In part four, I had finished rigging the character and begun animating. At this stage I enter a weird sort of back and forwards between art and code, trying to animate quickly and roughly so I can get something in game, and using that to figure out what to refine. Being across multiple roles is an advantage in these cases as I can prioritise art or code as I see fit.
With most animations accounted for in some form or another, and the framework in place, I need to focus on the attack patterns. First up is a shooting phase, she will hurl blue energy balls that can kill the player outright, but their main purpose is to burst into bullets.
|"You're not an ordinary fellow!"|
|my inspiration for the design was "something you wouldn't want to sit on"|
I made three splines and curved them in interesting ways, lofted a shape along them and used the deformers to pinch them off a bit then I started selecting various faces and did an Extrude Along Spline to add the thorns. I did a basic UV unwrap so I could add some colour and texture. I wanted to emphasize the 'viney' nature and the spikes. I made the tips red so they would stand out (and red is a colour signifier in Cactus for player damage) but pushed it towards purple so it wouldn't be confused with blood.
I knew I wanted the vines to 'crack through the floor' and originally I was going to do a rig with lots of moving parts. The first tests didn't really justify the approach though so I simplified it down to four moving parts (one bone for ground and one for each vine) the vines themselves don't deform at all, I'm just using scale and rotation to fake their 'growth'. In game they would play their animation then switch out for a static mesh that would play the dissolve effect. They were designed to only cause damage as they were growing, but this wasn't apparent so I wrote a shader that let me animate a red rim light during growth. This ended up being better for the overall colour scheme anyway, so it was a good change.
|the red glowing spikes are the international symbol for "don't cuddle"|
Finally, I wanted to have her fling giant flowers - I figure once you go down the path of glowing bullets you shouldn't stop, and some of my favourite games have really creative projectiles. (hello Virtual On!) My original plan was to use 3D mesh flowers, I modelled something up and dropped it in game, but from gameplay camera, I was getting very little from it's 3Dness, so I rendered it as a sprite instead, which let me process the texture to give the whole thing a bit of glow and keep more in line with the other projectiles. If you're wondering why my Alpha Blended sprites are casting shadows... I have a second invisible shadow caster that moves along under the real projectile.
|I got the idea for the secondary shadow caster from an episode of Naruto|
With the pieces assembled, I started balancing the battle. Anything goes during this part, it's mostly down to feel. Originally the second phase was just blue orbs, but it lacked movement so I had it alternate between streams of flowers and orbs. I was considering using flowers again in fourth phase, but decided bullets gave a more interesting closing pattern, and phase six was basically an all in of flowers vines and wasps.
|I like the bit where live streamers nearly get an S+ then swear|
COMING UP NEXT POST : stages and character texturing!