Saurian DevLog #68
With setup out of the way, progress on playable Triceratops has begun in earnest, plus animation has begun on a new animal. Lets get into it.
Since Jake and Tom finished up all the animations for the Triceratops growth stages, I've been busy implementing them and reorganizing to accommodate them. In addition to refactoring and improving existing systems, such as the camera, I've been adding new features like proper foot IK and social calls. Before I speak about the latter, here's a clip running around as a bab. For such an ugly baby, it sure is adorable:
By now, I've refactored and rewritten the social systems to a point where I can begin to show some new behavior, albeit a simple one. In general our design philosophy has strived to use minimal UI, and so we hope to continue that trend with our social systems. While we will be introducing new pieces of UI for social interaction (such as the interaction wheel), one thing we can avoid using it for is group membership validation. In the old system, social groups (which Dakotaraptor largely does not experience, instead being limited to AI) would always be created instantly and invisibly--however, that's not very player friendly. Now, if you want to create/join/merge a new group, it's done through social displays. You can see it in this quick video where I make a new Triceratops friend:
As you can see, my new friend returns the social call to me to let me know it also wants to be friends, and then starts tagging along with me once I get too far away from it (since we're BFFs now, much unlike Jake and I in real life). If an AI makes this call to you, you will also be able to decide whether or not to accept your new friend. While this mechanic manifests simply for the uniform subadult groups (such as above), it will involve more complex dynamics with adult/child patriarchal herds, in which the leader will have more agency. Hopefully, it'll be pretty cool. I'm already finding it enjoyable to feel like I have a friend in Hell Creek, not just horribly negligent raptor parents.
For the last few weeks Tom and I were wrapping up the remaining animations needed to make Pectinodon game ready. Most of these were turning animations and the like, nothing ya'll haven't really seen before, so nothing really stuck out as far as render material was concerned. Hopefully by next dev-log we can have the Pectinodon functioning in-game, and I'll be hard at work on the next creature.
For the majority of my time since last devlog, I have been helping finish off the animations for Pectinodon. However, since those have been done I have moved on to Anzu. Since we’ve shown off our work-in-progress Pectinodon a couple of times now, I figured you might prefer to see a new dinosaur this week.
I have wanted to work on this guy for a while, and he will be my little project I will plug away at whenever I don’t have work on more immediate updates to do.
The most prominent animation I did was the social display, which is a notable point of research in oviraptors like Anzu. Many species show a fused structure at the end of the tail that is hypothesised to anchor large display feathers on the tail. This tail fan is preserved directly in Caudipteryx and Similicaudipteryx. From the latter we even have a growth-series that show the fan developing as the animal ages (juvenile impression shown to the left). It has been officially suggested in the literature that oviraptor tails are uniquely adapted as display structures, so this obviously had to be utilised. As Chris had also decked out our male Anzu with colourful wings and large white feathers on the underside of its neck, I wanted to use those too.
I watched a number of bird mating displays, but these were actually mostly too stiff, or the animal hopped and moved around too much. At the moment ours have to be stationary for the AI behaviour, but I may talk to Henry about changing this up when we get to working on Anzu as a playable character. This is what I ended up doing:
I purposely animated it to look best from the perspective of a female Anzu, so the tail fan points down somewhat over the animal, and the male bows down and lifts his head to best show off the white bushy “beard” on his neck. Jacob didn’t render it from the optimal angle even though I told him too. The mouth movements and animation length are purposely sunk to Xico’s awesome and hilarious Anzu mating calls.
Our header image this week is by Discord member Neytiri, and displays they’re first kill as an adult Dakotaraptor.
Here is a really cool stylised painting of our Basilemys (and Dakotaraptor’s mighty calves) by ColdFront:
And finally, a moody screenshot by eriFenesoreK: