What I find odd is that LOTRO has some of the worst combat animations I've ever seen, yet it has dozens of animated emotes.

 

Oh the deliciousness of reading this on mmoRolePlayingGames.com

 

 

QFE!

 

I always find it funny when people talk about bad animations in LotRo, one of the few game with a storyline and something more to do than killing mobs.

  User Deleted
5/15/09 7:49:22 AM#44

TBH I couldn't care less about decent animation.  I am far more interested in current and future MMO's releasing in a complete state rather than the bug laden morass that all of them have been.  Seriously... if better animation means that the MMO releases with the same bugs as they currently do, or... worse.... MORE buggy/feature incomplete?  I'd rather pass on the 'decent' animation in favor of better bug stomping, better feature completion and better overall gameplay.

 

When was the last MMO that released in a state that it was REALLY ready for the public?  To be honest I can't remember... WAR wasn't.... BAD.... but it really should have waited another 3 months before releasing, imo...  AOC?  Same story... released too soon... released too buggy.... released too empty of content....  The list goes on.

So while I agree that better animation would be nice?  It's not exactly high on my 'god I wish" list.  Right up at the top is "God I wish someone, anyone, would release a feature complete MMORPG on Day 1"...  To be brutally honest I can't think of a single one that has since DAOC other than WOW, DDO and LotRO.  (yes, DDO was feature complete for what Turbine was trying to do with it.   We won't go into their failed design with that one...)

  Geriden

Novice Member

Joined: 7/03/06
Posts: 401

5/15/09 8:08:34 AM#45

The issue with the games industrie these days (from a animators perspective) is that everyone going into animation well the majority all want to be model designers and not actualy animators so there isnt a large enough pool of computer game based  "character" animators .

  Sonicspeed

Novice Member

Joined: 8/01/07
Posts: 32

5/15/09 9:10:13 AM#46

In my opionion graphics and animations are really important, I can't play games with poor animations and out-of-date graphics, unless for nostalgic reasons.

AoC has the best  MMO animations I've ever seen so far, when the game was on the pipe I've read  they actually hired professional contemporary dancers to capture their moves, so in that sense, they did a good job.

 

Whatever

  Elikal

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/09/06
Posts: 8067

“No path is darker then when your eyes are shut.” -Flemeth

5/15/09 9:26:09 AM#47

Great article!  I must say it has become one of my gripes No1 about MMos now. The combat looks and feels so incredibly dull, and thats mainly because the animations I have seen OVER and OVER and OVER for years now.

When the author says:

"No one really expects anyone to parry attacks in real-time and have full out movie-quality sword fights. But just because it cannot be perfect, doesn’t mean it cannot be better."

I say, why the heck not? Why expect anything LESS than the best? Life is way too brief to be satisfied with mediocre things! Ok, sure, maybe movie quality isnt possible at the moment. But things can be made better, and I am sure game developers are just lazy and they think people wont mind. Or take it as a conventional expectation.

I really, totally can not STAND this EQ type combat anymore. I am so filled and done with "go to one mob, press all combat attacks and watch the pre-defined boring animation X over and over."  When any of these EQ2, WOW and whatnot chars attack, it is always so symbolic.. some animation runs and you never have the feeling of combat any time. Sure, when it was new we didnt know better. Thats why I loved the AoC combat. It wasnt perfect for other reasons, but at least with my 2 axes swinging Barbarian I got something to see that at least LOOKED halfway like combat. I want to have the feeling of impact. This new spear wielding class in LOTRO had quite a decend combat animation set. (Forgot the name of the class now.)

Or magic. How terribly boring the magic looks in many games. I recall what a letdown the magic animation in Vanguard was and still is - such a contrast to the lush world. I want to see fireballs raining down and smacking on people, burning them, and they try to make it out or something. Maybe some randomness in reactions, and some way that the NPC responds to my action, and not I perform my stuff, he does his, and we all totally ignore each others last actions.

 

It is still a large way to go. But personally, I am so done with this EQ style combat, standing in front of one bear/boar/gnoll, hack hack hack 5 min, then move on to next mob, all the same boring combat animations. People stare at the skill bar usually anyway, which also is a matter, since the entire EQ-style combat system is just so outdated now. I really hope future MMOs make more visceral and impact-combat a priority, something that feels more like action and fast paced and not like a pawn plowing his field of crops.

A forum is a place where people can discuss about different opinions. So what I don't get is, how people react offended when they come to a forum and then find... well different opinions. If a different opinion offends you, what are you even doing here?

  Erowid420

Novice Member

Joined: 5/13/09
Posts: 103

5/15/09 9:49:55 AM#48

Dana,

Hasn't animation gotten 100% better since Everquest..?  Look at EQ2's animation, etc.  Even Everquests engine and animation in the last 10 years has been greatly increased. Vanguard has great animation, i just wish it was mor polished.

BTW, "WISH" was a great game, possibly one of the best game worlds I ever played in. It just a shame that it was centered around PnC movement.

 

 

___________________________

- Knowledge is power, ive been in school for 28 years!

  dookedoo

Novice Member

Joined: 9/09/07
Posts: 40

5/15/09 10:12:33 AM#49

Sorry, not to troll, but seriously these "why not?" columns have to stop.  Just my two cents.  It's one thing if there's a couple what if columns but this post is the 4th one now and it's getting a little on my nerves .  The historical mmo's was good but then all the other ones... yeah...

  brenth

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/19/06
Posts: 289

5/15/09 10:37:18 AM#50

It does seem that game makers have gone totally rabid when it comes to graphics   but in my opinion  current graphics are well above my graphic needs  while  content and animation are well BELOW my needs.

there are so many things I expect to see and immerse in that simply dont exist or are in the crudest forms  possible.

rarely can you climb trees  or cliffs, you never swing on a rope  and fights with mobs are  basicly  2 mobs standing 3 feet apart swaping blows (and a desprit few of those)   I would be nice to see  a tumble  and some punches and kicks   and yes Id like to see charactors have  several more states ,, if your on fire you dont just stand there like it doesnt exist,,

I also think they shgould make much more use of mobs as objects like walls or pillars or doors that you can smash and "kill"

a precious few games have any siege weapons whatso ever    and nearly all games have fortifications with no doors  so mobs just run in.

WORLDS ARE STATIC   this is a double edged sword as sure new people get the exact same expirence that the guy 2 years ago  but  also the guy that joind 2 years ago has no reason to go back to lower zones  and they become very desolate   and making a world too static and predictable  is the definition of  non-immersion and un-believeable  hence terms like TOONS.

make a world, not a game, we dont want another game.

  Ethian

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/26/09
Posts: 1237

5/15/09 10:51:45 AM#51
Originally posted by Deewe
Originally posted by slntnsnty
Originally posted by trancejeremy

What I find odd is that LOTRO has some of the worst combat animations I've ever seen, yet it has dozens of animated emotes.

 

Oh the deliciousness of reading this on mmoRolePlayingGames.com

 

 

QFE!

 

I always find it funny when people talk about bad animations in LotRo, one of the few game with a storyline and something more to do than killing mobs.


 

I also found the animations and models very bland. I always felt that LOTRO had alot of potential but after Moria's launch I was turned right off and canceled my account less then a month in.

More to do then killing mobs? Give me a break bud LOL. LOTRO is no different then any other MMORPG on the market, i played it for almost 2 years....

"I play Tera for the gameplay"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-2paFdRw_U

  wolfmann

Novice Member

Joined: 11/20/05
Posts: 1165

5/15/09 11:17:45 AM#52

I'd ask the same question, but when I do, I always get shouted out by the pixel junkies that instead of animations prefer pink rainbows and shooting stars and fireworks worthy of the 4'th of july comming from their characters behind when they do the simplest thing.

 

Just look at SWG. It had gorgeous animations, one I remember very fondly was when shooting the Rocketlauncher...

My stormtrooper(I played a trooper, not some Whiney Luke Jedi wannabe) would kneel down, put his E-11 carbine on the ground(!!!) put the launcher on his shoulder, aim and fire it, before grabbing his E-11 carbine and getting back on his feet.

It was such "art" that I always carried 10 with me(They were bugged, and hard to craft, so no one used em in PvP or PvE) when I could find some.

Then with the CU and NGE... The animation vanished, replaced by a carryable gun that fired lightshows worthy of the New years eve fireworks. Instead of a game filled with motion, we now had a game where your screen was filled with rainbows cluttering and hiding anythig going on in the game...

 

And, we see it again in the upcomming SOE hero game, where again animations have been swapped for nauseating(typo?) purple sparly rainbows. Instead of animations...we get fireworks. And I hate it, and thank Thor and Odin that I'm not an epeleptic, because then I might have had to quit as a gamer.

The last of the Trackers

  Dana

Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/04
Posts: 2425

 
OP  5/15/09 11:41:29 AM#53
Originally posted by Deewe

So you're asking for better animations? Well, why not but is it really so imporant?

 I look at the past successful games and the evolution of gaming and I see better sound, nicer graphics and many many poor game play. 

 Honestly graphics are just a topping in a FUN game even in MMOs.

 I'd rather have studios spend more time and $$$ on gameplay and content then and only then if they can afford it, enhance graphics and animations.

 But well before that and especially in MMO I wish the studio spent more time on the following key elements that are always poorly done:

  • GUI
  • Chat functionnality
  • Guild mechanics
  • Friend list features
  • Inventory management
  • Auction houses interaction

 In fact all that stands between the player and his character.

I'm very surprized such major features are mostly rushed out considering they can make or break the game play.

 Don't get me wrong, I'm an explorer type of gamer so I like nice graphics but they always come after the game play. A nice game with poor game play won't last more than a few hours. Honestly when you are engaged in challenging and fast combat you don't really focus on animations you don't have the time to. 

Trust me, at no point would I rather have pretty animations than a good game. However, for a major studio, this is not an either/or proposition. Saying "we chose to concentrate on good content rather than good animations" is just code for saying "designers cost less to hire than animators."

 

Dana Massey
Formerly of MMORPG.com
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

  0k21

Novice Member

Joined: 4/10/05
Posts: 878

5/15/09 12:03:29 PM#54

"So you're asking for better animations? Well, why not but is it really so imporant?!"

So many people just seem to not get the fundamentals of how to make a game and its amazing, for a 3D game you NEED animation, without animation there is no movement in those fancy 3D characters you cling to so much, without animation you cannot see what is going on in the game, without animation there is no real-time engine.

Many high end graphics games to date and not just MMO's put the bear minimum on animation, they're just lazy, I see games like Legend of Zelda and Super Mario 64 having ten times better animations than the retarded robot walk that many 'high end' games operate on today.
 

Fallout 3 is a great example, you'd think they'd have the decency to at least vary the walking a bit more or the run, it looks rather ridiculous when you see super mutants fifty feet higher than you walking in the exact same way.

You guys trying to argue against this have absolutely no argument, there is none, even if you reduce the animations to the bare minimum you still have animations, the only time you could even consider not having animations in a 3D game is if it were turn based but even then guess what? *gasp* you still need to animate the characters on the screen so they actually shift forward slightly in order to attack!

In fact I would say that the highest priorities of games design are not graphics, graphics is just an after thought, what should be focused on is the gameplay mechanics and animation, it doesn't matter if you have a stick figure, if you have it really well animated and put an interesting game behind it then it'll look great regardless.

If you guys want graphics so badly then get a text based game and stick a bunch of really pretty pictures up on the backgrounds because thats basically all you'd have without animation, the majority of you simply don't realize how essential it is in development to have even the minimum effort put into animation.

Quoting people doesn't make you clever, in fact, it makes you all the more stupid for not bothering to read the quotes you post in the first place.

  darkaster

Novice Member

Joined: 9/06/03
Posts: 185

5/15/09 1:25:45 PM#55

Great article Dana! Gets the ideas flowing! :)

________________________________________________
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  krityc

Novice Member

Joined: 1/20/04
Posts: 177

5/15/09 1:30:31 PM#56

To some extent I have to agree, but with out the detail the immersion factor would be lacking.  When developers start to cap out on what they can do with details/textures we'll start to see additional animations.

Funny thing is if you compare sports games year after year they always push the bar on textures, animations, and AI.

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  Kainis

Novice Member

Joined: 9/10/08
Posts: 450

5/15/09 2:37:56 PM#57

I think some got a little confused by my earlier post about "...really beefy rigs for better animations". I did not mean a high end gaming pc. Rigging is simply a term we use in modeling/ animation that take a mannequin-esque 3d character/ object and attaches morphs and control joints for animations, which are then tied to bone hierarchies, for animation. The more you have, the more lifelike the object is. For facial emotes, a good round number is around 80 points on the face that can be morphed and animated, depending on the character type, for example. Each point is located and attached manually, which of course takes time.

Think of those old string puppets. The more strings you have attached to parts of Pinochio's body, the more lifelike he moves (depending on your skill at puppeteering, of course). Same can be said for 3d models. The problem is, many mmo studios do not care for a high level of control, hence why some emotes look bland. It has less to do with your own personal machine (most of the time of an animation load is spent loading the models/ textures involved- not the actual animation sequence). Now we have established what a " really beefy rig for better animations" is for.

In contrast, the NUMBER of animations available, completely depends on the time and budget for the animations. Since most people know how to rig for keyframing, that is what is most often used. However, it is the choice that takes the most time, thereby cutting down on the number of animations available (ie death animations, for topic purposes). Some have recently started using a motion capture camera setup, which is hugely expensive, but well worth it, I think. By using motion capture and real actors, the skeleton is derived straight from the animation file, and can then be directly attached to the character rig. See that actor hold a weapon realistically on camera, and you see your character model do the exact same thing. In fact, the ONLY drawback to motion capture right now, is the cost of the equipment and the actors. In my opinion though, if you are aiming for a AAA title, the equipment should be factored into your budget anyways these days. It will most often not only pay for itself in the first title, but you can indeed use the equipment for subsequent titles, thereby bringing much more value.

Then you have the new Havoc engine that games like Requiem: Bloodymare uses.  While giving "super-realistic" ragdoll physics, the rigging is considerably different for that engine. Not many animators today really are comfortable yet with it, but we are all learning. This is a really cheap way of getting nearly infinet "death animations", as well as "falling", and so forth. Expect to see this engine put to far more use in the near future, as studios learn how to use it.

My personal opinion, being a cinematix affectionado, is to use both motion capture for the "stale animations" like sword swinging, emotes, running, stuff like that- and use Havoc for that bloody goodness at the end of life, whether a 10 ft tall Minotaur throws you, or you get cleaved in half and your arm chucked 20 paces away. I expect studios to soon be using both of these methods, in far more popularity,  to address the problem.

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Tried- L2, Ryzom, WAR, DDO, PWI, Tab Rasa, Requiem, Champs, AA, JD, PWI, SUN, Dawntide

Played- SWG (pre-cu), AoC, VG, WoW, LoTRO,CoX, EQ2, DAOC, GW, PotBS, Aion, MO,APB, NASA, Fallen Earth, DCUO, Rift

Playing- EVE, Black Prophecy, TOR

Waiting for- Tera, Jumpgate Evo, WH40K, WWE, WOD, TSW
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"Hey, if Activision liked it, then they should have put a ring on it," Double Fine President Tim Schafer said. "Oh great, now Beyonce is going to sue me too."

  0k21

Novice Member

Joined: 4/10/05
Posts: 878

5/15/09 3:14:48 PM#58

"My personal opinion, being a cinematix affectionado, is to use both motion capture for the "stale animations" like sword swinging, emotes, running, stuff like that- and use Havoc for that bloody goodness at the end of life, whether a 10 ft tall Minotaur throws you, or you get cleaved in half and your arm chucked 20 paces away. I expect studios to soon be using both of these methods, in far more popularity, to address the problem."

It depends on how complex your game is, sometimes you have to use a mixture or use simple animations so that its just easier for the programmers to actually get the animations into the game without it looking ridiculous, Empire Total War is an example, they did motion capture for all the infantry fighting apparently and while yeah the animations themselves look cool, very rarely do the weapons and characters actually meet so they either end up going through each other when they shouldn't or they just fight thin air because of the way the game was coded.

Sometimes its better to have quite simple animations and actually intergrate it into the game directly so that when you click that button you do that strike in that direction as opposed to doing fancy spinny spinny swordfighting and end up just fighting thin air. Pre-Cu SWG did the animations great but it ended up actually looking rather silly because very rarely did the animations actually play in a realistic fashion because people were just too busy spamming combat skills at each other.

You've also got to bare in mind that motion capture is apparently far more difficult to do than just doing some sequences in a 3D software and even then I wouldn't touch animation with a ten foot pole because the idea of key-framing just drives me insane.

Quoting people doesn't make you clever, in fact, it makes you all the more stupid for not bothering to read the quotes you post in the first place.

  John.A.Zoid

Novice Member

Joined: 10/08/08
Posts: 1554

5/15/09 3:18:35 PM#59
Originally posted by Dana
Originally posted by Deewe

So you're asking for better animations? Well, why not but is it really so imporant?

 I look at the past successful games and the evolution of gaming and I see better sound, nicer graphics and many many poor game play. 

 Honestly graphics are just a topping in a FUN game even in MMOs.

 I'd rather have studios spend more time and $$$ on gameplay and content then and only then if they can afford it, enhance graphics and animations.

 But well before that and especially in MMO I wish the studio spent more time on the following key elements that are always poorly done:

  • GUI
  • Chat functionnality
  • Guild mechanics
  • Friend list features
  • Inventory management
  • Auction houses interaction

 In fact all that stands between the player and his character.

I'm very surprized such major features are mostly rushed out considering they can make or break the game play.

 Don't get me wrong, I'm an explorer type of gamer so I like nice graphics but they always come after the game play. A nice game with poor game play won't last more than a few hours. Honestly when you are engaged in challenging and fast combat you don't really focus on animations you don't have the time to. 

Trust me, at no point would I rather have pretty animations than a good game. However, for a major studio, this is not an either/or proposition. Saying "we chose to concentrate on good content rather than good animations" is just code for saying "designers cost less to hire than animators."

 



People always ask to choose one or the other like do you want Gameplay or Graphics? I say I need it all to come together bercause if theres one thing that bothers me then it'll get on my nerves the whole time playing and just put me off. If the PVP isn't good then I wont want to play it and if the graphics arn't good then I don't want to explore and if the animations are crappy then I wont enjoy combat.

It all needs to be good and thats why WoW is so popular because it does so much spot on where as other mmorpgs make you choose.

  eury2

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/01/08
Posts: 38

5/15/09 3:25:43 PM#60

only 1 good reason we compromise witht he graphics these days its not like going out and buying a xbox360 and a brand new game

these days you need a almost brand new pc with top notch graphics cards to play anything so a xbox360 $199 + game out the door

brand new gaming laptop / desktop with 3+ GHz and ndivia graphics or ATI graphics cards with 2 gig + of ddr3 ram will run u in a couple

1,000's  i mean would you rather buy a 200 - 300 $ gameing system to play new games and a basic older pc to run online games insted of spending money your dont have on expensive shyt that will be out dated in no time the way games and their graphics are?

 

im not rich i could barly afford a xbox360 and my laptop is over 5 years old and i cant play half the games online that i want b ecause they require more advanced graphics and memory that my laptop has but look at te xbox360 the system is like what 3-4 maybe 5 years old since it came out and still not outdates its kinda annoying how pc's get outdatd faster than gaming systems and gaming systems are cheaper

thats all i have to say

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