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Creating the Keep Craft Intro Animation

For a look at the creation process of the Keep Craft intro animation, we bring you another post written by our Art Director, Justin Schut. You can take a first look at the intro in GIF format below.

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Justin Schut: We believe that a good story is essential in most forms of entertainment. We already see this with film, as many beautiful movies can end up flopping if they don’t have a great story to carry it. With video games, it can be a bit trickier.  Specifically, with a game like Keep Craft, the beauty is in the story that the player writes for themselves. Our job as game creators is to set up a world that allows players to create a rich story for themselves.

In creating the introduction for Keep Craft, we want to showcase the value in the characters and buildings that make up the kingdom. Our secondary objective is to hint at the 3 core tracts that a player can focus in while building up their kingdom: Economy, Military, and Science. It was our goal to display this in only as many frames as we need to in order to introduce the world to the player. As gamers ourselves, we realize many players will want to get to the gameplay as quickly as possible.

Initial storyboarding of the intro animation.

Initial storyboarding of the intro animation.

We start out with a storyboard so that we can define our different story beats. Since a pre-rendered video would consume a lot of space in the app and likely suffer visual quality, we settled on creating an interactive cutscene that will play out in Unity before bringing the player to the main screen.

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Final positioning of the elements in-scene.

Next, we cut out pieces from the storyboard and place them into the scene so that we can plan out camera movement and figure out what size/resolution the assets should be. Once that is figured out, we refine the core elements that made up each scene.  These include specific pieces like the castle and scientist.  This allows us to create a more clear animatic and make sure the intro was still heading in the right direction and has the desired feel we are going for.

For the next step, we go through and create each animation, one-by-one. This is one of the most time consuming parts, but also the most fun. Once we have animation in the scene, we begin spending time on set decoration.  We use things like trees and grass to frame the space and hide seams.

The next step takes the longest and is the most technical. We spend more time fine-tuning the camera movements and figuring out transitions between spaces. We also set up triggers so that the player has control of the camera movement. Some animations are on a continuous loop, but others have to be linked to player triggers so that they are timed appropriately.  After that, we add in the text and a few other finishing touches.

In the end, we went up with a simple and bright introduction that hopefully inspires players to set forth and build a thriving kingdom for themselves.

A small slice of the state machine system controlling camera movement and animation.