I have been looking into animating complex creatures such as Gyarados and Blastoise and have come to a slightly worrying realization. All of our current models (bar the extremely, extremely simple ones) have to be re-worked. The reason for this is to do with parent and children model components. Here's an example:
Take Gyarados-it has 20 or so boxes that all have to move when the box above them moves and then rotate in order to get a decent animation. With the current set-up, this is impossible to do as rotating each box will rotate each of them relative to their rotation point only, and they aren't shifted by the point above them rotating. So rotating each will just make each box rotate in mid ear, disjointing the model and making it look pretty funny to be honest.
The solution is to use the piece functionality included with Techne; by making each child box inside a piece which is inside the parent piece, the rotations/translations are passed on to the children.
These problems are not restricted to complex animations like Gyarados but it's just the most obvious example. For instance, I was animating Rattata and would have loved to make its mouth open and close, but that can't be done while I allow its head to turn and follow the user.
So, long story short, the existing models cannot be animated and will need to be re-worked. I know this is a huge hassle, but in the long run the results will be amazing. This won't be a big issue for making new models as it doesn't actually take any real extra effort to work with pieces rather than the way it's been done up till this point
So... I have quite literally spent the last day converting Gyarados to the new Pieces format.
Honestly, it wasn't that hard. It was just a time consuming project, but Mr.M has been dying to get this animated, so I figured I would give it a shot...
I found something interesting out about Techne though. They never (or seemed to have never) finished the pieces part of their coding. Their modeler cannot render out model's with pieces correctly, which is why we've probably never seen a mod with advanced animations for mobs before.
So, to demonstrate what I mean by this, I'll show you first how the Pieces version of Gyarados looks in Techne.
See? Completely screwed up (by the way, that list is much longer then that).
And, now in game!
Now.... why the hell should you bother with pieces?
Well... it allows for advanced animation. See, pieces allow parts to move together, to be able to make fluid animations... Now note, I'm still learning here, so I just did a screw around animation. But it still demonstrates my point. This would NOT be possible without using pieces!
Reminder- we need to get a Youtube plugin for the forums if possible lol.