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Animation Modding Approach

Posted: 31 May 2013, 21:51
by Greendogo
There is definitely a dearth of Animation mods for Morrowind, and I feel like it has a lot to do with the unapproachability of the Animation system in the CS. The Morrowind Construction Set was almost completely devoid of menu-driven tools you could use to interact with animation. Nowhere can you actually view the animation in action.

In addition, the NIF animations are glued together, and the alteration of one specific animation was impossible until LizTail created a program to separate specific animation frames from the rest of an animation file and to glue them back together again.

I know a lot of thought will go into "OpenCS", and things will be done differently and better than the Morrowind CS. However, I want to emphasize that if any one system in OpenCS deserves to have "more" than Morrowind's CS had, it would be OpenCS's animation system.

I only personally have one suggestion, and that would be to integrate an ability to view animations in the CS, and to treat the KF animation files in a way that allows them to be broken up into their separate animation frames easily, and put back together, and have the KF files, in pieces and in their whole form, be exportable and importable to disk from the CS. I know that formats other than NIF will be supported, but NIF will be one of majority used formats for the engine and CS, and I think it handle their alteration well.

Re: Animation Modding Approach

Posted: 31 May 2013, 22:51
by jhooks1
This sounds like a cool idea

Re: Animation Modding Approach

Posted: 03 Jun 2013, 18:39
by LizTail
I'd definitely like to see this as well!

Edit: If you do decide to do this, let me know if there's anything I can do to help make it happen. I've been happy that my mod has spawned a few animation mods, but I think it could really take off if it was built right in and some of the problems people have had with my mod were no longer an issue.

The main issue people had with it was that my mod did two things... it allowed you to change animations of course, but the other thing it did (and the original reason I started writing it) was to normalize the skeleton structure between beast races and other humanoids by adding animated tails to the basic humanoid skeleton. That way, I could fulfill a wish that some people had of playing a beast race using the normal human animations, without losing tail movement. It also enabled the use of the tail bones in clothing, and adding animated tails to custom non-beast races, though I haven't seen any mods that do that yet.

Anyway, the problem is that Morrowind will just fail to load a skeleton if it doesn't contain one of the bones it's looking for, rendering that creature or NPC immobile. So to fix this, my program scans all ESP files for humanoid creatures and human animations and adds tail bones to their skeletons. The problem comes in when you install a new mod that has a new humanoid creature and you don't remember to go back and run this process again. I was hoping mod makers would start adding the bones to their own creatures (since the problem doesn't happen in reverse) but I don't think this has caught on.

Ideally, this wouldn't be necessary at all if the engine didn't require those bones to exist in the first place. When loading an animation, if an animated bone wasn't found, it could just skip it, and the problem would be solved nicely.

Another problem with the mod is that it is incompatible with another hackish thing that people have done - create custom animated items that are based on knowing the exact time that each animation sequence starts and ends in the merged timeline. People discovered that if they could create items with a vertex animation track, like the head meshes, they would animated along with the player. An alternative way of doing this that let you specify animations by name instead of time would be great. I haven't seen nearly as much complaining about this problem, but it would be undeniably cool if equipped items could be animated in sync with the player regardless of custom animations.

Re: Animation Modding Approach

Posted: 03 Jun 2013, 18:50
by Berandas
Sounds great! More support for the animations and sounds would be perfect! ;)