The Starfish Rig
Humanoid rig with 5 bonesNote: The rig in itself is useless unless a rigged character with a skeleton consisting of at least 9 bones and an inverse kinimatic setup is present to drive the Starfish Rig. Novice riggers are advised to gain further experience in the field before continuing. However for philosophy everyone is urged to read on. This article is also available as PDF. Get it here: StarfishRig.pdf --- To optimize is a philosophy. Sometimes a production is of dire need of optimization, other times it's a matter of attitude. There are many ways of optimizing a humanoid character for game purposes. One of the most severe forms of optimization is to simply have a billboard which just consists of a flat plane with a drawing of the character on it. However if the goal is to greatly optimize a rigged humanoid - to a level where almost no more optimization is possible - the artist will have to get creative. The first step in optimization is obvious: polygonal count ~ the amount of triangular faces the character visually consists of. Every artist knows this, and almost all games rely on ways to keep the poly-count to a minimum. There are different ways to keep the poly-count minimal, I'll not dive into that, since that is well practiced among developers and artists. The rig however can be a powerful way to keep the character simple. The engine that the game is running on needs to take care of the skinning of the characters on screen. Each character consists of a geometrical representation, known as a mesh, a skeletal rig, and the skinning of said mesh to the bones of the skeleton. Usually a main character is made up of 20 bones for a simple rig, and 30 bones for a rig with smaller details such as one skeletal bone for each of the clusters of toes, maybe an extra spinal bone, and some bones for rigging some hair or clothing. If fingers are part of the rig, add 10 bones to the mix. Toes? The computer needs to take care of all these skeletal bones and skinning of the mesh each frame of the game. Furthermore each point on the mesh, called a vertex, can be weighted onto more than one bone, which takes even more time to process. So there is a good reason to take it down a notch. Maybe not on the main character, but with crowds it is an absolute necessity.
What to cut away to make this rig simpler?