Tutorial about Creation of Game Robots

One of the most fascinating things about game development is that you can create precisely everything.

Beginning with unique characters with outstanding details and ending with breathtaking backgrounds, designers and developers can come up with something extraordinary every day. 

One of the best options to make the game awesome and help newcomers in the game developing world to create something remarkable is robot 3D models.

Today, we’ll tell you why robot animations are so important for gamers, how they became a significant part of international excitement, and how to make a small animated robot by yourself. 

3D Animated Robot in a Stylized 2D Game Environment

Remarkable Robots in Gaming | Tutorial on how they were made

Starting from ancient times, robots have been haunting restless human minds for centuries.

The idea of artificial creatures was first mentioned in the Greek myth of Kadma, and after many years, in modern reality, we could observe how the Ameca robot that can cope with natural human movements and conversation was created.

So, the point where robotization would flood all art and technological fields was just a matter of time. 

In the XX century, the first fictional robots were represented to the world.

There is nothing to hide: Star Wars (1977) with robots C-3P0 and R2-D2, and The Terminator (1984) with a scary robot T-800 stunned humanity and set the start to the breakthrough not only in cinematography but in the gaming world too. 

a couple of game robots are standing in front of a roboball, R2D2 and C3P0, 2D Game Art

In the gaming industry, the legendary era starts with a series of games about Mega Man (1987). This is a Japanese game developed and published for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

The main plot tells a story about the struggle of the humanoid robot and player-character Mega Man against the wild scientist Dr. Wily and his henchmen, Robot Masters.

From this moment, Japanese game developers and lead programmers created a bar for game designers all over the world, showing with their examples how 3D models of humanoid robots can change the storytelling and audience’s perception of video games. 

Inspired by Japanese brave ideas and decisions, graphic designers all over the world started to develop the robotization topic, enhancing the genre and making it more and more popular.

About this number of games with great animated robot characters were released after 1987
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Among them are:

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III with The General Purpose Infantry Unit (G.P.I.U., G.I.U., G.I.), informally known as the Bipedal Robot;
  • Cyberpunk 2077 where all main characters implemented robotized modifications and implants or turned themselves from humans to robots;
  • Detroit: Become Human where a gamer should make decisions on behalf of androids, hyperrealistic robots.
A soldier with advanced gear stands in a war-torn street, transitioning into a cyberpunk cityscape with neon lights and flying cars, which then merges into a scene with lifelike androids amidst a modern urban

Honestly, the creation of such outstanding games would never be possible without passionate game artists who have been working for years on these projects.

They always understood one thing: animated robots can change the storytelling and the gameplay experience if they’re correctly integrated into the plot. The gaming process becomes more interesting and complicated after adding the non-human 3D characters

We, as an experienced game development team, came to this conclusion once again, inspired by Tyson Ibele. Actually, because of him, we decided to create a list of the most engaging and outstanding robot animations. This man can do unbelievable things: for instance, he shared a detailed guide on how to make an animated roboball in 1 hour.

Sounds crazy, right? 
Screenshot of a 3D modeling software interface. The central workspace displays a rendered yellow robot with a spherical body and two large, round eyes. The robot appears to have antennae or arms extended from its top

But it’s the reality of modern graphic designers. They are superheroes in the world of video games.

Top 10 Robots in Games

1.) Bastion (Overwatch)

3D rendering of a large, yellow and white robot with blue luminous eyes. The robot stands in an architectural setting with stone walls and archways. A small, vibrant yellow bird with oversized glasses perches on the robot's shoulder, appearing curious

Not all robot warriors enjoy fights and bloodshed. This guy from Overwatch enjoys world exploration and nature observation. In the game, he can switch between an assault mode and an exploration mode.

The 3D animation of the robot is changing too: from slow tank mode with a powerful multibarrel machine gun to mobile mode with a light and precise automatic rifle. 

At BlizzCon (a convention dedicated to all things Blizzard), the game’s cinematic trailer director Jeff Chamberlain said on stage at the event:  “A long time ago we realized the game doesn’t have a linear storyline, like other games we do. So recently Blizz has been doing storytelling outside the game, for Draenor and Legacy of the Void, so we have a precedent for short animations outside the game.” 

Game Director of Overwatch Game about Bastion Robot

And this was a perfect reason to release an animated short video about Bastion. His cute appearance and powerful features quickly turned him into a fan favorite. 

2.) Legion (Mass Effect)

Exactly like Bastion from Overwatch, Legion was a warrior in the past and he fought against humanity.
Later, his mind was changed and he realized that cooperation with people is much more productive than his nation thought. 

Digital artwork of a futuristic robotic figure. The robot has a dark, metallic exterior with intricate detailing, showcasing battle damage and wear. Its eye emits a bright blue light that creates a horizontal beam across the image

Due to Legion’s character, his animations are also very unusual.

For instance, if he thinks that no one sees him, he starts making pretty dance moves.
So, game developers try to “revive”
3D robot drawings and make them more interesting and engaging.

Even the design team of the Legion said that his development took one of the longest times because they wanted to make the character stand out from robots in other science fiction gaming universes.

3.) Freddy Fazbear (Five Nights at Freddy’s)

Freddy Fazbear is one of the most popular characters nowadays.
He’s an antagonist and the main symbol of the FNaF series.

Representing such a robot was a breakthrough not only in the horror genre but in the whole gaming world because such 3D robot drawings were entirely new animations. 

Close-up image of an animatronic teddy bear with a dark brown fur coat, bright blue eyes, and a black bow tie. The bear wears a top hat and holds a microphone in its hand

Until the game’s release, the animatronic would not move around the building by itself, but only before the attack, when the player ran out of electricity.

But then, at the deadline, Scott Coughton (the main game developer of the FNaF series) changed that and made all characters’ animations (including three other animatronics-antagonists: Bonny, Chica, and Foxy) complicated and frightening. 

4.) BT-7274 (Titanfall 2)

Bravo-Tango-Seven-Two-Seven-Four, or BT-7274, is a veteran Vanguard-class Titan of the Frontier Militia’s Special Recon Squadron (SRS) in the game Titanfall 2. Developers tried to make him look like a robot-child
(only if a 40.000 kg robot can theoretically look like a kid). 

A massive robotic mech with green and beige armor stands prominently in the foreground. The mech has a glowing blue eye and various detailed markings and insignias on its body

His 3D robotic model and animations are very interesting. For instance, BT can gun down enemy targets using his XO-16 Chaingun or target multiple enemies with his missile pods. He has some unique features too: BT is left-handed, but when Cooper (his friend and boss at the same time) pilots, BT becomes right-handed.

5.) Machines (Horizon Zero Dawn)

In the world of Horizon, robots became a dominant species because of the war between them and humanity. People started to call them machines due to their developed logical thinking and ability to behave themselves pretty naturally. 

Two menacing robotic creatures with glowing red eyes and intricate armor designs engage in combat amidst a lush forest. Debris and damaged parts are scattered on the forest floor, evidence of their intense battle

Game developers of the Horizon game and “machines” made a huge effort to make all 3D models real and engaging (this is all possible thanks to 3D game modeling services)

But the goal always stays the same: the gamer needs to catch and kill robots. Despite this fact, a player still should spend some time remembering the mechanics of each robot, its kind and characteristics, and how to kill it.

Designers made these machines fast-learning robots so while Aloy (the main character) kills them one by one, they learn how to protect themselves and fight back.

6.) ATLAS and P-Body (Portal 2)

Portal 2 perfectly displays robots exactly as people think about perfect machines nowadays.

ATLAS and P-Body, also called by GLaDOS as Orange and Blue, were created to test some human things (especially teamwork) on them. Both funny and smart, they are perfect characters for cooperative mode and for representing some human peculiarities in the robot body. 

Two sleek robotic figures, one with a blue accent and the other with a yellow accent, stand upright. Each robot has a central eye-like feature on their torso and intricate mechanical limbs. The designs are minimalist, emphasizing functionality and agility.

While animating robots, graphic designers caught inspiration from the film Westworld, and because of that, both robots came through several changes: the team wanted them to look human and feel robotic at the same time.

What makes this game unique is its outstanding gameplay. It’s not just a shooter or a puzzle game: it’s a combination of various mechanics, creative solutions, and different kinds of tasks. Equipped with portal guns, robots can run, jump, and do almost anything to reach their final goal – to explore the Aperture Science Laboratory.

7.) BD-1 (Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order)

BD-1 is an extremely cute droid that is a companion of Cal Kestis’s Padawan in the period after Order 66. Designed to assist in reconnaissance in remote and dangerous locations, BD-1 is enthusiastic about research and data collection.

It is equipped with various devices, including a holoprojector which makes it an indispensable helper for the gamer.

A detailed robotic droid with a white and red color scheme. The droid has a rectangular head equipped with antennas and a prominent blue camera eye. It stands on two mechanical legs with exposed wiring and joints, set against a dark background with a faint blue glow

Talking about animations, the development of the robot blender model took more than two years, and its creators were inspired by the characters Snoopy and Woodstock. As designers say, the main purpose of BD-1 is additional options for interaction with the game environment, recovery of health, and tips in key points of passage. 

8.) Connor (Detroit: Become Human)

Connor is one of the three main protagonists in the game, and his behavior and appearance are very realistic. Professional graphic designers and game developers did an amazing job: sometimes it’s even difficult to say if is Connor a robot or not. 

Close-up of Connor, the RK800 android from the video game "Detroit: Become Human", showing his detailed facial features, distinctive blue android triangle, and the "RK800" label on his suit. He's in a dimly lit room with ambient lights in the background

Mikael Leger, one of the concept artists of the game, connected some of Connor’s character features with the Terminator movies.
For instance, his model number has the same three-digit number as the Terminator (T-800) series number, and the main antagonist of Terminator 3 tastes the blood of a person to examine his DNA exactly as Connor does in the game.

The gameplay of Detroit: Become Human is different from everything that gamers have seen before. For instance, Connor’s chapters feature four gameplay measures: the in-common public opinion, the personal software instability, and the relationship statuses with Hank Anderson and Amanda. In this case, players experience something new and enjoy not only hyperrealistic animated robots but also unusual game mechanics.

9.) Clank (Ratchet & Clank)

Clank is a little robot and Ratchet’s best friend who prefers to chill out in his backpack. This cute robot has a built-in helicopter, a small rocket engine, and a submarine motor.

These devices ensure a variety of gameplay mechanics: with them, Clank can fly in the sky and swim under the water.

Ratchet, a furry anthropomorphic creature with large ears, holding a wrench-like weapon, stands next to Clank, a small silver robot with green eyes. Both characters are from the "Ratchet & Clank" video game series

Clank is not so innocent: with the help of special rays, he can increase 1,000 times, while gaining enormous power and the ability to fire missiles from his hands. Also, this robot has a striking mind: while playing as him, gamers can easily solve different puzzles no matter how difficult they are. 

10.) Mega Man

We’ve already mentioned this guy in our today’s article but this character is worth one more reference.

Mega Man is a Japanese robot, originally developed as a robot assistant to Dr. Thomas Light. But after the betrayal of Light’s colleague Dr. Albert W. Wylie, who had become a threat to the world, Mega Man voluntarily agreed to become a fighting robot. 

Mega man, example of robot animation in games

Talking about the gameplay, the Mega Man character’s actions are directed to fight with the villains, using various weapons and techniques. Also, in this game, the animated robot character is a little bit old-fashioned but it’s a special tribute to the old-style gaming world.

So, everyone who misses vintage robots and unsophisticated stories should play Mega Man one more time. 

Game Animation for Robot Characters

The process of robot animation isn’t very simple and has some challenges. Among them are lack of ideas, creativity, and sometimes incomprehension about how to animate characters and make them unique and dazzling.

But there are some more issues we would like to talk about. 

Complex Geometry

Robot designs usually have intricate details and moving parts that result in a high polygon count. This often poses performance challenges, particularly on less powerful hardware.

Also, rigging a complex robot character, which involves defining the skeleton and attaching the geometry to it, requires careful consideration. The game developers should ensure they move realistically and smoothly.

Realism vs. Artistic Freedom

Realism in the robot 3D model-creating process is very important.

So, striking a balance between creating a realistic animation for robotic movements and allowing for artistic freedom can be very difficult for graphic designers.

Materials and Textures

Achieving realistic materials is significant if designers want to make the robot look convincing.

Of course, it’s important to consider should the robot be made of metal, plastic, or some other material and ensure that it reflects light, casts shadows, and interacts with the environment accordingly.

Game developers shouldn’t forget about texture mapping too. This process is essential for complex geometries, and designers need to track that textures align correctly without stretching or distortion.

robot environment, robot game character on the market surrounded by other robots

Wrapping Up

As game development constantly improving, the journey of robot animation creation will never end.
With such progressive trends as AI-driven technologies and virtual reality integration, there’s ample room for innovation and creative exploration in this field.

As we conclude, we want you to embrace the spirit of experimentation. Whether you’re an aspiring game developer, an artist, or simply a passionate gamer, your unique perspective and creativity can shape the future of robot characters in games and change it forever in the future!