The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men…

Big plans. That’s what I had this week for my Unreal Project this week. I was going to get some new animations of a one-armed man loading a saddle onto a horse and then dramatically turning to the right or left as if hearing something in the distance. I was going to finally fix those crazy proportions in my scene (goodbye abnormally large bison). I was going to upload a new horse I found in Unity that had actual texture. I was going to find a good sample of a coyote howling off in the distance and match it perfectly with my new animation. What did I get instead:

Jesus christ….To quote Beckett, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Unfortunately, I got stuck on the second sentence of that quote. Here’s how it happened.

I’ll spare you the details of the lab as you were there for it. I will say you definitely had my sympathy. Can’t imagine the pressure of a software not working when 20+ students are coming to use it and base their homework off of it. Had the software been functioning properly, I was interested in getting one animation: a one-armed model walking up to a horse, picking up a saddle (it would’ve been a sandbag in this case), propping it up onto a horse (stool), adjusting it for a few seconds before “hearing something in the distance” (turning their hard sharply). I definitely plan on trying to get that in the future.

Unable to get the animation I was looking for, I decided to pivot and use a simple walking animation we cleaned up last week. Unfortunately, that walking animation didn’t end in a t-pose but was instead abruptly cut off mid stride. I figured this was all exploratory though so I made a new Mixamo character, put it in motion builder, characterized those hips and brought the animation into my Unreal scene. My poor Mac, the more I give it the more I struggled. Rather than a full character, I got a choppy one who was missing parts of his head, shoulders and waist. It would have to do.

Next came the part that I was sure would be the simplest and would be the most difficult: causing the walking animation to trigger a sound clip. There’s no reason this should’ve been as hard as it was. First, I tried a tutorial I found online but after about an hour of the coyote playing every time the scene started (I checked the blueprint thoroughly), I decided I’d go with your video from the last class. I thought that even though you focused on turning on a light, triggering a sound wouldn’t be too different. I played around with different nodes but couldn’t have any success. I’d either hear the coyote from the beginning of the scene or never at all.

Frustrated, I called Kat over and we sat looking over Unreal for a good 20 minutes. She instructed me to insert a console log that would display a message when the character walked through the trigger. We tried that but still had zero success. At this point we both called it quits as it was around 8 and I’d been on the floor struggling with that other gaming software for hours.

Deep down, I fuckin’ knew it. I knew there was something with the character not being a trigger. That’s the only reason that could explain the console log message not appearing. At the end of the day, I’m glad the situation was resolved even if it meant toiling over Unreal for hours only to have my problems be solved literally by the click of a button.

I really do look forward to making this scene what’s in my head: an exploration of subtlety.

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