Pitching an APOCALYPSE

Here is my pitch video.

Feedback

From this pitch and presentation I received a small amount of feedback. The feedback and my response, thoughts and planning is as follows:

#1: Silhouettes, colour and negative space should be the primary focus.

Agreed, Olly Moss’ use of these elements is iconic and essential to his work. I have already been brainstorming and considering how i will use these elements and am planning to do more mock-ups and tests to play with different uses of silhouette, colour and space.

I am also considering how the message and tone of the game will be conveyed through the silhouettes, colours and space. As mentioned by my facilitator, Missile Command makes a very clear statement about nuclear warfare through its use of the words “The End”. I will be considering what my game is saying about this ending. I still need to figure out and define what this game is the end of, what nuclear war is the end of. Going deeper than that, endings can be beginnings. Does this mean my game is about the beginning of something?

These are things that I still need to brainstorm and work out. Once I do, it will very much inform the use of silhouettes, colour and negative space.

#2: Does the player have to move between depth planes?

No. Despite the 3d environment, players will interact with the game as though it as 2d, just like the original Missile Command. Also, players defensive interactions will effect everything, regardless of depth.

 

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APOCALYPSE FALLING

Missile Command In The Style Of Olly Moss

Parallaxing

Upon analysing Olly Moss’s work, a lot of the work is in portrait, so I have made the decision to lean into that, and lock my project to a portrait 3:2 ratio. But by making this decision the necessary width to fit the 1:3 base to city ratio, did not fit with the level of detail that I would like to achieve with the silhouette design of the missile bases and the cities that they defend. Looking into Moss’s works for inspiration to abate this issue looking at this piece in particular.

firewatch2

This piece of work has great use of depth stepped through very defined layers. I would like to take advantage of the layers by parallaxing my Bases and Cities. My first test below.

Art Mockup

I really like the result of this test, as it allowed me to discover solutions to problems that I had not even begun to think about like how the layers would affect interactions with Bases, Cities, and the missiles sent to destroy them. After what I believed a successful result in the first art test. I Decided to lean heavy into the idea of layers and create a more polished concept to better test the idea of one Base/City per layer. This is the finished concept.

Clean

I am very happy with the result, the level of detail is less than I would like in the final version, but I definitely believe that this is very representative of the final work.

Fight Mock up

Colour and Colouring.

Early on while researching ‘Missile Command’ I had decided that I wanted a Monochromatic look to lean into the dystopian mood set by the context with which the game is played, Although I had intended to use a method that I have used in previous work by making all the work grayscale and colouring through a simple post effect through the use of an overlay colour, but while discussing my ideas on the colour style that I had planned and the methought that I just described with Erika Verkaaik, a talented artist, and Photoshop wizard. Erika showed me a way of creating a much more reliable and controllable post effect that replicates the end result without affecting the clarity of the blacks and whites that come with colour overlay effects, through using Colour Balancing. Here are the Results below.

Art Mockup_OverlayVsBalance

Using this method Allows the Dark and light tones that to keep their clarity while allowing me to play with the colour as needed, this also simplifies the asset creation with grayscale assets.

Missile Trails

I wanted to make the missile trails very defined, so I used a solid black, with a puffy cloud style inspired by Vlambeer’s LUFTRAUSERS fluffy clouds as well as the fluffy clouds in the previous Firewatch example. More discussion with Erika, by her suggestion to work with the silhouette created by the clouds in the way Olly Moss often adds double meanings in his silhouette design. And the way the shadows are used in ‘Serial Experiments Lain’. Example Below.

download

So from this we added a red, not grayscale to the smoke trails. As seen below.

Art Mockup

This evolved as I created the more detailed concept, making the explosion of the defence missiles a solid circle like in the original missile command. As seen below.

Missiles Incoming.

To stop any issue with the mechanics, regardless of the layer an explosion from a defence missile will span the entire depth of the game, while the incoming missiles will target a specific base/city.

Thanks for reading.

Collaboration and Teamwork Overview

Throughout this trimester I have worked on several different projects and also participated during in-class discussions and feedback sessions.

In Class Discussions and Collaboration:

Unfortunately, I cannot post any evidence of this but I have participated in the discussions and feedback sessions that we had weekly. During these sessions, I always tried to be positive, give both warm and constructive feedback and also give some advice on how they could go about fixing something.

One example of this was in one of the project presentations in which Lachlan showed his robot model. He said that he had been using turbo smooth but it had not worked properly on a particularly area and did not know how he could fix it. I suggested using OpenSubdiv instead and gave him a quick demonstration of how to use it. Lachlan took this advice and then incorporated OpenSubdiv into his model.

I found these feedback session incredibly helpful, especially when multiple faciliators were there, as it helped to get many different eyes on my project. When I still had the animation project, it was really good to get feedback and advice on my animations from Chris.

On Slack:

I like to be both positive but also constructive with my feedback over Slack. Some examples are below.

In the Studio 3 Slack channel we would post progress and give feedback on our projects:

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Although I never ended up creating assets for the Studio 2 game “The Apprentice” I helped them in the early stages of its construction by helping the designers find a game design that would fit with the “Trust” brief:

02

Technical Framework Overview.

Throughout this trimester, I have used a technical frameworks that have allowed me to create work more efficiently and effectively. This blog post is a summary of the framework that I have used and is partly made up of blogs that I had written throughout the trimester.

In regards to the Worldbuilder Project, creating a set technical framework and and file structure was my main strategy to avoid issues that I have faced in the past with file corruption and data loss. Using a proper file structure saved time by keeping my files organised.

Below is a screencap that shows the file structure I used for the Worldbuilders project:

file management

This system was described to my class by Brett, one of our facilitators.

This is how it works:

You have one master folder, for ease of copying the entire library for backup purposes. Inside the master folder, you have folders named as the assets, these contains the asset master file, that is used as the source for all referenced files, as well as the textures, and a final folder containing the iterative versions of the asset.

Using this system in combination with the Unreal “reimport” feature allows for quick and easy updating of files.

How I used this system:

I used this system for all assets but will use the garbage can as an example:

  1. I created the asset
  2. I incrementally saved it as “GarbageCan” with version numbers
  3. And gave the most updated version of it the file name “Master_GarbageCan”
  4. I then brought it into the Unreal engine
  5. And placed it where I want it
  6. I then looked to see what needed changing – it was too small and the lid shape was wrong
  7. I then fixed the asset in 3DsMax
  8. Saved it incrementally
  9. And saved over the “Master_GarbageCan” file
  10. Back in the Unreal engine I simply clicked on the garbage can and selected “reimport”
  11. This reimported the “Master_GarbageCan” file (which had just been updated)
  12. This quickly swapped the old version with the new version without changing the placement of the object in the Unreal scene

My thoughts on this workflow:

Using this system allows me to quickly and easily test my assets in-engine and then fix them and reimport them without having to exit Unreal or reposition them. By having both 3DsMax and Unreal open at the same time, I can quickly jump from one program to the other and quickly create, test, fix and reimport assets. This system is much more efficient than the one I had been using previously and I will definitely be using it for all future projects.

Iconic Work: Assassins Creed III

I have picked Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed 3(AC3) as my iconic works because of a number of reasons, these reasons are: it was a complete redesign of the assassins creed animation system, the procedural and physics additions to the animation system, and finally the motion capture implementation.

What makes this work significant?

Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed 3’s animation system was strides ahead of the next gen curve, utilizing massive amounts of motion capture coupled with keyed animations, layered over the top of a brand new procedural animation system that used predictive methods to allow the character to predict environment interactions opposed to simply responding to them. To elaborate the animation system would predict all of the possible movement actions that you as the controlling player could make to a set degree, and in doing so construct an animation sequence to allow the character to not only respond to environmental factors, but actually anticipate them, many games have been faking the anticipation, but through this predictive system the character could accurately anticipate obstacle avoidance, assassinations, jumps, and other environmental factors.

The complete redesign

Jonathan Cooper, was hired to lead the animation team for the development of AC3, and tasked with overseeing the redesign of the AC animation system. His first stop was to approach the Ubisoft tech development team, to find out what could and could not be done, utilizing new forms of physics implementation, and changing the way the character responds to turning as speed, they worked out ways to allow the character to be responsive but still feel grounded, by not having any delay in the change of the character’s direction but by delaying the rotation of the torso and leading with the head, this resulted in a very responsive and realistic looking character without sacrificing game responsiveness.

How this affects me

Knowing how the AC3 team tackled this issue of responsive movement with realistic animation, has changed the way I will develop my own animation, taking inspiration from this great method of design.

Procedural and physics systems.

AC3 was one of the games on the forefront of in engine IK systems, and the techniques that they used with the physics system to compliment animation, have now been adapted into some of the available game engine software.

How I can use this.

Being these systems and techniques are now available I can utilize them in my own work to create more realistic and responsive animation, while cutting down additional work previously required to gain the fidelity now available through using these systems and techniques.

Motion capture implementation

AC3 Used motion capture extensively as a base for the animation work, to ad in stubblety and weight to the character animation, Standard keyed animation was still used for the anticipation and exaggeration in the animations. In the GDC (2016) talk animation director Jonathan Cooper details how It is important to never be in the suit, as there are talented actors whose whole career is based around taking direction and turning that into action, you should be directing them, and utilizing the skills that they possess, to get the best result.

How I benefit from knowing this.

Being that motion capture technology is becoming more widely used and available, knowing how an animation team with as much experience as the team who created AC3, utilized these new tools is going to accelerate my learning process and hopefully increase the quality of my own motion capture sessions.

References

Action: The Animator’s Process, Saturday, May 30th at Gnomon. (2016). Gnomon — School of Visual Effects, Games & Animation. Retrieved 13 May 2016, from https://www.gnomon.edu/community/events/action-the-animator-s-process

Character Animation for Games | The Gnomon Workshop. (2016). Thegnomonworkshop.com. Retrieved 13 May 2016, from https://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/tutorials/character-animation-for-games

GDC Vault – Animation Bootcamp: Animating The 3rd Assassin. (2016). Gdcvault.com. Retrieved 13 May 2016, from http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1017635/Animation-Bootcamp-Animating-The-3rd

Pipelines for Video Game Animation | The Gnomon Workshop. (2016). Thegnomonworkshop.com. Retrieved 13 May 2016, from https://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/tutorials/pipelines-for-video-game-animation

Staff, G. (2016). Video: Improving AI in Assassin’s Creed III, XCOM, Warframe. Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 13 May 2016, from http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/193015/Video_Improving_AI_in_Assassins_Creed_III_XCOM_Warframe.php

 

Cross-Discipline Work: Anti-Gravity

For the cross-discipline work, I joined in on a Studio 2 games project called Anti-Gravity. My role within the project was that of a freelance 3D artist. The team was looking for someone to create the AI character for their Portal inspired game. Before beginning this project, I believed that I would be required to come up with and model a small robot character. This assumption was correct.

The team gave me a brief which outlined the specifics of the single asset that I would be creating. The asset was to be spherical in shape, with an approximate radius of 20cm and based off of the the Wheatley character from portal 2, and the Eyebot character from the Fallout universe.

Immediately after receiving and reading the brief, I organised a meeting with the game’s designer that issued the brief. After a short meeting we had decided on some references to design the initial 3D sketches. These are the references we agreed on:

Throughout the project I conducted several face to face meetings with the game students: one to clarify the brief, one during the concept phase and one follow up meeting. I found that having these face to face meetings was extremely helpful as it helped to get everyone on the same page and it is much easier than trying to communicate over Slack, as the team was general unresponsive on Slack. In future projects, I will definitely be trying to conduct more face to face meetings as it helps eliminate confusion.

Initially, I had planned on creating three quick concepts / mockups for the game students to chose between but, due to time constraints, I was only able to create two. While this was not as planned, creating quick concepts was a good way to show and get a design approved by the game students.

Below is the final robot character, called Franklin, that I created for the team:

For my final project I had created an empty 3DsMax file that had all the correct scene, unit and export settings so that the model would import correctly into Unity. I used this when creating the Franklin model as it helped with ensuring that the technical side of things would go smoothly.

Additionally, I used the ‘Unity 5’ metallic settings when setting up the Quixel file and when exporting the finished textures. This allowed me to create textures that would work perfectly in the game engine that the team was using.

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By laying down the technical framework for creating a 3D asset for Unity, by setting up the 3DsMax and Quixel files in the correct way, I was able to quickly create the asset to the correct specifications without any issues. This was extremely helpful to the project and I will definitely by doing this in the future.

I organised a follow up meeting after delivering the asset to make sure the team was happy with the final result and that they were able to implement it in Unity correctly. They were very happy with my work and I feel as though our multiple meetings helped to contribute to this.

The cross-discipline work that I undertook was as I expected it to be: I acted as a freelance 3D artist by concepting a design, getting it approved and finalising the model. The team that I worked with were half-way through production when I joined and had a very clear idea of the style they were going for. I found this extremely helpful as it gave me a direction to head towards.