Naughty Dog Animation Lead: "We Run Out of Time and Animator and Programmer Resources Before We Run Out of Memory"
Animation is often a less known discipline within game development, partly because of its complexity, and partly because most tend to look at less subtle elements of the scene like models and textures. With its cinematic approach to game design, Naughty Dog is definitely a rand of excellence in animation, and it’s at the forefront of development on the next generation of consoles.
That’s why the studio’s Lead Character Animator Jeremy Yates is one of the men best positioned to tell us if we’re finally getting close to having games in which every animation is unique given today’s hardware resources. Turns out, we’re not even close, and the limiting factor isn’t hardware anymore, as he revealed in an interview on the French blog Parlons Jeux Vidéo
The future of realistic interactive animation in games really depends on how the budget grows. It takes a lot of talented people to generate all the content needed. After what we accomplished on the PS3 and now the PS4, I would say we usually run out of time and animator and programmer resources before we run out of memory. We build on the knowledge we have and are able to create things more and more efficiently. We are also constantly creating animation tools to help us reduce time. We may be able to have 12 hours of unique animation someday, but that will be a long time from now !
With today’s focus on hardware power, it’s hard to discount the human element, and the fact that each animation, even when created with motion capture, requires hours of refining and polishing in order to fit in a game.
That said, considering today’s level of excellence, especially at Naughty Dog, it’s definitely not hard to believe that human resources and time will run out much before the hardware does.