I'm the first person weapons animator at DICE LA. I've done weapon animations for Battlefield 4: Premium (including the recently discovered compound bow), Battlefield 3 and Medal of Honor: Warfighter. I've been animating professionally since 2001.

I can't answer questions about Battlefield 4 outside of my domain of expertise (weapon animation and implementation; game development in general) nor can I talk about unannounced projects.

Just posted a shoutout to Reddit on my Twitter account of the same name as my Reddit account: @AnimationMerc https://twitter.com/AnimationMerc/status/539867017571205120

EDIT: I apparently screwed up the AMA process despite reading the instructions (this is a common thing for me.) I don't think they've verified my proof yet but I guess I'll go ahead and start answering questions.

EDIT2: I'll be closing the thread around 5pm. Gotta get back to work. Get in any last minute questions now!

EDIT3: And the AMA is closed! Thanks for playing everyone but biggest thanks to /u/t1ggr for making this happen. Hopefully you were able to learn something about game dev and game animation. And hopefully we can do more of these in the future with other developers in different disciplines!

I will continue to lurk around /r/battlefield4 as well as some of the auto-related subreddits :)

Comments: 315 • Responses: 85  • Date: 

danlowlows55 karma

Hi Ryan! I'm a Technical Animator at Ubisoft Montreal. I have technical questions! :)

How do you attach weapons to characters? Do you use a weapon bone in the character skeleton, some kind of attachment or handle system, or some other system which stores offsets from the bone? Also what is this bone/handle/offset a child of (e.g. hands, chest, root, etc)?

Do you share third-person and first-person animations or are they separate? I mean for both the animation data and the animation graphs.

As a follow up, do you use the third-person animations for body awareness (as in looking down and seeing your body)? If so, do you have to create your third-person animations with that in mind?

Do you have unique animations for all weapons or do you share animations between weapons? Alternatively are there procedural aspects to your weapon movement or do you generate certain motions from a blend space.

Finally, how do you like working with the Frostbite animation tools/ANT?

Thanks for doing the AMA.

AnimationMerc49 karma

Uh oh, you're going to have hard questions, aren't you? I'm a big fan of Ubi's animation work!

1)We have weapon bones as part of the character skeleton/hierarchy. It's a child of the chest but with space switching in animation (makes sense for military shooters; I wouldn't do it this way for Assassin's Creed.) Hands are IK'd to the weapon.

2)Animations are separate between 1p and 3p. Both in data and stateflow. The latter is parallel but with unique considerations for perspective. For example, 1p doesn't need a hit react layer, 3p doesn't need ambient hand idles.

3)Most body awareness stuff is done specifically for first person. I don't think that any 3p animations are used on 1p except for on the lower body. But this part is outside my specialty; I may be wrong.

4)We use a combination of additive animation layers and specifically authored, weapon specific animations. For example, there is a sprint animation for all assault rifles that plays additively to each, individual rifle's sprint pose. But every reload animation is authored per-weapon.

5)They're very powerful tools! Like any aspect of gamedev, I'd love faster iteration times but that's true of almost every tool, especially powerful ones.

You're welcome!

Hellghost31 karma

Hello there Ryan, I gotta say you did an impressive job on the weapon animations for BF4 one of the best weapons animations in my opinion but I have a question.. Do you have someone that test real weapons and you pick which is the best reload?

P.S the Unica 6 easter egg animation is awesome!

AnimationMerc34 karma

Thanks! I get my hands on the actual weapons when I can but sometimes that's hard or impossible to do. Whether I get to shoot the real weapon or not, manufacturer's videos are useful reference. Sometimes when a weapon is super rare (like with the MK3A1 in Battlefield) the only real reference I could find was the blueprint!

Picking the "best" reload is about picking something that is practical and mechanically correct first of all, then visually interesting (like using the HK slap on the F2000; it's correct but not required.)

Latitudes35 karma


AnimationMerc34 karma

He really does, doesn't he? AA12s Akimbo!

Cassiocassa25 karma

How did you came up with the animations easter eggs? are there other animations that we didn't found yet?

Thanks for your great job!

AnimationMerc44 karma

The Unica easter egg came up because of all the unkind things some people said about the regular reload :P

So spite, I guess!

The way the Unica reload was implemented is a new trick to me but kind of cruel to you guys. Things like the Phantom program are complicated unlocks that require other people's work but it's really easy for me to add parameter that says "this animation has an X percentage chance of playing."

Cassiocassa16 karma

Please, do more of this if you can! It's always a nice surprise :)

AnimationMerc16 karma

Thanks! I feel bad that people were spending time trying to reproduce it and it's really, really rare (and only happens on empty reloads.)

LordNoodles10 karma

What is the percentage exactly?

AnimationMerc63 karma

I've never actually answered this publicly but what the hell: why not?

It has a 1 in TEN THOUSAND chance of occurring and ONLY when reloading from empty (all 6 shots fired.)

When we released the Fall Patch, I worried that it would be rounded down to zero and would never occur. BleedingUranium was quite lucky to find it.

AverageAnon29 karma

Would it be possible to make it so that after it happens once, it always does this animation for the rest of the round? I can just imagine suddenly going on a massive Unica killing spree, with strategic stops to gently tap new rounds into place, ready for the next targets.

AnimationMerc16 karma

The only way I was able to slip it in was to make it totally random. Anything else would've required engineering support.

LordNoodles3 karma

So I basiclx won't have any chance of seeing it ingame :(

AnimationMerc14 karma

I didn't want something so silly to break the mood in Battlefield so I made it incredibly rare. You're more likely to see it than you are to win the lotto or get bit by a shark.

Like I said, it was kind of cruel (not deliberately!)

Latitudes2 karma


AnimationMerc7 karma

I think the chance is higher (maybe 1 in 200) on CTE.

Ginguuh16 karma

Do you get help from military personnel to design efficient and realistic reload animations?

AnimationMerc23 karma

Definitely! Especially when I was working on Warfighter, I would talk out reloads with the real deal guys and make sure our animations would hold up to their scrutiny.

soldato_fantasma11 karma

Can you take a picture of your working desk? (PC, Keyboard, etc.) :D It would be cool to see where you work!

AnimationMerc18 karma

LOL It's a MESS. Seriously. My desk is like a junkyard. There are car parts everywhere. I'm like the bad neighbor who brings down everyone else's property value.

sk33ny2 karma

Car parts you say... For what exactly?

AnimationMerc3 karma

A 1966 Chevelle. See the title picture on my Twitter account :)

importTuna2 karma

Parts for what car if I may ask? Sort of a gearhead.

AnimationMerc2 karma

A 1966 Chevelle. Sort of a gearhead myself :)

ImanOcelot11 karma

I'm assuming you're on the DICE L.A. team, still working on BF4.. When it comes to balancing weapons (specifically reload times) I've heard that it is difficult for you to go back and change these reload animations.. Does this effect the decision on whether to touch the gun's balance? It's disappointing if so simply because some reload times do need to be looked at.

AnimationMerc16 karma

I was on the Stockholm team for BF3 and on the LA team now.

Going back and changing reload animations isn't difficult; it's just very time consuming. It's tempting to polish and rework forever but that doesn't get you guys anything new. If I had made every animation change that was asked for on CTE, I wouldn't have had time to fix the bugs, nor animate the bow and rail gun.

AriesK4711 karma

Did you make the badass reloads in BF3 such as the AEK? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1dws8MMtxw most of the stock weapon reloads in BF4 have a lot less flair.

AnimationMerc23 karma

I don't decide what reloads people consider "badass" but I did do that AEK reload in BF3 :) Thanks!

ImanOcelot3 karma

Hmmm, sorta surprised an animator sorts bugs but that's why I play the games not work on them. I understand the reasoning though. Could you say what guns you have messed with regarding reload speeds? (If any)

AnimationMerc10 karma

The role of an animator is different than it was 10 years ago and it's definitely different at DICE. At some studios, the animator just happily cranks out pretty animations then hands them off to a designer and/or programmer to be implemented and often modified (compressed, sped up etc.)

At DICE, we get the animations working ourselves so we have final control over the quality. That part is great but it makes the job a LOT more technical than the title of "animator" implies.

Fjark3 karma

Could you go into detail ? For us "hobbyists" it can be very rewarding to know sorta the process behind it, or at the very least tell us a bit about how the technical aspects makes it more complicated.

AnimationMerc5 karma

Sure. By technical, I mean that animators here have more responsibility in getting their own stuff working rather than having someone do it for them. My job is done when there is a working, 100% functional and good looking gun in a game that is fully playable; just not necessarily tuned.

My job is not done just by finishing those animations in Maya. That's maybe the first 25% of it. The rest is hooking up those animations everywhere they are needed.

In the case of the bow, my job was to make the whole draw/release/reload system work and all the aiming and blending that takes place during those states.

Ohshambes10 karma

Would something like BF4's Phantom be more difficult to animate than, say, a typical assault rifle?

AnimationMerc22 karma

YES. The bow was a real pain to get working because there is nothing else in game that works the same. It has a fire delay that is different from hip and ADS (an engineer had to add this), completely unique aim poses and directions and a whole state of having the bow drawn back while aiming and being able to move. It took quite a bit of time to get working right and it's still not perfect.

sirdiealot538 karma

I think I speak on behalf of the community when I say thank you to you, David and everyone else who made the bow and the Phantom program possible. In b4 "there is no phantom program" :)

AnimationMerc9 karma

Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms!

dorekk5 karma

I get your reference and I appreciate it.

AnimationMerc4 karma


hollandje10 karma

Are you thinking of putting more reload animation easter eggs in the game?

(Both Unica 6 animations are awesome!)

AnimationMerc13 karma

I don't know, honestly! The Unica was an easy target because it's regular reload was so polarizing. There isn't another weapon that's asking for it the way the Unica was.

Taeloth10 karma

Hey man, I have a question that you can hopefully put to rest. For a while I have felt like the design and animation of a weapon in an FPS actually has an impact on gameplay. I did a very informal and localized test of this where I modded a CoD game on PC to use 2 different animation for the same weapon. The gun was your typical SMG and the second variation was the same only with a sniper "skin" it appeared to me as though the design and animation of the sniper caused higher accuracy. I assume this to be a mental effect seeing as literally everything else was the same. Could you shed some light on this? Does having a different design in you peripherals actually alter the way you react? Am I even making sense? Lol thanks!

AnimationMerc8 karma

Interesting question! There is certainly some psychology associated with animations because they contribute to a weapon's "feel." I can imagine a more reckless, showy, quick reload leading to quicker, more reckless gameplay where a more methodical reload might suggest the need to be more careful and strategic?

We certainly see some people who think a gun is "the best" because it has the coolest model or animations.

soldato_fantasma10 karma

What are you working on at moment?

AnimationMerc33 karma

Stuff that is not yet announced :)

lurkenheimer9 karma

Can you comment on if what you're working on is for Battlefield 4, or a different project?

AnimationMerc12 karma

I can not, sorry!

RenseBenzin9 karma

Is there a reason why the effect of the muzzelbrake and the compensator is switched? Or is it just an overlook?

AnimationMerc17 karma

This one is also outside my domain. The only responsibility I have over attachments are bipods, magnifiers and underbarrels (ie the parts that are animated.) I don't affect the in game statistics of anything, except for the time it takes for animations to happen.

mirh9 karma

I guess this won't be one of your first concerns, though.. What do you think of modding? It was the core of BF2 but it's not there anymore since BC2

Official version is that modding tools would be too hard for community... but there are actual reverse engineering projects that can already basically edit maps (don't worry, DRM is untouched)

So.. the only thing that comes to my mind is: they just want to sell their DLCs.. is it really this bad?

Thank you

AnimationMerc18 karma

Personally, I think modding is great. It's gotten harder to mod commercial engines but the upside is that these days you can "mod" Unity or Unreal 4 and make a totally new game.

As to why we don't have mod tools, that's outside of my area of expertise. But our tools, while great, definitely don't have the same level of user friendliness as actual mod tools or publicly released game engines do.

I really don't believe it's a grand conspiracy to sell DLC.

Sharkeelol8 karma

Hey there Ryan, have you ever considered having more than one weapon reload animation for a gun? I know in Crysis 2 depending on the situation the player was in it would change the reload. For example, if you were using armor/strength mode it would make the reload fast and powerful. Cloak reloads were slow and smooth. It would be neat if in Battlefield we could have this...if you were suppressed reload would be longer etc.

Could we ever expect to see this in a future Battlefield or DICE product?

AnimationMerc16 karma

I wouldn't want to change reload time based on something that wasn't under the player's control but if stealth were a major element of our game, I think slower, stealthier reloads could be very cool.

I've said before, reloads are a drill and people don't generally vary the way they reload once they're trained with it, but stealth is a good circumstance.

thatsfinktastic6 karma

Love the bipod knife, do DICE employees enjoy shows like Battlefield friends?

AnimationMerc14 karma

We're big fans :)

Tiezzynator5 karma

I have a few questions: 1. Do you use mo-cap for weapon animations? 2. What program(s) do you use for the animations? 3. Are there some tips you can give to people that want to make animations? 4. Do you know any (free) tutorials on making animations? 5. Do you like your job? 6. Are there any basics for making good weapon animations? 7. What (free) program(s) do you recommend for making weapon animations? 8. For how long have you been doing this? 9. What weapon animation are you most proud of? If possible a video link.

Also a nice idea I have for any upcoming games: give weapons multiple reload animations so that each time you reload you get a different animation, but still give them the same reload time.

AnimationMerc5 karma

  1. Not in first person, no. It sounds like a better idea than it is, except for complex interactions (like melee kills). In 3rd person, we sometimes start with mocap and massage it to fit our needs.

  2. Maya, ANT (EA's animation package) and Frostbite

  3. Learn to animate! Remember, it's learning an artform, not a software package!

  4. Youtube is chock full of great, free animation tutorials. There are also some great books (not free; maybe your library can help?) The Illusion of Life, The Animator's Survival Guide, The Character Animation Toolkit.

  5. Know how to animate! And get good reference!

  6. Blender is the only free one I'm aware of. People definitely make weapon animations with it.

  7. I've been doing game animation since 2001. I did a little bit of first person animations when I worked on Killzone 2 many years ago and more for a game called Earth No More that never shipped. I guess I've been doing first person animation on and off since 2006.

  8. The AEK and AN94 reloads in BF3 seemed to be well received. My favorite reloads though are probably the revolvers (M412, Magnum anf the Unica) because there are many interesting ways to reload a revolver. All of them are up on Youtube... somewhere.

Re: multiple reloads. I did exactly that on Medal of Honor: Warfighter. On some weapons, your reload would change depending on your unit/nationality to reflect different training. But reloading is a drill and people, whether amateur or professional, tend to reload pretty consistently every time.

Master_Cen5 karma

What is your favorite weapon which you'd want to animate in Battlefield?

AnimationMerc8 karma

I like things that are complicated and fidgety, where the reload can tell the story of how it actually works. The Jackhammer reload in BF3 was one. More recently, the Railgun in Final Stand. Every action has a purpose, whether it's clear to everyone or not.

Shimytangtang4 karma

Fantastic job on the rail gun and jackhammer animations! The rail gun has one of the coolest reload animations in the game, I don't even care that it takes so long to reload, because I love watching the animation. I can't help but love the jackhammer reload animation. I just find bullpup reloads so attractive.

AnimationMerc2 karma

Thank you!

jackspayed4 karma

1) Are there any plans to address the animations / reload times of "pistol" magazine style primary weapons? MP-7, MX4, CBJ-MS, SR-2... these reload systems are functionally the same as any of the pistols yet take twice as long...

2) When will we see the new ADS animation from CTE in the base game?

3) Is there any viability to adding "hand signals" to facilitate non verbal commo rose actions? Like "contact left", "down", "move forward" , "halt" etc.?

AnimationMerc6 karma

1)There are not, no. I explained in another reply why re-animating existing assets isn't the best use of our time, even if we decided it was something we wanted to do (I personally don't see the need).

Especially with SO many options for weapons in BF4, there is always something else you can use if you're unhappy with any element of an existing weapon.

2)I don't know. Maybe Tigge can chime in on that one?

3)Unlikely to happen for BF4 but it's a good idea! I think the spotting/pointing system was originally planned to be more robust.

jackspayed2 karma

Cool cool - thanks for the response. Appreciate all your work on the game. 900 hours and it keeps getting better.

AnimationMerc3 karma

Hardcore! And thank you!

obs_snakelet4 karma

  1. Are there any games you can think of with first person animations or weapon animations that really impressed you?

  2. Are there any weapons you would really like to animate, but have not had a chance to yet?

  3. Any chance of being able to stab people with your arrow when using a bow?

AnimationMerc6 karma

  1. I haven't played Crysis much but they seem to do a great job. Also, Far Cry 3 (and 4, from what I've seen) get a good sense of physicality. The COD series has some great reload animations. I always feel bad for their animators when I see "sleight of hand" double the playback speed from a beautiful animation to a blur. I'm glad our designers don't do that :)

  2. A break-open shotgun, a lever-action rifle, more revolvers... basically, I'd love to work on an old west shooter!

  3. It was discussed! And might still be possible...

sirdiealot533 karma

I hope you get to animate an IMI Negev soon. 1000+ RPM LMG ;D

AnimationMerc5 karma

I'm aware of the Negev :) Sounds like a balancing nightmare!

sirdiealot537 karma

900-1000 RPM. 24-18 Damage. 100-150 Magazine size. 0.3 Left 0.6 Right 0.4 Up Recoil. 0.3 Spread. 0.11 SIPS.

Boom. Balanced C:

AnimationMerc20 karma

Thanks! I'll be sure to let our weapons designer know how easy his job is :P

sirdiealot533 karma

Have you ever had to scrap a weapon, etc, because the animation was proving too difficult/time-consuming? If so, what?

AnimationMerc7 karma

Wow, good question! We have definitely scrapped planned, options and systems (like every game does) but I don't think we've ever cut something because it was too difficult to get working right. The shield from Dragon's Teeth came close though.

sirdiealot534 karma

Did you have a prototype Shield+Pistol animation made? I remember that was the original plan. If so, can we see it? :D

AnimationMerc2 karma

We did, yes! I showed it at GDC in March as part of my talk. I will see if I can post it somewhere.

DeCoR263 karma

I loved the AEK mag scrape reload from BF3, any possibility of a comeback?

AnimationMerc8 karma

Thanks! Not for the AEK but I did a similar maneuver for the AS Val and Bulldog in BF4: Premium. And if we were ever able to add another AK style rifle and I were the one animating it, you can probably guess what the reload would look like...

DeCoR263 karma

It's awesome on the AS Val too, I just tend not to use PDWs too much so don't get to appreciate it a lot. I need to use the Bulldog more haha. Awesome, hope we get to see that mysterious AK :P Thanks for the reply big fan of your work and everybodies at Dice :)

AnimationMerc2 karma

Thank you!

Norua3 karma

You're doing an amazing work so thank you for that.

Is the reload for the upcoming G3A3 going to change compared to the one we know from BF3 (that stealth question)?

AnimationMerc4 karma

Thank you!

Norua11 karma

Damn it, he didn't take the bait.

More serious question though: are you working on the animations of Battlefront or is that another team?

AnimationMerc5 karma

Thank you!

Almost out of time! ;)

(I'm not working on Battlefront)

Latienie3 karma

What do you think the future looks like for animation with tech like Occulus on the horizon? In what way would you like to see this envelope of immersive entertainment be pushed in the First-Person perspective? (Or any perspective, for that matter)

AnimationMerc6 karma

Hey, don't I know you? ;)

It's a great question. I think the Occulus is going to be a game changer for first person animation but I'm not sure just how. Combined with the right peripherals (a good prop weapon, Kinect style camera), it's entirely possible that the player will be the first-person animator before too long.

There are still problems I've yet to see a good solution for, like the disconnect between freelook and free aim (aiming with your head is awful) but things like are solvable.

Basically, I think the Occulus is fantastic as is to immerse yourself as a camera or into a cockpit but we have a ways to go until we can get Battlefield-style physicality feeling good, both visually and control-wise.

Latitudes3 karma


AnimationMerc2 karma

We animate the gadgets the same as weapons though I don't think I've done any for BF4 besides the shield. I don't affect the balance or use of them though; just cosmetics.

Latitudes2 karma


AnimationMerc2 karma

Thanks! I don't think it's dead yet. Hopefully we can still make some improvements.

Latitudes2 karma


AnimationMerc2 karma

I think we'd like to focus on improving the shield's resistance and give it some kind of teamplay motivation (get points for protecting your squad or some such). But that's someone else's job.

Floyd_Gondoli3 karma

How much of an additional challenge is it being a left handed animator? I mean, do you smudge lines and stuff when you're using a digi-pen?

AnimationMerc5 karma

I use a mouse so it's not bad. But my handwriting is terrible and when you animate right-handed guns all day,it's very confusing when you actually pick up a gun and try to remember which hand to hold it in.

DANNYonPC3 karma

(including the recently discovered compound bow)


What are your favorite animations in the game? (Could be weapon but others as well, like when you protect yourself when rubble falls down)


How did you ever got the idea of being an animator?


How often do you play the game itself? (i mean retail)


How do you animate a dino?

AnimationMerc2 karma

1)The ceiling collapse animation is cool because it's contextual; I like animations that further immerse you in the environment. The bow is fun because I worked really hard to make it work right and accurately.

2)I pursued animation because I'm a creative person with too many ideas to get out and not enough time to get them out. I like to create characters, worlds and stories! Animation is a great way to be a part of that.

3)I think I'm at 170 hours on public servers; many more in playtests. I play a fair amount.

4)Very carefully.

DANNYonPC2 karma

If you could add anything to the game, what would it be?

AnimationMerc9 karma

Battle unicorns.

Latienie2 karma

After such a wide variety of weaponry, what sort of things do you consider when you sit down to create something new? Are there any alternative media sources that you turn to when you're trying to keep it fresh?

AnimationMerc2 karma

I worry about this! There are only so many kinds of weapon actions out there. So far, it's stayed fresh but for me, the new, exciting stuff is systemic more than the content itself.

Meaning, I'm more likely to get the satisfaction making something fresh by creating a new system than I am by making a cool, new animation.

Does that make sense? We DICE animators are pretty technical!

chunky_23362 karma

What weapons are your favorite to had animated?

AnimationMerc8 karma

The rail gun was fun because it's a long reload and it's not real. The bow was fun because I had to learn a lot about archery in the process!

I'm also really proud of the BF4 DAO12, where I think I successfully proved that you can have a really great weapon with a terribly slow reload.

chunky_23362 karma

ya thats the DAO 12 for ya, I remember back in BF2 where you needed a good min. to reload it fully, just to unload it.

AnimationMerc2 karma

Yeah. We wound up going with the version that at least ejects it's own shells to save 40 seconds or so :P

Mister_Humpries2 karma

Are you a fan of voxels?

AnimationMerc2 karma


ZaloRhythm2 karma

When designing reload animations, how much importance is placed on speed?

AnimationMerc4 karma

A fair amount. We generally approach a reload with "as fast as it takes to get it looking good and done right."

I do first pass animations slower than intended because only rarely will anyone ask for a reload to be slower (but it has happened!) MOHW shipped with animations slower than I would've liked but I'm pretty happy with the speed of most of my BF4 reloads.

Some people believe a reload should just be a blur of stuff happening but I like that reload times become a tactical decision.

BleedingUranium5 karma

Totally not your domain (though I saw tigge lurking), that last bit is why I love mag-based reloading instead of ammo pools.

AnimationMerc4 karma

I am also a fan of mag-based reloading and mag-retention animation. But you already know that.

afyaff2 karma

I don't know if you have anything to do with it although it's also animation involved.

Why does the knife animation often bug? aka DICE'd. Sometimes my character would be holding the enemy's arm trying to counter him but suddenly without any animation, he would be dead.

And the counter knife mechanic only works against me. I've seen an "F" prompt, spammed F and still got diced. Or are these more of a latency problem?

AnimationMerc2 karma

I don't really know enough about the knife system to answer this. Tigge or one of the engineers on his team might have more insight.

bardleh2 karma

Damn, I showed up late for the party. Did you do the M1911 reload in BF3? I was devastated when BF4 only had the generic speedy animation that every other pistol has.

AnimationMerc3 karma

I did, yes. And thanks! Hopefully the Deagle's reload is pleasantly reminiscent of it.

burningeraph2 karma

What is dice looking for in reels? I just left a job and am looking in LA.

AnimationMerc9 karma

For animators, a technical bias is really helpful. I mentioned in another reply that our job involves a lot more actual implementation than at any other studio I've ever worked for.

It's great in that we have more control over the final quality of animation (vs a bunch of pretty playblasts that get murdered in-game by compression) but it does affect the amount of content that we can create.

DICE LA is a small studio and we want to stay small, so we like to hire senior people who are talented, technical and flexible.

TheAlibiks2 karma

Do you think it would be a good idea to have a weekly or monthly Livestream were Questions were answered and maybe sneak peeks were given?

AnimationMerc3 karma

I like the idea of livestreams. A regularly scheduled one might be hard to do though but it's been suggested to do a walkthrough of animating a weapon sometime in the future. I don't know if that's the kind of thing we could do live but it might be possible to record.

Latitudes2 karma


AnimationMerc2 karma

I would like to see us do more of this, especially playing on public servers! Many devs hide their DICE tags in public so they can focus on playing the game, rather than do an impromptu Q&A.

wh1732 karma

Do you know or have done videos and/or tutorials specific to learn 3d weapon animation for games, that you would recommend? Do you have a blog or website?

How long does it usually take to do the animations for 1 weapon, like an automatic pistol?

AnimationMerc3 karma

Automatic pistols are probably the fastest to animate. Maybe a few days?

For tutorials, I think Hyper does some Blender tutorials/screencasts on his Youtube channel. I just discovered him recently through Reddit and I think he does great work. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSezUnbvCLYBXuUlPcXU_QQ

Latitudes2 karma


AnimationMerc3 karma

The railgun was fun! It's great to do something more than mag in/mag out/bolt release. And I think that's the only part of your question I can reply to :P

FlyingLettuceism2 karma

Hello dear developer! Love your work! A few questions. 1)What tools do you suggest to invest in for a beginning animator? 2)How does it feel being an animator of several big time franchises? 3)Which weapon in Battlefield 4 did you have the most fun animating? Thanks!

AnimationMerc2 karma


1)Best tools for a beginning animator? Maybe Blender, since it's free? But the most important tools would be books and videos on learning how to animate! It's not just learning software. Paper and 2d software are also a great place to start animating.

2)It feels pretty good :)

3)I mentioned elsewhere but I'll repeat: Unica, F2000, AS Val, Railgun, bow... actually, most of the Premium weapons have been pretty fun to do.

JL1834cx2 karma

you mentioned it was hard or impossible to get your hands on real weapons, what process do you guys normally go through to find someone with weapons that you can study? would you ever consider reaching out to the bigger youtubers that have gun channels? if so I have a suggestion

AnimationMerc5 karma

That kind of thing happens above my paygrade. I would consider reaching out to qualified Youtubers, sure. On MOHW we shot on Larry Vicker's TV show and learned a LOT from him, as well as other consultants.

One thing about guns and Youtube: there are a lot of armchair soldiers and airsofters who can lead you astray with things that are "tacti-cool" but impractical or even dangerous. But if you've got a suggestion for someone who knows their stuff, sure!

kellar1235 karma


AnimationMerc4 karma

I've seen his channel before! Good stuff.

JL1834cx1 karma

haha, I can imagine the issues with tacti-cool youtubers. My suggestion would be /u/RichardRyan with the RatedRR and youtube.com/guns channels, I believe he is based out of southern california also, no idea on how to approach making something happen, but the attention to detail he puts into his videos makes me think he would be an awesome consultant for anything gun related in current or future DICE projects.

AnimationMerc2 karma

Good info! We're not at that part of production where I'm doing homework but I subscribed to both channels and will keep them in mind.

potetr2 karma

This may be a bit outside your domain, but what is the worst/silliest thing you (DICE) have considered adding to a battlefield game and then scrapped? Thanks!

Ps: could you give a one word hint at what you are so secretly working on?

AnimationMerc3 karma

The bow was arguably silly until our weapons modeler made one sufficiently badass! Other than that, I can't think of anything but it's a great question.

One word hint? Reddit :P

TheDarthGhost12 karma

Hey Ryan! Gotta say, Battlefield reload animations are really amazing. If you could add one gun or one animation to Battlefield 4, what would it be? Thanks!

AnimationMerc5 karma

Thank you! I can't say what I would add, just in case I'm at some point able to add it.

Newkidintheghetto2 karma

I know this is a touch outside your area, but I think since you mentioned your job has a lot of implementation too it, my question is this:

You know how on Battlefield and other First person shooter games, there are those cool First Person cutscenes? Like for example, on battlefield 3 Dima climbing on a helicopter, in first person, how is that done or implemented in game?

AnimationMerc1 karma

Those are generally a combination of motion capture and animator magic!

Charlemagne_III2 karma

Why is everyone in first person shooters right handed?

AnimationMerc8 karma

I am left-handed myself. But left handedness is tricky in game, especially if you want to reload correctly (not mirror the viewmodel, like a few older games have done.) When most people are right-handed, we animate to the majority. Right people. Pssssht.

But I have some ideas on a way to fix this...

MrTra1tor1 karma

Why doesn't the model scale based on what FoV you have?

As a 120 FoV player, the giant guns annoys me a lot.

Same goes for vehicles in 1st person, but that's outside of your boundries I guess.

AnimationMerc3 karma

FOV is a bit outside my area of expertise but I can tell you, if the FOV affected the weapon, you wouldn't have to go much wider before you'd be staring down the insides of your shoulders. The guns were animated to the standard FOV and would pretty quickly fall apart with that much camera distortion.

MrTra1tor1 karma

But there has been a lot of bugs (fixed, as far as I have experienced) where the model and animation would scale together with the FoV, and the animation was flawless even if a cruise missile blew up in my face whilst I reloaded.

AnimationMerc5 karma

They are not guaranteed to explode at higher FOVs; they just can't be tested to all possible camera options so they are very likely to explode.

MrTra1tor1 karma

Would it hurt to put some FoV changes to one or two guns in CTE and see how it goes?

AnimationMerc3 karma

Would it hurt? I don't really know. But it would be impossible to test because of it's scale and open the flood gate for a lot of bugs or at least, glitchy animations. We have a very robust first person movement system and we have a LOT of guns.

In game dev (and most things) there is the idea of cost/benefit analysis: what do we gain and what do we risk? to me, allowing FOV changes to the gun is too risky for the potential payoff (gun is less big onscreen for a small percentage of players.)

5tormwolf921 karma

Hı Merc, my question is about why the multi-player M16/M4 empty reloads were different from the singleplayer reload. Is the hitting on the gun IRL?

AnimationMerc2 karma

I didn't realize they were different but I didn't work on the campaign or original MP for Battlefield 4. Hitting the gun is to release the bolt catch though.

FullMetaI1 karma

Hopefully you are able to give this an answer.

I really did enjoy warfighter and the movement of the game.

Was it hard to animate the weapons during the running slid animation?

AnimationMerc2 karma

Thanks! The credit for the movement goes to the other animators. Erick and James were our MP animators for the locomotion and melee stuff while I did most of the weapons.

The slide was all Erick, I believe.

obs_snakelet1 karma

How do you feel about the recent reduction in weapon recoil bounce, and visceral animations versus gameplay in general?

AnimationMerc3 karma

It's definitely more gamey; when really shooting the reticle isn't going to stay locked to your eye, which I expect was the original intent behind visual recoil. But overall, people seem happier with it so that's fine with me.

kellar1231 karma

First question:

How long does it take to animate a weapon (on average) from starter to finish ? is it fun ? is it hard and how do you deal with a weapon that you might not be able to get enough info and details on ?

Second question:

Do you think interaction and transitioning animations for lets say;

Like pushing the elevator button or switching seats from the driver to the gunner make the gameplay experience better and more immersive or do players generally dislike those ?

AnimationMerc2 karma

Depends of the complexity. A pistol could take a few days, an assault rifle with bipod, underbarrel GL and shotgun could take weeks. Animating is only part of the job too; the other part is plugging in all the animations and getting them working and looking right in game.

Once they work in game, they get a few more polish passes until we're happy with the quality.