Animate Pieces?

I’m new to animating and while I understand animating for characters, I’m not sure if I’m going about animating puzzle pieces the right way. I want to be able to turn certain pieces by clicking on them and basically take things apart by clicking. These are small, interconnected parts and I’m not a programmer so it makes sense to me to animate each piece rather than code each rotation/translation.

My approach:
Make bones for each piece, parent the piece to the bone, and then export each piece with its animation separately and assemble it all into a blueprint.

Is there an easier way to handle this? I’m going to end up with A LOT of meshes and animations if I do things this way… Would it be better for performance too if I programmed it instead of animating? I mean it probably isn’t that hard to but I’m not sure if it’ll have an impact.

It surely would be better to handle things procedurally for such simple animations like rotating a puzzle piece. And I’m pretty sure you can do that with blueprints.

If the animations are easy, its probably a thousand times easier programming. Have you considered using the Timeline node? You can create curves, and easily play-rewind-replay this curve data out to your individual pieces to have your transitions.

You can simply have your position offset for the individual pieces multiplied by the position value 0…1 on the timeline node for easily scrolling between locations. I imagine you can treat rotation the same.

I would have to say programming would be more efficient but the performance impact wouldn’t be noticeable. Visually, animations might look better. Depends on your preference and what you do when you program the transitions.

I hope that helps!

Thanks! I suppose I’ll program it then. I just get cold feet thinking about code but blueprints will help alleviate that in time haha

I really think applying rotation 90 degrees or whatever to the mesh will work a lot better for you here.

Creating animations for simple translation/rotation is really nuking it from orbit :slight_smile:

But sometimes it’s fun to nuke it from orbit, too…

Well, if you wanted to go the other way around, simple animations/object transformations such as move, rotation, scale etc are pretty easy to set up in something like 3D Studio max and export as animations. If you want the objects to be “together” as one model file you’d have to link them to something like a dummy object and convert dummies to bones on exporting, otherwise you’ll get like 100 separate pieces with their own skeletons and animations (if there were a 100 puzzle pieces).

Obviously this probably wouldn’t work well for a game, considering you’d probably want different types of puzzle pieces for each puzzle, so your best bet is to think of it from a programming perspective. Also it’ll be more malleable if done through programming, unless you plan on creating 500 different animations off of the top of your head.

As an animator I would definitely go with programming on this one. Interpolating between a Start and End transform using a few custom curves, or easing functions, is pretty much all you need. It will also help with performance and practical applications later on.

Programmatic modular animations are iTween’s speciality :slight_smile:

I never heard of iTween before but looking it up now it seems to still have problems when packaging a finished game? I’ll definitely keep a close eye on it though. It looks like exactly what I want. Thanks!

The plugin version does. It’s a problem on Epic’s end with the plugin system, hopefully going to be fixed for 4.8. If you install the source version, there are no issues since it works just like any other C++ code you add. This option allows for blueprints too.