Sunday, 28 February 2016

FMP 7 - Camera System

After going back over the concepts last week I went back into engine to plan out some of the larger pieces of the landscape. To make the playthrough a bit more bearable however the camera system needed work. At the moment we have a problem where the camera clips through all the walls and the characters and it would be nice to have a camera system that feels a bit more cinematic when it moves around.

I created a spline camera system from this tutorial I looked at, it works by having two splines; A camera track and a player track that shows roughly where the player might be and the camera will move up or down the camera track based on where the player is in relation to the player track. Here is a little progress video showing the camera in action:

Also this week I added in some of the larger environment pieces within the level so everything can be 100% blocked in, a basic model of the lighthouse and other landscape features have been modelled so smaller assets can be placed on top.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

FMP 6 - Paintovers!

Since last week my role has shifted a little bit into doing some arty things; mainly doing paintover concepts for the exterior of the level. We had a few images from the start of the project that we established as mood images.

The one with the girl with the Umbrella is our main mood image and represents the colour and tone we are going for the scene, the weather would be overcast so there will be a slight cold tint to everything while local colours of objects take more precedence.

In terms of buildings we are looking to create a blend of european architecture and asian slums, with an emphasis on the reuse of objects within the town (upcycling).

Earlier in the project I created some loose sketches of what I imagine for certain parts of the game, some of these areas have now been cut but the art direction still stands, things are covered with corrugated metal and wooden planks yet the environment is still meant to feel quite homely.

This is the main paintover document, as you can see these are different angles of the level with varying levels of paintovers done to show what each area would look like. The colours needed a lot of tweaking however as I struggled a bit to get it right, I corrected some of the colours in a more polished painting to show the look of the game in a bit more depth. Also here I used the opportunity to circle assets that be modeled as props for the level.

 This next image contains some sketches for the lighthouse design, we wanted something that looks like it has been reinforced by other structures similar to what the town is like, the lighthouse is meant to be quite a spiritual place as well so a thought was for the lighthouse to be decorated in various patterns and shapes that could have been painted on by the owner to represent different spirits.

The next image is a more polished version of one of the paintovers, this time with the colours corrected. this is used by the team to establish what the textures and some of the environment props look like as well as what the rain effect could look like when finished.

After this I produced a material breakdown that Hazrat and Amber could use while creating textures, this just helps along some of the guesswork for what things are meant to look like in our level the textures have to be stylized. Adding notes and art direction on each type of material makes it easier to ground what look we are going for even more, with refinements and changes made as we figure out whats works best.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Art Dump #3 - Getting started in substance designer!

Recently I have been making it a little goal of mine to start getting used to more and more programs and techniques, my current feeling doing a long project such as FMP or Off The Map is that it really takes away the opportunity to learn and try and new things as you are forced to work under pressure. (Also the fact that I am using UE4 for 90% of this project makes me just want to try something else to break routine.)

So I have decided to focus my extra time on learning two programs that I am yet to feel comfortable with: Zbrush and Substance Designer. I have used both programs occasionally before but I don't know enough about them to do anything of any complexity but I know that they would be extremely useful for my workflow.

Learning to create some more complicated objects inside Zbrush that I could in UE4 is my goal, with the potential to use substance materials on them as material functions, this follows a similar workflow used in games like The Order:1886 which uses substance materials masked onto areas of a model.

So my first steps mainly consist of watching a load of tutorials and absorbing everything I can about both programs, so here is a rock sculpt as well as a simple substance material I created from a tutorial:

I am following this thread on Polycount where a new reference image is uploaded every week and you have to create a new substance from it. A great way to learn the program as a lot of people upload their sbs files to show how they are made. The goal is to try and create a substance without using any imported images or maps so it really forces you to learn how to create textures completely procedurally,

Monday, 15 February 2016

Return to blogger!

Hi. You may have noticed it has been a while since my last update here, the last update I posted was right at the start of third year just after I redesigned the look of this blog. The weekend before we started uni I delved into blogger's CSS code, html and etc and tailored the look of everything to what I wanted. It was challenging, perhaps a little bit too much effort considering that other sites offer better customization on the look of your blog, but I persisted through and managed to get the flush edges on the header I wanted. Nice and clean.

On the first day back however there was a change of plan with this blog. We were asked to create a wix blog instead as it offers better integration with Sketchfab and Marmoset viewers.

Alright, no panic. I tried it out and I eventually decided to create my portfolio website on there, and I also linked the blog to it on a separate page. I like some of Wix's features, I enjoy how fluid it can be with designing the look of your site especially with the transitions and carousel items you can add which makes it great for portfolios but when it came to the blog it didn't feel quite right...

I have a few reasons for why I prefer using blogger compared to Wix. The first one mainly is because I'm a little bit precious over the time I have spent tweaking the look of blogger's basic template, Wix does make it easier to make something similar without having to go into any code but within limits. If there is anything super specific you want to change with the look of your site you might have a few issues, but most uses Wix can do what you want.

Another reason is the site details itself, I much prefer my blogger domain name as it isn't just my email with a suffix. I also have access to my reading lists, post backlog, and a higher ranking on google search. Wix doesn't seem to get picked up on google as much as blogger (might be a little bit something to do with Blogger being a google thing) That's something that I need to work on for my actual portfolio, like getting a proper domain but for the blog I prefer to keep it as a separate entity anyway. I can't deal with Wix's interface sometimes so if I am just dealing with it just for creating my portfolio I'm happy.

After a little trial period I've decided to return to Blogger, I think the biggest reason of all is that it just feels better to use. We aren't really having submission posts anymore apart from FMP so I might just migrate those ones from the wix portfolio website onto their own little thing so they are out of the way and edit some portfolio friendly versions of those soon.

I'll migrate over all the Wix posts I have made so far back over to this blog as well to fill the gap, In the meantime here's a few samples of what I have been working on recently, a quick video showing of some blueprint mechanics I have been working on for my FMP:

Sunday, 14 February 2016

FMP 5 - Refining the level

Moving on from last week I had to make more refinements to the level to make it even smaller and easier to manage for the team. The problem we have is that the level was simply too large for us to guarantee that everything from gameplay to art direction was completely polished which we needed for a vertical slice. Some cuts have been made, but everything should be stronger as a result.

Here's some pictures of our current progress:

The progress on the actual level has meant I could publish a small video showing the characters in context, so here is a small snippet of the characters in action interacting with some new collectible pickups I made:

From this basic blockout the focus can then be on creating a visual benchmark to show what we want the game to look like, then putting together the art and design later on. Once the blockout is complete the focus will be shifted to art direction and then continuing to refine bugs with the gameplay as we go on, our time is limited so we don't have time to dilly dally!

The problem with the project is that it will be marked by the course by it's artistic qualities because we are on a game art course, even though the gameplay is important we have to make sure that we put a lot more time into the visuals than anything else. That's why we need to hurry to shift over to the artistic side of things.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

FMP 4 - Creating the island

Now we are getting onto a blockout of the level, using the landscape tool and basic primitive shape, the idea with the level is to make the goal known from the start, driving forward the narrative and gameplay. The goal is the lighthouse so the whole bay curves around to provide a view point to see where you are going.

I used some basic modular building blocks to create the town, but at this current stage everything was too big. We received some feedback on the level and decided to cut down the size, this wasn't much effort to do as UE4 provides a tool for copy and pasting sections of the landscape, allowing me to tweak the size and continue.

Overhead of level with decreased size
In this current iteration of the blockout there are less buildings, with most of the town being in the first section of the level. We agreed on having a soft transition through to towards the end of the level. The plan is to start off at the town and work through a waterfall with a mill, a garden/park area then leading through to the lighthouse. Each area will contain it's own short puzzles and changes in pace.

Some other things I have worked on this week:

  • Basic landscape material
  • A cloud cover lighting function to help with the overcast atmosphere of the level.
  • A pipe follow blueprint for the water guy, a modification of the rope burning blueprint except redesigned to allow passing through multiple points.
Next week I will continue refinement of the level, making changes based on the new level designs I'm getting from Haz!