Player Traversal in Horizon
Horizon Zero Dawn features one of the best player control in a 3rd-person adventure game.
In this GDC 2017 talk, Guerrilla Games' Paul van Grinsven explores the traversal system that allows Aloy to explore the vast world of Horizon Zero Dawn. If you're into 3rd person animation, I strongly recommend you to play Horizon Zero Dawn and see by yourself how responsive Aloy's controls are, as much as how beautiful her animation set is. If you don't have the time to watch the video, here are the main points :
- no navigation mesh used for the player (memory save)
- instead, a raycast system that "scans" the environment to predict possible transitions
- annotations (such as "can stand here", "unstable element" or « can’t vault ») accompany some geometry to better feed the animation system and help it choose best-suited animations
- animations can be warped to better suit the situation (e.g. : the playback speed of a jump animation can be stretched or squashed depending on the distance that's left to go to reach a ledge), resulting in smoother transitions. Those warps can be set by the animators in a specific range of the animation, so they're not noticeable.
- not having a navigation mesh sometimes results in the player being stucked into geometry
- the system requires a huge amount of work for animators, but also designers and programers, making the iteration process harder