Bringing Sara to Life

Category: Art

PHEW! Finally, after so much happening during these past 2 weeks it is finally over! I have been working nonstop on multiple projects as mentioned previously. But after all of that it is over! So, I thought it would be appropriate to go back and look at the current state of things. See where I am with this current projects and where I want to go in the future.

Creating Sara

As I have been hinting at, I have been working on the main character of the game, Sara. Finally came up with some designs for her, I settled on her in a jacket. I wanted to emphasize her motion through the world, so the large tuffs of hair she has will bounce around as she navigates throughout the world. I also included some loose articles of clothing to add to her physicality and anchoring her into the environment and your interactions.

One of the other main goals of her design was to focus on making her look prepared for this kind of work. This isn’t her first time adventuring out into the world she does have some other journeys under her belt.

I mentioned some of this in my post: Designing an Engaging Narrative, and I think that I successfully aligned with my original goals.

After creating the character design I set out refine and implement her in motion. This took a surprisingly long time compared to previous work that I have done in a similar vein.

First, I am not a painter. So, when it came to going in and painting her (digitally) I was a bit cautious with how I approached things. This, unfortunately, led to a lot of false starts as I was unhappy with what I was producing. With persistence and some luck, I was finally happy with what came out of it.

Breathing in New Life

I set out to implement her into the game first by making some character animations. All rigged and ready for animating, I set out to bring Sara to life.

There were a couple of animations that I needed to make for her:

There were a couple of animations that I needed to make for her:

  • Idle/Standing Around
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Falling

Using the plugin, Anima2D, made creating these animations much easier than doing it manually piece by piece. In fact, in Neon Ritual, I made the running animation without bones or Inverse Kinematics. Meaning I had to move each individual piece by itself. It was a very time-consuming process as any readjustments meant that I needed to change a large of amount of the animation. With Anima2D it made it so that it was simple to move and adjust the position of each bone.

On a side note, Unity just announced that Anima2D is now going to be integrated as a part of Unity! This is scheduled to happen in next year as of writing this.

Here are the results of all that hard work:


I also could get her hair (and backpack and leg straps) to bounce around in a limited way. It kind of works, but I had to cut it in the current version because it was a bit too finicky. But here it is in action:

Into a New World

As a testament to preparing this beforehand, getting her to react to player input was easy. Within minutes she was walking around jumping and hopping around. Also within 15 mins or so, I put in touch controls and could port this over to my phone! This was due to planning well ahead of time that I wanted to have multiple control schemes and these different platforms as well as using a plugin that I used for Glitch in the System, called Touch Input Manager by Pigeon Coop.

(Though for some reason there were some graphical issues with the background, but hey).

I then moved on to creating a world for Sara to explore. Though admittedly, I spent FAR less time on this aspect as I wanted to get something in as quickly as possible. I quickly sketched up some sample background assets and placed it in the world. Unfortunately, as this was done quickly, I didn’t have time to make platforms for Sara to jump on, so it is just a flat piece of land right now. I put in some particle effects and played around with some lighting and had a cool looking scene for you to explore in a short amount of time!

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 A Tale of Too Many Projects

With all that said and done, I think that what I ended up with is impressive for the time that I had allotted due to the different projects I was undertaking. It really is unfortunate that I had to deal with so many projects at the same time.

Reflecting on the experience in terms of school, I concluded that if it were any other previous semester I would have had the time to implement the interactive world that I wanted to initially when I first started. I can’t overstate enough how much of a “dream class” this was as throughout my college career I have been trying to do this both in class and out of it (see Glitch in the System and anti|piracy). At the very least have the first environment fully fleshed out by the end, but this was a worthwhile learning experience.

The future of the project is a bit murky, right now I want to finish working on my other bigger projects. I originally had the intent for this project to be relatively small and short. This wasn’t going to be a “full” game where it was a 2-hour experience that you would pick up in the store. This was going to be a 5-10 min experience that you can try out for free, if anything. This was more for the learning some of the systems and the interplay between mechanics. I think that there is an interesting story to tell here, but I can’t tell it right now at the very least.

But overall, I am proud of what I accomplished and hope to get back to it. Maybe next semester?!?