Plug's Game
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Plug's Game

Grace Barney
by GraceBarney on 1 Jun 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

Where you can play as Plug from the Bash Street Kids! A piece of work focused around UE4 and how the animation pipeline connects with it in order to have better understanding of the game engine and have fun running around as gawky, handsome? Plug.

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Plug: Taking a 2D character to 3D game 

Plug is from the Bash Street Kids in The Beano comic, which was my favourite as a kid. I chose to make Plug the centre of my first  animation for game and UE4 experience because of his visual appeal, and potential for exciting animation which is my main focus. His string bean like proportions with extremely exaggerated features, such as his ears, upper lip and and knobbly knees, gives me freedom to match his awkward, gangly design with equally exaggerated and characterful animation.

“Cameras, mirrors and windows seem to smash when I'm around. Probably because I'm too handsome.” - Plug

Above is a selection of my inspiration, all property of D. C. Thomson & Co.

Making the Model

I was always going to make my own model, in order to learn as much about working in Unreal as possible. Thanks to a backlog of Beano Annuals, I had plenty of reference. Unsurprisingly for such a dynamic character, there were no neutral poses and so I compiled element of different strips to create a model sheet. The comic artists definitely stretch him around a lot and so it is averaged out to his 'base proportions'.

Model

Animation Research

I excessively recorded myself trying to move and behave like Plug - much to the amusement of my flatmates - in order to then turn into thumbnails and work through said sketches, pushing the poses and exploring ideas for the actual animation. All of the thumbnails are by me and show my process of developing the idea and finessing the posing.

Breathe and Idle

Walk

Jump

The aim was to do at least a breathe, walk, run, jump and attack. If there was time I would expand the repertoire to include some special moves such as an attack or celebration.

Concept to Implementation

This is a short summary of the process, with the modelling, animating and gameplay implementation being the focus.

Technical Section Expansion

Aside from capturing Plug's essence well in the animation, the thing that is most successful is the rig, which I built from scratch. It features blend shapes on the face, SDKs on hands and feet, and IK/FK arms. Below is a more expansive clip demonstrating the rig, showing some off the deformations too. 

As well as the blueprint set up I moved around for jump so that the speed at which the character is running is proportional to both the preparation and height of the jump - I made the talk-through to explain to my pals how and why I had done it .

Focusing on Unreal for the entire pipeline was really useful experience


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