What is high-quality idle animation? Developers share their favorite examples.

  • Transfer

Creating a player's connection with the character, disclosing the details of his personality so that he is unique to the player is a difficult task, and how to solve it with just a few simple movements?

Idle animations, these small bursts of movement, when the player briefly ignores the game, are very easy to ignore. But with good implementation, they become the most important way to transfer the subtle (or not quite subtle) nuances of the characters and the atmosphere of the game.

Therefore, the site Gamasutra surveyed many developers from the gaming industry to find out which idle animations they like the most and what exactly is attractive in them.

Although very few developers have agreed on which games have the most memorable or interesting waiting animations (with the exception ofEarthworm Jim , which everyone obviously loves), they explained why, because of such animations, characters seem to be alive, only a few frames giving their worlds realism.

Give back to the hands

Nathalie Louad ( Everything is going to be OK ): I've seen some of the funniest idle animations in Earthworm Jim . They were interesting because this detail added personality to the character.

Probably the 90s were the golden age of idle animations. I remember a lot of games, but now I'm not sure that I remember them correctly ... and this is probably a side effect of such animations ... it is difficult to remember them for sure. But I still loved them! I usually waited to just see what the character would do.

Funny animation was in Aladdin for the Sega Mega Drive, because Aladdin threw an apple, even when he had no apples left in the inventory. We laughed: aha, a liar, I see an apple! I liked the feeling that it had on me as a player, because it seemed that the game betrayed you. Yes, one extra apple would be useful to me, and here it is, on the screen. The game lied to us [laughs]. However, this added a personality personality, because it was in his style.

Ken Wong ( Florence ): Earthworm Jim’s very memorable idle animation was a jump suit over a worm, like a rope! She was so inventive in a game full of ingenious and silly animations.

Edmund Macmillen ( The End is Nigh ): The first thing that comes to mind is Earthworm Jim . I liked how alive she was.

Simon Anderson ( Owlboy ): One of the first to be remembered is the Ryu animation from Street Fighter 3 . Not because she was technically impressive; She became one of those moments, on which can be said, that skill artist increased. The air waving his pants as he moved was an impressive addition to the classic stand, and a good reminder that with enough practice I could do the same.

With a very small gap in the second place is the animation Dudley (Dudley). The intermittent steps that emphasize the character's readiness have become a surprisingly clever move, although only three poses were cleverly mixed there, which made the animation more difficult than it actually was.

Of course, you can not forget about Mario from Super Mario 64 . This game was one of the first true 3D platformers, and it contained many small details that enlivened huge polygons. If you do not touch the controller, Mario just started to rest and get bored, which became a nice detail. I still remember how I left for lunch, having forgotten to pause the game, and when I returned, I found Mario asleep. Given the monumental complexity of creating a playable and completed in the just-emerging genre, such attention to detail is astounding.

It is also worth mentioning that I feel a weakness for the common in Breath Of Fire IVenemy slug. This is one of the most carefully animated sprites in the game. In this genre, slugs are very popular, so it seems that the developers wanted to create the best slug out of all, having invested a lot of time and frames in it, and this is charming.

Tomm Hallett (director at Wayforward ): let's start with Sparkster ’s long waiting animation from the original Rocket Knight Adventures ! This animation is rather strange. 1) She tells us information about the character that is not found anywhere else in the game: he takes off his helmet, showing the hair. 2) He speaks the only text dialogue for the whole game. 3) He destroys the fourth wall and says this to the player (as was fashionable in those times). In addition, it is cute and touching.

Baby Duka (DASH ):Simon the Sorcerer(first), when the main character gets a Walkman out of his hat and relaxes to the music. Walkman - a typical detail of the time. The fact that the wizard is listening to his favorite cassette, despite all the dangers, makes Simon (and the player) a tough guy, not a weak nerd.

In addition, I think that this game has had a big impact on me, as a developer. Not only were there dragons, a parallel universe, trolls and saxophones. Simon was like me - he sometimes took out his Walkman to rest, even when things went wrong. A little work from the designer, but what a powerful effect.

Bonsai Treehouse ( You Are Worthless ): a bird pecking at a head ( Banjo Kazooie). In Idle-animations, the main thing is the expression of the character of a character, but it’s difficult to invent ways of self-expression of an individual character, if there is nothing to base on. Fortunately, in the case of Banjo and Kazui, this is not the case; every fundamental aspect of the gameplay was designed to complement and reinforce the sense of adventure in which they both participate. This theme persists throughout the game, and therefore the image of a bird that bothers a bear effortlessly adds to their duet of playfulness, individuality and vitality, without even requiring action from the player.

Jennifer Sheurle ( Earthlight ): Animations from the first Ragnarok Online! They are pretty old school. Although I am not an animator and not an expert, and my opinion may mean nothing ... but I love these old two-dimensional pixelart animations, how, they redraw, exaggerate movement to convey the role and reconsideration. They are exaggeratedly dramatic, similar to what can be seen in Street Fighter idle animations .

Splendidland ( Apple Quest Monsters ): waiting animations are one of the many ways the game tries to convince us that it contains a living, breathing world. The avatar of the player reacts to his actions and moves from point A to point B, but he also reacts to the lack of actions; when you are not playing a game, this is also an interaction. “Oh, look at this!” You say, pointing your finger at the screen in admiration.

Take for example Mario 64 . “Mario fell asleep himself, I didn’t need to press the buttons!” “Yes, it seems he has everything under control,” says the father in a calm, contented tone, putting his hand on your shoulder. "Come on, let him go about his business," and you both leave their rooms.

Cassie McWater ( Black Room ): I’ll first recall Simba’s idle animation from Lion King for SNES / Sega. As a child, I just sat and looked at her - I was absolutely sure that sooner and later Simba would catch a butterfly, although, of course, this never happened. I was also fascinated by the fact that you can just leave the controller and the video game will continue; it seemed like magic. I remember that I felt the same when watching idle animations in Donkey Kong games., but I can not remember which ones!

Angela Khe ( You Left Me ): I probably like most of all the animation of waiting for the Fidget from Dust: An Elysian Tail . I think the best animations are those that look the most natural. And idle-animations Fidget handle this perfectly. Movement up and down under the influence of gravity, the smoothness of the movements of its tail and wings — when I look at its idle animation, it seems real, and not just part of the game.

Sean Alexander Allen ( Treachery in Beatdown City ):I grew up in an era when additional animations were rarely met (NES, Apple IIc), so I respect fixed poses. In fact, I think that the characters of many games today are too “jumping”, but when I see a good waiting animation, I can give it their due.

The first games that impressed me with their idle animations were Street Fighter 2 and others after it. The transition from static Karateka , in which all attacks were rotoscoped and the stands still, to Street Fighter 2 was a real revelation. Each character in this game just in a few frames exudes its own style and personality.

Actually, this is Karin from Street Fighter Alpha 3 , but she is so good that I could not help but include it here.

The personal favorite of the time was World Heroes 2 , because some sprites were made fantastic. I was so pierced by the sprite graphics that I considered it the best game in the world (after all, I was only eight years old!).

Strange, but I love some of the animations from Mortal Kombat . Most of all I like Sub Zero and Scorpion - these characters were imitated by my friends on the playground. A slight swinging back and forth of Sub Zero made his animation more “real.” Perhaps this is due to motion capture. It would be great if today MK animation remained as good as then.

Earthworm Jim was a crazy discovery - it turned out that you could do such long idle animations in games. Because of the wild running in Jim's place, it seemed that the game was always moving, even if that movement was very inaccurate. When Jim went from a standard animation of waiting to different actions, it seemed like a joke to the players.

It seems to me that Mario 64 borrowed a lot from him - Mario’s idle-animation turned into a small performance for the players.

And finally, I love the Evil Ryu waiting animation in CVS2 . He stands still, moves a couple of shots to emphasize his dark and gloomy nature. High-quality animation is not necessarily a lot of frames!

Melissa Davidson ( Anthem ):Can I just vote for each idle-animation of each character and enemy in all the games of the Metal Slug series ?

My favorite is Metal Slug 3 , and I’ll tell you about the player’s characters, because the quality of the player’s sprites is very high. There are four player characters in the game, and each of them has five completely individual sets of wait states - standard, for a thick hero, underwater, mummy and zombie. Each of these animations is unique, and at the end of each level, each character has its own victory idle animation.

In this game there are many objects that exist only for the sake of beauty. When you finish shooting, the first thing the characters do is to perform the animation of reloading their weapons. But the ammunition in the store is not limited and the player does not need to be reloaded during the game. This is done only to make the character convincing.

They are recharged and under water, while also using a unique animation. The female characters are armed with revolvers, and the male characters are semi-automatic weapons, so different animations are made for them too.

Many character animations consist of only 3-6 frames - this is an excellent example of how much pixel animation can be revealed in just a few frames. The game seems extremely responsive, and the gameplay is intense, but it also looks great. I recommend to study it to see an example of maximizing the use of sprite animation.

Brendon Chung ( quadrilateral Cowboy ): I'm a big fan of idle-animation from a series of id Software games Commander Keen . If Kin is left alone for a minute, he will sit down, pull out a book and start reading. I remember how I was impressed by the fact that with a simple animation you can add a character like this - this guy will find something to do while he is waiting for me.

Victoria Dominowski ( Secret Little Haven ): Ristar is without a doubt my favorite game for the Sega Genesis. One of the main reasons is how frankly cute and charming were the characters of the games for Sega of the early 90s, which manifests itself in every stroke.

Unlike the only Sonic waiting animation that reflects the late Genesis style, Ristar uses unique cute idle animations for each new area. Each of them supports the desire to make Ristar a cute mascot character that suits him perfectly - the animation seems to come into conflict with the overly masculine mascot of that era, and I like that.

In particular, my favorite animation is when Ristar starts building a little snowman at the level of a snowy planet, just for her charming ingenuity. It demonstrates the desire of the creator to give the character a similar personality.

In a sense, Ristar is Sega's answer to Nintendo's Kirby : in both series, the characters are small spherical characters; in the main attacks, they attract enemies to themselves; they travel between planets / levels by traveling around the stars; The debuts of both series on home consoles characterize the best in these consoles.

Laura Sigihara ( Rakuen ): I adore like Shade Man from Mega Man 7teases / calls the player if he does not make the first move (this is a special animation, because in the battle with the MM bosses the player almost always wants to immediately move). I think this strongly demonstrates individuality. I like it when developers add something so mischievous that the player will be rewarded for the experiments. I love it when authors put extra effort into small details; such things increase the depth and charm of the game world.

Tyrik Plummer ( Catacomb Kids ): I like the Shantae Shantae waiting animation : Risky's Revenge for 3ds! I feel weak and to exaggerated, jumping animations, as well as very modest and unexpressed, so it is difficult to choose some one.

Megan Brown (Wanisinowin | Lost ):this is without a doubt the main characterOkami. She has several animations, but what I like most is when she lies down for a nap, if a player doesn’t do anything for too long - this is so cute, and she also looks like a dog! This very much emphasizes the fact that she is a she-wolf. Sacred incarnation of the goddess, but still a wolf.

It can be said that the authors, when building the world (reflected in the whole game), thought so well of the canine / wolf incarnation of Amateras that its idle animations correspond to the foolish behavior of the dog in the cutscenes. They could just make her sleep or sit, but it is this transition from sitting to lying leaves its mark.

I think that the whole cycle from the beginning of idle animation to the moment when the player again takes on the game is an excellent element for building character and peace. She is a goddess, and the developers were not obliged to make her behavior wolf, but in this world, the form affects the action like nothing else. In addition, it contributes to the question “Is this a goddess or a magic dog?” That occurs during the first part of the game. When I played, I was not sure until the end, especially when there was a leap in time.

James Earl Cox III ( eCheese Zone ): for me it was a penguin from Space Station Silicon Valley. Actually, I like all the idle animations from this game. The first challenger is a fighter dog. From the point of view of geometry, it was one of the simplest animals in the game, and yet it seemed alive! I can not imagine how dead penguins would look without their small bouncing idle animations.

Hyades Zavarise ( Selling Sunlight ): as a child, I mostly played platformers, because I could understand their mechanics, even when there was no translation into Italian. Some Disney magazines were sold with game CDs, so I had a solid collection of Disney platformers, and all of them had incredible animations. My favorite was Maui Mallard in Cold Shadowsin which Donald Duck becomes both a detective and a ninja at the same time. And when you're ten years old, ninjas are the coolest in the world. Perhaps the Disney platformers were not great games, but they definitely invested resources to make them look their best.


I'm not an artist, so I can't say anything about the quality of animations, but ... As an indie developer with a limited budget, I know that every animation costs money. And waiting animations are ... useless. They have no practical purpose: they are needed to embellish the game a bit and to emphasize the individuality of the character. They are charming, but not necessary. Therefore, when you see such high-quality and diverse idle animations in games, this means that developers, most likely, invest great love in them.

Camila Gormaz ( Long Gone Days ): I was a huge fan of fighting games as a child, and from an animation point of view, Darkstalkers 3 is still important to me . In Darkstalkers 3Each waiting animation tells a part of the story of the character you have chosen; it is not just standard animation of breathing or slamming. One of my favorites is idle-animation Lei Lei, in which she turns her head terribly and shakes while standing on tiptoes. I also remember BB Hood, which includes crawling idle-animation, if you crawl for a very long time, in which butterflies sit on her head, and a flower comes out of the ground.


Bill Stirnberg ( Cosmic Star Heroine ): If we mean idle animations in a broader sense, I would include in the list a looped pose that the fighting characters take when the player does nothing. I hope this is not cheating! The genre requires that most characters seem alive or reflect individuality in their actions, including their idle animations.

You can choose a bunch of cool stuff from a variety of fights, but I always remember Elena from Street Fighter 3. For such a strictly two-dimensional game with large, detailed and carefully animated sprites, Elena's animation conveys the sensation of the volume of her body, and this is impressive. The way her arms and legs move back and forth and out of the scene gives the character an extremely realistic 3D-quality sprite.

It is also worth noting that her idle animation is incredibly complex. She is very impressive: her body and hips turn and rotate, her arms go forward and to the side, and the heroine herself swings forward and backward. Her waiting animation is interesting because it is a kind of flexible dance that takes place around a single point. The details of how her limbs are drawn, and the moving shadows that demonstrate her muscles, make it clear that this is a fast, strong, mobile fighter - and that is how she feels in battle.

I should also mention her fixed, focused look, like a leopard ready to throw; and although she has short hair, she is constantly swinging in accordance with her fighting "dance", which creates even more detail. In this animation, I also love how the simple use of several colors conveys a sense of depth. Violet shadows falling on parts of her body in the background above dark / more saturated colors look so natural that it is easy for the eye to make out the animation.

I know that with its stunning graphics and animation, Street Fighter 3 has become a legendary game, so referring to it may seem cliché, but the developers have done such an amazing job that today it stands out as a masterpiece of pixel art.

Paul Franzen (The Pizza Delivery Boy Who Saved The World ):I will choose ... no one has yet called the animation of falling asleep fromToeJam & Earl? I like the fact that this is not just a silly joke - it's part of the gameplay! If you sit too long and do nothing, the character just falls asleep, and he will not wake up until the player paws on the buttons to shout at him. In the meantime, a dentist can kill you. I loveToeJam & Earl.

Lukas Stobi ( Rising Dusk ):I can name any of the gamesDonkey Kong Countryfor SNES (although in modern excellent idle animations are also made.). I love the fact that Kong’s animations are curious and playful. He does not just stand still, but constantly looks around to find something interesting, and he never misses and is not angry at the player.


Danilo Diaz ( Blazing Chrome ): I love the Idle animation from Super Metroid the most . She is so modest, and not exaggerated, like most idle animations, it seems very realistic, and works on the atmosphere of the game.

Ethan Reddy ( Blazing Legion: Ignition ): my favorite idle-animation - this is a classic series of "I'm waiting" of the Sonic of The Hedgehog is ; it is unobtrusive, but understandable - an economical ingenious stroke in terms of interaction and character design. Both in the game and in the Sonic character the main thing is speed; as the two designers of this series of games told in a recent report at GDC, Sonic became the focus of philosophy and the SEGA brand; her spirit of "fighter" and the general style of innovation and movement forward.

Most games of the time took the lack of player action as a matter of course; with its cycle of animation with a sideways look and sinking with its foot, Sonic, like a game and a character, captured the player and actively interfered with the downtime. In fact, during the long periods of inactivity of the Sonic CD, the character himself ended the game, uttering a daring joke. The mustache plumber would never dare! This is a very small detail, but it reinforces almost every design decision of the game and the character of the main character.

Also popular now: