July 23rd, 2010
While working on some combat animations, I decided that the current Phoenix animation editor is too hard to use, and there are too many bottlenecks in the route to making it better. So, for now, I am looking into alternative approaches to editing animations.
So far I am leaning towards integrating Blender animation, perhaps with custom import and export scripts. One of my original motivations for creating an animation editor was to make it available to all players without any expensive or platform-specific software. Blender fulfills this requirement because it's free, cross-platform, and open-source. Many valuable resources are free and open-source as well: for example, this great animation tutorial series here, and this reusable character rig here. Here is Robbert set up with that rig:
Blender also already has tools for working with blend shapes (aka morph targets) for per-vertex effects like facial expressions, so this could save a lot of time in that regard as well. However, the existing Phoenix animation editor would still be useful for adding important meta-data like ragdoll joint limits, animation events, and scripted IK lines.
I've heard complaints about the user interface in Blender, but I've always found it to be pretty consistent-- once you learn a few basic rules, everything makes sense. It has also made a lot of progress while being battle-tested in shorts like Elephants Dream, Big Buck Bunny, and the soon-to-be-released, Sintel.
What do you think, would it be a good idea to use Blender as the primary animation tool for Overgrowth?