Monday, 14 April 2008

Once more ... with feeling!

One of the new features in Moviestorm release 1.0.4 will be the new gesturiser interface.

You add gestures in the same way as before, using the ring menu, but now you get this little tool - with explanatory text! To add a gesture, click the + button at the left of the micro-timeline track.

Now you get a collapsible list of all the gestures you can add. The little red arrows indicate whether the gesture is "complete" (i.e. it takes you back to the standard idle pose afterwards) or "incomplete" (i.e. there are one or more follow-on gestures you can do afterwards, like you get with most of the dance moves, for example). The gesturiser now understands these "gesture chains" properly, so you can only add gestures that follow smoothly, and you won't get nearly as many of those annoying jumps and discontinuities between animations.

There are a lot of gestures (about 2000 separate animations all told in the dev version I'm running, which includes all the add-on packs we've released, and quite a few we haven't). This gets seriously unwieldy to browse through, so if you hit Filter (at the bottom of the list) you get a tag cloud which narrows your search down.

When you find a gesture you like, click the right arrow just by the micro-timeline and your gesture pops onto the track. You can now scrub it, drag it, and so on.

To add more gestures, just keep adding to the existing track, and they'll get put onto the end, or else, as here, click the + next to a new track to have several gestures going on at once.

One new feature that doesn't show up too well (unless you click on the picture above and get it full size) is that when you click on a gesture in the list, the character performs the action. Here, Melissa's previewing a "wave". This allows you to see what you're going to get, rather than trying something and then finding it isn't what you wanted after all. It's one of those tiny little changes that means that adding performance and characterisation to a scene becomes a whole lot easier.

And, hidden away where nobody except twak will ever find it, is are the hooks for a cunning piece of code that will enable us - in some future release - to add in a really powerful little feature. What we're planning is to have three different ways to drag activities on the micro-timeline. The basic drag will move an activity along the timeline exactly as it does now. The two other drags will enable you to change the duration of the activity in different ways. One changes the duration of an activity, so you can do it slower or faster; the other simply repeats the activity for as long as you want. This is dead handy for things like guitar animations - you just say "play the guitar", drag it to the right speed, then drag it out for a minute or so, and you have an instant backing musician.


Kate Fosk said...

The 'three way drag' facility for extending gestures sounds very useful. Hopefully at some stage we could insert some sort of pause within a gesture.

AngriBuddhist said...

twak has alluded to this being possible in the future and if you look closely at the screeshots of the recent timeline post you'll see some clues on what they are hoping to use the "hooks" for.