So let’s talk about something NOT design related for a change, like fish animations! As the team’s makeshift Unity animator, it was my job to animate and implement the fish animations used in Slumber.
This was a bit of a challenge, considering the fishes don’t just swim. They also have quite a range of emotions going from fear, to happiness, to love, to disgust. What I got from the graphics team to work with were 3D fish meshes, all using the same rig. Evelina, one of our graphical artists, also supplied a swim animation that can be used for traversal.
OK! So how do we make this fish emote and feel like a person?
Obviously, the first step is adding eyes. We also thought about throwing a mouth on it – but mouths are complicated in that they sort of loop around the face and often create a silhouette – pretty much forcing them to be built into the 3D model.
Without a mouth, the eyes must be able to express emotion on their own. Considering this, I quickly decided to not create 3D eyes, as that would limit the possibilites and add more time required to create individual expressions. Instead, I decided to make 2D eyes for each fish where each part of the eye is layered independently and then animated in Unity, alloiwng me a lot of flexibility.
just by scaling the pupil and eyeball, moving the parts around, and sometimes switching the sprite of the eyeball, I was able to partially achieve the required emotions.
Of course,the eyes were only the first step! Add fin animations, body laungage, and context and you’ve got a pretty expressive fish. Some testers do find the human-ness of the eyes slightly creepy, which I get. Perhaps that’s something to iterate upon when given more time
Until next time!