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Inverse kinematics, to be more specific -- which is just what Osiris: New Dawn creative director Brian McRae does in a chat with Rock, Paper, Shotgun about the ambling mechanics of giant space crabs.

Alex Wawro, Contributor

March 17, 2017

2 Min Read

"There’s no baked animation on this thing at all. It’s all handled through maths. We figure out where the body is and then when we move forward the legs kind of figure out where they want to step. All the math is calculated on the fly."

- Fenix Fire's Brian McRae, telling Rock, Paper, Shotgun how the giant crabs walk in his studio's game Osiris: New Dawn.

What gets giant space crabs moving?

In Fenix Fire Entertainment's multiplayer space survival game Osiris: New Dawn, released on Steam's Early Access service last September, the answer is evidently mathematics -- specifically, an inverse kinematics system.

That bit of info comes courtesy of a recent chat Fenix Fire CEO Brian McRae had with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, which is well worth reading if you enjoy focused looks at exactly how a specific game mechanic or system works.

For example, how does a multiplayer game handle monster motion calculations in a way that ensures all players see it scuttling appropriately?

"The way we handle all of that right now is a pretty intelligent approach to multiplayer. Usually a server handles all the creature movement and distributes that out to players. In a lot of MMO players these creatures will slide around the world. I used to run a cinematics studio for a number of years and I know how important it is to have grounded feet to create a level of believability," McRae told RPS.

"What we do is when we have a creature your computer is driving all of the feet of that creature because you’re interacting with it. The computer is controlling it and you as a player are fighting that thing and your computer is sending that data out to everyone else in multiplayer. So if they’re doing something else and they look over it looks perfect to them and it’ll be even more perfect to you because you’re the one that’s interfacing with it, if that makes sense. It’s kind of a high-level idea."

You can learn more about how Osiris' space crabs scuttle (and enjoy a few excellent GIFs) in the full RPS feature

If you're hungry for more deep dives into specific game mechanics, levels, and systems, check out Gamasutra's ongoing series of Game Design Deep Dives. Recent highlights include a thorough look at the Clockwork Mansion level of Dishonored 2 and the dynamic detection system of Shadow Tactics.

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