For this week’s warm-up activity, we analyse how animation is used in our favourite games. Please choose a game you feel has impactful animation, and analyse it in relation to the following criteria:

Luna and the Shadow Dust, a hand-drawn traditionally animated point and click adventure

Methods of animation used (2D bones, 3D motion capture etc).

Luna and the Shadow Dust use traditional cel animation, creating hand-drawn, heartfelt and natural transitions.

One of the most “challenging things” for Lantern Studios was to “imitate the normal way in which people walk, with each step having a solid place on the floor.”

“We liked the tangible realism of this kind of animation and a handcrafted style worked nicely with LUNA’s hand drawn backgrounds, aesthetic and other animations. However, it also came with a very big challenge!

In order to interact with the different objects in each level, the character needed to be able to start walking then stop at almost any specific spot. A realistic walking cycle would surely not be able to stop at a precise stopping point. So, we had to find a way to deal with the gaps in between.”

You can read the full devblog here.

walk breakdownOct 2018.png
Fig 1. Luna and the Shadow Dust Blog

How character animation responds to gameplay.

While the game has a ‘cinematic’ feel, the character responds naturally to their surroundings. The mechancis are fairly simple and events trigger specific animations like walking, pushing and climbing. Completion of puzzles and events triggers envrionmental animations and cutscenes furthering the level and story.

How animations transition between different states.

Again the game a sweet, calm and cinematic experience, the transitions are all loveling handdrawn and triggered by events like ‘climb’.

                            This level requires a lot of new character animations, this is one of them
Fig 2. Luna and the Shadow Dust Blog

How the environment is brought to life.

The environment is animated as part of the puzzle and game design, as you walk through walls, paintings and scenery come to life. This is particulary aestetically pleasing part of solving puzzles.

Animation within the user interface.

Objects available to interact with appear as a ‘pointing finger and hand’ rather than an arrow. If an object is climbable, a set of feet are displayed. The game also has a very beautifully animated in-game map, which helps the player see which level they are on and explore easily.

The improved cursor designs (arrow/hand/feet) for a clearer interactive experience in the game.
Fig 3. Luna and the Shadow Dust Blog

Examples of linear animation within the game.

The animation is largely linear, a story is told through a number of short cut-scenes and animated clips.

Some screenshot from the cutscenes animations
Fig 4. Luna and the Shadow Dust Blog
Fig 5. Luna and the Shadow Dust Blog

Examples of dynamic animation and particle fx within the game.

A particle generator creates a ‘floaty dot’ on screen, creating a sense of magic. When you click or walk past certain parts of the game use dynamic animation, creating a nice ‘feel’ when using mechanics like levers and boxes.

Animation in other games

Ori and the Blind Forest, Shadow of the Colossus and Gris are all games with awe-inspiring animation as well as many other (too many to list). I now also have a longer list of games to play for ‘research’ into animation like Necrobarista (camera angles, minimalist animation), Spiritfarer and Granblue Fantasy.

List of Figures

Fig 1. Luna and the Shadow Dust. 2020. [Game] Available at [Accessed 10 Mar 2021]

Fig 2. Luna and the Shadow Dust. 2020. [Game] Available at [Accessed 10 Mar 2021]

Fig 3. Luna and the Shadow Dust. 2020. [Game] Available at [Accessed 10 Mar 2021]

Fig 4. Luna and the Shadow Dust. 2020. [Game] Available at [Accessed 10 Mar 2021]

Fig 5. Luna and the Shadow Dust. 2020. [Game] Available at [Accessed 10 Mar 2021]