Yeah, I'm 2 months late, but I just came back from a post screening and I thought it was awesome. Now it's mostly centred around what artists in both the game and media industry have accomplished, but it also demonstrates the tools and algorithms that we as programmers provide them so they can perform their jobs more easily. It also opens your mind to how other people do things and how you might be able to take advantage of those techniques to improve the emotion and visual quality of your game. This year at Siggraph dealt a lot with physical based rendering, so a lot of the animation shorts demonstrate some fantastic results with that. In a lot of ways, it's also great for designers because it gives them insight on how to make games more emotional, rather than mechanical and lifeless. I thought I'd share some of my experiences.
Wrath of the Titans
I thought it was really cool that they used voxels for rendering and destroying the terrain. I never gave it much thought, but seeing those cubes in preview mode brought a smile to my face.
The layering techniques they used to augment the quality of the image was superb. Such an easy thing to do, adding overlays here and there to make a lifeless image breath life. The next time I look at a boring scene, I'm going to try the same techniques and see just how far I can take it (and how much fillrate the GPU can take
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Blizzard pretty much took home the show with their amazingly talented artists behind StarCraft II. The lighting and quality is just superb.
Most of the lighting quality in these shorts were simply great, and the cel shaded shorts were also very well done. In fact, some of them made me think of the game Journey. I think that kind of quality is really cool stuff and brings out a lot of emotion (a topic I think more and more games are going to start incorporating).
You can learn more about the animation festival here. You can also find the corresponding YouTube videos with a bit of searching.
that journey reminds me of ico but the character doesnt seem to have arms. thats a bold decision. your confidence has to be high to make a character with no arms
with animation and emotion that really came down to the rig. the rig was a problem before 2003 where everyone was using the same linear hinge moving type of skeleton. when cat came out that essentially removed that limitation. what you need is for the rig to move the same way a pencil drawing can.
drawings morph from one shape to another shape. a rig that can only do linear hinge movements cant do it. but a rig that can move in a s shape can
Characters and their ability to express themselves is important, but you also have to factor in the presentation. You need the right voice acting, the right story and timing, the right lighting, the right camera angles and music. It's bringing together all those elements to put you into the right mood. Often those elements are overlooked in favour of focusing on other features and/or meeting tight schedules. The idea presented at Siggraph however is to start making games feel more like movies. To start thinking like a movie director and pay more attention to how content is presented to the user. With better tools and experienced designers, such quality will be common place in future games.
in my opinion most games have been taking that approach for some time. in regards to presentation every final fantasy since 7, metal gear since the ps1, zelda ocarana of time. the list goes on and on. the only difference I see, image quality has improved you can do everything in engine without using full motion video
Unfortunately, most of it is out of the hands of indies. You might be able to find a passable voice actor if you are lucky and usually are using an outdated engine. Even lip sync is really hard to do on a budget. I tried it once with some free tools and later found it wasn't any better than random mouth motions.