The Tickle Animation

By Shamus Posted Thursday Feb 15, 2007

Filed under: Game Design 16 comments

Jay has a post titled, Are Graphics Really Killing Gameplay? He talks about how interesting gameplay elements like climbing walls and vaulting over things are often left out of games simply because of the expense of depicting them in 3d. (An odd aside, I have a post with almost the same title in the queue planned for next week, but mine focuses on the way 3d hardware evolution is screwing up graphics evolution.)

This reminds me of how the game Fallout handled this. Your character had many skills they could use in the game: Heal, hack computers, repair things, tie ropes, pick locks, etc. Rather than making animations for all of these activities, the designers just had this animation of your character leaning forward and sort of moving their hands around at the target object. To my eye it looked like you were tickling it. This was really funny, watching my character “tickle” a door open. However, once I got used to it I stopped thinking about it. The fact that I could do those things was way more important to me than how I looked while I was doing it.


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16 thoughts on “The Tickle Animation

  1. Ben Finkel says:

    I hope you still post that article. That will be interesting to read.


  2. JagDell says:

    World of Warcraft does the exact same thing for all ‘crafts’ and object manipulation. (But then again, one could argue that Wow is just a huge amalgam of good ideas from other games).

  3. JFargo says:

    I find what you say to be true, but for some reason this seems unfinished, as though it’s left halfway through a thought, something to “come back to.” I’m pretty sure that’s not the case, but I just thought I’d say how I felt about it.

    Mostly because I’m a jerk. ;)

  4. Jerry says:

    I once closed and locked a door by tickling it.

    Well, to be completely honest, I was tickling my wife and when I wouldn’t stop, she went upstairs and slammed the door shut, and I spent the night on the couch.

  5. Telas says:

    Is this the proper place to point out the stupendous graphics of the PS3 getting trumped by the meager brains but awesome gameplay of the Wii?

    ‘Cause it sure seems like the place to do so.

  6. Deoxy says:

    “Are Graphics Really Killing Gameplay?”


    I just want to play a good game. Eyecandy is a nice bonus… IF EVERYTHING ELSE IS GOOD. Oh, and if I can play the silly thing with a computer more than an hour old.

    And yes, the “tickle” animation (in whateeevr form) has been used in many games, and if much appreciated.

  7. Steve says:

    The “BET” sticker must be made a reality in the computer game world, and not because I drew it but because I’m sick of buying games in which the “minimum” or even “recommended” configurations printed on the box are the phantoms of a diseased mind rather than a consumer guide.

    Maybe if the bloody operating system didn’t soak up so many system resources before you even load the game there might be less need to run “Hobbiton Raider” on equipment more suited to designing hypersonic jets or modelling thermonuclear explosions in real time.

    Color me disgruntled (pixel shader 1.1 and DirectX 15.789 beta required)


  8. Vykromod says:

    Next time I play Fallout, I’m going to have trouble not giggling at my character tickling a lock open, or tickling someone’s gun out of their pocket. I’d never thought of the animation that way before. Curse you!

  9. Mordaedil says:

    I don’t that graphics are really killing gameplay, more what people expect from graphics.

    If the procedural animation takes off, future RPG’s might have a lot going for them on saving resources in creating more interesting challenges.

    And I don’t think everyone is really having fair expectancies in games either, just take Jumping. Would you have it done like in the Zelda series, where you walk up to the end on a walkmesh and the character jumps forward (making a roll to determine the distance?) or do you want a button that makes your character jump?

    For D&D, I think the Zelda method would be preferable, but a lot of people wanted a button for NWN2, which they thankfully ignored. (thanks to me, hah!)

  10. Fernmonkey says:

    The overwhelming majority of computer games released in the last, oh, ten years now, are off-limits to me, because playing anything with 3D graphics gives me horrible, awful motion sickness. (I first discovered this in what certain friends recall as The Infamous Goldeneye Puking Incident.) My gaming experience these days is pretty much limited to online Flash games (I loved that tower defence one), Java games on my phone and DDR, because I simply can’t handle the shiny.

    I’m not saying that more games should downgrade their graphics to cater to the tiny minority of people like me, but it does mean that I only get to play RPGs at all when I can find people to sit round a physical table rolling real dice.

  11. Wonderduck says:

    “Maybe if the bloody operating system didn't soak up so many system resources before you even load the game…”

    Fine. Write your own OS. Better make it really, really good, though because no matter HOW clean it is, there are going to be people bitching about how it stinks, how much it swallows system resources, how kludgey it is.

    Never mind that before Windows came along, computers were esoteric pieces of wizardry that were amazingly difficult to use, and impossible to use WELL. Never mind that as Windows progressed it became easier to do hard things easily. Never MIND that without Windows, we’d like as not still be praising the floppy drive and the 80mb HD as ‘big’.

    Just… ignore all that, and bitch more about how much Windows sucks; I’m sure everybody here has NEVER heard it before.

    Go ahead, we’re waiting.

  12. ubu roi says:

    Never mind that with the next version of Windows, we’re not going to be able to do squat, because the DRM is going to hogtie the system. Never mind that I refuse to upgrade from Win2k because I don’t like the changes made in XP. Never mind that businesses are getting sick and tired of being forced to upgrade hundreds, if not thousands of perfectly good computers, not because they need better computers to do the same job, but because the O/S and apps become more bloated every year. Probably 90% of everything a company needs to do with a word processor was done by Office 97. (Granted, it was unstable with large files, much to my dismay…) All it’s going to take for Linux to become king is for about 10 Fortune 100 companies to say, “Bill? Kiss off!” and ink a well-publicised deal to go with one specific Linux distro.

    (That’s not to say that history won’t repeat itself, though.) Ah well, I can dream… And I don’t even know or care for Linux

  13. Fieari says:

    If there’s one benefit to simple 2d tile based animation-lacking games it’s this, the ability to simply write a text box with the action in it. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words can be written much faster than a thousand pictures can be drawn.

  14. LafinJack says:

    World of Warcraft does the exact same thing for all “˜crafts' and object manipulation. (But then again, one could argue that Wow is just a huge amalgam of good ideas from other games).

    The male troll’s “doing stuff” animation is one hand held out flat, palm up, with the other hand banging on it in a closed fist. This is the same animation used for equipping your mount. I always wonder what those stinky trolls are doing to their poor mounts to get them to cooperate…

  15. Steve says:

    [Wonderduck] You weren’t to know this of course, but I’ve long been a champion of the windows OS as the opener of the way. I like XP and have said so on pro-Mac and Linux forums (and been flamed as a result).

    What I was alluding to, and I’m sure you would have thought of this yourself had you taken a deep cleansing breath before putting fingers to keyboard, is that the new version of windows requires a video card with a minimum (read: won’t work properly with) of 128 meg onboard, and a quadrupling of the main memory that XP specs out at. What are you getting for this upspec? What miracles will the Vista OS give you that XP doesn’t? Well, it still won’t make coffee for one, though you could toast sandwiches on your processor heat sink. :o)

    Before you storm in again you should know that I once built operating systems for a living, on computers that went from room-fillers to your average desktop. I didn’t write them, but I sure as shirt know how they work and what a good definition of “cruft” is.


  16. Neri says:

    OS development is a good example of a dead-end in business terms. Most basic user functions were accomplished by Win95, and were only made slightly easier in subsequent versions. Vista doesn’t offer anything new for the consumer save for the fact that Microsoft is packaging DirectX10 with it. So you aren’t upgrading your OS to upgrade the OS, you’re upgrading the OS in order to access everything else.

    (And programs like the Office suite, Photoshop, and others fall under this general rule.)

    So the business model that Microsoft takes is pretty cut and dried. They package things that the user is going to need (DirectX10) with worthless bloat (the entirety that is Vista) that the user does not need, and makes him pay for it. If you didn’t need Vista for Dx10, it would be a glorious day indeed.

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