Dev Log #5 – Production

We are now deep into the production stage of our game and I have continued 3D modeling and texturing the in-game assets. Sam as the art director has chosen a specific art style and visual look for the game. He drew inspiration from the Blizzard game called Overwatch for the look, which has resulted in a minimalistic colour toned look. Nick and I have been modeling assets with this style in mind, following similar conventions to keep the style consistent. This is also true concerning texturing as well.

 

Modeling

One unified modeling technique which we are trying to keep unified between our models is the edge beveling. We have looked at creating a high-poly and low-poly models where only the high-poly is beveled and then the baked UV’s would be applied to the low-poly models. This is exactly how Overwatch does their models, this techniques lowers the poly count and increases the aesthetic look we are going for. Unfortunately we are not able to do this for all of our models because of time restraints therefore we have been creating low-poly bevels on our edges to avoid flat-looking polygon edges on the models.

beveling

Currently I have been working on rubble assets which are to be placed around the environment in order to diversify the vex-looking tiled environment of our game thus far. The rubble assets aid in creating a much more interesting experience for players who are looking to explore. As mentioned before exploration is one the main points/experiences we want to give to our players. The rubble will also help to further portray the story of a post-apocalyptic world.

rubble.PNG

Texturing

As for texturing I have been trying to follow the style our art director has chosen, although as I am new to the texturing software (Substance Painter 2) I am finding it difficult to replicate his style. It is crucial for the game to have a consistent art style throughout and I must say this has been the my largest difficulty the past weeks. I am still trying to learn Substance Painter and I am slowly starting to get used to the controls and shortcuts. I believe Sam and I need to improve our communication when continuing to texture assets in order to keep a consistent style.

Going forward with the project we need to just crush out as many assets as we can in order to complete the game. I also need to work on sound effects which will complement the sci-fi feel of the game.

Dev Log #4 | Jan 20th

We are now ending pre-production and beginning the production stages. As of now I am focusing my efforts on marketing and presentation of our game as we prepare for the production of the puzzle assets.  I will also be polishing and iterating on the sound effects made in pre-production.

Playtest

We ended off last semester with a play-testing session.  We needed to test our main mechanics, controls and the level flow. In order to do this we created a diorama which contained the main elements of our game, along a simple puzzle. I gathered some friends and held a play-test session. Nick and I coordinate the session as the testers played through the diorama.  This play-test gave us vital information about our controls and player understanding of our mechanics.

We were able to see that most players understood the main mechanics controls right away although some did not grasp the concept of taking the energy back. We also learned that some players had difficulty reading how much energy the player had. This led us to clearly define the difference between the characters’ core energy and his normal energy as players thought they still had normal energy when they only had the core energy which can be used on special situations only. We also learned a few things about the controls of the crane used in the puzzle. All players had difficulty learning the controls, the crane could move back and fourth, and up and down, but players did not realize they needed to hold the mouse button down. They were just clicking the buttons. Of course we could just use text to show the controls, but we want every aspect to be as intuitive as possible. All in all the test went smoothly and great things were learnt. This allowed us to improve on aspects we would never have thought to.

Marketing

As of recently I have been working on our studio website in order to prepare for the Level Up Showcase later this year. Presenting our game and team in a professional manor is very important to the overall success of the game. The website will allow us to post blog posts to update anyone interested in the development of our game along with providing a showcase of the games final product. As for social media, I have created a YouTube channel, where I posted the sprint week video which I produced for our team last semester. The YouTube channel will also allow us to publicize more videos during our production and finally release our game trailer when the project is complete. I will also create a twitter account as I have noticed that many game companies tend to use twitter as their social media outlet of choice. We will use twitter to interact and promote our game with other developers and potential consumers.

Future Workflow Plan

Upon completion of the website and social media accounts, the in-game puzzles should be ready to be created. Sam will concept the objects needed for the puzzles and Nick and I will 3D model and UV the assets. Then hand them off to Sam who will be doing the majority of texturing for the game. I have also been learning substance painter in preparation for texturing as I will be aiding Sam with the texturing of minor assets. This is to ensure completion of all needed assets and to improve my personal skills as I am interested in learning substance painter to use in future projects. This is pretty much my plan for next month. Our workflow consists of many steps which will help our project to be completed smoothly.

 

Dev Log #2

In continuation from my last post until mid November I worked on continuing the integration of the narration and tutorials visually into our game. In my last post I mostly covered my research in this topic. This post will be covering our narrative implementation concept as well as a few other little things that I helped out with.

Beginning with the narrative, we decided to create these digital tablet looking objects which would be used for telling the story to the player, as well as teaching them how to play the game. These tablets would be mounted on walls around the game in order to display crucial information. In order to do this we came up with the idea of creating a font in which we could build a legend of items to represent in-game entities.

These GIFS would be represented in-game using characters from our custom made font. This is a concept of the language in which would be used to display the animated graphics shown above. This sheet serves as a language guide, showing what the symbols mean in context of the game..

xor-language-style-guide

Our decision to go about the implementation this way was to create a simplified system which would be easily understandable for the player, as we did not want to use text, voice or any other means that suggest human life. Our game take place on an alien planet and we want didn’t want to break that immersion by adding English text, or voice overs for the story and tutorial. This left us come up with this visual way to represent information to the player.

The custom language will represent the GIF’s   by allowing the font to to be displayed on a grid system, which will make the animations simple to complete. For the tutorial animations we would need ones, displaying:

  • How to give energy
  • How to retrieve energy
  • How to find energy
  • How to use certain puzzle machines

These are just a few which we could implement for the tutorials.

These digital tablets serve an important role in the game although they should not be mandatory, I believe the player should be able to figure out what to do by simply navigating the environment and looking at the physical design of the world and the objects within it. These animations should be a secondary focus to teach the player this information, the first focus should be the design, but some things are a bit too complicated to be displayed by design so we have come up with this idea.

As sprint week began we started rushing to get a working diorama of our game finished. There were some 3D assets needed for the diorama, so we switched gears and started focusing on that. The energy input and output panel was necessary for our main mechanic, therefore it needed to be modeled ASAP. Sam, our concept artist and animator, quickly came up with a few concept designs for the console/  panel. After a few meetings we settled on the final design. As the secondary 3D modeler to took to the task and began to model the panel.

energy-panel

As soon as it was completed, Bart our programmer added it into the game to test. In order to accompany the panel when it has been activated we decided a scrolling text image would be needed to show when it had been powered on.

So I just created a simple image using our custom font to create the activated on-screen image.

 

 

 

 

Deep Dive + Annotated Bibliography

Statement

For my deep dive I will be focusing on 3D Art, specifically in assets such as buildings, props and vehicles. As my father is an architect, I have also gained a large interest in architectural design, and industrial design. Integrating these design interests into my portfolio will allow me to bring together multiple interests. This will help me to stay motivated and focused on the work at hand.

Annotated Bibliography

This article covers different CAD methods of urban landscape modeling. It looks at the demand for urban modeling in the industry. It then covers six modeling methods of urban landscape models. Next, it looks at urban models ranging from low geometric contet to high geometric content. Finally, the applications of 3d urban models are shown and explained. Their use within the industry is essentail and can serve many purposes.

Shiode, Narushige. “3D urban models: recent developments in the digital modelling of urban environments in three-dimensions.” GeoJournal 52.3 (2000): 263-269.

Link: http://fulltext.calis.edu.cn/kluwer/pdf/03432521/52/390952.pdf

 

This article covers 3D modeling of buildings for reality based needs. It looks at how to take architectural drawings and turn them into accurate 3d models for industry use. The article also looks at the texturing for buildings within programs such as Maya and 3DS Max.

Manferdini, Anna Maria, and Fabio Remondino. “Reality-based 3D modeling, segmentation and web-based visualization.” Euro-Mediterranean Conference. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2010.

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anna_Maria_Manferdini/publication/221197102_Reality-Based_3D_Modeling_Segmentation_and_Web-Based_Visualization/links/00b49527760a13450e000000.pdf

 

This article gives ten tips for modeling vehicles within Maya. Using screenshots and in depth captions, the author shows his modeling techniques for vehicles. These will be very useful in the future as I begin to model more vehicles.

Masters, Mark. “3D Automotove Modeling Tips, Techniques and Tutorials.” Digital-Tutors Blog. Digital Tutors, 24 July 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.

http://blog.digitaltutors.com/0-stunning-10-tips-automotive-modeling/

 

 

 

 

Dev Log #1 – Integrating Narrative into Games

Introduction

I am currently working on an adventure-puzzle game with 4 other game students. As of now we are in our pre-production stage, still trying to solidify the logistics of our idea.

Our game follows a robot, who has awoken in the midst of a post-apocalyptic alien world where it is the only source of life. The main mechanic is the transfer of energy into/from machines/objects in order to power them (think Watchdogs and Infamous). The objects will allow for interactions within the world in order to complete puzzles.

My pre-production role in the group is to look after storyboarding, narrative and integrating the story into the game in an efficient way.

Design Problem

The problem lies within our game idea, as the game is set in an alien world, therefore we can not use text as a way to portray or story. So we are forced to use visuals in order to tell our story. We also do not want to use cut-scenes as they break the players immersion and the flow of the game.

Design Objective

My ongoing objective is to find and analyse creative ways which allow game designers to integrate stories into their games. Thus allowing us to create a unique way to tell our story in our game.

Research

I have taken a look at a few games that are know to tell stories in a unique way.

Journey

journey_mural_14
An Ancient Glyph found in Journey

Just like our game, Journey is set on a planet with an alien language, therefore they were forced to tell their story visually.  Journey uses tapestries with ancient glyphs, which are scattered throughout the game telling the story of the world around them. The tapestries allow the game designers to to show the history of this world in a visual way which does not take away from the immersion of the player but enhances it through their curiosity about the world.

Bioshock

Bioshock also uses many different ways other than cut scenes to tell their stories. The devs used voxophone audio diaries and posters.voxophone

The voxophone is used as a way to give background information on characters and the history of the settings. it allows the player to go up to it if curious. Because they are optional, players who are interested in the story will want to listen to the audio. This gives the player choice, which increases immersion, rather than break immersion as cut-scenes usually do.

bioshockinfinite-2013-03-26-02-28-56-64.png
In-Game Poster

The in-game posters serve as background information, which gives clues to the player about the history and characters of the world. It allows information to be given to the player in a natural way.  The posters serve many different purposes and have been utilized by the devs in an interesting way.

Analysis

All these methods of storytelling in games allow the game designers to integrate their story into their games seamlessly. Having to watch boring cut-scenes and having to read loads of text are the simplest way to integrate stories, but the not the most efficient way. People do not enjoy when things are forced upon them, giving the player choice and allowing their curiosity to lead them into the story seems like the best approach.

Design Thinking

After my analysis of the different methods, and in regards to our game specifically, there are a few parameters in which have to be handled.  Looking at the audio diaries, for our game they will not be sufficient as it is an alien world with no known language. Therefore this rules out the use of audio to explicitly tell the story. Next looking at the Posters and Tapestries, since the story is being told visually with short animations or posters, this is convenient for our game and allows us to tell our story implicitly. Another point which I have bought up is; since the player camera will be third person, looking at posters may be difficult in comparison to if it was first person. This means that we have a few options; we can have a manually zoom key, which allows the player to zoom in whenever they please, or we can have the camera automatically zoom when the player is in a certain vicinity of the poster.  Another option is to set a minimum size for the tapestries/posters, this will allow them to be large enough to view clearly without the need of a zoom function. Our story is currently being developed and final decisions have not yet been made. As one now, tapestries/posters seem like our best option.