A Unified Spatial Representation for Navigation Systems
Keywords:pathfinding navigation ai spatial dynamic world
The purpose of this paper is to outline the core components of a practical navigation system which uses a novel technique for spatial representation in a commercial entertainment product. This paper is based upon the navigation system developed for The World of Zoo (WOZ) by Blue Fang Games, LLC and published by THQ. WOZ placed the following requirement on our in game agents (which are animals, such as tigers and penguins): depending on the animals species they were required to locomote across land, water, exhibit the ability to climb and eventually to fly – all in a seamless manner. Animal locomotion in WOZ is driven by accumulating the root motion of multiple blended animations; this required a unique approach to the spatial representation of our environments. The system needed not only to take into account the defacto static environments that were created by the level designers, but also the dynamic structures that the animals use (depending on the players interactions at that particular moment). There was also the extra challenge of developing a system that was as straightforward as possible for level designers to work within. As Anthony J.D' Angelo so succinctly stated, “Don't reinvent the wheel. Just realign it.” It is with this sage advice in mind that we reevaluated traditional navigable representations, in conjunction with how our animals should move through their environments. As important as the navigation framework was to the development of WOZ, the way the thought processes developed preceding the implementation is also of interest; as the re-understanding of what navigation is composed of (in virtually any environment) guided our decisions through the design and implementation stages.