We used skeletal animation in our latest game and it worked fine. No problems whatsoever.
Originally posted by Bubba
Most games do not take this approach. Most of them use actual actors to act out the various sequences in the game, be it running or pulling someone out of a vehicle as in GTA 3. The actor has lights or sensors at each of his/her important joints. A very simple vertex model is then derived from these points. Then the model team goes to work and refines the vertexes into an actual model, skins it, etc. So each frame of animation is skinned and modeled and put into a file. All the game is really doing is replaying that sequence frame by frame. To further illustrate this try to do a second action whilst doing another. The first action usually must complete prior to the second action's animation playing resulting in a bit of lag time between key press and actual execution.
Most of you who have played FPS's know this because sometimes your character jumps or skips a frame resulting in some odd sequnces being rendered. Most games are getting a lot better at playing transitional frames - the actor acts out what it would look like to transition from jumping to diving, etc. These transition sequences are then played/rendered back.
Very few developers have the time or manpower required to create each movement from a series of multiplies and equations. Not to mention it would be very hard to do even the simplest animation. Most everything has been pre-rendered, placed into a file and keyframed, and then is played back.
My advice is to pre-render your characters in an art program like 3D Studio Max, save it to a file and keyframe the animationm and then use Direct3D to "re-play" the sequence. You don't have to use keyframing but this is just one popular method.