Best way to setup animations & additives with universal animations with different weapons poses

I’m making a small FPS game that is 3D in UE4. It got 9 humanoid characters and 14 different weapons to use (12 melee weapons and 2 firearms). I’m using animation retargeting and universal animations to make sure the animations work across all 9 characters.

I have been making animations inside of Maya. So far what I created so far are 3rd person animations. I’m not going to make 1st person animations until all 3rd person animation is completed. The game right now is a 3rd person game but will be a 1st person game strictly in the near future. I just need to see how the 3rd person animations work and look when playing before I switch it to 1st person. I want the characters to be able to walk, run, and crouch. Some weapons are one-handed while others are two-handed. I want the pose of the upper body to be able to change depending on weapon equipped. Do I have to create an individual run animation for each weapon I got?

I created a standing unarmed idle animation that loops. I also created a bunch of poses that are 1 frames and to be used for Aim Offset for all my weapons and head/face. I also created a crouch additive to use on top of idle/walk animation but I realized that doesn’t work well as you can’t use additives in blend space and it can cause problems with other additives or animations.

I noticed that Unreal Tournament editor got an animation folder (under restricted) with universal animations and FPP/TPP animations. It seems very disorganized and confusing. I couldn’t figure out the animation blueprint setup, there were so many nodes and stuff. I did notice, however, that if you go to universal > 3rd person folder, you can see that there is an additive_base folder which seems to be the base animations for walking, running, and crouch. The upper body of these animations is still at their default pose with arms sticking out. There’s also a lot of blend shapes. What confuses me is that none of these animations are set to additives and yet it works and looks great in-game.

What is the best practice for making universal animations for walk/run/crouch and several different weapons? How did Epic Games setup their Unreal Tournament game animations? What is the best method and process to do this? I want some advice before I keep working on my animations. I want to have an understanding and keep things simple.

Well from a games theory standpoint there are a couple of approaches that could be taken but for it to all there is no one answer or “best practice” that would apply as to the “unique” requirements demanded by the design once it’s actually completed. Game development is not a series of following the dots but a progression of problem solving and typical problem first starts with building a logic block of how the design should look like in it’s completed form and then make adjustments along the way.

So logic wish.

First logic is one blueprint can communicate with another as to the unique requirements than can be contained with in the blueprint.

Second all animations as to locomotion is rather basic to the idea that where the hips goes so does the rest of the body so as long as you can make the player move in a predictable manner as to the design intent then for the most part the job is done and no need to add “unique” requirements such as action states.

Action states is any kind of action that takes place from the first spine joint up so by laying the animations you can combine a locomotion state, like running, with an action state,like reloading a weapon with out having to add, or try to, the take to the state machine that should only control the locomotion state.

This is where the idea of one blueprint talking to another comes in.

Upon position the necessary information needed to operate the weapon can come from a blueprint that only contains the necessary elements that supports a “unique” weapon and pass the info contains with in back to the main animation blueprint which controls the locomotion state.

Example of our first “make it work” design

What I can tell you as fact though is it’s not going to be simple and by process it’s like trying to solve the chicken versus the egg problem where you have to build a chicken first :wink:

I would suggest that you put it on paper, or white board, first

Good advice. I created a diagram tree of what animations is needed as every game is different. I’m having less additive even though it’s going to cost me more time to create these animations but I already have most of them, just need to do some editing and create a few more. Update the assets in UE4, etc. Can you give me feedback on my diagram? Like is it a good setup? Good plan to start with? This diagram is just for 3rd person animations, first-person animations will be minimal and much easier to do after doing 3rd person.