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Horizon Forbidden West reusing animations isn't new, but it's fine

Horizon Forbidden West reused an animation, and some users on Twitter were not happy (Image via Guerilla Games)
Horizon Forbidden West reused an animation, and some users on Twitter were not happy (Image via Guerilla Games)
Jason Parker

A video published by IGN recently compared some gameplay footage between Horizon Forbidden West and its predecessor, Horizon Zero Dawn. The idea was to show off improvements made between the games, but it led to an age-old debate in gaming on social media.

That is the subject of reusing animations, and in particular, Aloy’s grappling hook animation is the same in both games. People on social media instead ridiculed the developers, Guerilla Games Studios, for reusing an animation, which is a common occurrence in development, and it’s also a good idea.


There’s a good reason Horizon Forbidden West and other games reuse assets

The argument comes back every time a game in a new franchise comes out, it seems. People with no experience in game development shout their opinions across social media, and these people do not understand the reasons for the reuse of assets.

When a comparison video between two games in a series comes out, this argument surfaces, and people complain, calling game developers lazy. The main reason art assets or animations get reused is it’s all about the studio’s priorities.

It’s financially irresponsible to redesign animations for every game character in a series, every single time. Instead, that time and money could go to the game mechanics, fleshing out the world and polishing the game in general. Virtually every game franchise on the planet reuses animations or assets in one fashion or another.

Every year, somebody who thinks they have their finger on the pulse tweets something like this. You don’t understand the industry. Time they saved not trying to reinvent the wheel, is time they used to create something brand new elsewhere. Jog on! twitter.com/jaay_rock_/sta…

Batman’s grappling hook animation is always the same, and so is Nathan Drake’s gunplay. Pokemon pop out of Pokeballs the same way in every game. Every game character from Scorpion to Spider-Man gets animations reused because the animations make sense. It allows game developers for massive games like Horizon Forbidden West to work on other vital parts.

Not every animation gets reused, though. When something needs to be improved, it gets improved. But if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.


Social media responds to a Twitter user’s lukewarm take

Quote-retweets and replies to the original argument went off the rails quickly. Many people highlighted instances of asset reuse going back to Super Mario Bros. One user pointed out the clouds and bushes in that game were the same assets.

Copy and Paste is literally game dev history twitter.com/JAAY_ROCK_/sta… https://t.co/LVjkLHxt0c

Another Twitter user listed a host of games like Horizon Forbidden West that reused animations, which was not a big deal.

Remember that every game that's been in a series has reused animations.Kingdom HeartsCall of DutyDark SoulsFallOutThe Elder ScrollsPokemonGod of WarArmy of TwoAnd numerous other games literally reuse animations and expect 60-80 dollars for their work. twitter.com/JAAY_ROCK_/sta…

Others were sarcastic about the initial tweet, suggesting they wanted the developers to redo something existing for no other reason than to waste time and money for Horizon Forbidden West.

I want my game developers to waste time and money, remaking something they already have on hand for no reason twitter.com/jaay_rock_/sta…
Gamers: “Games take too long to come out!”Also gamers: “Wtf? Devs reusing animations? So lazy!” twitter.com/jaay_rock_/sta…

Examples of some of the most lauded games in history were also suggested, like Majora’s Mask and the Megaman franchise.

This dudes head is gonna explode when they see Majoras mask twitter.com/jaay_rock_/sta…
Mega Man 1 | Mega Man 6Can you believe they charged FULL PRICE FOR ALL SIX GAMES?! Lazy devs and their making of some of the best video games ever made with their reused assets. COPY AND PASTE twitter.com/JAAY_ROCK_/sta… https://t.co/UD1PkPXlf2

One Twitter user talked about how this thing has happened over and over in game development talk and that it’s tiresome when it happens in Horizon Forbidden West too.

Hey remember when people pointed this out in Elden Ring....and God of War....and Spider-Man..... twitter.com/JAAY_ROCK_/sta…

This discussion of animation assets in game development never goes away, but it’s always from people who have little to no knowledge of what exactly goes into game development. The Horizon Forbidden West developers had already on hand that worked exactly how they wanted them to, so they were ultimately reused.

There was no reason to do everything again by hand completely.


Edited by Yasho Amonkar

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