Hello, Adam. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I've been with Bohemia Interactive for three years now, since September 2015, and since I started as a Technical Animator I've been primarily working on DayZ, some part-time on Vigor, and have lent some assistance on Project Lucie as well. Bohemia is my first company that I've worked for professionally, but I've worked on multiple projects during my time at University in New Zealand, on my free time, and during the global game jams. My roots in game development started out with Garry's Mod – a mod for Half-Life 2 – where I used to go into the files of famous games, extract the 3D models, and piece together the data to make it work in a different engine. Fair use, of course! :)
Tell us a random fact about yourself...
I studied Creative Technologies in New Zealand for three years. We spent two years learning the fundamentals, and then in the last year we formed a large team of programmers and artists and created a game, Dungeon Town.
What was your first positive interaction with video games, that you can remember?
Oh man, that must have been when I got my first Super Nintendo as a hand-me-down from my sister, I used to play Super Mario Brothers until the first level was practically burnt into our CRT TV. I was never any good, so I used to watch her play a lot.
And your most memorable video game moment?
That would probably be watching my first Dota 2 international tournament. So much energy and excitement, but I haven't been able to go in person yet. TI9, anyone?
The zombie apocalypse hits, humanity lies in ruin, and by a curious twist of fate video games have become the new currency. What is the one game you’d never, ever trade for a can of beans, no matter how hungry you got?
Considering the amount of hours I have in Dota 2, probably that. It's embarrassing how many hours I have sunk into that whirlpool of a game.
So, as a Technical Animator, what do you do?
My role as a Technical Animator is primarily to bridge the gap between animators and gameplay scripters. If there's an animation that needs to be played in a certain situation, I make that happen through our animation system! I also help the company establish workflow practices and develop scripts to help animators create more animations quicker, which is a fun puzzle that never really ends.
What is your favourite animation you've produced? And which was the funniest to record mo-cap for? (Question by @Lasyen_)
To answer both of those questions, it would probably be the suicide animations... As morbid as it is, it's a nice break from the monotony of walking and running animations, where you can really express a character's emotions. Out of those that I have created, I'd say the suicide with a pitchfork was the most fun I've had animating, so far...
@totalxq asks, "Is an animation planned for ascending steep hills? I know many people enjoy sprinting very fast up almost vertical slopes, but is anything like this planned?"
First off, separate animations for this is probably not very fitting in this situation. Currently, we've got six directional animations in two different speeds, in two different stances, in two different states of injury. Mixing an additional two animations for each of those states would end up with a lot of extra data (an extra 48 animations per weapon type), and blending more than two animations together is generally something we want to avoid.
To answer your question, no, we probably won't have an animation, but we are exploring ways to utilize inverse kinematics on the feet to align them to the terrain in a more realistic manner and add more inertia to the body.
Right now, there are two blending animation states – wounded and healthy. Are other states – such as broken bones and hunger – planned? (Question by @testAbug)
For your first question, we're exploring ways to blend all of those animations together, but still keep the visual quality up to par. You see, blending multiple animations together doesn't mean that you get the best of both of those animations, it means you get the average data between all of the animations being blended. In other words, you're never 100% sure what you're blending is going to look like in all situations.
What is the workflow used internally to bring the animation into the game after being recorded in the studio? (Question by @Jacob_MangoR)
In the animation department we're using Motion Builder to process the motion capture onto a character rig that uses the DayZ skeleton. When we have refined the animation that's been applied to that character rig, we use the tool developed for Motion Builder to export the character motion into the Enfusion animation format.
If you could start the project over, what is one thing you would do differently from a Technical Animator perspective? (Question by Mathieu Hachey)
What a loaded question, but a good one nonetheless. I would probably try to establish the character rig and all of its requirements straight off the bat, as currently it has been more of a process of discovery and constant adjustment to fit the needs of the game. But game development is a fickle lady, and you never really know what to expect once you start.
What is it like to work at Bohemia and ultimately on a project like DayZ? (Question by RandomUser___)
I really like it, personally. I have a couple of friends in game development working for other studios, and I can't say that I envy their months-on-end crunching schedules because they are at the whim of their publishers. With Bohemia publishing their own games, they control the game from conception to development to release, which means that usually we're not working long hours that drain your creativity and burn you out. Obviously, all of this comes with its drawbacks and development complications, but even in cases such as DayZ I am a firm believer in Shigeru Miyamoto's words: "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad." Working for Bohemia Interactive on DayZ is challenging due to the constant uphill battle, but there have not been many days that have sapped my will to continue to create, which is a huuuuge plus for me.
Is there anything else you're currently working on in your spare time?
Yeah, while it's not game development related, I've started a small website called fantasy-calendar.com where you can create your own calendars for your pen and paper role-playing games. It's got a bunch of people using it now, so that's neat.
Finally, tell us one of Adam's Top Tips...
If you're gonna make scrambled eggs, cook it on incredibly low heat, never stop stirring, and don't add salt early into the process. Add a small bit of butter after taking it off the heat to make it creamy and nice, and also to cool it down in order to get it to the right consistency.
If you were looking for game development tips; never stop creating. Don't get stuck on the small stuff, keep going past it and push yourself to finish your small projects, even if they aren't at the highest quality. It's only through iteration that you'll find the gold nuggets of game development that you'll learn from, and those lessons you can bring with you when you come join us at Bohemia...
Our next Featured Bohemian is right around the corner, so keep an eye on our social media pages for the latest updates. But until then, feel free to learn more about working at Bohemia Interactive by checking out our Careers Page - we may just have the perfect job opening for you. Until next time...