Previously, I explained how we animate and implement most of the growing vegetation for Pode in Unity: Using a combination of rotation, scale and shape keys, we can quickly make and reuse animations for many smaller prefabs that will look good as they grow together in groups. However, for some plants this method is a bit too simplistic or just not applicable due to how they are used in the game. So, I thought I could show an example of how we would animate one of these special case plants as well.
This is what we call a Bridge Plant. In-game, this thing is supposed to grow from a small ball-like shape and extent out into a big leaf that the player can walk on. We can use our previous animation method for the first part, but for the extension of the leaf we’re going to need a custom solution. In this case I’m treating the plant as an animated character: Rigged/skinned to bones and animated in Blender.
With a tree of bones like this, I can animate each sub-leaf individually, resulting in a nicer more gradual extension of the entire leaf.
The final animation is actually two models animated as one. the first is a simple ball-shaped plant bud model animated like usual for the first part of the animation (this model is needs some more work and texture, but it’s good enough for this demonstration). Then, when the ball reaches the peak of its growth, I switch out the ball with the second bone-rigged leaf model. I also animated the material for some added juice and to cover up the transition a bit.