Yesterday was the beginning of a new project with my studio 2 class. The breif is to expand on a previously existing franchise, and create an animation introducing a team of characters in a style similar of introductory tropes, such as Blizzard’s Overwatch, and their highlight intros;
The first week is dedicated to rough concept art, we are guided by a proffesional concept artist, and given the chance to iterate on our designs, in hopes of pleasing the facilitator. Each group member brings forward rough ideas for a character, and draws a silhouettes. The silhouette is copied and given detail. This ‘children’ process helped me in my first stage of conceptualising a Space Marine commander character.
The artist gave me some recommendations for my designs. and focused in on her favoured design.
- Stronger head silhouette
- More personal motifs
- Bulkier armour
The pitch given to the facilitator was received with critisism towards the ‘gruntlike’ feel to this character. It needs to feel and look more like a commander.
During the aftermath project, we worked with triggers for a variety of outcomes. The environment was to allow the player to enter through a large door, (triggered by a box trigger, and animation) then a floor panel was to open beneath them, revealing a staircase. The staircase would lead to a larger room, as the players entered this room, box triggers would turn on lights.
My role in building triggers for our group included the general light triggers. The player would walk down the stairs to the main room, into an invisible box, triggering the rooms light to switch on, illuminating the scenes assets. I did this by creating an ’empty actor’ this would have two components, the light itself, and the box trigger.
The trigger is then built on a new blueprint, named light_blueprint. Two nodes are made, begin overlap and end overlap, then extra nodes are made parallel to these nodes, set visibility.
This simple setup allows the player to walk into an area, designated by an invisible box, switching the light on and off.
Recently I spent time with a group of games students, developing 3d assets and animations.
The group needed me to fix up some simple assets for them, a low poly barrel, a wooden cart, and a robotic wine connoisseur. I began with the barrel, the games students version was hard to work with, so I scrapped it and rebuilt it, giving it simple rungs that were identifiable without any texturing done.
The wooden cart was built using references found online, and was made quickly without any hassles.
I went the further mile and made a simple barrel stack.
After the easy assets were finished. I began rebuilding the robotic model I was handed after another animation student built the basic shape.
This process was completed by 3d modelling, uv mapping then texturing. The finished model then had a collection of bones placed in a simple way for me to animate both arms, and the wheel for movement, the bones were then skinned onto the model.
The animations the group assigned me to make can be seen below:
The environment layout had many iterations in pre-production, we brainstormed at first that the room will have chambers for the robots to lie dormant in, and those chambers will line the walls. The room began with an odd shape.
I then brought forward the idea to make the room a hexagonal shape, to add ease in placing modular assets, and bring more attention to a center piece.
This room, with added balcony, would end up becoming the final layout of the environment. The new hexagonal layout brought added fluidity as to how the player would navigate the environment. The player will enter the room, walk down the stairs, then in a circular motion, investigate the aftermath of the battle that took place here, then leave the same way, but with the lights on, displaying blood and oil on the ground.
The first iteration of the 3d layout was made on 3ds max, to test measurements. We then imported it into UE4, to test lighting and triggers.
The final room layout was made using modular assets, and the adjustment to the prior white box test. negating the use of many previously planned pieces, such as the balcony and a large piece of ground elevation.
This iteration of the room was used in the audience testing gallery.
The brief set by our facilitators (for the aftermath project) is as follows: design and create a small interactive environment that tells a story. Design the layout of the environment taking into account the user experience, and design and create assets to contribute to the aesthetic of the environment. The environment must be playable and interactive – in third or first person, so it is possible to walk around the environment. It must contain an interactive element – something that users can trigger or activate in the environment.
The project had goals in mind that were met, such as target audience, style, format or technology, budget, scope and effect.
The target audience was 20-30 year old’s. Our budget could be construed as time, which was a 6 week long venture. Each group member was given time according to their situation, on average 36 hours a week worth of work.
Some guidelines must also be set in accordance with the brief. The final outcome of the project must meet the intentions, objectives and requirements of the brief, and the quality of the output must meet the standards set by the facilitator. The final product was completed on UE4, with a first person camera for the audience to explore with, as seen below.
(get evidence of door opening and light triggers)
(get fly through screenshots)
The aftermath project let me engage with other students face to face on projects, meaning I had to help make a productive atmosphere, I had to facilitate motivation, and facilitate contributions from the team. I also had to recognize and address any issues and conflicts
I made a productive atmosphere through team discussions, via slack, and face to face.
My contribution to a productive atmosphere is my ability to receive negative feedback. A group member gave us examples of how the room would roughly look, and I questioned his use of the wall assets I created. I wanted to make it clear I was ready and able to make any adjustments to the assets that he deemed necessary.
I facilitated motivation by encouraging my team to bring forward their ideas, even if their ideas were overshadowed by under-scoping. I recall one event a group member had an alternative idea, which was brought down by someone, and I managed to convince the group that his idea was worth remembering, instead of completely forgetting. If I can allow project members to raise their voices without fear of rejection, their motivation will increase, therefore increasing creative flow
I recognized and addressed a problem a group member was having during the final stages of the project. He needed to focus on some computer screen textures, and while I knew he had more knowledge with the screens that I did, I took his load of work that included creating blood decals.
As seen above, the aftermath project went through audience testing. The class was turned into a gallery where other students were welcomed in to test our environments, and fill out questionnaires on what they liked and disliked, and to give critical feedback. Using google forms, students were able to detail their opinions.
Most testers liked the environments aesthetics, while giving negative feedback towards individual assets. A few made remarks on the controls of the playable character, on how clunky it was. The most outstanding comments were on the motion blur, we hadn’t even considered adjusting any post processing effects. Other comments were on basic preparation, many textures were missing from the executable, giving the impression the environment is not yet even ready for preliminary testing.
Testers filled out these forms and gave us opinions face to face. Overall this experience gave us some outsider input, and third person perspective.
During the aftermath project, I had to make a number of optimized assets for use in the unreal engine. The assets I created consisted of a number of modular wall assets including dividers, and a few blood and oil decals. I began researching deferred decals for the purpose of creating modular decals in unreal engine. The first issue I had in creating the decals was with Photoshop. To avoid any legal issues I didn’t use google images for the textures of the decals. I painted the decals using my wacom tablet.
After painting, I inverted the image, and made the red blood white, to create an opacity map. I then used crazy bump to make the normal map, bump map, occlusion map and specular map. With all these maps, I am able to create the decal in unreal engine.
With the modular wall assets, I had to be certain of height and width, due to the possibility of clipping. The wall assets had to work like a kit, in which they could be placed in a variety of ways and still work. I made three simple wall assets, a divider, a corner piece, and a base wall. The assets were optimized after checking the poly-count with my group members, exported into obj files and tested on unreal engine.
The aftermath environment has come to a finish, as we have presented the project to the class, and taken critiques. It is now time to cleanup any loose ends and prepare the executable for play-testing. One of those loose ends is the failure to create a portable executable file, the raw unreal file caused a wait time that was unacceptable for an audience. Our group has encountered many discrepancies during the pipeline, one of those being that the room itself was too large and empty.
Our solution to this was simply to elevate some assets, giving the room more volume. This decision was brought forward in discussion with the client.
These problems were caused by a lack of communication, if the group had a stricter group communication schedule, then topics of room space and file rendering/file management, would have already been covered.
After the first two weeks, I found it was getting increasingly difficult to keep the group using voice communication as a way of group scrums. Voice communication is a way to creatively keep flow within a group, and increase morale. I found I was losing touch with my group after such a strong start. Group members from studio 2 began excluding studio 1 group members, working on things without sharing much information until after it was completed. A solution to this problem may have been with simple communication, I should have said something to my group leader.
During pre-production, the visual style my group created was heavily influenced by mood-boards, sketches and photographs. I made it clear to my group that without a basis for our assets in terms of style, the environment would be a mess of colors and styles. The style guide was created with uniformity in mind, using references that had aesthetics achievable for all modelers involved.
After finalizing our general art style, I began creating some concepts that related to the style guide
My initial thoughts on the basis of design for the room, were to create concept art for modular wall assets that varied in detail. Through discussion with my group, the lead art director found the simpler design appealed to him the most. The design he liked gave him a better understanding of the direction we were going, and he drew his designs accordingly.
During this process I learnt how substantial communication is to even the pre-production phase of the pipeline. If I had any creative input or queries I made it obvious to my team through slack. 3d models were made in accordance with the concept art produced.
The final environment used the 3d models and visually abides by the style guide.