1)To Death Bunny: Is to smother one's intellect with large, cumbersome slabs of text containing alot of difficult words, long sentences and ultracoherent threads of thought that cause the target's head to explode violently.
2)A member of the DoW Thousands Sons Mod Team who has done this several times.
An example of a Death Bunny: the animator's survival kit is on my shelf. Sadly it doesn't address 3d animation very well. Still if you can adapt the principles correctly, it's useful.
The abrupt stop is the right thing to do for impact. Just because it's not physically possible or natural or whatever doesn't mean it's not the right thing for the game.
The biggest mistake in games is that people think realism or 'making sense' is important. They're not--though if you have a theme going, you should try to be internally consistent.
but what you ahve to do is ignore reality. It's not important. What's important is the impression that the player gets. Animating something to look real is fine if you're trying to make someone think it's real. But even then, reality is often disappointing. In hollywood movies they don't make blood look real, because nobody would believe it looks that way. Most movements in art since the classical period have been, in one way or another, a movement away from realism. The principles of animation themselves involve things like squash and stretch and anticipation--things which are not real.
One thing I noticed (for instance) in the new Star Wars movies (and elsewhere) is this tendency to make something move naturally and gracefully all the time. You could see for instance that big bar-tender guy in Attack of the Clones was this constantly moving entity--he didn't look convincing or real at all, even though all his movements were graceful and sensical. It's because *real* people don't do that. Humans particularly are predators, and act pretty twitchy, but in general movements with purpose are precise and abrupt. When you see animals attack each other in a nature video, there's no anticipation of movements. They can sit poised for moments or minutes and then abruptly strike... why? Because abruptly striking without warning is how youa ctually kill and eat something. If you put in anticipation, then your prey iwll notice and probably flee.
Rules like this grace and so forth in 2d animation come from the narrative style that animation grew out of. Animations were *always* telling stories of some kind, until very recently, and that's why they involve all these concepts. Books like ASK aren't just telling you how to animate or about motion, they're telling you how to craft a story and communicate emotion. It's useful and interesting, but it's not always relevant.
When you make an animtion in a *game* the purpose and intent behind that motion comes partly from the player. You need the enemy actors and friendly actors to express themselves for the player, but, at the end of the day, we're looking for impressions. Abrupt motion gives us the impression of action and purpose. Also responsivness. Graceful studied motion which anticipates looks more like dancing. In point of fact, the queues which make good 2d animation often divorce the player from the intent and interactivity in a game (3d or 2d). When we see a narrative playing out, we tend to stop what we're doing and observe. That's not what you want the player to do in a game for the most part.
A great example would be World of Warcraft. Which has some strange ameteurish short-comings in its animations--but is very solid in many respects. In that game, when you type a statement with an exclamation point, your character automatically does an emphatic emote. In the case of the minotaurs, they fling their arms straight out abruptly. There's not much sway in the body or reaction to the motion that would make it natural, but it's *very* effective. It doesn't need to have anticipation, because the intent of the statement--with the exclamation point that the player types, is anticipatory in itself. The abrupt motion mimics the excitement, and is, actually, the kind of abrupt gesticulation we *intend* in our minds when we say things, but cannot carry out in reality because we don't have room to swing our arms at full length/what have you. We mimic it with smaller motions which we can make abrupt.
They have this evil treant kind of character you can kill, who, when he dies, kind of gets chopped in half, and starts to slide off his roots. He does a classic disney-esque 'whoa... whoa! what?! Aaah!' kind of thing--a double take. It's very expressive and interesting. But also pretty distracting. You actually stop to watch it, because it's drawn out and fascinating. Meanwhile most things collapse in a pile nearly instantaneously. When you're wnadering endless killing things (as you do in those games) you don't want lengthy expressive deaths on every monster, or it would get tiresome and break up the pace. It would reduce the impact of your actions, since you want the thing to die--usually brutally and quickly. To feel like you have power and to avoid having to waste time observing something to understand it. But occasionally these little stories can be a good reward.
When I was starting out, I was doing a project for class where this monster had to die. I made him grasp at his throat... falter, fall to a knee--try to reach out, and then fall forward. I liked it (though my teacher didn't quote 'get what was happening' unquote). But when we started playing the game (which was an FPS) you'd end up shooting the enemy too many times, or sitting around in a room full of death animations, waiting for things to stop moving so you could determine if anything was left alive. I nixed that pageant and made him falter and then fall forward. Then that was kind of too long, and I finally made him just fly backwards in a spiral and hit the floor. That final animation was less exciting to do and not even a little real (a magnum bullet isn't going to knock a huge werelizard off his feet and send him 3 yards down the hallway), but it was by far the most effective, because it communicated impact. Later I worked on a party-fighter and I took those lessons into the moves and blocks. When someone reacted to a block they didn't have time to move their arm into position and such--the code wouldn't allow it. So they instantaneously went to a full reactive pose, and then recovered from it in an economical number of frames.
That's why I love animating for *games* and not narratives. Because in a game you're allowed to express something on behalf of someone else. You want them to have the tools to put what they feel into the motion on screen--and to get feedback from that motion that excites them.
It's like being a dancer vs watching the ballet. *Dancing* is a wonderful freeing experience--if you're good at it. But so many more of us are embarrased and restricted. We don't play the sport, we watch the sport. But there's nothing as wonderful as hitting another human beinga s hard as you can in rugby--feeling your bones jar and getting momentarily disoriented--like your body moved away from yoru brain. The feeling as they go under foot. The feeling of being graceful and in the moment, and pursuing a ball or something... The physical expressions of mankind (and animal kind) are wonderful--ranging from a rocking baby carraige to leaping over a creek in the woods. We are house and desk-bound for the great portion of our days. Or we're doing something with little satisfaction, like working in a factory, making small movements with our hands, or carrying some lumber from one place to another---carpentry, or farming, or serving people at a restaurant. You may take pride as a bar tender, for instance in the economy of your movements -- or even your tricks (fi you're that's kind of bartender), but so much more often motion becomes boring. You're not enjoying it. You're restricted by what you have to do--repeated ad nauseum. So many of us are simply incapable of wonderful freeing motions. How many of us can perform perfect high-dives? Or do somersaults or the Olympic events like the beam or the rings?
Putting a motion in game gives people the expressions that they can't feel. Whether it's a personal feeling of performing some action deftly, gracefully, or emphatically--or making other people (sprites) do your bidding and carry out your will; feeling your commands driving them in their movements, theres nothing more freeing and wonderful than giving another human being the chance to *feel* that movement.
I don't know what other people are into. I think alot of them like the narrative style. But for me, the finesse of a somersault or the powerful crash of a weapon swung impossilby quickly by a character are gifts for myself and for other people to use and to imagine for themselves.
We all dream of flying. But it's games that can give that gift.
the only shame is that designers have an obsession with curtailing these experiences--forcing them to be situational or limited. Because they have no imagination and can't understand how to make a good game when the player has too much freedom---or feel that they're the gatekeepers on fun, doling it out in small packets because too much will end up boring people in the end (nonsense).
So e-x is doing it right. That abrupt stop mimics the abrupt motion and aftermath of intent. It's not a narrative--he doesn't need to have a 'luminal period' after hitting someone.