Sometimes it’s the simple things
High-end ambitious visuals are nice: Pretty places, detailed people, and lighting and shadows so realistic they make players want to melt into the environment. But much of the time, success lies in the smaller, less sexy tech features. Such is the case with Campo Santo’s beautiful character animation. They’ve transitioned from the giant animation state machine they used for Henry in Firewatch to localized state machines, single animations, and timelines, based on the Playables API, which was slowly rolled out through 2017.
“With Henry in Firewatch, our animator really wanted the full body experience all the time, which meant when you looked down in first person you’d see a whole person walking around, climbing a rope, picking up objects, etc.,” explains Rodkin. “Firewatch was one big contiguous space – there aren’t load screens or opportunities to flush parts of the game just because you’ve walked across the world. And at the time, this meant a giant bird’s nest of a Mecanim state machine to account for every interaction that could happen at any point in the game, which was hard to read and harder to manipulate.”