1.- Starting for the first time
What we are going to do is create a new game, in the startup screen there are several choices but if you are going to start a new game. I strongly recommend you choose the first option; Dont be scared by the description saying is only recommended for experienced users, I will be showing you how to build games from scratch and you will see how easy it is to build things from the ground up..
2.- Creating your main character
The first thing we should
do is create a character with at least the standing and walking stances.
For the actual animation you can either draw each frame or animate it in 3D and render it (its up to YOU).
If you go the traditional way take in consideration you will need to animate at least three angles (front, left and back (the right angle can be a duplicate of the left angle but mirrored in the characters propertiesmore on this later)).
Im going to assume you have the character animation done already, I found it better to use PNG images as they are higher quality than .GIFs
So, lets go to the characters tab and lets create a character by pushing on the button, and rename it with the button, for this tutorial I named it MAIN_CHARACTER (you can name your character whatever youd like)
When you select the MAIN_CHARACTER it will open the settings page for that character and you will see the panel called OUTFITS with default settings under the name Unbenannt in it (dont know if this name is going to change in the future).
Outfits are the actual shapes that will make the character, the cool thing about outfits is that you can create several changes that will work as cloth changes for each character and switch them at any point during your game. With this you can create a character that can get older during the game, changes clothes (like space suits, clown disguise, etc.) or even mutates into monsters. That is up to you and your game.
I renamed the default outfit to Main_outfit, its always a good practice to be clean and descriptive while you create your settings, later on you will find this quite useful and can give you nightmares if you go with default names.
We should have something like this
Now look closely to the tree of your Main Characters outfit, you will see predefined folders for the basic animations of your character, at default you have actions for the front, back, left and right but you can add more stances to the folders (with ) if you have animated four more angles like front-left, front-right, back-left, back-right. (more on this later)
For this tutorial we are going to use the WALK Animations and Standing animations folders, you can add the animations for speech, take/use, etc using this same procedure on the rest of the folders. (NOTE: the Talk animations folder is where the animations of the character talking are going to be placed, the RANDOM animations folder are animations that occur when the character is idle (similar to screensavers that activate when the computer is not being used for a long time) and the Character Animations folder is where every special animations (like take, push, etc.) are going to be created for later use.
Lets start by creating the STANDING poses (or animations), usually only ONE frame is needed for the standing poses, but if you want the character to feel more alive you can add animated standing poses of several frames, but for now we are going to use only one frame.
To add an image, go to the icon and select your image, in this case I need only ONE so I used the button , if I wanted to add an animation I should have selected the Sequence icon instead.
And you should have something like this
Now is important to establish the center of the feet , the center of the feet should be placed on a neutral zone on each angle (left-right-front-back, etc.) and represents a virtual axis where the animations are going to be displayed when the character turns directions.
Depending on the Character (NOT all characters work with this) we can save some time and resources by MIRRORING a similar pose or animation, for example the character animations or poses for the LEFT and RIGHT stances can be mirrored to the other side (that means the right stance can be a mirror of the left stance and vice versa)
For this to work we are going to establish the LEFT stance first (same steps described for the front)
And for the RIGHT stance we are going to go into its PROPERTIES and in the Mirror Following Animation tab we are going to choose the LEFT stance. Note that every option is now grayed out, it means what ever you change in the LEFT stance its going to affect the RIGHT stance
CREATING MORE ANGLES
Sometimes its nicer to have Eight (8) angles for a richer feel of the characters, to do so just add new stances and rename them something like Front-Left, Front-Right, Back-Left and Back-Right.
(NOTE: you can name them What Ever you like since it doesnt follow naming conventions, you can named them like a compass (North, South, East, West) or even the letter (N, S, E, W) or even in any language (Izquierda, Derecha, Atrs, Adelante))
The really important configuration is trough the Direction of Animation Compass, so for a FRONT-LEFT stance the compass should be placed DOWN-LEFT sounds odd? Well imagine the compass being looked from the Characters perspective and not from the players and you will understand how this works.
Now configure the same settings on the rest with their proper compass direction.
The final look for the character in a FRONT-LEFT position should be something similar to this (note I also added the center of the feet), Now go finish the rest of the STANDING Animations
Walking, Talking, and ALL the character settings are done in quite the same way as the STANDING configurations, but there are a couple of extra things to check when it comes to ANIMATED stances.
The first thing is you should add sequences and not single frames, to add image sequences use the button and select the first image of the sequence, so you will get a window like this one. For a standard Walk Cycle 12 frames are quite enough for a nice smooth animation.
After the sequence is loaded you should place the center of the feet and do an animation check by pressing the PLAY button.
You should notice the animation plays REALLY fast and that is due to the number of frames, SO we change the characters speed in the PROPERTIES and change the PAUSES timing (a higher number the slower the animation plays), For this character I used a number of 60 (milliseconds), but this number is different for each character, once established the animation speed it should be maintained in the rest of the animated angles (left, right, etc.)
These are the basic principles you will use for every stance for the characters, be it for walk, speak, stand, take, use, etc, they all go into the same method of configuration.
You should be ready to properly configure the rest of the animations.
NOTE, NPC characters DO NOT need all these stances, its usually enough to have only one stand, a random animation, and the talk stance for a single angle unless the character moves of position.
Im not going to talk about the rest of the tabs in the characters screen at this moment.