Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Splinter Cell Conviction

I've been doing some research into upcoming games recently to check out any new approaches to animation pipelines and conceptual ideas. I began looking into the next installment of the Splinter Cell series: Conviction. In it, they talk about a new gameplay mechanic called 'marking.' The premise is that Sam Fisher can survey enemies and environmental elements while concealed in the shadows, and when he springs into action, the game begins to take over, and execute the targets in the order you specify. This allows the user to get the drop on enemies in a planned, orderly fashion, that helps you to feel powerful and in control, instead of like a lame duck as some of the older Splinter Cell games did.

Aside from this being a fun gameplay mechanic, I think its pretty interesting from an animation standpoint as well. Instead of the player controlling all the action, and the game having to interpolate and interpret these inputs on the fly, sometimes resulting in hideous animation, it can specify a single animation or a series of cycles that are planned to run together, resulting in a highly polished, smooth, visceral result. I'm looking forward to being able to try it out. If it works as smoothly as some of the videos show, it could really be a nice improvement to the franchise and gaming as a whole.

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