NaturalMotion CEO Torsten Reil talks Develop through the latest version of its animation tool Morpheme

Key Release: Morpheme 6

What are the biggest or most important additions to Morpheme 6? Why are these important?
NaturalMotion’s next generation of Morpheme and Morpheme with Euphoria offers many new features, starting with an improved core architecture that places emphasis on the project as a whole rather than just a single character at a time.

This shift to an overall project-centric workflow makes it easier to share assets within the project, as well as providing a much simpler way to navigate around it to make modifications.

Building on this core enhancement, we also greatly advanced the experience of previewing and debugging the performance of a character. This vastly improves the productivity of Morpheme users because they can make modifications during the preview and see the results updated live within the running game.

The workflow changes of Morpheme 6 are further enriched with a suite of new nodes to expand the availability of character animation techniques. For example, Morpheme 6 with Euphoria offers significant improvements to the fidelity of the selection of behaviours. In parallel, new behaviours are available such as a ‘flinch’ pain response for believable hit reactions.

Similarly, the addition of a distributed Full Body Inverse Kinematics solution provides the potential for rich, procedurally generated animation. Morpheme 6 is available for the major gaming platforms, and Morpheme 6 with Euphoria is targeted at the newer generation of hardware, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

What have you done to improve the experience for established users?
Many of the changes included in Morpheme 6 are centred on improving user workflows, with particular attention paid to the increase in size and complexity of projects that we have seen recently.

Current Morpheme users will enjoy the new capability of making edits to the character’s animation network during the live preview, which results in near instant iteration times to increase productivity.

Previously, we introduced a two-dimensional Scatter Blend to enable users to parametrically blend animations together. In Morpheme 6, we extended this to work in three dimensions. The goal for this component strives for a straight-forward and simplistic user experience as possible without sacrificing any of the power this functionality brings.

What have you done to improve the experience for newcomers?
For new users, NaturalMotion’s Morpheme 6 and Morpheme 6 with Euphoria will introduce them to an innovative, single integrated animation system that holds massive implications on game design. The new project-centric workflow experience generates a much clearer visibility of the relationships between different assets to quickly comprehend how a change to one asset might address issues in all the places that use it within the game.

Additionally, the inclusion of an expression node makes it possible for programmers to write small elements of functionality to be executed at runtime. This makes it easy to prototype new ideas and eases the transition from a code driven animation system to a MorphemeGUI-authored and data-driven approach.

We’ve also added improved debugging to the runtime logic that is operating with each state machine at runtime.

What inspired the changes to Morpheme 6?
Our customers told us that, as their teams ramped up on increasingly larger projects, Morpheme needed to adapt to ensure it maintained its renowned ease of use as it scaled to larger projects.

Simultaneously, ideas are generated from within our internal development and research teams. These improvements are usually focused around thelong-term roadmap for Morpheme that consistently builds on the technology and infrastructure to support the innovation of future features. NaturalMotion prides itself on continuing to push the boundaries of character animation.

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