All Star Twerkers

I started working on All Star Twerkers as a character animator about 1 year ago. I was not able to talk about it because it was in development and contract or not, I do not talk about people's projects before they are done and distributed unless expressly permitted.

This would make the first official game I've worked on. I have messed around and built some incomplete games in the past so I went in with a little working knowledge. The app is downloadable for free on itunes and playstore. Yes that's right, available on both Apple and Android platforms.  The game is called All Star Twerkers. Twerking is a series of dance moves  popular in clubs, music videos and youtube videos. It is so popular it is a no-brainer that it should be made into a game. It is the brainchild of writer and game producer Christopher Williams who lives in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, He found me on social media after seeing some of my animations online. I was a little apprehensive at first because of the nature of the game most likely degrading women but decided to hop on board and see what happens.

Well I was totally wrong about it degrading women because I found out the characters ranged from men, women, aliens, robots, cyborgs, you name it. The game is meant purely and simply for fun. The illustrations done By Michael Dunbar were lovely, I was happy to be on board from that point on and I was excited about the challenge of animating game characters. It was not smooth sailing at first because I generally animate 2D in Anime Studio Pro. When I met with Chris he asked me if I knew how to use "Spine Animation" I figured he meant bones or skeletons which is a common tool/technique used in limited or cut out style. I said yes without hesitation, took his character design broke it down properly and then proceeded to rig and animate in Anime Studio. Turned out pretty well. Showed Michael he loved it then asked me for the Spine export files...I was entirely confused by what he meant. After long deliberation I eventually realized that when he asked if I knew how to do "Spine Animations" he meant if I knew how to use a software called "Spine" to do animations. Whoa...what the hell? I had no idea such a software existed. It is a 2D animation program used to make sprites for games and it allows you to animate your moves and just apply character skins to the bone system so that you don't have to re-animate each character. Sweet but this now meant I needed to get the software and learn it.

I did this and I can say this software was not easy to learn. I learned it quickly but it was stressful. It does a lot of things in a weird way but what it is really good at it excels in. It's key framing system has different dynamics to it where you can either automatically set key frames once you manipulate the bones or you can manually set it, meaning if you change the position of a bone but you do not confirm it, then that frame will not be keyed. I could go on and on about the pros and cons, but the fact is, this is the program I had to use. I figured it out and once I started getting comfortable with it, I was animating with ease until something new had to be tried.

There were lots of back and forth tweaks between myself and the illustrator trying to get the body parts shaped right to compliment the animation. Once that was set it was on to coding which was in the hands of Kamau Vassal and his team mate who shall remain nameless. This again was another circuitous process as many tweaks had to be made to ensure the export files worked properly in Unity. as time went on the character list grew, the moves increased, the coding brought every thing together into the finished product you can download today. In fact, as of the time this article is being written, a release is coming out very soon with an Obama character. Look out for the update.

For those of you interested in knowing how spine works and seeing behind the scenes of the animation process, here is a video overview I did.


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