The summoning sickness post made me want to revisit some more old work from the online trading card game. Instead of breaking down each little piece into its own blog, I decided to make a pre-viz reel! Most of these were done without a game to even work on. It was my job to get thrifty and fake battle scenarios, animations, even systems. Every effect you see here was a work in progress, sent through email, FTP, etc. to the decision-making people who would say “keep exploring” or “try something else.” Hence the bizarre aspect ratios (sorry).
It’s neat to look back at this stuff. I always forget just how much iteration happens during the course of a project.
Just like summoning sickness, it was a mixture of UI/UX (user interface / user experience) and VFX (visual effects). Particularly challenging for someone like me who isn’t much of a UI person to begin with.
(Someday I’ll post more current work, I promise. I’ve grown a LOT since the work in this reel is completed. And I’m excited to share!)
Here we go a-time-travelin again. Age of Empires Online has been shut down for a little while, but the work I did is still fresh in my mind, as clear as the day I made it – which would be (gosh) two and a half years ago, already. One of the effects I was asked to do was “conversion.” Your team had the ability to convert units from another team to yours.
The unit that had the ability to convert you was a sort of shaman/magic-man/priest. I had this idea that he was “showing you the light” which is why I went with yellow. I also thought that his spell might confuse or disorient the affected units, which is why I went with birds circling overhead. Specifically bluebirds because they are happy and cheery, and this was a happy and positive move. More units! Less destruction! Who doesn’t like that? Also, I didn’t want to use yellow birds/canaries because yellow wooshes and yellow birds is a little too matchy-matchy. Color variation and value depth is always something you wanna push for in vfx. Especially since bright, saturated colors are often used to define teams (and AOEO was not an exception here).
One of the challenges was animation and shape. Some of the characters had a quick, snappy animation, some looped very seamlessly, some were randomly super long. Anyway, I had to make a few different effects that looked like they were the same, but had different lengths and beats. As you can see in the final product below, it worked out pretty well!
(a youtube version, if you’re curious. It has sound.)