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Indie Project Spotlight: Silkroad
Our Discord channel has become the main point of contact for all users who have questions about using Cascadeur. Besides its importance as a support platform, our channel is also a showcase and meeting place for numerous indie game developers

Recently, the indie game Silkroad caught our eye, which our Discord community member Guedin is currently developing. Although Silkroad is a one-man private project, its YouTube channel already has almost 30,000 subscribers.

The animation results that Guedin has shared in our Discord community over the last few weeks are absolutely worth watching, and therefore we asked the young developer to present his game for our blog. 

 Cascadeur: Hi Guedin, please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us more about your game Silkroad.

Guedin:  Hi everyone and thanks to the Cascadeur team for giving me the opportunity to present my project. I'm Nicolas Garilhe but most people call me Guedin on the internet, and I'm the sole developer of the SilkRoad Project in my spare time, while my real job is character tech artist at Tuque Games Montreal.

SilkRoad Project is a game I've been working on for about 5 years now, although at the beginning it was just an idea in my head that took some time to develop into a real game concept. I started working on it more seriously and openly about 2 years ago. It's a hack'n slash taking inspiration from games with challenging and fast-paced combat systems, like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, and taking place in a fantasy universe inspired by Central Asia. The originality comes from the presence of a spirit that is constantly behind the back of the main character and can be used during the fights. In short, you will have to learn to manage two characters at the same time.

When he is not busy fighting, the player will have to manage a guest house in the middle of nowhere and do his best to attract as many customers as possible to his establishment. The goal is to offer the player frenetic and exciting moments, interspersed with much more relaxing and calm moments. 

Cascadeur:  What stage of the project are you at now and how will the development of Silkroad continue? Can you give our readers a roadmap to the release? 

Guedin:  I think the current video and screenshots of the game speak for themselves but the project is still very young. I chose to develop the game alone by choice. Not because I don't get along with people, but because I'm having a lot of fun thinking about and creating all the layers of my game, from its lore to its gameplay.
Right now, I'm still in the prototyping phase. I have a lot of ideas in my head and I need to translate them into features as soon as possible to finally have a more precise idea of ​​the scope.
After that I'll focus on adding content, and trying to nail the gameplay. This might also be the time to think about whether I want to finance the project in some way (publisher, crowdfunding, ...etc). But I'll only do it when I'm convinced that the project can go all the way.  
Now, if you are interested in the development, I suggest you join me on my Twitch or Youtube channel where I develop the project in live.

Cascadeur: We introduced Casacadeur to the public 3 years ago, when your game had already been in development for 2 years. So, how did you become aware of Cascadeur and what made you want to try it out?

Guedin:  My professional background is more oriented towards modeling, and I have little experience in animation. And because I am aware of the ambitious size of this project for one person, I am constantly looking for tools that allow me to reach a decent quality as quickly as possible.

I came across an article "Cascadeur Early Access Version Launched"on a few months ago that introduced Cascadeur by describing it as a physics-based animation software along with impressive video demos. And the idea of ​​an animation tool that can correct my mistakes as an amateur animator, based on the laws of physics, seemed particularly appealing to me.

Since the free version of Cascadeur has very few limitations and allows you to get an excellent idea of ​​the software, I decided to try it. The objective was to know if the time invested in learning a new software would be worth the time saved thanks to the unique features of Cascadeur.

Cascadeur:  And can you summarize your first experience with Cascadeur?

Guedin: From the first hours, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to get the hang of it. Project samples are already available and you can immediately have fun moving characters in every way. 

After discovering the rigs provided by Cascadeur, the next step is to import a custom model and learn how to prepare your own character to be animated.
And here again, I was impressed by how quickly this can be done, thanks to the quick rigging tool. For simple humanoid rig cases, it only takes 5 min to have something ready to be animated.

Before playing with the software, my initial worry was that, by applying the laws of physics to correct the animations, the software would "force" me to adopt a realistic style. Finally, I quickly realized that Cascadeur was not just a basic animation tool with physics features, and that even if I stick to handmade animation, the workflow was very pleasant and the software offers a whole range of highly useful tools. Ultimately, my greatest discovery was the AutoPosing tool, which blew me away. I was amazed by the speed at which I was able to block poses with this feature. By moving just a few points, Cascadeur guesses the pose I'm trying to achieve, and it's often very close to what I had in mind. Editing is kept to a minimum and it allows me to spend more time testing new poses.

In the end, because I learned to animate in Blender, I had to get used to a different workflow and understand why some of the features in Cascadeur are the way they are. For example, I realized that Cascadeur tries to keep the user in the viewport as much as possible. While in Blender I tended to quickly use the curve editor to fix movements, Cascadeur offers many advanced features to edit trajectories directly in the viewport, and now that I have tried it, it feels like a more natural approach.

Cascadeur:  So are you going to stick with Cascadeur as a tool for character animation in Silkroad?

Guedin: Yes, I definitely plan to stick to it. I got into Cascadeur for its physics tools, and in the end, I realized that I'm now using the software mainly for its AutoPosing feature, and the simplicity of handling the rig which allows me to pose my characters at lightning speed.
Thanks to Cascadeur, the blocking has become the most fun part of the animation process.
But even if we forget about AutoPhysics and AutoPosing, Cascadeur convinced me with its intuitive rig manipulation, since we don't need to manually switch between IK and FK modes, as well as the solid tools that allow me to easily visualize and manipulate the trajectories .
And even if some features require getting used to, like the unique track system, they allow, once understood, to quickly jump into animation, without having to spend time planning and organizing too much in advance. 
Finally, the last reason why I choose to continue working with Cascadeur for my project is the obvious dedication of the developer team, who do their best to answer animators' requests for help. Check out their official Discord server to see for yourself. 

Cascadeur:  As a game animator, what features would you like to see in the future development of Cascadeur?

Guedin: The development of Cascadeur is progressing fast, and some features that I was missing are already in the works or already released. The more my project evolves, the more complex my characters become. And a node editor that allows me to support more advanced rigs has already been released in the last update of Cascadeur. For now, it's still a beta feature and is still intimidating for a novice user like me. But I know that the developers are aiming to improve the user experience, and based on what has been in the documentation for the previous features, I think we'll have clear tutorials to finally understand more simply how to master the node editor.

Cascadeur: Thank you for the interesting insights into Silkroad and the positive feedback about our Software. We wish your project continued smooth development. We will be happy to present Silkroad to our readers as soon as it is ready. Is there anything else you would like to add to our readers - or to our team?

Guedin:  I hope that my experience will convince more developers to give Cascadeur a chance - if they haven't already done so. In the meantime, I thank the Cascadeur team for giving me this space to present my project, and I invite everyone to follow me on Twitter  or YouTube  if you want to follow its development!

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