From the 80s to Now: The Evolution of Animation in Video Games
Video games have certainly come a long way since the Pong days. Video games are no longer a few pixels on the screen making a basic geometric shape; they're complex pieces of art that take years and years to create. Most video games are rich with story, just like you would see in any movie, and as the technology advances game devs are constantly pushing the limits on the graphics that can be rendered in real-time. For example, 14 years ago it would be impossible to see dynamic hair simulated in real-time, but now games like Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition implement dynamic hair convincingly, without sacrificing the gaming experience. Another very impressive aspect of video game advances come in the form of movement, or the animation. Not too long ago, the character animation consisted of very rigid movements, because a complex rig couldn't be built out without sacrificing the game experience, but that's starting to change as we get into the next generation of games. As the graphics improve with each new video game, so too must the character animation. Fluid and believable animation needs to be created to help push the complexity of the characters, whether that's with hand-keyed animation or motion-capture. The expectations of gamers are increasing as graphics improve and the level of character animation they expect is rising. Complex facial rigs are implemented into games and the use of motion capture creates a whole new level of realism to the experience. In 2014, the level of character animation that's possible in a game is nearly on par with fully animated feature films. Let's dive into the evolution of animation in games and look at just how much character animation is implemented into modern games.