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In many games, the main characters or enemies usually do some random stuff when idle other than just standing there breathing. For example, they may take a nap or eat some food.

These add nothing to gameplay, but help develop some personality for the characters. I can't find a word to describe them; do these animations have a standard name in the industry?

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"Idle action" or "idle animation." I don't think there's really standard, but those are very common terms.

However, it seems like some games/animation frameworks, like the one used by StarCraft 2, differentiate between commonly played animations ("idle animation") and less common animations only played from time to time ("fidget animation"). In the end it still really depends on your actual system and implementation, whether there is indeed one common animation or just lots of variations played at random (or one after the other).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also "fidgets" or "fidget animations." \$\endgroup\$
    – user1430
    Oct 11, 2013 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Seconding Josh's comment: 'idle animation' is the 'stand there breathing' from the original question; 'eat some food' (or, e.g., Sonic's classic foot-tap) would be a 'fidget animation'. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2013 at 0:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Never heard of that and only found one or two pages on google mentioning it, although I'd consider that as it counts. Although it really depends on your animation system I'd say. E.g. I'd just pick random idle animation after random idle animation, so I wouldn't have any differentiation between them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mario
    Oct 12, 2013 at 10:26

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