I'm still struggling with morning fatigue daily, low energy, and not enough drive. I could draw on better days, but for writing code, I'm just too tired to deal with it. I did take a blood test and I do have the results, but my memory isn't great any more, so getting any information on those results usually goes like this:
>In the morning, while bed-bound with morning fatigue.
"I really need to do something about this... I'm going to see a physician today."
>Drag myself out of bed, feeling like I was hit by a bus while also falling down a flight of stairs.
"Ok, fuck the appointment crap, maybe I'll just talk to a physician online..."
>Sits down at computer.
"Oh look, SJWs were stupid... again. Wait, what was I just about to do? Feels like there was something important I'm forgetting. Oh well."
>Loads Civ 5.
On the days I do actually remember to contact a physician, I'm usually in the middle of doing something: "Oh yeah, I need to talk to a physician! I'll do it right after this!" And by the time 'right after this' comes, I've forgotten, even if what I'm doing only takes 5 minutes. This post was supposed to come out a full week ago, but I kept forgetting to do it.
Alright, I've wasted enough time. On to the point. In my weak and useless state, I've been using my free time not already consumed by gaming to research some things related to 3D game development. My memory may be as handy as a moist match in a dark cave, but I do still have my long term memory. And what I remember is that animating in 3D is easier than animating in 2D, but a lot more tedious.
I don't exactly relish the task of having to puppeteer the model. No amount of helpers, gizmos, and rig tools can make animating a character realistically any easier. Especially ambient movement. Go back to the N64, and load up some 3D games. You know why animations are so stiff and not very realistic? Because rig animation is a nightmare, whether you handle them elsewhere, or try to get the engine to do the animation.
So I've been doing a little research into mocap. For the uninitiated, mocap is a portmanteau of 'motion' and 'capture'. Mocapping is when you put on a retarded looking suit:
And literally physically act out what the character is meant to do in the game/movie. This mocap suit will allow cameras to track the motion of the person wearing it via the 20 or so balls attached all over it, using infrared light, and software will translate that data into animation for a 'skeleton' or rig, which can then be mapped to the character in question.
Fun fact: Behind every cool animation in a modern game is a person dressed in a stupid-looking suit, acting stupid in front of a camera. You know that embarrassing StarWars Kid video? It's pretty much exactly like that, except you're dressed wearing the suit in the image shown above, and you're usually acting like an idiot in front of a whole crew of people, (roughly 13+ to be specific) with about 12 to 15 cameras pointed at you, recording your every move from every angle.
Ahh, the life of a developer...
I've known about this tech for several years now, but didn't until very recently ever consider whether I'd be able to use it myself, or not. Last week, I looked it up. Turns out even a partial mocap setup can cost a few grand...
The suit itself can run upwards of $3000.
I don't think my bank account even allows me spend more than $1000 in a 24 hour period. To upgrade, I think it has a monthly fee. So let me get this straight, I need to pay them to allow me to spend more of my money. Right, that may work on stupid people, but it's not going to work on me.
And before you comment "But Bastendorf, aren't there websites that sell mocap animations?" I'm already aware of these websites. And they're stupid. I searched every single one I could find for even the most basic of animations I'd need in an assortment of different game ideas: the idle animation. There were criminally few, most didn't even work because they were extremely casual NPC animations (neck rubbing, pantomime conversation, fiddling with their phone, etc) or overacted "I COULD DIE AT ANY MINUTE SO I GOTTA LOOK IN ALL DIRECTIONS AS FREQUENTLY AS POSSIBLE" animations. The one or two that would have worked were botched by the fact that the character's stance was awkward. One had the character's torso turned slightly to the left for some reason, one was leaned back too far, and the third was mixed in with a shoulders-and-upper-back stretch that I couldn't use. Idle animations can't have big movements in them. The stretch, repeated over and over, would start to look like the character needs a chiropractor or at least a deep tissue massage or something. And as I looked through these animations, I started to realize that they're just too generic.
Example: One idea I have requires numerous characters with personalities that general animations just don't cover. One is a king, which means most of his animations would require him to be seated in his throne. This king character likes to lean and rest his head in his hand. And when he gets worked up or angry, he slams his fist on his arm rest.
Another example from the same game is a villain. In order to animate his personality, I'd need bombastic, pantomime, evil laughter animations.
And a third and final example, different game: The main character is required to wield a sword, but only a sword. The few sword animations I could find were overacted, and included a shield. The sword draw animations all had the sword at the hip, but my character has his sword on his back, because it's a bastard sword. Premade animations just do not work, because they can only account for so much.
Let's take a look at Emperor Kuzco.
Now, trying to rig-animate someone like him? Yeah, I'd rather sit at the DMV for the hell of it. A lot of people moan and complain about how much animation is mocapped these days, and if you know even one damn thing about trying to animate using a rig... you understand why the tech is such a crutch. Try getting a fully articulated figure and shooting a stop motion animation with it, and you'll start to see exactly why people tend to motion capture. It's so difficult to replicate the way people move, naturally, using just a rig. There's too much you have to take into account.
Anyway, I'm aware that there is another way that uses just cameras with no suit, but I only have one competent camera, and that method requires at least 3 of them, plus the software to read it, and the only software cheap enough for indies that I could find was monthly payments only. And I DO NOT rent software. Ever. If they don't let me pay just once and have it forever, then I'm not interested. This is why I still use Adobe Photoshop SC6 and not Photoshop CC. I'm not renting software, not even from my favorite companies.
Sadly, that method isn't exactly the best. It makes mistakes and needs cleanup almost every time, from what I've read.
I think I'm just going to have to bite the bullet, put off more trivial and personal purchases, and save up to make an indie-tier mocap studio out of my livingroom if I ever want to do 3D games. (Note: I'll never be one of those studios that completely toss 2D to replace it with 2.5D and 3D only.)
If I can pull it off, I'll reveal how I did it on this blog, that way other indies can make their own mocap studios.