Gaming is the in thing, and there is nothing cooler than being a game animator. There are so many games across a range of platforms & styles. From simple match-3 mobile games like Candy Crush to exploration & adventure games like Tomb Raider, to action games like Call of Duty & Angry Birds, the one thing common to all of them is animation. It is the job of a game animator to bring these games to life with their designs & skills. Here are a few things that you need to know before you join a gaming course.
Basics of animation: Is there a difference?
In reality, there is absolutely no difference. The basics of animation remain the same. The output differs based on the medium. So whether you are an animator for games, feature films, or VFX, timing, spacing, arcs, and weight will always remain crucial. In fact, with strong basics in place, you can always choose to explore various job opportunities across difference industries.
Expressions & exaggerations: What does a game animator do?
Although the basics remain the same, the utilisation differs. One key difference lies in the way basic animation principles are exaggerated and/or toned down. For example, a game character may anticipate before a jump, but it will be a subtle anticipation than that of an animated character in a movie. This is because players expect certain actions/ movements at the click of a button. This expectation defines the actions of the characters, and, in turn, the job of a game animator. No such action can be used that feels like the character is independent of the player.
Stylistically it is allowed for game animators to exaggerate physicality & body mechanics, that may not always be a part of a live-action or animated film. The only animated features that allow exaggeration are cartoons. So if you love extreme expressions & gestures, become a game animator.
Audience reaction: A game animator’s worst fear
Your audience is your god. After all, if no one plays your game or watches your movie, then it is a waste of time & resources. A game animator needs to anticipate user experience at every step. The task is even more challenging because there is a direct interaction & participation from the audience. Therefore game animators have to constantly make sure that the audience does not feel alienated. In case of action games like Call of Duty or Need for Speed, it is the game animators responsibility to align the players’ movements and the camera angles. This helps the players to become one with the characters, and interact better with the game.
Audience influence: Game animator’s victory
One of the most exciting parts of being a game animator is the impact & influence of the final game. It is not without reason that Candy Crush became a national rage or Pokémon Go became an overnight sensation. This was possible because of the work of the game animators. A feature animator has to mostly follow the script & the director, and gets very limited or no chances of leaving behind a signature tough. But a game animator can leave their personal marks through the details & the levels of the games.
The game animation workflow: What is that?
The basics may be the same but the workflow of a game animation and a feature animation are very different. The initial animation is done with modern software like Autodesk Maya. It is then exported to a game engine like Unity or Unreal Engine 4, two of the most widely used gaming software. Instead of animating a full shot as is done in movies, game animators create a series of animation cycles that are pieced together in the game engine. Unlike a movie where one animator may work on several characters at the same time, a game animator is usually assigned a specific character, whom the animator follows through the entire process of game production. This allows more control over the final look & feel of a character, than in a movie. It also reduces chances of confusion and rework, leading to a healthy collaboration between game animators, game designers, and concept artists.
Become a game animator. But why?
With games being created for every possible platform, the games industry needs talented & skilled game animators. Games are no longer restricted to the X-Box. It has moved to gaming arcades & mobile phones. And each platform has its own demands. This is the right time to explore gaming animation, increase your skills, and broaden your job opportunities.
Looking where to start? Here’s the first step.