Sleuthhounds Animations? Check, Check, Not Check

June 24, 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve reported in on the next Sleuthhounds game currently in development – the upcoming Halloween adventure. This hasn’t been due to no progress being made on the game, just no progress that would make for an interesting blog post. However, that’s changed as of this week, and in a most animated way. Yay!

Since April, when I’ve been working on Sleuthhounds, I’ve been working on drawing the many animations the new game will need. As with the other games in the Sleuthhounds series, the animation begins with a video recording session to get reference for all the actions required by the different characters in the games. From these reference videos I extract key frames and use them to draw the different individual poses that make up each animation.

While all the animations are different – here a character plagued by terminal itching power, there a character leaping over a low railing, et cetera – the process of preparing the animations is always the same. Hence it not making for very interesting blogging news.

However, I’ve now reached an important milestone in the creation of the game. The first pass on all the animations is now complete! This is a bit different from saying that all animations are complete though.

In order to do a video recording session for the game’s animations, I first need to prepare a number of things. I need to setup the camera for recording, obviously. I also need to gather props that represent what the characters interact with and clothes that represent what the characters wear so I can record how the fabric moves and replicate that in a stylized way for the animations. It doesn’t take too long to set up for recording, but it does take some time, so I like to do the recording for as many animations in one session as possible. After all, it’s a lot of work to set everything up to only record reference for a single animation.

Once I’ve got the design for the game mostly nailed down – I say mostly because the game design is pretty well always in a state of flux right up until the game is done – I go through it carefully and compile a list of all the animations the design requires. This is the first pass list and is what I used to do my first recording session back in April for the animations I’ve been working on since then.

Now that the first pass animations are done, I can go through the game and include those animations where they’re needed. This is where a lot of the development of the game actually takes place. I have to code in all the story logic to allow the player to direct Pureluck Homes and Jane Ampson around and have them interact with objects and other characters in the game world.

While progressing through the game in this way, inevitably I’ll come across some animation that I missed or else an animation that I got but that, for one reason or another, requires changes to fit in. This is where the second animation pass for the game gets formed. It’s this point in development that I’m currently at: putting in the first pass animations and compiling a short list of second pass animations.

As I’m only spending a few hours per week on the next Sleuthhounds game at the moment, it’s taken a while to get the first pass animations prepared. However, adding up the total number of hours spent on animation shows that it’s in line with The Valentine’s Vendetta (a comparably sized game). Currently all signs point to this new game being ready for release in time for Halloween. 2016. In the meantime, why not take a peek at one of the new animations:

[Itching powder safety precautions.]
Itching powder safety precautions.

Ooh, what could it all mean?