This Developer Blog is copied verbatim from the RuneScape website. It is copyrighted by Jagex.
It is written by Mod Biscuits and is dated 3 July 2009.

Hello, I am Mod Biscuits and I would like to take you through the experiences I had producing the new fairy quest.

With the fairy concept art and models looking great it was up to me as the animator to give them personality and life. It was the first time I had responsibility over the animation of an entire race in RuneScape. Before I could start I needed a clear understanding of how these fairies would behave. To do this I worked closely with Mod Alec, Mod GG and Mod Ingrid to discuss how they would move and interact in the world of RuneScape.

Developing the characteristics of the fairies

Fairy scene

A fairy flying around Zanaris.

We decided to make the fairies quite similar to insects with very fast beating wings and fast, erratic movements. I also wanted to stay clear from the stereotypical ‘cute’ fairy, while still keeping a delicate and feminine feel to them. Previously, all the fairies moved in a similar way, now the Fairy Queen, Godfather and his henchmen all have unique animations that set them apart. The Fairy Queen and Godfather’s movements are less erratic than the generic fairies to give them a more regal feel. The Fairy Queen’s motions are steadier and more graceful, reflecting her royalty. The Godfather is very similar to the Fairy Queen, with less movement compared to his henchmen, and he hovers with his hands behind his back to show superiority. The Godfather's henchmen both have their own unique style also. Slim Louie looks dangerous and ready for a fight and Fat Rocco is awkward and unfit - he holds on to his hat when he moves and occasionally needs to pull his trousers up.

Techniques used in animation

Fairy frames

Two frames of animation

I wanted to produce the effect of motion blur on the fairies' wings to enhance the feeling of speed, but it is very difficult to achieve this effect without processor-heavy graphics techniques. Motion blur is an effect usually seen on film when something is moving too fast for the shutter to capture, thus resulting in a blurred image. In a game, the image is drawn to the screen as quickly as the screen can refresh, resulting in no blurred effect. In order to make the wings look as though they are moving fast enough to blur, I’ve modelled the path of the wings' motion with polygons. I can then animate the transparency value of these polygons to fake the effect of motion blur. This makes the wings look like they’re beating faster than they actually are.

I’m glad I had the chance to animate such a unique race in Runescape. This project has been a lot of fun and I hope everybody likes what we have done with the fairies.

We've animated a few of the fairies, as you can see, but we still have a fair few more to finish off before the project can to go to QA.

Fairy anim

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