Computers have made a lot of tasks when it comes to making games more "efficient", including animations especially in 3D! But when you get into animations in 2D some of the things that make animating more efficient is also what ends up sucking the life out of them.
Maybe it's the fascination with animation that I've always had, but growing up with old Disney movies, I've always loved the artistry that goes into those moving characters on screen. Seeing those varying lines and strokes is what helped make those animations feel "alive".
When you start taking things like "tweening" and relying on them heavily to help with that animation work load and to make the process more "efficient" it ends up also removing the artistry of those lines on the screen. The movements then become more robotic, and more obviously computer generated.
I would look at them and while I may have been satisfied with what I saw at the time, there was always something missing that I could never quite put my finger on. The animations did everything they needed to do; they got the point of the movement across, but they were still so life less.
I never received much feedback on the look of the animations, but feedback on Sidd's attack reach gave me an excuse to come back and revisit my drawing board and something that's been bothering me for quite some time.
So, I sat down again for a 3rd time to revisit Sidd's animations, this time with the intention of adjusting his reach and expanding it while adding extra responsiveness to his control.
A strange thing happened this time however, I started sketching his animations frame by frame. I would borrow things from a previous frame to keep the size of certain things the same, but for the most part, each frame was drawn by hand. No tweening, no bone tools, nothing.
And an amazing thing happened....
The animations finally achieved a look that I had been trying to capture since I started working on Sword 'N' Board, despite the fact that I never realized that's what I was looking for!
My animations finally had life, they had line weight, and they moved even better than I could have imagined. The perspective of objects changed as they needed to as he went through his movements, and they finally showed not the computer behind them, but the person creating them.
There's a certain artistry there in animations that I must have subconsciously picked up as a child, that I then also subconsciously saw was missing in my own animation frames, and that's what was bothering me all along.
It's an odd milestone to have in game production, and a great learning experience for me I think. While computers are great for making our lives easier, and helping us create these games we all love so much; sometimes if you want something done right, you just have to do it yourself.