Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Off The Map 9: Can't be bothered with the Roman numerals any more...

I have been going hardcore with trying to populate the level this week, this has allowed us to reassess our level and what bits are more or less completed. Turns out there is a lot unfinished.

This assessment was brought to our attention in our Off the Map progress presentations, where we got a lot of helpful feedback regarding our level. The most important piece of feedback which we were starting to consider ourselves during this week was that some areas will need to be cut to make the level smaller.

The study has not been touched in what seems like over a month, puzzle area 3 is almost empty and the second room of puzzle area 1 is lacking a strong identity.

This means currently we have a super large space with nothing filling it and the work we need to undertake to polish all of it in two weeks is simply impossible. But luckily we have a solution:

  • We are going to cut the study, entrance hall, first corridor and the second room with the anamorphic puzzle that is conjoined to the library. Alice will instead fall into the lobby which will be treated as the first room and the main centrepiece of the entire level, this gives us more time to polish it.

  • The study will be taken away and replaced with simply the book surrounded by a few candles in a dark space, still giving the player the same information but with the fat cut out.

  • The second room in the first puzzle area with the anamorphic puzzle will also be taken out but the anamorphic puzzle will be merged into the library. This will still keep our important puzzle elements that we believe is one of our strongest points in our project, as well as making the library more of an interesting area.

We feel that with this more concentrated approach to our level now we can really get in with putting in the content we absolutely need to, plus have a level of polish that can still impress.

My bits and bobs

Following on from the restructuring I have been trying to reshuffle around the level and make sure everything is still working in the new layout. All the rooms that needed to by cut have been apart from the study, which I will rearrange when I get back in on monday. (Sorry about the lack of pictures for now, I don't have the engine file with me while writing.)

I was messing around with the lighting though this evening, I thought my PC was about to set on fire because of how I have pushed the lighting settings. Unfortunately, so far the settings haven't made too much difference apart from using diffuse boost, which up's the diffuse contribution of all the materials in the level lending to softer lighting. Here are two quick screens from an older build of the level so you can be judge of whether it worked or not:

It seems to have worked by allowing the bounce lighting to travel further, the area underneath the walkway seems to be not as dark and contrasty as it was. I am liking the effect, just I think the fog colour is making it seem not as great.

Sofffft shadows

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Off The Map VIII - Spirally Splines

Hello guys, hope you had a good Easter holidays! Unfortunately I didn't get quite the amount of chocolate I was after, apart from one reduced Milkybar rabbit that I brought for myself. Still, it was pretty damn good chocolate.

Our team reassembled and we continued with the OTM project, trying to finalise our models and get stuff textured. This week I finished all the variations of the fencing in the lobby with the swirly wrought iron we wanted. 

My other work this week concerned placing the base of the floor chandelier; a play on the reality of Wonderland again by having the chandelier suspended upwards from the floor. This was helpful for helping setting up a focal point in the Lobby area.

Centre piece of the lobby. All we need now is our chandelier levitating from it.

Quick Progress shot of the lobby, this reinforced how happy I am with the railings.
Some material thingies

Almost forgot about this, a little something I was doing over the holidays for OTM. I tried creating a master material for all the assets in the scene and experimented with a hand-painted wood texture Annie created; I used nDo and dDo to create normals and spec maps from her texture. Here is a little screen grab from 3Do:

Quixel is an incredibly awesome piece of kit, makes map creation ten times quicker. Really want to make steps to incorporate the suite into my workflow.

Presentations are later in the week so I should be covering that next. I will be doing mine on my horror project so really looking forward to it, it's not often I get to present my personal project stuff so this is a great opportunity to build some confidence in my work and hopefully gain some feedback. Provided I am capable of speaking for three minutes.

-James