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Frontier go barking mad

Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of inverse kinematics

One of the more bizarre moments at the first European Game Developer's Conference a couple of months ago came during the keynote speech on the future of gaming by David Braben. While we were all waiting patiently for a new Elite sequel, Braben and the boys at Frontier Developments have instead been working on A Dog's Tale, a horrendously cute looking adventure game starring a lost dog. Aw, bless. Today Frontier have released a little demonstration of the animation system which David Braben was showcasing at GDC Europe, featuring a trio of dogs running around on a landscape of graph paper hills. Called R-TAG, it is described as being their own in-house "second generation Inverse Kinematics animation library", if that means anything to you. The upshot of all this is that as the dogs wander around your screen the animations of their various gaits are blended smoothly in real-time, meaning no skating, no feet hovering in mid-air, and no instant snapping between different animations. Occasionally if they make a sharp turn while running flat out one of their legs ends up in a rather odd position for a split second, but this could be the .. ahem .. "deliberate mistake" they mentioned in the press release. Overall the effect is certainly quite impressive though, especially as producing believable animations for creatures with more than two legs is harder than it sounds. You can download the strangely hypnotic 1.4Mb tech demo from Frontier's website. Related Feature - GDC Europe / ECTS 2001 coverage

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