Game Dev Explains Why Animation In Multiplayer Games Is So Challenging

The animation in Halo Infinite's multiplayer beta was impressive, but why is it so hard to get right in the first place?

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The latest Halo Infinite beta showed off the upcoming game's multiplayer chops, including some fairly impressive animation. Game animator Dan Lowe, who's currently employed at Santa Monica Studio but has previously worked on games like Star Wars: Squadrons and Far Cry, has explained in a Twitter thread why multiplayer animation in particular is so hard to get right.

Understandably, many of the problems with creating smooth animation in multiplayer games stem from the fact that these games are likely to prioritise responsiveness, competitiveness, and a number of other elements over the quality of the animation.

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Now Playing: Halo Infinite Multiplayer In-Depth Look | Xbox Games Showcase 2021

In order for gameplay to feel good, Lowe explains, characters have to accelerate, move, and deccelerate much faster than a regular human is capable of doing. When these unnatural movements are experienced in first-person in a single-player game, players don't get to see how their character actually looks while navigating--but in a multiplayer game, all their movements have to be visible to other players.

Lowe explains that there's also a fair bit of tension between the first-person view that players experience for their own character, and the third-person view that other players are viewed in.

The last big issue with multiplayer animation is mostly technical, constrained by the network needed to make sure all players in the game are experiencing the same thing.

The full thread goes into a lot more detail on all points, but what we should be taking away from Lowe's lesson is that animation is a hard thing to get right in multiplayer games--so we should appreciate when select games do manage to figure it out.

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