Developer Insight: Animation and Mocap
July 08, 2011

Animator: Adam Vincent

What is your role within Rocksteady?

My job title is animator, and the role of that is to create and design the movement of any of the characters/creatures we choose to put into the game. I was hired as a boss animator on BM:AA and I still work on them for BM:AC. It’s a chance for me to contribute to the design and creation of something large and specific in the game. One of those punctuation points in the game play where the rules change up.

As well as bosses, my main roles are combat animation, BM agility work, and anything glide related among other things. The combat stuff is great, has to be thought out and re-iterated until were happy with something solid, so it fits the gameplay and looks like a Batman move. This a really important part of the job; making Batman look and feel like Batman, or any other character for that matter. The movement and style have to be coherent, so anything that the player does feels like its tailored to that character.

I also do a lot of the mocap that we use in-game. Not in the cinematics, but more idle animations, anything from thugs playing baseball with bottles, pacing about, mugging others, etc as well as bespoke anims here and there for player characters. We have our own mocap studio in house which is great. And it’s often good fun acting stuff out and knowing that what you see in-game is actually me trying my best to look like: thugs, BM, Joker, Catwoman………. Yes. Catwoman. A low point to my career perhaps?!

How long have you worked at Rocksteady?

Started on BM:AA I’ve been here for over 3 years now.

What made you want to work here?

Well often when you go for interviews for video games studios you’re not allowed to see, or even be told what the company is working on. This was the case for me. Although I knew a designer here who I had worked with in the past and promised me that the game was going to be special. Everyone I met on that day seemed very excited about the game and that enthusiasm is still visible now.

What is your day to day like?

Check my emails, and synch to the latest files in the game. Then I get stuck into animating, either picking up where I left off the day before or starting something fresh. Usually we try and block out key poses as we animate, it’s a good time to explore your idea a little and see how it will look if BM is holding this pose for longer here, or doing a flip there etc.

Much of the work I do requires talking to others to solve a problem and to work out how we can implement something in game. Usually a meeting every now and again to progress something. Especially with bosses. I work very closely with the coders to make sure were on the same page with a new ability or to implement a design to see if it’s going to work.

For example, when creating the new gliding anims it had to look good and feel good to control. The shape and motion of both the cape and BM went through countless changes. And then just when you think you’re done, someone says, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if it looked like this?’ or the design changes for the better and now you can glide boost. Everyone has their opinion on it, including me. So a big part of the animation process is discussion and tweaking the work.

Describe Arkham City

A diseased playground! A place for the player to navigate, deal justice, explore, and pray on the simple minds of the inhabitants……………… That was rubbish, I’ll never have the silky smooth skills of Dax!

It’s amazing to play when I get time to. It’s a pleasure to glide around and the combat is always a blast, easy to learn, hard to master. And with the gadget use in combat for BM:AC it’s just what the system needed!

If you could share anything about your experience working on the game, what would it be?

It’s a lot of hard work, but there is a lot of reward. It really is a buzz to know you’re working on an outstanding game. The feedback we get through is always inspiring. Gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside like dysentery!

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