Despite being created over 2 decades ago, EverQuests original character art drips personality. Providing enough detail to make the experience plausible, while being simple enough to remain performant and to allow player’s imaginations to fill in the blanks, to me, this art will always be timeless. Considering the multi-year, multi-studio, multi-hundreds of employees, multi-millions in budget of modern game art, it’s staggering to consider that all the original EQ characters were modeled, UV’d, textures, and animated by one guy, Milo D. Cooper.
Ripping 3d assets from EQ is nearly as old as the game itself, but any rigs or animations seemed like a pipe-dream or too labour intensive to be viable. With the power of Lantern, these classic assets can be brought into Unity with greater fidelity than ever.
Our inVector character controllers leverages the power of the Unity humanoid system to retarget animations across models. This requires a standardized Humanoid rig meaning we will loose EQs animations in favor of utilizing any animations we need. This is how our hero can roll, block, dodge, and more. Humanoid character set up for Age of Turmoil is incredibly complex with a ton of components, however, much of it can be automated and the animation controller can be shared since it all utilizes the same skeletal structure. To achieve this, after exporting and importing the EQ model to Unity, I then open it in Blender, do a little setup, and export it as FBX with the mesh only. I then upload it to Mixamo and auto rig it there. If time / skill permitted, each model would be re-rigged and weighted in Blender or similar, but Mixamo gets me running fast. That said, it causes a lot of irregularities especially around the ankles of EQ models. I can live with that for now though.
This works great and fast tracks content for Humanoids such as player characters / enemies of the EQ Player Races or Zombies.
However, EQ is packed full of iconic mobs with charming animations and Lantern lets us access them. The above could never be applied to a fire beetle, or even really to an Orc without entirley loosing it’s character. It was time to give into Generic set-up.
Generics in Unity is any model not on a Humanoid rig. The model will use it’s own rig and thus only work with it’s own tailored animations. Our Humanoid animations contains and utilizes over 100 animations delivering complex movement, combat, and interactions. EverQuest models, typically have 8-14 animations.
This means we have a much simpler animator, but it needs complete set-up for each Generic model we want to bring in. They great news is EQ structured their animation data fairly consistently. This meant I knew the first generic was going to take extra long, but future ones would be quicker. A Humanoid rig I can now bring from extracting from EQ to in game and functional in about an hour. The first Generic I worked on took ~8 hours of set up. I’ve since set up a generic in just about 2 hours. This will lead to an explosion of unique EverQuest experiences in AoT.
Adding in the sound effects of each mob has really further brought to life that Norrath magic. A lot of hours and a lot of errors, but I feel like it was worth it 🙂