Unity 5.x Animation Cookbook will be my fourth review for a Packt product. You may remember the name as they had a HumbleBundle for Unreal and Unity books not too long ago. As of yet my reception of their stuff has been less than stellar with nothing getting above a 7/10 or B on the Curation Scale. It might surprise you to learn this book has finally been the exception.
About the Author
You may recognize the author’s name, Maciej Szcześnik, as the Lead Combat/Gameplay Designer of the Witcher Series. Maciej has since moved on including some time at 11 Bit Studios where he worked on This War Of Mine.
The author moved from CD Projekt Red to work on This War of Mine
Who Is This Book For?
This book strictly covers working with animation in Unity. There is no coverage on 3D animation software like Blender (minus a few tips). Readers can use their own assets or the provided assets to work through the problems. The author sums up the target reader appropriately: “If you are a game designer or a Unity developer and would like to know more about what’s possible with Unity’s animation system, I hope this book will be an interesting read for you.”
What Will I Learn?
- Working with Animations – an introduction to the animation tools of Unity
- Working with the Animation View – the basics of animating using Unity
- 2D and User Interface Animation – sprites, screen transitions and loading symbols
- Character Movement – in-depth look at Traditional vs. Root Motion (modern) animation
- Character Actions and Expressions – random and context actions, IK, automated NPC behavior
- Handling Combat – hit detection/reaction, using BlendTrees for aiming
- Special Effects – screenshake, particles, etc.
- Animating Cutscenes – working with cameras, synchronizing animations
- Physics and Animations – cloth, ragdoll, dismemberment
- Misc. – working with Math, motion-capture
From Low to High-Level Concepts
The author’s series of recipes provide both an introduction to the low-level concepts of animation as well as the higher-level concepts such as strategies to create smooth transitions, preventing foot slipping, and most modern approaches to animation. One example of the latter is the recipe for “Using root motion to drive a NavMesh Agents’ movement with animations”. Foot slipping is eliminated by taking away the control from the NavMesh and instead using the RigidBody to control the transform instructions.
Low-Level Concept: using a parent-child hierarchy allows for an easy orbit animation. Simply create an empty “PlanetOrbit” child in between the parent and child planets. The empty “PlanetOrbit” object now controls the localRotation of the child planet.
Another low-level concept: Instead of animating a property directly, use an extended Transition Duration to blend states (in this case day and night).
A NavMesh is a mapping baked onto a game area that allows the AI to navigate. In the screenshot below the blue areas represent navigable areas while everything else is out of bounds. The NavMesh Agent component tells the AI how to reach an input coordinate by giving it speed, rotation and tranlation instructions.
Foot slipping is removed by turning off NavMesh transform instructions and instead using root motion. Notice how the last character to stop has slippage, it uses pure NavMesh navigation where the other uses Root Motion based on NavMesh knowledge (i.e., desired direction, etc).
But does the book have x?
The amount of content in Unity 5.x Animation Cookbook will be overwhelming for anyone expecting to just finish it in one or two sittings. Basically, if you’re wondering whether the book has a specific lesson it probably does. Wall climbing, head movement following an object, enemy spawning with effects, NPCs with randomized behaviour, context-sensitive action… the list goes on and on. This isn’t the type of book to just read straight through and forget about. It’s something to be referred to over years. Some of the code may become obsolete, but the strategies will likely remain relevant.
Enemy spawn animation.
- includes a massive amount 3D models, animations, etc.
- organized structure: overview->instructions->explanation->repeat
- individual lessons are small and focused but build up a strong skillset with each collective chapter
- a rough start for beginners but gets easier when concepts and terminology become familiar
- all recipes are mostly self-contained: readers can jump into any individual set of instructions and replicate with the occasional reference to older instructions
- vast amount of content, covering just about every animation concept you could think of
- minimal errors
- thorough instructions and explanation
- not completely up-to-date
- not much room for exploration: everything is laid out for the reader to follow
- Code files hosted by Packt incomplete (download missing sections from GitHub)
Final Rating – 8/10
Store Link –Unity 5.x Animation Cookbook