Author: Sooi Cherchye

Buildings, characters and animation


Our game is based in the city of New Atlas which is a mining city that has been mining a substance called Luma. Luma has been used as fuel for many years and recently started being used as a drug. The city broke down and started rioting.

The atmosphere of the city is quite happy with dark undertones. We went for a 20s – 50s American architectural style for the buildings, resembling the type of houses you’d find at a Disney amusement park.

I modeled a house to give ourselves an idea of what we wanted. Aidan worked on a building generator which takes the pieces I modeled an tiles and stretches them to fit in all kinds of house configurations. (Blogpost on that later)

Just scaling the houses and giving them some colour already looks pretty decent. I also worked on a balcony which can be seen on the image below.



There are different types of characters. We have the regular units who can be either melee or ranged. The regular units are civilians of the city and will all look relatively similar with some minor changes such as different armor, weapons, colours,…

The specialist however behave more like champions or heroes like in MOBA games. They are outsiders and will look completely different than the other units.

  • Regular Unit
    • Melee
    • Ranged
  • Specialists
    • Commander
    • Healer

Before I started actually modeling unit I wanted to make sure that we could reuse skeletons and animations for each unit. Having the make or find new animations for every unit variation would be ridiculous and take way too much time.

I started off modeling a basic human mesh to test things out with. The things I wanted to test were:

  1. Reusing skeletons for different meshes
  2. Cloth simulation
  3. Animating with Maya


I used Mixamo┬áto rig and animate the regular unit. The rigging isn’t perfect but will do for our project as the camera is always pretty far from the character. The below characters use the same skeleton and animations. I made the character on the left to get an idea of how long it would take to complete a full character. Being able to reuse parts of the mesh and fully reuse the animations will make sure that next units will go a lot faster.

To use the same skeleton for every unit I use the skeleton Mixamo generated and bind another mesh to that using Maya. Maya’s auto-skinning works surprisingly fine and will suffice for what we need.


I also experimented with animation blueprints and animation blending. I now have a pretty clear idea of what the workflow for a character is to get it from model to implemented in the game.


While Mixamo is fine to use for the regular units, we will need to do the animations for the specialist ourselves. For the custom animation I wanted to use Maya. In the past I have always run into problems when rigging and animating with Max. However, I have never used Maya or animated a character before so this was quite the challenge.

The first specialist we want to add is the commander unit Uki and her mount Aput. We did not make it easy for ourselves by choosing a quadruped with a character riding on them as a first character. Luckily I got used to Maya pretty quickly and all steps are quite straight forward. Animating still is a time consuming task that we can’t really speed up.

The commander is modeled by Michelle.

Above you can see the animations I made. They’re far from perfect but that was expected from the circumstances. They are still fine for now and can always be polished afterwards.