Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy - Dark Eco Plant
Another trend I established within the non-karting Crash sequels was working on two bosses per game. I modeled, rigged, vertex shaded, and animated the giant plant Jak encounters in the depths of the Forbidden Jungle's Precursor Temple (and the protruding roots found at the surface)...a far more organic creature than any I had previously worked upon with growing limbs, writhing and sucking vines...all in constant motion. I had to separate this into multiple skeletons, rely upon a lot of animation cycles, offset animation curves via MEL scripts, and use expressions to get this done in a timely fashion. I took advantage of non-uniform scale (along IK splines) to create the illusion of growing platforms and the undulating sucking motion for the vines (supposedly squeezing Dark Eco from canisters).
As with Jak, I painted vertex colors to create diffuse variation, asking Charlotte to provide fairly simplistic and monochromatic textures for most of the creature. I painted the textures on the Eco canisters and the environment maps used upon them and on the plant's eyes, head, and leaves. I would have used environment maps to fake specularity on the whole plant, but much of the surrounding temple was also environment mapped (also with one of my maps)...would have been too much of a performance hit.