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

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130 posts found
  0k21

Novice Member

Joined: 4/10/05
Posts: 878

5/15/09 3:26:18 PM#61

"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."

Anyone who's done their research knows that the reason WoW was a success was because of Blizzards massive marketing campaign and the fact they already had a massive franchise which automatically gives you a playerbase. Gameplay wise it doesn't really offer anything that other MMORPGs haven't already offered except they made it far more easier for people to level up etc. in fact I don't know why I'm even saying this because I just know I'm going to be ignored anyway as a lot of players here aren't interested in facts and just want stirred up drama which must be why the Darkfall forums are currently the most ridiculously active.

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.

  Dana

Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/04
Posts: 2425

 
OP  5/15/09 3:44:04 PM#62
Originally posted by 0k21

"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."

Anyone who's done their research knows that the reason WoW was a success was because of Blizzards massive marketing campaign and the fact they already had a massive franchise which automatically gives you a playerbase. Gameplay wise it doesn't really offer anything that other MMORPGs haven't already offered except they made it far more easier for people to level up etc. in fact I don't know why I'm even saying this because I just know I'm going to be ignored anyway as a lot of players here aren't interested in facts and just want stirred up drama which must be why the Darkfall forums are currently the most ridiculously active.

 

While I am sure neither of those things hurt Blizzard, I'd say the biggest reason it got so huge is that they executed things so well and simply for a general audience.

Too many MMOs require a book and a spreadsheet for someone new to the genre to figure out. WoW distilled that perfectly and, somewhat paradoxically to this article, did it in a way that looked good on a large range of PCs.

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 4:41:23 PM#63

Oh yes I agree what kept and still keeps the subscribers is how simple and solid the game is, in fact thats what it usually takes just to get me to at least try a game, but what got the millions was the fact that they actually reached out to people in the real world rather than just spam advertisements across the internet, I'm sure even if you were in an area that they weren't focusing on you would have at least noticed the odd bus ad or advertisement in a game store, I know I did. People who use the internet have likely gotten into games so they're probably going to be on the lookout for a game anyway for the most part.

Current MMORPGs aren't necessarily complex, far from it, they're bloody simple the repeated grinding for levels and all the gear and statistics just give the illusion of complexity and most people just simply don't think in that way so it seems unnatural to them.

Its the same with me, I love games like Mirror's Edge but when I pick up an MMO now its just utterly boring because all it is really is just a bunch of numbers flashing up on the screen, they don't even attempt to entertain me with flashy animations which would at least keep things interesting.

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.

  Sothage

Novice Member

Joined: 9/25/04
Posts: 41

5/15/09 5:23:28 PM#64
Originally posted by Dana

I'm not talking about insane animation. I'm talking about decent animation. There will always be some lag between AAA games and MMOs, visually speaking.

However, a lot more could be done on MMOs than is being done and, honestly, I don't believe that a lot of it would overload an average PC. Most computers can handle rag doll death, for example, but few (or no?) MMOs use it.

 

Understood. I got the sense from the other comments that some people were misconstruing possibilities. Yeah, ragdoll and current "PhysX" should 100% be in every mmo made henceforth. This and similar measures I agree with.

  Deewe

Novice Member

Joined: 5/02/08
Posts: 1976

5/15/09 6:07:02 PM#65

 


Originally posted by Dana

 

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."
 


 

Don't worry, I do trust you.

I see your concern and I would also be very happy to have nice animations.

Even there is so much to be enhanced or simply fixed in MMO that animations are far behind in the list. At least in my book.

Now can studios afford doing nice animations along with the rest. Could be but all is a matter of choice. And contrary to FPS animations aren't the main concern in MMO so far.

  0k21

Novice Member

Joined: 4/10/05
Posts: 878

5/15/09 6:21:23 PM#66

"Now can studios afford doing nice animations along with the rest. Could be but all is a matter of choice. And contrary to FPS animations aren't the main concern in MMO so far."

Just to correct you there, animators get paid just about the same as 3D Modellers but of course it purely depends on the personality of the company, most of it is down to either deadlines or just outright laziness and frankly a lot of the time I have found it is more due to laziness than actually having a problem implementing proper animations in the game.

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.

  Kainis

Novice Member

Joined: 9/10/08
Posts: 450

5/15/09 6:45:07 PM#67
Originally posted by 0k21

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.

 

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.


 

True, but a AAA MMO is monstrously complex in and of itself. I am not talking about games where some guy is running it from a few basements, I am talking big studio fare. With recent releases of 3ds Max and Maya, we have integrated object collision, which should also stop the problems stated above. Also, I agree that the programmers need to make sure it works in the right instance. However, choosing between a motion captured file, and a key-framed file to insert in the code, does not make a difference. Once the captured file is attached to a skeleton, and the skeleton to the model, along with supporting texture maps, it doesn't care what file type originated the animation, be it captured, keyed, or even Havoced. Even Havoced at that point, will just load the animation parameters into its engine and get the end result. Not as much control over it (unless you are OCD about it), but it really doesn't require much, if at all,special coding on the programmers part to distinguish between the three.

The great thing about motion capture, is it generates its own key frames. You don't have to move/rotate a pinky finger in to a new XYZ rotation! Capture ball has already done that to the skeleton you built and attached the file to. Now just put that skeleton on the rigged model, and away it goes! I hate key framing as much as anyone else. It is sadistic work, keyframing. But it seems that is still the focus in school these days. Not slamming the technique by any means, as I use it myself- but there are more effecient ways to do the same thing, with better results. So any enhancement that can get us away from that, I am all for. If you have ever had the chance to work between the two animation types, I guarantee you will prefer motion captured over spending days for one keyframed sequence!

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

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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."

  jadan2000

Novice Member

Joined: 3/23/06
Posts: 509

5/15/09 6:51:46 PM#68
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."

 

Dana, im so glad u said that. I grt so tired of people on these forums acting like there can only be one or the other. Why cant we have new updated graphics and a good content based game at the same time.... 

  AnubisPrime

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/06/06
Posts: 5

5/15/09 7:00:27 PM#69

Out of the ones I've played "the Matrix online" had some pretty unique combat.

DDO has fantastic animation and landscapes.

 

Most games suffer from the animation dance during combat.   SWTOR may break out of this.

The Old Timer's Guild DDO Chapter Leader

  Loke666

Elite Member

Joined: 10/29/07
Posts: 16610

5/15/09 7:07:28 PM#70

I am with the OP 100%. Why dont a sword stabb stop when you hit?

Bioware are using motions suits now for their animations, that will probably make things better but it really sucks that they use 10 years old animations in the latest games.

The combat doesnt look the least bit real and it should today with modern graphics.

  EricDanie

Tipster

Joined: 2/10/05
Posts: 2244

5/15/09 8:15:40 PM#71

Congratulations on your article.

It really points a valid point and the reason which it took so long to be brought should be basically the reason why it hasn't changed - people haven't asked for that.

At least for me, I never paid much attention to animation, but thanks to this read I started to pay more attention and see how pathethic animations relatively are when compared to the graphical evolution of MMOs, you could even say it has received no progression. In my case it's because I'm pretty much outdated outside the MMO genre, so I don't have that "neighbor's greener grass" to envy.

Still, the reason it has not changed is because customers haven't talked much about it - so hopefully your article will make people talk and ask for it.

This is essentially important for the growth of the MMO genre to make it compete with other genres and absorb players from them, so MMOs can go on on their quest to dominate the world in a true Matrix (haha).

  Eindrachen

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/03/06
Posts: 213

5/15/09 8:27:12 PM#72

I generally agree with the article.

Even if we don't animate every single different type of trauma animation, we could at least get some groups of such.  For example, why not have a different animation based on the type of attack?

Melee hit = grab chest and stagger a bit

Melee block/parry = attacker's weapon seems to "bounce" from the target, who swings weapon/shield to the side

Dodge = target hops back and/or sidesteps a noticable bit, then goes back to a neutral position

Ranged DD hit = stagger back a step or two

DOT / AOE = go to one knee for a moment, maybe stagger in random direction one step

These are just some ideas.  The point is that even if we don't try to animate a perfectly realistic sequence to everything that hits a model, maybe we can just compromise for now on slightly more realistic hit animations.

  nilden

Novice Member

Joined: 4/26/05
Posts: 886

5/15/09 9:37:52 PM#73

Too bad they cancelled Gods and Heroes, google that for some sweet animation videos.

How to post links. Check it Archeage
LoveMinecraft. And check out my Youtube channel OhCanadaGamer

  fiontar

Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/07/04
Posts: 3705

5/15/09 10:50:04 PM#74

You know, I can at least understand why we don't have more variety of animations to match every hit location or death event. You could make hundreds of highly specific animations and still wish you could have more.

However, what is inexcusable is the largely mediocre to poor quality of  existing character animations in most MMORPGs today. Quality does vary. You'll definitely notice the difference when you play a game with good animation, then play one where it's lacking.

It seems to come down to three things; time, money and talent. You really need all three to get things right, but a huge focus on talent. Talented animators can do more with in time and monetary budgets. Even for really good animators, it's about having the time to tweak animations until they are just right. I've animated 3D humans for short clips of CGI video and I know the rough animations are less than half the fight, the fine tuning is what takes time, but pays the highest dividends.

The thing is, the extra effort is worth it. Players, when turning away from a game they went into with high hopes, actually DO often cite poor animations as a common element in what turned them off to a title. Great animations won't save a game with troubles elsewhere, but poor animations can be the tipping point when someone is on the fence about a decent, or even good game.

It's also something people will notice right away during that crucial first impressions phase. I can think of two titles I've played where the horrible animations actually precluded me from giving those games a fair shake. And a couple where the lackluster animations contributed to me leaving games I might otherwise have stuck with.

There really is no excuse for lack of quality in animations we see in most MMORPGs today.

Want to know more about GW2 and why there is so much buzz? Start here: Guild Wars 2 Mass Info for the Uninitiated

  Kainis

Novice Member

Joined: 9/10/08
Posts: 450

5/15/09 11:59:21 PM#75

To those complaining about the availability of top notch graphics/ animations vs 10 year old techniques, have to understand a few things. The pc market recieved it's first real "next-gen" turn over only a couple of years ago. It was only then that enough pcs, with the capabilities, had propagated the market to an extent worthy of trying to implement next gen graphics/ animations. Now some studios have jumped on it, Funcom being one. Cryptic as I understand it, has recently as well as Star Vault, and CCP. You have to understand, that your technique of animation, determines how the models are to be rigged, and thusly sometimes the models themselves. It is little doubt this is one reason it has taken years of development for an artist team to pull together all the required art/ animation for a top notch game, in the past. Also, it has only been within the last few years that Autodesk has made certain functions, like object collision and Havoc rigging/ motion capture of lower end models, a real possible alternative. I dare say, all games made today, use one of Autodesk's various products to accomplish the task, and thereby all studios are at the mercy of their artist's ability to navigate their <frustrating> programs for the best solutions.

Now understand, this only came about in the last few years, I mean probably trully the last three. Since many mmos to be released this year and next, probably got their production start around that time, it is sufficient to say that many of them will likely include the new animating techniques, and thusly more animations and at a better quality. In fact, I would conclude that the ones that choose NOT to include it, either began before this timeframe, or lacked the knowledge of how to use them in their own pipeline at the start.

Bare in mind though, that unless the game is getting a graphical overhaul, any expansions typically use the older techniques that the original game was based on. This is why WOTLK hasnt gotten better character models/ animations, as well as LOTRO, even though both put out expansions this year.

-----------------------
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
--
--
"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."

  jabombadus

Novice Member

Joined: 2/06/09
Posts: 3

5/16/09 1:59:12 AM#76

To real rpg'ers graphics never meant sh--.  ok, i played temple of apshai on the commodore 64, and it knocked my sox off for about two weeks when i was 13 years old.  All the older mmo crowd wanted was a computer version of D&D, and WoW is as close as it gets right now.  The cartoon graphics are endearing.  We like it.  The closer computer animated graphics get to "realism" the less interested I am. 

When I read the forums on this godforsaken website, most of them have to do with complaints concerning the lack of good, new, emersive, all enveloping mmorpg's.  People like Wow or people like Eve.   Warhammer and Conan are still too young for any of the mmo addicts to accept.  What really matters is a break.  Take a couple months off, meth head.

You play Wow for a few years and you realize that there is always some dumb mofo that has better gear than you.  There is always someone who kicks your ass.  It sucks, but that is what an mmo really is, competition.  We LOVE competing.  Even on PvE realms. 

As soon as I can muster up enough dough to get a new comp, I will get WAR.  Wow let me keep my little 128M graphic card without having to worry about an upgrade for years.  Like I said, graphics don't mean sh.   Beating the crap out of some other toon is what rocks my boat.  ---Props to darkfall for having full loot, even if the game is a knocked off, half-ass'ed morrowind clone,  full looting adds some real meaning to the term   RRRRRRRAAAAAAAPPPPPPPEEEE!  

  jusagamfrek

Novice Member

Joined: 6/18/03
Posts: 56

5/16/09 3:12:31 AM#77

The boss will immediately ask two questions when this is brought up: first how will it impact server performance, and then how will it impact client performance.  Keep in mind, this impact must scale with the expected number of players that will be in the affected area.  Adding any semblance of realistic animation is likely going to increase the load on both, even if the server simply chooses the most likely animation from a pool of say 10 different death animations (ragdoll physics aside).  A different route would be to have the server send a simple "toe tag" to let the client know you died, at which point it could choose a random animation - less realistic, but a step in the right direction.  There are teams dedicated to these performance issues, and this is one area that is often left on the cutting room floor.

 

I'm not saying that it isn't possible.  This will improve with time, but it has to contend with the the balancing act that is inherent in the mmo genre.  Most likely, the day you see mmo's with animations as good as fps's is the day you'll see fps's support thousands of people on the same map.  In Requiem, they very cleverly placed mobs so that you never have too many in the immediate area.  As for CoX, they do use increased physics (mainly for particle fx), but this is handled by the client, and, if you notice, enemies still all die in a similar fashion - even thrown in the air they perform the animation as if they were still standing on the ground.  For that matter, keep an eye out the next time you're playing your favorite fps in multiplayer on a large map - when you shoot a guy in the back does he fall forward?

  Bhagpuss

Novice Member

Joined: 1/28/04
Posts: 58

5/16/09 3:44:22 AM#78

"Realistic" or "immersive" animations?

No thanks.

I don't play console games, or even offline PC games, so keeping up with graphics there isn't an issue. I like my MMOs to have first-rate set and costume design, and I like character movement to be smooth and practical to use;  beyond that "reactive" animations, where the character does something visual because of something that's happenng in-game, are just distracting and irritating.

Get killed, grab chest, fall over - that's absolutely fine. Set-piece reaction animations are all gosh-wow the first time you see them, but in MMO gameplay you get to see them thousands of times and after the novelty wears off in about ten minutes, the main thing you end up thinking is "oh just get on with it".

  Loke666

Elite Member

Joined: 10/29/07
Posts: 16610

5/16/09 4:00:25 AM#79
Originally posted by jusagamfrek

The boss will immediately ask two questions when this is brought up: first how will it impact server performance, and then how will it impact client performance.  Keep in mind, this impact must scale with the expected number of players that will be in the affected area.  Adding any semblance of realistic animation is likely going to increase the load on both, even if the server simply chooses the most likely animation from a pool of say 10 different death animations (ragdoll physics aside).  A different route would be to have the server send a simple "toe tag" to let the client know you died, at which point it could choose a random animation - less realistic, but a step in the right direction.  There are teams dedicated to these performance issues, and this is one area that is often left on the cutting room floor.

 

I'm not saying that it isn't possible.  This will improve with time, but it has to contend with the the balancing act that is inherent in the mmo genre.  Most likely, the day you see mmo's with animations as good as fps's is the day you'll see fps's support thousands of people on the same map.  In Requiem, they very cleverly placed mobs so that you never have too many in the immediate area.  As for CoX, they do use increased physics (mainly for particle fx), but this is handled by the client, and, if you notice, enemies still all die in a similar fashion - even thrown in the air they perform the animation as if they were still standing on the ground.  For that matter, keep an eye out the next time you're playing your favorite fps in multiplayer on a large map - when you shoot a guy in the back does he fall forward?

 

I dont see how using a motion suit to get the animations to look a lot more real would influense the server performance.

However to use collision detection to actually make the sword hit the opponent will, yes. And I think it is worth it.

We have a lot faster net today then 10 years ago so I don't see while this isn't possible.

And of course we can have some games with the old, crappy animations but not a single MMO have good ones, I can live with a game that uses instances to make the fights look really good if that is what it takes.

Graphics have evolved so much in the last 10 years but inthis aspect have the MMOs been stomping in the same spot.

  peacekraft

Novice Member

Joined: 3/08/05
Posts: 189

Nothing but the rain.

5/16/09 6:01:04 AM#80

Hopefully all the motion suit animations will work well - but didnt they do that for Conan?

Aion looks to have some good combat animation but will just have to see how fluid that is.

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