05:00 PM - January 22, 2011 by TheCreep
My name is Ben Ross and I have been at EAC for almost 8 years. Most recently, I have been working as a Lead Character Artist on the Fight Night franchise, which as far as character art goes, is a dream come true. It has been great to work on a project where the expectations both internally and externally are to raise and set a new bar on character visuals each year. That being said, with all the detail we can add comes great scrutiny, so we take both the accolades and criticism to heart and use both to benchmark how to make our products even better. Today, I will touch on 3 main categories of interest in regards to Characters in Fight Night Champion.
We are very excited to release Fight Night Champion since this year we not only get an opportunity to mimic how real world athletes move and behave around the ring but also get an opportunity to truly bring characters to life through dramatic scenes and dialogue in our all-new Champion Mode.
With the addition of Champion Mode, we knew we needed to take our facial animation system up a notch higher and the entire game has benefited. In the ring during gameplay, you will now see improved facial animation as boxers exert themselves throwing devastating punches or grimacing as they receive blows to the body. We have also improved all the concepts that were added in last year and added a few that we weren’t able to get to for Round 4 to make the boxers moving in the ring look even more believable and life-like. Each of the elements work with and compliment the physics system. These include but aren’t limited to:
- muscle flex/deformation
- muscle/fat jiggle
- body ripple (Both for the fighter being impacted and as a reaction back through the boxer throwing the punch)
- sweat generation (for sweat dripping down a boxers face/body and also the sweat you see fly when a boxer is hit)
Each of our body types has a very complex secondary rigging system this year (the skeleton which makes the body geometry deform) that compliments the muscle flex system. Both the deformation and flex are divided up into regions to mimic behaviors of different muscles, tendons and joints throughout the body and they are all driven by the physics system itself. You will see the muscles react and behave accurately in numerous scenarios – none of which are canned effects but some main moments to watch for are:
- When a boxer strains to deliver a punch
- A boxer flexing their abdominal muscles when moving their torso or side-stepping.
- When they flinch/clench receiving a blow that either lands or is blocked
- Calves flexing when a boxer is on their toes or pushing off.
- Biceps contracting/expanding depending on how flexed the arm is and also the rotation of the forearm.
In contrast to that, you will see a boxer’s muscles/fat ‘jiggle’ when their muscles aren’t tense. We were also able to take advantage of this for some of our heavier body types as well, where less flex would be apparent.
At the beginning of production for Fight Night Champion, we had a top Canadian Amateur Boxer in to do a very comprehensive photo/video shoot where we took a lot of slow motion footage from multiple camera angles at a time. We ran him through the gamut of exercises, punches, blocks and anything else you can think of so that we had sufficient reference for how our boxer’s bodies would move/deform this year. As you can see from the below image, he was patient with us as we marked him up with gridlines which we then replicated on our in-game model so that we could do 1:1 comparisons during production and in reviews.
CUSTOMIZATION AND AUTHENTICITY
The choice was made to ensure that everything we put in the game was available for both our licensed boxers and also within our Create Player system. Since modes like ‘Online World Championship’ are strictly for Created Boxers, we didn’t want to create body types and/or gear that were only available for one licensed boxer. That mixed with the fact that boxers change their gear every fight means we would almost never be up to date – so we made sure that all of our boxers can be taken into ‘Edit Boxer’ and updated to their latest and greatest attire or possibly an attire that you liked them in from the past. That being said, we were asked by a few boxers/companies to create specific gear for certain boxers so those made it in to the game as well. You can see examples of that with Miguel Cotto via Marc Ecko and also the boots Manny Pacquiao wore in the Clottey fight. We actually had the authentic trunks and robe Pacquiao wore in the Clottey fight as well but have since made them both recolourable and matched him to the colours he wore against Margarito. This is why in various screenshots you have seen his attire evolve – but thanks to our Edit Boxer feature, once he battles it out with Shane Mosely, even after the game ships, we can all go in and update him once again!
As you know, we have added new licensed boxers to the roster but we have also done updates to many of the returning greats from Fight Night Round 4. We took note of those passionate about Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao’s haircuts and along with actual model tweaks to many of the boxers, we also took advantage of our improved boxer scaling and rigging system to make the boxer’s proportions more true to life - You will see this carry over into our Create Boxer system as well where weight of the boxer will be more accurately represented than it was in the past.
Contrary to popular belief we actually do have different glove scales in the game and have a system that allows us to scale the gloves independently from the rest of the boxer. We have scale sizes for numerous glove weights and depending on the weightclass of the fight, the most common glove size (8 oz vs 10 oz, etc.) will be worn by both boxers. You will also see boxers using larger training gloves when sparring or training. I know a lot of our passionate fans will be glad to hear that across the board, each of the glove scales has been brought down as well. One thing to keep an eye on though is that the gloves are also rigged and are not static objects. This means that our animators have the ability to relax a boxers hand and/or make more of a fist depending on the situation in the ring. You will definitely see a boxer’s fist clench tighter into a fist when throwing a punch and also sometimes while blocking.
Last but certainly not least, we have upgraded our damage system. There were some limitations that we had to abide by last year but as soon as we were given the go-ahead on the M rating this year, we knew that damage was one area we could actually do what we wanted to. All thanks to the real-time physics, we have a very complex system that takes into account the following:
- power of the punch
- angle of the punch
- how flush the contact was
- where on the boxer it landed (Each area of the face and body can be effected separately)
We then calculate damage based on categories such as redness, swelling, bruising, etc. and apply each of them, if they qualify, to the effected boxer. On top of that, there is the possibility of getting cut and as we know of pro boxers, much like swelling, some are more susceptible than others so ratings do play a factor. However, since it is all based on the physics system and the way the punch contacts, you can see drastically different outcomes. A cut may come on the very first punch of a fight and end up in a blood bath where the other boxer is forced to change their strategy to protect the cut or you may go through a fight or two without seeing any blood. It all depends on how the fight itself plays out which makes it a very realistic experience.
In terms of what the M rating allows us to do, aside from blood, you will now also see that boxers have the ability to get both eyes swollen shut (which could result in a TKO – it just depends if the ref is as lenient as in the Pacman vs. Margarito fight or not) and you will also see cuts bleed as they get worse with the ability for blood to not only get on the glove tape of both boxers but also drip down their torso, onto their trunks and also onto areas of the mat where the blood has actually landed.
The passion from the Fight Night community is very clear and we know that with the boxers front and center we have and will continue to be judged by how close we have represented the stars within the sport. Above all, with many of the features mentioned above, our main goal is to try and make the boxers perform and behave as realistic as possible. We look forward to your response once you get a chance to play the game first hand and take in the full experience as it was intended – In motion in glorious HD. Thanks for reading!
Source - Fight Night Champion Art Blog