Dev Blog #5- Hands and Fingers
Hello all. My name is Nicholas Robbins, programmer at MilkShed Games and today I’ll be talking about some of the work I’ve been doing on the arms of the RVs. As Matthew discussed in his blog post, we wanted to implement new visuals to give a deepened game feel and more realism to the RVs. The arms ultimately are what drives the unique mechanics of the game, and are the central focus for the vehicle other than its driving. Therefore I wanted to implement new arms which could feel and look good, while also giving the RV a sense of character as well. To do this, I implemented an inverse kinematics system into the arms and fingers to allow for dynamic animation depending on the player’s current state. The goal is to allow the arms to move naturally to the environment around the player for new interesting visuals while reducing the amount of specific animations that needs to be created by our artist, Dylan. Each finger has its own IK system that goes from the fingertip to the hand itself, then each arm has an IK system from its forearm to bicep, allowing the arm to bend correctly. Extra components have been implemented on top of this such as a detection system for when the arm is too close to a wall and dynamically moves the arm closer to the body of the RV to reduce the possibility of the arm clipping into a surface accidentally when outstretched. With these systems as a base, I then started working on the other visual interactions that arms may have.
One of the visuals I have been putting most of my time into is allowing for the fingers to brush against surfaces that the player races past. Imagine a robotic hand bumpiing across a rocky surface while leaving a trail of broken rocks and dust behind it. We will also be looking to implement this into more aspects of the racing itself, such as having the hand lean down and touch the racetrack beneath the RV as it leans while it turns, or a claw that comes out the back to scratch the ground to slow down. We hope that these new visuals give extra character to the RVs to make them feel more than just a vehicle.
One of the other goals that we have with the arms is to make them more interactive with the race track itself. With the IK on the arms and fingers, we can allow for extra functionality with the environment like dynamically aiming out and grabbing different objects on the track to hold onto for various gameplay purposes. This along with the arm touching different surfaces should create a grounded feeling to the mechanical arms and make the player feel that they are interacting with the environment more than just racing on it.
That’s all I got for now. Time to return to the programming dungeon to keep working at it. I hope that you are excited to see the arms in action and the rest of the game as well! Thank you for reading!