COMMUNITY - FORUMS - GENERAL DISCUSSION
Some advice on the latest horse model V2 - Animations!
+30

In the recent mount animation video on mount animations. for a pre-alpha animation, this is amazing. I would like to offer my thoughts on how it might be even better, but I do not wish in any way to detract from the work currently done on the animations of the horse.

I appreciate the effort into getting the mount animations right as mounts and transportation in general is crucial in Elyria and as such getting the horse animation right will enhance immersive gameplay. SBS obviously has skilled animators, so in order to push this animation “to the next level” I would like to offer my experience and knowledge to help the developers fine tune the animations. For those who don’t know me, I studied Applied Equine Welfare and Management at Uni, and the horse I ride - Shannon approves this message.

Shannon

The main thing I noticed was that the animations seemed choppy and almost like a Western Pino Faso type gaits and not the usual gaits (walk, trot and canter) from other much more commonly used horse breeds.

Here is an example of how actual gaits work in the vast majority of horse breeds (there are a few exceptions but they are that, exceptions I say this because I saw the trot in the horse was not really correct, the horse lifts its legs upwards into it’s chest instead of gliding outwards. That can be trained into the horse but it is a high-level dressage movement and not something the vast majority of horses would do. .

Another thing I noticed was that during the canter sequence the horse leads from the right leg (as in the right front leg is first leg to move) when going left, that would most likely cause the horse to trip over. It would be better if the rider was putting the horse on the correct leg using the inside leg (the leg in this case being the left one) and moving it backwards a little bit to tell the horse to lead from that leg as you are changing the leg in which the horse leads from.

Subtly, the head barely moves. Bio-mechanically the horse’s head moves as it travels that is why when you ride the horse you have to allow the head to move.

And finally I feel the tail is wrong, it should not be swirling like a helicopter, the horse moves it’s tail to clear flies and communicate that it is in pain and can be a bad habit for the horse.

Why does all this matter, given the animations look way better than nearly any other horse in any other MMO? This is important as we the players might be spending a lot of time on mounts so having a strong set of animations for the horse that are technically correct will enhance the believability of the world. The details are subtle - horse leading from the correct leg, rider position moving, including the leg movements of the riders, but as SBS obviously has the talented animators to be able to pull it off, it seems timely to point out those subtleties.

Oh and just to be clear … that Trison. We’ve had a chat about that animation … bravo. That’s all there is to say about it! Amazingly good work, and that hand … didn’t expect that to be so good at this point! - Lady Grace

To summarise:

>Front legs disconnected at Trot

>Horse Leading from wrong leg at canter

>Overall horse movement seems very similar to Pino Faso (thank you Epabberi for pointing that out), a more normal gait would be better

>Head barely moves (ought to move more)

>Tail movement.

To everyone else reading this - did you spot something that could be even better?

Contributors;

Lady Grace

Epaberri

Rubaiyate

To contribute to future publications please join the Chronicles of Equine discord - here

Till next time - Horse Lord Varuian Maulvorn

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7/28/2017 4:54:45 AM #16
+0

The thing that stuck out to me was actually how little the rider seemed to move. I know I move quite a bit, especially when posting a trot. He seemed so stiff lol.

7/28/2017 7:05:18 AM #17
+0

Posted By Lady Grace at 12:47 AM - Fri Jul 28 2017

If horses could talk ... (I'm likely to be wrong but hey)...

Left to right ...

"Oh. A train. So what?" "Neat! what's that I'm gonna go look" "I'm outta here!" "Me first" "You lot wait there, I'm following her." "Wait for me!" "Hey what are we doing again?"

What is the point of this photo?

The point is to remind SBS that variety and depth in animations, if they have the time (i.e. budget), is incredibly important to a group of horses looking real.

A fantastic animation of one horse is brilliant, but players don't typically play MMOs to be alone - so horses will quickly appear in groups. One rider is valuable, one unit of cavalry is deadly.

Ears and head position communicate a lot as well, but there is only so much time and complexity a single critter should get, after all this isn't My Horse and Me. Just on that, the simple fact that game not only exists but did well enough to merit a sequel highlights how important "just riding a horse" can be to a bunch of players. If your horses can also jump, and we can place obstacles to jump, then I fully expect players to make cross country courses - and to breed horses in-game to try to get the best one. Also jumping should require a riding roll .. and critical fail? Weeeeeeeeee thud with horse looking at you "what are you doing?"

Also those fancy Dressage moves? Those were originally cavalry moves. Most games simply stop at forward, back, and turn (pivot on center spline or curve left or right) for horses. While there is no need to have everything, cavalry gameplay would be a lot more fun with some form of lateral movement. You wouldn't use that in a joust, but you would setting up a cavalry formation ...

In terms of where to put a finite amount of animation resource, I would suggest legs (gait), tail, and head position, with perhaps two or three ear animations. Many players rather obviously want to have armour all over their mounts (whether comparisons or plate), so things like horse breathing (while important) may actually be largely obscured by other art so might not be worth adding anything beyond one non-varying animation.

Why the ears? If a rider is on a horse in-game, having its head come up and ears start swiveling would be a great hint to the player that their horse has heard something. It would be super realistic, immersive, and plain fun to see in a game. Unless of course you have the horse that goes "neat, a train? I want to go have a look ..."

Precisely, ears can help communicate emotions in a horse

7/28/2017 7:10:32 AM #18
+0

Posted By Dreissea at 05:54 AM - Fri Jul 28 2017

The thing that stuck out to me was actually how little the rider seemed to move. I know I move quite a bit, especially when posting a trot. He seemed so stiff lol.

In real life the rider would of fallen off, your hips just be allowed to move as your hips and core muscles as they act as suspension.

Otherwise you would go against the stride and fall off.

7/28/2017 1:00:32 PM #19
+1

As soon as I saw the animation for the horse riding, I knew there were some things that looked "off", even to an eye as untrained as mine.

I was worried, then I thought "Shit, Maulvorn will be all over this..."

I am glad our horses are in your capable hands. ;)

One thing that stuck out to me in particular, that I did not see mentioned (granted I could have missed it), was that the back "ankles" (I have no idea what they are called - the first joint after the hoof), seemed especially stiff in the animations, as though it wasn't bending much at all.

All in all though, CoE continues down the road to being the best looking MMO I have ever seen. Keep up the great work.


Head Archivist, Marovec V'Ralt - The Enclave - Chair of the Bardic Institute

7/28/2017 1:48:43 PM #20
-3

Posted By Marovec at 2:00 PM - Fri Jul 28 2017

As soon as I saw the animation for the horse riding, I knew there were some things that looked "off", even to an eye as untrained as mine.

I was worried, then I thought "Shit, Maulvorn will be all over this..."

I am glad our horses are in your capable hands. ;)

One thing that stuck out to me in particular, that I did not see mentioned (granted I could have missed it), was that the back "ankles" (I have no idea what they are called - the first joint after the hoof), seemed especially stiff in the animations, as though it wasn't bending much at all.

All in all though, CoE continues down the road to being the best looking MMO I have ever seen. Keep up the great work.

Ah the Fetlocks, we did mention that in the Pino Faso video, yes the whole leg seemed stiff.

7/28/2017 2:32:45 PM #21
+2

Yeah Paso Finos are one of the "gaited" breeds that are out there. They have a "running walk" which reminds me a lot of the CoE horse movement at trot. The movement between front and hind end was a little disjointed in the video, just like a Paso Fino.

The structure of the leg movement from the front knees down is also a little too hinged. It needs to move out so the hoof points forward at some point and not just picks up and yep the hind end is a bit hinged too, but for a Pre Alpha showing, all the makings of a great moving horse is there. Excited to see more, as always :)


I'm okay with being a little Waerd

7/28/2017 3:21:29 PM #22
-1

Posted By Caracole at 3:32 PM - Fri Jul 28 2017

Yeah Paso Finos are one of the "gaited" breeds that are out there. They have a "running walk" which reminds me a lot of the CoE horse movement at trot. The movement between front and hind end was a little disjointed in the video, just like a Paso Fino.

The structure of the leg movement from the front knees down is also a little too hinged. It needs to move out so the hoof points forward at some point and not just picks up and yep the hind end is a bit hinged too, but for a Pre Alpha showing, all the makings of a great moving horse is there. Excited to see more, as always :)

The action should look like it's been suspended up then pushed off the suspensory ligaments and tendons.

This is a good video in my brief look for a good way to show it

7/28/2017 3:33:57 PM #23
+1

Eadweard Muybridge was an older photographer who studied movements of all types of things and he did a pretty famous study of the horse.

The last two frames show the movement I feel is missing. The first two frames of the last row show the movement that is repeated where the last two frames should be inserted.


I'm okay with being a little Waerd

7/28/2017 3:41:38 PM #24
-2

Posted By Caracole at 4:33 PM - Fri Jul 28 2017

Eadweard Muybridge was an older photographer who studied movements of all types of things and he did a pretty famous study of the horse.

The last two frames show the movement I feel is missing. The first two frames of the last row show the movement that is repeated where the last two frames should be inserted.

That is a rather clear model of what needs to be added I think to help the animation of horses in CoE.

7/28/2017 11:54:52 PM #25
+44
[Featured]

Hi all, I'm an animator at SBS and while I haven't animated the horse I have done a lot of work on its animation blueprint (the thing that governs which animations to play when) and I wanted to help you guys understand some of the technical constraints we operate under.

Some are temporary, some require a lot of iteration and polish and some will likely be the death of us if we tried to slay them at this stage of development. =P

Let me back up, we (the animation guild) also wanted to let you know we really love the depth of your collective knowledge and the way you reach out and give us constructive feedback.

We have the best community! You all are helping us make the best game we could possibly make.

From a developer standpoint, we come from varied backgrounds at other studios but there is one universal truth between them, they normally put gag orders on artists and animators, but at SBS we're a little more free to interact with you guys. That doesn't mean we have time to stop and let you know we're reading, but we totally are and we are loving it =)

1) Stuff we have fixed. We're moving at a pretty fast pace and we've fixed a lot of these issues since the video was shot. Even before it went out we had addressed the tail and some of the posture issues. Based on your feedback we noodled on the posture a little more and we'll continue to noodle on it into the future.

2) Technical compromise. We are planning to use a base set of locomotion logic for as many similar animals that we can. Having the logic of many animals housed in one place instead of a separate system for each animal lets us make broad changes and additions to all of the animals all at once, instead of editing hundreds of similar (but separate) logic sets. This makes the game lighter and preform better as well as makes us more agile and we can crank out the content much faster, but in exchange it asks for a sacrifice, ha.

One of the technical restraints we are bound to that is affecting the horses gait, is that all of the animations need to blend. As the horse picks up speed, walk needs to blend with trot and so on.

So for example if we do a mechanically correct canter, it would look good in isolation, but when we blend to the other states, the legs wouldn't move their full cycle, they would ping pong back and forth at the extremes with one leg always forward and the other always back. It would look like a rocking horse with the legs barely moving, until it blended closer to one state or the other. So we compromise and make adjustments so those in between blends, look better.

That isn't exactly how horses switch speeds, but that is the system we currently operate under and it mostly works, for this stage of development.

3) Future plans. We plan to have the ability for each animal to customize on top of that base logic which when we get to that point we can really start to dig into those particular aspects and bring them to life, but we're not exactly to that stage yet. We could spend some extra time diverging the horse from the base logic set to deal with it's unique locomotion states, but that doesn't benefit the other animals. It's very tempting to jump to that phase, its one of the funnest. We will get to that stage of polish, but we're working on the foundation level for all of the animals... soon...

With that said, we will continue to refine the horse animations and work on the locomotion systems until the game ships and probably long after that. We aren't truly finished, we are just forced by priority and a mountain of features and functionality that calls us to temporarily abandon it until we're ready for polish. It's part of why we have been reluctant to release some of what we've been working on for general consumption.

It's hard for a group of perfectionists that know they have a lot of polish left to do, to release work that is 60-80% finished, but we also know how important is to keep you guys updated and in the loop. It also helps us learn and adapt as we go so we need to keep in mind that we're building this game as a group and even if you're not in the building, you're still part of the team.

Thanks for your feedback, it's one of our most valuable assets!


7/29/2017 12:14:24 AM #26
+7

@ Racronos

Your response is incredible and SO appreciated. It's really fun to learn about how you guys, as animators, are doing things. I'm tickled you already tackled helicopter tail - it's a loved topic within the community!

It's also exciting to hear that this is early and there's more to do - as avid readers/watchers of everything you do as a team, looks into your hard work are always loved and it's great that while we show you horse things you let us know about animation things on the flip side. As someone who has attempted to model and animate a horse, I get it - particularly when working on making movements work for multiple models.

Really great work from the animation team - the Trison eating clip was pretty cool, by the way.


I'm okay with being a little Waerd

7/29/2017 5:37:57 AM #27
+3

Posted By Racronos at 12:54 AM - Sat Jul 29 2017

Hi all, I'm an animator at SBS and while I haven't animated the horse I have done a lot of work on its animation blueprint (the thing that governs which animations to play when) and I wanted to help you guys understand some of the technical constraints we operate under.

Some are temporary, some require a lot of iteration and polish and some will likely be the death of us if we tried to slay them at this stage of development. =P

Let me back up, we (the animation guild) also wanted to let you know we really love the depth of your collective knowledge and the way you reach out and give us constructive feedback.

We have the best community! You all are helping us make the best game we could possibly make.

From a developer standpoint, we come from varied backgrounds at other studios but there is one universal truth between them, they normally put gag orders on artists and animators, but at SBS we're a little more free to interact with you guys. That doesn't mean we have time to stop and let you know we're reading, but we totally are and we are loving it =)

1) Stuff we have fixed. We're moving at a pretty fast pace and we've fixed a lot of these issues since the video was shot. Even before it went out we had addressed the tail and some of the posture issues. Based on your feedback we noodled on the posture a little more and we'll continue to noodle on it into the future.

2) Technical compromise. We are planning to use a base set of locomotion logic for as many similar animals that we can. Having the logic of many animals housed in one place instead of a separate system for each animal lets us make broad changes and additions to all of the animals all at once, instead of editing hundreds of similar (but separate) logic sets. This makes the game lighter and preform better as well as makes us more agile and we can crank out the content much faster, but in exchange it asks for a sacrifice, ha.

One of the technical restraints we are bound to that is affecting the horses gait, is that all of the animations need to blend. As the horse picks up speed, walk needs to blend with trot and so on.

So for example if we do a mechanically correct canter, it would look good in isolation, but when we blend to the other states, the legs wouldn't move their full cycle, they would ping pong back and forth at the extremes with one leg always forward and the other always back. It would look like a rocking horse with the legs barely moving, until it blended closer to one state or the other. So we compromise and make adjustments so those in between blends, look better.

That isn't exactly how horses switch speeds, but that is the system we currently operate under and it mostly works, for this stage of development.

3) Future plans. We plan to have the ability for each animal to customize on top of that base logic which when we get to that point we can really start to dig into those particular aspects and bring them to life, but we're not exactly to that stage yet. We could spend some extra time diverging the horse from the base logic set to deal with it's unique locomotion states, but that doesn't benefit the other animals. It's very tempting to jump to that phase, its one of the funnest. We will get to that stage of polish, but we're working on the foundation level for all of the animals... soon...

With that said, we will continue to refine the horse animations and work on the locomotion systems until the game ships and probably long after that. We aren't truly finished, we are just forced by priority and a mountain of features and functionality that calls us to temporarily abandon it until we're ready for polish. It's part of why we have been reluctant to release some of what we've been working on for general consumption.

It's hard for a group of perfectionists that know they have a lot of polish left to do, to release work that is 60-80% finished, but we also know how important is to keep you guys updated and in the loop. It also helps us learn and adapt as we go so we need to keep in mind that we're building this game as a group and even if you're not in the building, you're still part of the team.

Thanks for your feedback, it's one of our most valuable assets!

Thank you very much for responding to the thread and being very clear about how it works and that you indeed are reading and taking in our feedback.

I am also happy that you will incorporate our feedback over time!

This drives us to make more and more constructive threads about my favourite animal and industry.

7/29/2017 7:30:44 AM #28
+5

Love the feedback Racronos!

Don't hesitate to get the devs to constrain mount speed changes to support your animation blends - after all just because you want a horse to go faster or slow down does not mean it will do that instantly. It would actually make the riding experience more realistic if you give a command, and have to wait for it to be implemented by the mount. Obviously a gameplay decision whether there is a loyalty check + riding check in there for whether the mount chooses to obey you or not, and whether you stay on the mount or not, but a coded delay so e.g. on the next footfall the horse will begin slowing down might look good and feel realistic.

Also in terms of animations, if you ever get bored (as if that is possible given the work ahead!) no-one will mind if you make a Fire Mare gait, which is simply one of the others slowed down and firetrails from the hooves. Not that any such creature exists in Elyria of course, after all who would be so dedicated as to breed horses until they discovered a shire with a Talent? looks at Horse Lord :)


Link to my story

7/29/2017 7:39:39 AM #29
+4

Posted By Lady Grace at 08:30 AM - Sat Jul 29 2017

Love the feedback Racronos!

Don't hesitate to get the devs to constrain mount speed changes to support your animation blends - after all just because you want a horse to go faster or slow down does not mean it will do that instantly. It would actually make the riding experience more realistic if you give a command, and have to wait for it to be implemented by the mount. Obviously a gameplay decision whether there is a riding check in there for whether the mount chooses to obey you or not, but a coded delay so e.g. on the next footfall the horse will begin slowing down might look good and feel realistic.

Also in terms of animations, if you ever get bored (as if that is possible given the work ahead!) no-one will mind if you make a Fire Mare gait, which is simply one of the others slowed down and firetrails from the hooves. Not that any such creature exists in Elyria of course, after all who would be so dedicated as to breed horses until they discovered a shire with a Talent? looks at Horse Lord :)

That is a good suggestion for the developers, delayed responses. When I jump a horse I have to plan what I am going to do before I even go around the corner, I have to give the commands a few strides before the jump to ensure the horse is on a good footing.

So delaying the speed changes till the horse is in the correct footfall is the anatomically correct way of doing things.

7/29/2017 8:36:57 AM #30
+2

It should possibly also make blending easier - although it may make coding movement commands for mounts a nightmare.

As for input, I would actually use the mouse wheel to "set speed" on your mount, then have what you get be based on riding roll, encumbrance, terrain, mount fatigue etc ... and implement on the next footfall, with a maximum change per footfall set for the mount.

Obviously could be just too complex to be worthwhile, but it's an idea.


Link to my story

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