Sunday, 24 April 2016

FMP 15 - Climbing plants, bushes and fixing up level layout.

Carrying on from last week I have been continuing work on some of the foliage, one piece that needed to be created was climbing plants which are a large part of breaking up the look of the level. I created the climbing plants using a high poly model of the stem, baking it down to a texture which I then path deformed along a spline. 

Climbing plant asset
I have also created bushes in this time while Hazrat had the engine file to import some of his objects, when I got the engine file back I worked on trying to complete some of the larger blocked in assets in the level like the drawbridge and the wooden platforms outside the lighthouse.

The lighthouse, almost complete with bushes and wooden platforms in place. Also the final lighthouse model has been imported.

The drawbridge area, with boardwalk completed.
More work has to be done on the starting areas, I made some rearrangements of some of the buildings but overall I am still waiting on some textures and reimports to be done so I could do those areas properly. The reason some of later areas are more finished is because the assets are largely the same object, being mostly foliage.

Next week should be the last week on environment pieces before our cutoff period, after that we have to be in polishing the game. To achieve this goal I will be helping out with texturing larger environment objects and getting them completed so I can finish population of the level. Then I will move on to gameplay refinements needed for the hand-in, as currently new players find it hard to navigate the first puzzles.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

FMP 14 - Relighting and optimization

Lighting pass, deleted movable skylight, matched benchmark map lighting. Improved grass, foliage, water shader fix, lighting pass.

This week we have returned to uni a little refreshed for the last stretch of the project, the Monday mostly consisted of catching up and going back over the level figuring out what's important and seeing what major changes have to be made. The first thing we touched upon was the level lighting, which is making the level appear quite flat at the moment.

Before, the skylight in the level was set to movable so the distance field ambient occlusion is enabled which gives the level a slight overcast quality which we wanted, the problem is this lighting setup with out large use of buildings and complicated assets were leading to a lot of level slowdown.

Old lighting setup during Easter, some clouds breaks, quite cold.

Amber noted how nice the lighting looked in the test level I have been using for the foliage over Easter and we eventually decided that I should try to replicate more of a late afternoon lighting scenario with more breaks in the clouds and more colour in the shadows, giving the level more warmth and a bit more of an overall pop to the visuals.

New lighting setup, not built in this screen so there's a few artifacts.
This week I have also worked on refining the trees by adding a texture and changing some of the directions of the branches, changing the colour of the grass and also getting some of the larger environment pieces in like the lighthouse. There is still a lot of assets that need to go into engine so that's what Hazrat has been working on, it's the main thing that's standing out as needing work in the level at the moment before we get down to smaller assets and eventual polish.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

FMP 13 - Trees

For my final week of Easter I have managed to fix my computer issues by replacing the motherboard so work has moved a little bit faster. I have been working from a reference board of plants Amber created to make some trees for our level.

I had to watch a couple of tutorials to refresh my memory as it's been a while since I've made foliage, this helped me learn some new modelling techniques in 3ds max like using loft with splines which allows a lot of control over the shape of the tree trunk compared to other methods like path deform.

Below is the first attempt at the tree, experimenting with the texture on the alpha planes and the overall shape of the tree, I used a reference for the tree which is an acer but this first attempt seemed a bit to messy to me. The tree needed more of a shape with the leaves pointing downwards.

The second attempt at the tree was based from a technique used by Airborne Studios I thought this would work better but it didn't seem to work too tell for our type of tree and felt too blobby.

Below is a screen in level with a tree shader I created

The final attempt at the tree is what I went with which used overlapping branch planes pointing downwards in loose dome shapes which seemed to work a lot more, I used normal thief to get consistent shading all over. At the start of next week I return to uni where I will create a texture for the trunk.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

FMP 12 - Water and waterfalls

This time water and waterfalls! One of our original reference points for the water and the look of the game in general is Ni No Kuni, we decided quite early on that we wanted a look for the water similar to that game.

Ni No Kuni waterfall and streams.
I got started on the waterfall first, thinking it would be easiest because it is basically a panning texture. I created a mesh for the waterfalls, painting the vertex colour of the edges to black so the waterfall has a nice fade out on the sides, then made a texture with different masks on each channel, which I used to create the panning effects on the waterfall.

Waterfall and water shader uses similar setup.
Waterfall material setup
The surface water was a bit different as we wanted some degree of reflection so I set the material type to a surface translucency volume, there is also a little bit of refraction, the hard part was keeping it within the look of our level. I made everything fully parameterized so I can go back and make quick alterations if needed.

Water surface material setup
The last thing I had to add was a fake fog layer to the material as for some reason the height fog in the level doesn't affect the water surface. To fix this I used a slightly hacky way of adding the fog colour to the emissive input and using scene depth to mask it, helping the water to blend in to it's surroundings properly.