My name is Stefan and I’m the Community Manager for theHunter. Welcome to the third part of our blogging series about the game development of theHunter: Call of the Wild. Over the next few weeks I’ll be meeting with some of the very talented people who are working on creating theHunter: Call of the Wild. Often, you only see the finished games once they are up on the shelves or on Steam – but what does it actually take to make a game of this scale, and who are the people involved?
Today I met with Robert Pettersson (Animator) to give us some insight on how to bring this world into motion.
What’s your name and your job on theHunter: Call of the Wild?
My name is Robert Pettersson, I am part of the animation team on Call of the Wild. I create animations for animals, player characters and weapons.
What made you want to become an animator in game development?
Art in general has always been a big part of my life. I was drawing a lot as a kid and being able to make my drawings come to life got me hooked early. In the eighties, when home computers started becoming good enough, the possibility to have a one-man animation studio became a reality. When 3D software became more common, I started experimenting with of course modelling, but also the possibility of creating movement in 3D. I started modding games in the mid-nineties and games became the natural platform where my profession grew on me.
Which projects and games did you work on in the past?
I have had a role at almost all games here at Avalanche Studios and Expansive Worlds. When I started here, the first Just Cause was about halfway finished so I did a bit of work there. After that I did some research and development for Just Cause 2 and naturally worked on the title itself. After that I worked on both Mad Max and Just Cause 3. I even did a bit of work on theHunter: Classic back in the day. There, I worked on the feral hog, so it was nice to get to animate the wild boar in theHunter: Call of the Wild. It was like a little reunion although I’m more satisfied with the result this time around.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest difference to previous projects, working on theHunter: Call of the Wild?
The biggest difference has been that we’re using our new engine, Apex. The technology is not everything, but has of course given us more options as developers to create a more realistic experience.
I have slowed the animation down by 75% so we can see more details of the complex movements the animal goes through. This is one of the ‘fleeing’ animations in the game.
Here we can see a detailed reload animation from within the program Robert uses. He mainly works with Maya and Motionbuilder.
Here we see a wild boar grazing. Also notable: The models Robert animates do not yet have fur or additional features and details.
What does an usual day look like for you on theHunter?
When I get into work, I usually go through my emails and chat a bit with my colleagues. We have our team morning meetings that set the structure for the day’s work. We talk about what’s working and what needs to be fixed, who’s working on what and what’s most important at the moment. After that, my days tend to look very different from one to the next. If I’m in the middle of animation production, days are usually spent creating movement on our character rigs and then test it in the game. But days can also be mixed with a bit of problem-solving or breaking down reference material if we’re planning a new feature. If we’re further along in production, my daily workflow can be about polishing content or fixing something that is broken or need to be changed.
What is your favorite part about theHunter: Call of the Wild so far?
I would say the whole atmosphere and feel of the game. I really like the composition of game assets and features, for example how the terrain and vegetation blends with the wildlife, sound, weather and lighting. It’s important to me that the player feels that they are in a living, breathing world that works the way it does, on it’s own.
Any advice for people who want to become an Animator in the games industry?
If you really want to become an animator, go for it and know that anyone can learn. The learning curve for animation can be pretty steep so don’t set your expectations too high. I would suggest reading a book about animation and start doing some of the simple exercises in there and then repeat them. All the simple ones have a great meaning in the long run when you move onto more advanced character movement or even acting.
If you really understand them, you will have a solid foundation. Also, try different ways of animating and find what is the right method for you. Perhaps you find hand-drawn easier than 3D or want to try a stop-motion or cut-out animation. There are some great apps for smartphones that will get you started. If you’re hooked, maybe it’s time to apply to a school or online course to help you that extra step? You will need a bit of patience, but it’s a very rewarding craft.
Thank you, Robert, for letting us peek into your daily work as an Animator. I think that especially animation is something we often take for granted in games and it is great to see how much work and skill are required to really make a game like theHunter: Call of the Wild come to life.