Animate a cube width

I have a gameobject > cube which represents the player. What I would like to do is when the player jumps the cube contracts on its x axis and then returns to full width. A bit like its breathing in and then exhales as it jumps. Exactly the same as in the game “thomas was alone”.

I tried to do it with a series of flags and if statements but it seemed a little over engineered and didnt work very well. What’s the best approach here? Should I be scripting an animation? Should I just stop using the cube and use a sprite animator?

I’m very new to games dev’ and programming in a game loop. So, I’m asking for good practice/approach answers. Apologies if it’s not a great question.

If it helps this is one of the original attempts I coded before I rage quit:

void Update()
{
	if (grounded && Input.GetButtonDown("Fire1"))
	{		
		rigidbody2D.AddForce(transform.up * jumpForce);
	}

	if (!grounded)
	{
		float width = transform.localScale.x;

		Vector3 newScale = transform.localScale;
		if (width > 0.5f)
		{
			newScale.x -= 0.1f;
		}
		else if (width < 0.75f)
		{
			newScale.x += 0.1f;
		}			

		transform.localScale = newScale;
	}
}

it “pulses” because the game loop causes it to constantly execute. The player has an axis of 0.75 to start and should finish as 0.75. The cube should only contract/expand once.

I would definitely use an Animation to do this. Just make sure that you make your cube a child of an empty game object if you are going to use the Animation tool.

  1. Make an empty game object
  2. Drag your cube into that object to make it a child
  3. Window > Animation
  4. Select your cube (not the parent), then click the record button in the animation window
  5. Mess around in here to make your animation of your Jump by selecting where in the timeline you want him to get skinny, and where he will be at the end, etc.
  6. Call Animator.Play and pass in the state name (Jump) when you capture the Jump key input.
  7. Profit

Takes some fiddling to get comfortable with the animator.