Aside from the usual regular stuff like cleaning up source code and structuring everything so it slots nicely into the main engine (boring, zzzzz), I had the rather fun task of introducing the animated character model to the AI system for the first time. I kept it pretty light and free-form and ended up with a neat concept whereby the character you see trails the AI entity object by a split second, allowing the real character to look ahead where he is 'going to be' and it struck me that this is what we do in real life.
We actually look in the direction where are 'going to go' rather than where we are going that split second, and when you see it portrayed visually you see what I mean. No way to describe it in words, or even screenshot it, so I loaded up with some community disclaimers (thanks guys), and made a video for you:
As you can see, as the AI entity advances ahead of the character you can see, it looks like the guy is anticipating the action he is about to commence which in this case is turning a corner. It got me thinking that the same system could be employed across many other actions and create this wonderful sense of character whereby the head and upper body observed seems to be thinking ahead, before the rest of his body catches up. I think this is an interesting ingredient and perhaps something that can only be created in real-time, subject to circumstance.
I am sure this artifact won't work in every case, especially when the action is fast and the character must obey split second directions, but for someone casually walking about it looks pretty cool!
A pretty busy day in the mill of code today, so not much more to reveal past the antics of getting more and more character animations tied to AI activities. The challenge for Friday will be getting the character to 'realistically' climb the ladder, dismount, continue his searches on the roof, find nothing and come back down to continue his patrol. Sounds simple enough, but getting all the separate animations to blend together and look 'natural' will be a bit of headache.
And once we have that looking good, to tame the code so that it's modular and flexible enough to handle multiple characters, be they enemies, allies or neutrals. I find the excitement of visuals is short-lived and quite quickly I am brought low again to the reality that I have to make all this fancy stuff work in a practical way in a larger context. Granted, not the worst job in the world ;)