Meet the Devs #2 - Richard Yang



  • Meet the Devs #2 - Richard Yang

    This time, we get up close and personal with Richard Yang, Torn Banner’s Lead Animator and Concept Artist!

    As I like to get the community involved, I posted a thread for everyone to ask Rich questions, so I will just go through them in order:

    Kimiko:
    Keith asks many questions, so we’ll just go through them one by one.

    1. How did you land a position at Torn Banner?
    2. Did you go to school for illustration/animation?
    3. What program do you use for illustration/animation?
    4. Do you have any tips for those that are looking to better themselves in drawing/animation?
    5. What is something you’d like to change or add in the animation aspect of Chivalry?
    6. Aside from the characters, what was your favourite thing to animate?

    whew that’s a lot of questions, let’s see how Rich answers them, shall we?

    Rich:

    1. How did you land a position at Torn Banner?

    I was launched from a catapult, and somehow survived the landing. Well that would be cool if it was true… I joined the original AoC mod team before it was even called ‘Age of Chivalry’ as a concept artist years ago. I had always been an huge medieval nut, all I drew was knights and battle scenes, always dreamed of playing a true Medieval FPS game that would let me experience the awesome up close and personal melee combat. AoC was the perfect mod team who were crazy enough to try to bring that vision to life.

    I created the animation for the intro trailer movie for AoC during my UNI years as I started to learn about 3D animation. I left the team for a few months, because I had just started my first full time job and had to go overseas. This left me with no time to work on the mod, sadly.
    When I got back I was very impressed and inspired to see the released version of the mod on steam. I was eager to contribute my new skills and experience to improve the game with the awesome Torn Banner team on “Chivalry”… and here I am today!

    1. Did you go to school for illustration/animation?
      I didn’t go to any formal school or study for illustration, I learned from short courses and art teachers now and then. I was mostly self taught with the help of my dad, he encouraged me to practice drawing technically, which helped me tremendously in the long run.
      I received a Bachelor of arts Multimedia Design at RMIT in Melbourne Australia. That’s where I learned how to use 3D maya, and picked 3D animation as my focus for my last year of the course.

    I love both 2D art and 3D animation, but it was much easier to find a full time job as a 3D animator than a full time 2D Concept artist.

    1. What program do you use for illustration/animation?

    I use Photoshop with wacom tablet for illustration and concept art. 3D Maya for animation.

    1. Do you have any tips for those that are looking to better themselves in drawing/animation?

    Observe!
    For both drawing and animation, the key is to first observe. To be a great animator or an artist you have to first learn to observe. When you see a great art or animation try to focus on the details of what makes it so good. Once you understand why it looks good, it will make it easier to improve your own work. Also compare your own work with the best so you can improve faster.

    Practice!
    I am sure you hear this a lot, but it’s the only way to get good. You have to draw A lot! Most professional artists/illustrators draw 40+ hours a week or more. Its easy to imagine something cool but you have to have the technical skill to express it visually with whichever tool you choose.

    Experience it!
    If you want to create a convincing animation, you have to first understand how the action is performed. You will see lot of animators capture video of themselves acting out actions for references. To take that a step further is to learn the action, if you want to do action fighting animations you should go learn some martial arts, you don’t have to be a master at it but it will help you so much in creating convincing fighting animations because you will understand the balance, posing and timing. You will animate a lot faster because you know what looks right without constantly using reference videos.

    Specialization or stylization!
    Nowadays, motion capture is everywhere. There is less and less demands on animators without specialization or stylization, especially in the games industry. Basic movement animations can be captured much faster and cheaper with motion capture. So in your demo reel, show more specialized animations, such as creatures with more than 2 legs, robots and stunt action stuff that’s too hard or dangerous for motion capture actors to do.

    1. What is something you’d like to change or add in the animation aspect of Chivalry?
      Ha, I have so many more ideas I’d like to add, but the key things are;

    *More natural movement animation system,
    *Better full body and upper body animation blending
    *Improved 1st person animation, support for higher FOVS
    *More death animations
    *More taunts and battle cry animations

    1. Aside from the characters, what was your favourite thing to animate?

    Animals and creatures, I do enjoy making cinematic scenes too.

    Kimiko: Sangiu and Drastband would like to know, How far will you go with player customization?

    Rich:
    For Chivalry you will able to;
    *Customize your character’s clothing colours based on the game mode you choose.
    *Many helmets customization options,
    *Emblems on your character and shields.
    *Patterns on your shield and tabard
    *Character skins
    We would like to do a lot more in future projects thats for sure.

    Kimiko: Dudeface has a couple good questions:

    1. People mention it being difficult to make trivial changes to certain parts of the game because it would require a lot of re-animation. How is the UDK to work with on the animation side?

    2. Are there different ways of going about character animations technically, and are you happy with the results you have?

    Rich:

    1. To change the combat animations there will be a lot of work. You would have to have a good understanding of our combat system before you can make those changes without breaking the complex balance of the game, as our fighting system is very heavily depended on the animations. As we release the SDK we will give support to the modding community on those technical questions.
      Animation support on UDK is great to work with, there are many tutorials on the Unreal site and youtube that will help you get started on it.

    2. The second question is very complex, there are different ways of going about character animations technically for sure, but its not something I can explain easily here.
      I can say that the key to game animation is a balance of functionality, gameplay and what looks good. Sometimes you have to sacrifice in some areas to make the game play well. It’s a painful thing to do, but thats part of being a Game Animator, you have to be very creative, adaptive, and to work with limitations. I think we still have a lot of room for improvement, but are happy with the result so far.

    Kimiko:
    Ex programmer Michael Bao has a VERY important question for you! He wants to know who your favorite ex dev is?? Think about this carefully, this is the most important answer you could possible make!

    Rich:
    (!!!Just show this to Mike lol)

    Kimiko:
    Nope! To everyone!

    Rich:
    I think I enjoyed working with everyone who worked on Chivalry throughout the years. I learned a lot from everyone, though there was this programmer kid i couldn’t remember his name… I think his name starts with M or something, always used the crossbow when we tested the game!
    And always eats burritos in team meetings over skype… He only did MOST of the Chivalry code, nothing important.

    Kimiko:
    Oy also has a very important question. One I think we ALL would like to know the answer to! ;)
    Can you add some nice flipping off animations?

    Rich:

    I only accept bribes in form of cash…

    Kimiko: Dr. z0b would like to know:
    What did you base the combat animations on? For example are they based on moves from movies or historical sword fighters or just your imagination.

    I presume there was no motion capture?

    Rich:
    It was influenced and referenced from all the medieval movies I saw in my life and realistic historical sword fighting techniques. Trying to find a perfect balance between those two. Some times Historical sword fighting moves don’t work well gameplay wise, as they are design to kill fast and win fights; not balanced or fair for gameplay side of things.

    There was no motion capture for Chivalry.

    Kimiko:
    Nova is an animator looking to get into the industry, so his question is:
    How would you recommend breaking into the games animation field, with no game animation experience (even though they have experience in animation elsewhere), despite being an avid gamer their entire life?

    Rich:
    You don’t need game animation experience to get into the industry. You just need to have a good base in animation principles.

    Start by making a really good demo reel that shows really great action animations that you can use in a video game format. (Check out games such as God of war, Soul Calibur, Diablo 3… for their animations for reference)

    Work in smaller projects such as mod or indie teams. They are always a great place to start from. You don’t always get paid first, so best to do it as a hobby to build up experience.

    Kimiko:
    Steelfury has some questions that are quite related to one another. I think you’ll understand at the same time why Bob’s only question to you was “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY???!!!”

    Can you make an animation that makes a heater shield appear in a knight’s hand?

    Did you know everyone that has ever even heard the word “Chivalry” wants the knight to be able to use a heater shield in this game?

    Lastly, did you know that if you google image search “medieval knight” most of the pictures have heater shields, yet in chivalry knights can’t use them? Strange isn’t it?

    Rich:
    All I can say is… I totally understand, and I agree. I really couldn’t come up with a perfect reason for it, it was mostly due to class design… we want to give the knight the larger shield so that he has better protection vs archers. Heater shield was given to MAA since he is faster…

    I will bring this issue to the next team meeting to address it, thanks for pointing it out!

    Kimiko:
    The Radiant would like to know:

    1. What is the hardest challenge when faced with the task of animating complex arm and weapon movements?

    2. If you could design any weapon to any absurd degree and put it into Chivalry, what would it be and what would it look like?

    Rich:

    1. Balance of reach, readability of each attack. Making sure 1p and 3p attack animation line up on release. Not having the arms going though the camera as much as I can, while keeping the combo look smooth.

    2)[image:3h7al7s1]http://i701.photobucket.com/albums/ww19/kimiko_desu/Newsletter/03/dropbearclub_zpse9fb7ad2.jpg[/image:3h7al7s1]4

    Kimiko:
    DaciaJC asks a couple questions:

    1. About how long does it take you to create the animations for an entire moveset (horizontal swing, overhead, stab, and alternate attacks) for one weapon?

    2. Which weapon’s animations are you most proud of?

    3. If you could have one more weapon added to the game, what would it be?

    Rich:

    1. I spend about 2-3 weeks full time per weapon animation set from scratch. Every animator works at different pace, and I have lot of experience in creating animation sets for this type of gameplay so I would say I work at a faster pace than most animators. There is kind of crazy amount of animations done for Chiv, each weapons will have about 50+ animation sequences

    2. I would say the Dagger

    3. The Scythe

    Kimiko: Eric Fong is interested in knowing:

    1. As an artist, what is your most favourite things to draw?

    2. And as an animator, what do you find the most enjoyable to be animated?

    Rich:

    1. Battle Scene

    2. Battle Scene

    Kimiko:
    Drastband also would like to know:
    How will Heraldry work in Chivalry?:

    Rich:
    *Emblems on your character and shields.
    *Patterns on your shield and tabard

    Kimiko:
    The Professional has a few questions for you:

    1. How long do you believe it would take you too create a new class from the design/animation aspect? I assume this got easier the more you worked on the game?

    2. I love the animation of vanguards charging in at each other with 2 handed swords and dealing mid air blows - love that shit. (no question here )

    3. What is your favourite weapon? Be it from designing aspect or even playing with it?

    4. Where did you get your inspiration from for the designs? Have you always been into the genre or did you fall in love it with as you went along?

    5. Orange or apple juice?

    Rich:

    1. Yes it does get easier as you do more, Its hard to say, In Chiv some class have at least 3 unique sets of weapon animation so it could take maybe 2 months if you know exactly what you doing. A lot of it comes down to how much time you spend on test and adjust animation to gameplay, it could take a lot longer to get things right and polished.

    2. Thanks!

    3. I like playing with the Spear the most, because its so different in its fighting style. It fights totally different to every other weapon, you have to keep your range and timing perfect to be effective.

    4. I get my inspirations from all the historical reference and movies like Kingdom of heaven, Lord of the rings… I really got into the medieval genre when i was about 13, I think the game that got me into the genre was Baldur’s Gate.

    5. I like both the same

    Kimiko:
    Our Level Designer Andrew has a game breaking question for you.
    His question is: Do you think I am pretty?
    Well Rich? Do you honestly think Andrew is pretty??? Take your time with this! But answer truthfully!

    Rich:
    This sound too much like a trap question for me to answer here, I’m confused at who is asking me about who is pretty. There are two questions here, am I answering you or Andrew…

    Kimiko:
    You’re answering Andrew!

    Rich:
    I think Andrew is a “pretty” good level designer

    Kimiko: Sin would like to know:
    Is there anything you can do to make the animations on weapons (swords especially) have more animation frames when accelerating/decelerating them?

    They feel choppy, especially overheads, when you try to “drag” them. The animation seems to start in front of your face but quickly teleports behind the attackers head. This is from the defenders 1st person perspective.

    Rich:
    Yes, right now the weapon animation speed is controlled by code.
    The issue was the rate animation is playing differently from wind up to release, so sometimes they don’t feel as smooth. This is an issue I am fully aware of, and we are looking to improving it in future updates.

    Kimiko:
    Earlier Oy asked a question, but I’m 75% sure he wasn’t serious, so we’ll go back to him and accept his new questions for you. He’d like to know:

    1. Do you think you’ll ever add longer death animations, like a defeated knight slumping to the ground, supported by his weapon, and remaining on his knees for 5-10 seconds before dying? TL;DR - Extended, dramatic death animations with more opportunities for awesome executions.

    2. Can you please add more blood and guts, more parts to be cut-off for the people, and decapitation for peasants?

    Rich:

    1. Um… yes that’s something we’ve been talking about. We’d all like to have longer death animations. Its a great idea.

    2. More gore is what everyone loves to see, I am looking forward to see what kind of awesome stuff the Modding community comes up with in the SDK.

    Kimiko:
    Thylacine had a few questions, but only one was relevant for you, so here you go: Can you make the game more gorey?

    Rich:
    Ha ha the cry for more blood and gore, never stops >< and we keep worrying that we had gone too far with it.

    Kimiko:
    Slaughtervomit asks:

    1. Was it your decision to make the sling swing like a lasso? What was the reason for this rather than an underhanded sling?

    2. Have you thought about adding alternate suicides? Like instead of simply exploding your head only explodes like the blunt smash animation or catching fire randomly?

    3. How often does someone in the community actually thank you for your hard work? (Thank you btw great job)

    Rich:

    1. The sling was a tricky weapon to do… We didn’t quite make it look as good as we wanted it to be. This is something we will improve in the future. There is few ways to use the sling, we picked the most iconic one that will look good while the character is moving changing directions at a fast rate.

    2. That would be very funny indeed!

    3. Thanks!
      We do get thanked a lot, when we were at PAX EAST. It was amazing to hear in person the support from everyone who liked our game, it really give us more inspiration to improve our game. Means a lot to us when we know you guys enjoy the game as much as we do. Thank you guys for supporting us!!!

    Kimiko:

    Well, that was all the questions we had this time around! Hope you all enjoyed the answers Rich gave. Thanks to everyone who participated and see you all next time for the next Meet the Devs! As a final touch, here are some of Rich’s work he has done. Enjoy!



  • I think you’ll understand at the same time why Bob’s only question to you was “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY???!!!”

    *lolled my arse off. Really wish this was on video. :D

    I will bring this issue to the next team meeting to address it, thanks for pointing it out!

    YES!

    (Just someone put a restraining harness on Tibbs. Heater Shields infiltrating internal meetings now… XD As they should!)



  • Oh he just had to mention the burritos.



  • Great stuff, and an extra animated thanks from me.



  • Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions! It was an interesting read.



  • @BobT36:

    I think you’ll understand at the same time why Bob’s only question to you was “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY???!!!”

    *lolled my arse off. Really wish this was on video. :D

    @v2p6px0o:

    I will bring this issue to the next team meeting to address it, thanks for pointing it out!

    YES!

    (Just someone put a restraining harness on Tibbs. Heater Shields infiltrating internal meetings now… XD As they should!)

    WE FUCKIN DID IT! HELL YEAH! high five

    The rebellion is advancing on enemy soil this day! Let them taste of our fury!!! (and our fancy chant!)



  • Execution is considered? YES!



  • Yeah definitely would love to see extended death animations!

    Also I liked the alternate suicide suggestion from Slaughtervomit, but I think I would actually like to go all harakiri with my own weapon. :D Yes I want to explode my own head in with my maul when the time calls for it!



  • It’s not okay to necro a thread, and call out one person.

    Cleaned up. Locked.


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