Motion capture of character animations for the game exercises

Motion capture of character animations for game exercises


Motion capture is, in short, the recording and transfer of an actor’s movements into a digital format that allows these movements to be used, for example, in videos or games. In the Migael project, the motion capture suit we have used is made by Rokoko Studio, which also includes gloves and software for capturing facial movements. Motion capture is now possible even on a small budget, since there are suits that don’t require separate expensive cameras or software.

The Migael project has tested this technology because the project includes a lot of character animations at different stages of mining work. The first motion captures were made for the worker-characters in the 4th game exercise and later in the 5th exercise, where the foreman was fully animated in this way – which was one of the most significant visual outputs of the exercise. Animation with traditional tools would be time-consuming in hand-made character animations, as well as the errors tend to stand out more clearly.

What is the animation process like in practice?

To get started, it’s a good idea to set aside plenty of space to move around, which also helps avoiding interferes with suit sensors. During remote working, it has been possible to record movements even in your own living room.

First, put on and install a suit that connects to your computer over a wireless network. Before capturing the movement, the suit must be calibrated in the T-position, so that the suit’s sensors are positioned in the right places and identify, among other things, the floor surface. The sensors, wires, control unit and power supply in the suit are detachable for suits of different sizes.

The movements can be seen in real time on the PC-screen, and it is also possible to combine them with the pre-built environment in the game engine. The actual capture is done with Rokoko Studio software, where it is also possible to edit the recorded animations. If there is a need to make more detailed edits or corrections to the animations, they must be done with 3D programs; However, the most common file formats can be extracted straight from the Rokoko Studio, so the actual 3D software doesn’t matter that much.

Finally, when the captured animations are fixed, they can be transferred to the game engine and connected to the game character. The end result is a much mroe realistic and enjoyable motion animation that has not even taken as much time to create as the traditional animation style!


The process of planning a storybased game exercise

The process of planning a storybased game exercise


The 5th exercise of the Migael project is on its way! The exercise is about the work steps and safety in the drift and it goes through them in detail and comprehensively. MiGaEL’s development team made the decision create the game from a storybased premise where the player is a new trainee at the mine. The story proceeds under the guidance of a supervisor and the trainee gets to learn how the whole process works in the drift. The player is allowed to interactively participate and react to different situations, and at the end, test their own skills and knowledge.


But how is this game exercise made? This blog explains how the process of planning and making the 5th exercise has begun!

It begun with written manuscript and sketching

The work began with a manuscript in which the flow and functions of all the different stages of the work were written. The perspective was then made into a narrative and the dialogues were made to fit the supervisor’s tone. The work steps included player-activating tests and actions to move the story forward. Once the script was complete and broken down into clear sections, it was time to start creating the sections in the virtual world in Unity.


Making of the game started with creating one section at a time, allowing the plot to be built forward in small steps, which at the end make up the whole story. To make it easier to visualize the different phases, we decided to make storyboards to clarify what we were supposed to code and to help to see the common goal.


The storyboards are quickly done and seem jagged, but they make it immensely easier to spot problem-areas and perceive the whole picture. Below you can see the storyboard which goes through the drilling phase.


Creating the world

Still, the script is not sufficient enough in itself to visualize the whole story. So the team began to create a personality and character traits for the supervisor by drawing, modeling and typing – and later also by voice-acting and with motion track animations, from which you can read more about in another blog later! 


The appearance of the character was first created by drawing, after which the modeler began to make a 3D model according to the plan.


At the same time as the character began to be structured, the team’s engineers started building the virtual world and the story in terms of the storyboard. Little by little, the mine has begun to look like a mine and the plot is moving forward. Time will tell how this exercise turns out to be like when completed!

This is how the 5th exercise of the MiGaEL project has started! More information on the progress can be found on the website!


Making of: Game Characters

Making of: Game Characters


Two characters adventure on the 4th exercise of Migael-project: Roosa Ruuti who is in charge of of charging and blasting, and Topi Teräsvilla who takes care of the pre- and post-blast work and is responsible of the safety of the mining area. The characters guide the player to do the safety measures before and after the blasting. Although the game is made in 3D, the characters are 2D.


In this blog you get to know a little bit about how the characters were both drawn and animated. In the video above you can see the intro of the exercise. Before the animation, the creation of the characters began with designing!

The first draft and the final results!

First the characters were sketched and their visual style and personality were drafted. There were many options and above you can see the first drafts and the final versions of the final duo that ended up in the exercise. 


Making of the Animations


The characters were drawn with variants of facial expressions and body positions so that the animating would be easy later on the process. All the moving parts of the character were made separately so that they could be animated by moving one part at a time. That way the rest of the drawing won’t become distorted when moving hands, for example. 


On the video below, you can see the steps of animating Roosa Ruuti. The mouth, the eyes, the brows and the hands all had their own “bones” that were moved to the desired positions. When the positions transitions smoothly to one another it turns into animation.

Intro made frame by frame

The intro animations were made more traditionally in a similar way as stop-motion animations are made. The characters were moved little by little and every movement was made into its own frame. The frames create an illusion of movement when they are played one after another. Below you can see couple examples from the first scene of the intro. 

Animating is faster when all the finger are made separately.

This is how the characters from the 4th MiGaEL-exercise were created! You can find more info about the project in the website. The 4th game exercise is in the making and it will be published soon!

Game Design Workshop

Game Design Workshop



Several gamified exercises will be produced during the Migael project, and the implementation of the fourth has started in the autumn of 2020. The design phase for the next mining game starts already during the production of the previous game, so that the mechanical production of the game can be started at an early stage.


The subject of the fourth game exercise will be pre-blast and post-blast safety measures. The subject area forms a huge entity of things to learn, which is why structuring ideas to achieve a holistic game idea is an integral part of the production process. For this reason, we held a game design workshop with the Migael project team on the premises of the FrostBit software laboratory.


The workshop had already been planned well before the implementation of the game exercise, but due to the extensive topic, the planning of some of the game elements required joint brainstorming in a workshop-spirit. We had received in advance from the mining lecturer Kari Vaara (REDU) the necessary information and materials on the safety measures that should be taken into account in the mining area before and after the blasting; based on these, we were able to list the concrete objects that need to be implemented in the game.

Due to the versatility of the topic and partly the fragmentation of the required elements, for the fourth exercise we chose as the implementation method a Desktop PC-game, which means a game played on a computer, mouse and keyboard. The previous exercises have been implemented using virtual reality (VR) technologies, but in the fourth game exercise, the more classic PC-game offers more opportunities to establish the necessary game elements for the topic: this game goes beyond just observing things, and the player gets to play in a storytelling-enriched game environment.

This game exercise is also known as a serious game, which means a game which main purpose is not so much entertainment, but to usually learn something. In the October workshop, game elements were designed for the objects / objects which needed to be included; this consists of both correct and incorrect measures. In planning and designing, it is therefore important to think that the things to be taught in the game should be learned while playing. The implementation of educational game elements should be interesting, educational, but also fun and inspiring: for this, the serious game should have a reward system that keeps the player motivated to keep playing, but at the same time able to follow the player’s own progress in the game.

The fourth exercise “pre- and post-blast safety measures” will thus be implemented as an inspiring mining serious game to be released in 2021. Follow the progress of the project and the process of the rest of the game scenarios on the website!