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Re(1):SFV Thread Part 6: Season 2 Edition
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I found recently a couple of American players agonizing over Go... I mean, Akuma, and I was surprised to hear them making fun of some of his new animations looking "sooo stupid". I didn't notice anything during my short time with him, and if there's one thing Capcom artists are amazing at, it's creating great looking personalized animation, so I went back to the game and tried him to understand what these people were talking about. Then, I saw the issue: it was a cultural one. Since SSF2X, Gouki has slowly transitioned from [i]half-demon looking bad dude[/i] to [URL=https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%87%91%E5%89%9B%E5%8A%9B%E5%A3%AB]living buddhist statue[/URL], and by SF5, the transition is almost complete, to the point a certain amount of his key frames for several normal attacks, not merely his normal stance or super animation, replicate those famous agy˘/ungy˘ poses. So with the correct cultural background, these animations look good, are a natural evolution of the character and express something about him just by their mere presence, which is something the best animations usually do (shameless Vampire plug). However, they looks silly for someone without the cultural keys to understand them. It's true that SF5's Gouki has gone extremely close to his statue counterpart: the way his wrists bend palm outward in almost all his animations is unnatural for anyone including martial artists, but replicate kong˘rikishi's poses to perfection. They even have his animation stilted to the point that he sometimes starts his animation, reaches the exact statue pose, stays there for a couple of frames, and then attack, which emphasizes the point. Unfortunately, an external cultural eye will only see that the animation stuttered, which is quite jarring in a game where everyone has amazingly fluid animation, and even more for the poster boy of season 2 and one of the most popular characters of the franchise. It made me think about the graphical state of the game in general, and its main issue of animation vs clipping. I'm starting to think that the animators of the game have probably a tremendous amount of craft in 2D art (after all, you don't work on Street Fighter animation without a long pedigree in this sphere) but lack knowledge, or interest, in the 3D field and how the polygons will express these animation. This could explain one of the biggest mysteries of this game, that the worst amount of clipping is not due to additional costumes, designed without regards for the original animations, or by small case-by-case interaction of special moves, but by the default costume themselves (Birdie's chain, FANG as a whole, and Gouki's mane even though he has been designed several months after the others), and on the select screen, a huge showcase in a 100% controlled situation, reproducible 100% of the time. There might also be of course outsourcing problems: the issues that Ken has two still bananas hanging from his head, or that Laura's hair seem to have 3 points of articulation at most, are possibly difficult to fix when you're so remote from the people in charge of making the 3D models. But it also makes me think that maybe, some of the animators are old curmudgeons that still want to live in a time when 2D was king and the CPS3 was a worldwide success, and thus disregard on purpose the limitations and needs of 3D models, like they want to say "see? This would never have happened in pixel art!". Obviously, I do not know if that's the case or who is actually working on the animations, it may just be that the outsourcing have these people working so remotely that they cannot communicate with each other, on top of a tight budget that makes them say "eh, good enough as it is". But the fact the issue keeps happening, and that they even went out of their way to give Gouki's default costume a giant clipping mane (while his default costume looks fine) gives me pause.
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