Almost all the graphics and animation for Ani’s Playground, Apte, Inc.’s second early learning adventure, were completed in Animation:Master. It is also the second game whose graphics I’ve completed for Apte, Inc. where I’ve been since October of 1998. My responsibilities for the game were a small degree of game design, all character design, all layout, and all graphics. From my experience doing the graphics for Ani’s Rocket Ride, the predecessor to Ani’s Playground, which I had done using traditional 2D animating techniques, it was clear to me that I needed to turn to a 3D suite for the next project so that it would be less difficult for me to animate. After doing a fair amount of research, I came across Martin Hash’s Animation:Master which had everything we needed: A toon renderer, excellent character creation and animation tools, a modest price, a supportive community, excellent and responsive tech support, and an interface that was easy to use and get around in. To this day, it continues to astound me that Hash sells their program at a tenth or even a twentieth of the cost of their competitors’ software.
What continues to amaze me about the software, is how approachable and easy it is. While I have remade the skeletons of many of my characters, I’ve never had to remodel them. Learning new techniques in A:M has always been a very additive experience; in other words, because I learned a new, more sophisticated means of controlling and animating a character did not at all mean that I had to mothball what I already created. Continuing to build and never having to go back allowed me to complete the hefty amount of graphics that an animation-heavy, pre-rendered bitmap illustrated game like Ani’s Playground required.
Finally, the importance of a toon rendered look cannot be overstated for this game. Photorealism can be a bit too serious for the young crowd that Ani’s Playground is intended for. The toon renderer that A:M comes equipped with standard is not only the sort of feature that tends to be available only as an expensive plug-in for other rendering packages, but is amazingly capable and subtle out of the box.
Ani’s Playground was not done using Animation:Master because I wanted to prove that such a thing could be done. I have no axes to grind with any other software packages. But it would have been almost impossible to complete it using anything else. Animation:Master’s competitors are either too expensive, too incapable, or too inaccessible to use in a small business setting. In other words, Ani’s Playground was completed in Animation:Master because it is simply the best option.
All images are © Copyright APTE, Inc. 2001-2002. Internet Coach is a Registered Trademark of APTE, Inc. Ani is a ServiceMark of APTE, Inc. All Images used with permission.