Hello everyone. I’m Takaaki Yamaguchi and I was the animator for the enemies in Vanquish. I’d like to give you an inside look on my work on the game.
Have you all given the demo a try? If you haven’t, definitely give it a shot. It might take you a little bit to get used to the controls in the game, but I think screenshots and video don’t do the sense of speed and exhilaration in the game justice.
Of course, this is because we followed the direction of Mikami-san from the beginning of production…
We started by knowing rejecting what had become the calm, expected elements of shooters:
“Remember the map, find a good spot, hide, then move.”
“If you get discovered, move to another hiding spot”
“Fire before you are fired upon.”
Instead, we went with something only aggressive words could describe:
“No running away! Move forward!”
“I don’t want people crawling along or hiding under cover!”
“You’ll dodge bullets with a ‘woosh’!”
With that direction in mind, I went about creating the enemy animations and it dawned on me that I wasn’t really creating shooter animations as much as I was creating action game animations.
By the way, animating something for a game is not just about simply making something look cool when it moves. When working on a player character, you have to make sure that there is a direct response to user controls so that things feel good, but with enemies, you need to build in instants where the player knows that they are about to be attacked. If you’d like to know more about this, Eijiro, lead animator on Bayonetta, wrote about Enemy Animations on the Bayonetta blog. Check out his post here: http://platinumgames.com/2009/05/17/rooting-for-the-enemy/
These hints are incredibly important to an action game. For instance, in the Vanquish demo, you face off against the giant Argus robot. The Argus has many different kinds of attacks; we made “warning animations” not just for the melee attacks, but for all of the firearm attacks the robot can execute, as well.
At first, you will probably be completely absorbed in the fight, but after fighting the Argus a few times, you should be better able to determine what attack is coming next from these warnings. By the way, there are even attacks that can hit you behind cover. If you think about it, that is pretty much against established shooter convention, but if you pay close attention to your foe and get the timing right, you can dodge these attacks. Once that attack is over, that is your opening to repay the favor. You could say that this is the ebb-and-flow of an action game. Pulling this off with grace becomes very addictive, and you’ll soon be completely absorbed in the action.
So that’s Vanquish. Personally, I love action games, and the animations I created for Vanquish are something that I can truly be proud of. You can pick your difficulty level in the game, so I hope that lots of different people play the game. Furthermore, it would be great if even those of you who think you aren’t good at action games take what I’ve written here into account and give the game a try. You might find that you end up loving what you experience.
Finally, this doesn’t really have anything to do with my blog, but our character modeler, Yoshifumi Hattori, mentioned a robot dog in his post on the blog here: http://platinumgames.com/2010/08/05/the-augmented-reaction-suit-system/
Well, I went digging and found some of the animation we created for the robot terrier.
This reminds me of when we had a robot-dog-missile attack in the game…