So I spent all day yesterday working on this. Didn't even touch a game and almost missed lunch, I was so focused... anyway, by experimenting with the compositor, I created a unique Blender render which animates fifteen different objects—that's five people, ten sets of clothing—to their own layer, each using the same armature; with one notable exception. I'm aiming at a point at which I can simply work with the armature, and know, within reason, that the animation will work with each model deformed by it.
Obviously the human models were in collections set to Hold Out for the outfits; because I would be rendering the clothing over those humanoids. I could stand to run it again with a few tweaks, though—if you look carefully, you can see clipping through the pants on a few walk cycles.
Additionally, Leinman—the blond German guy—was a little too tall for my skeleton, so I had to duplicate it, scale it up, and assign him to it again. Given that I follow the same system, the animations should be just about the same each time. There's certainly an easier way to do it, but I was deep into the rigging at that point and couldn't see it. I'll pick it up again on Monday.
UPDATE: I spent the past week refining the animations, and now have a set of full animations; other than attacking, which won't happen much in the beginning of the game anyway. We now have everything from walking to swan diving. There are a number of remaining details I want to fix—not enough leg thrust in the jump, as an example; and one of my model files clearly needs to be adjusted for Hansel's—the older bald guy's—survival suit, as he's clipping through it again.
Additionally, if you've noticed, this was mostly only a 32-sample render. I can work with that, and replace it with a much higher sample render later after I'm sure everything is working in practice. The fireflies from the chest monitors should be resolved by then. Depending on how resolved they are, I may end up using FFMPEG for temporal denoising, at least on Leinman, the blonde-ish Germanic man. His hair is all over the place. Oh, Christ, the belts are all over the place too! Well, this is still small time compared to the past week.
I'm actually pretty proud of this one. It was a big deal to do it with my resources here; but it's going to make life so much easier down the road.