Friday, 31 January 2014

AnimTree demo and spreadsheet party

I put the idle animations into UDK today and put together a very simple AnimTree. I still need to finish the walk animation before I can start the scripting and making her into the actual player pawn-bit, but I'm finding it really hard.

So what you can see here is that she's got four idle animations which she loops between randomly.

I'm sorry the video is so long, but she wouldn't do her kick animation.

I'm going to talk a lot about spreadsheets now. You are free to stop reading. 

We had a lecture today about project management. It was very helpful and I wish we'd received this lecture earlier. I realised I really needed to get my spread-sheets on. Not only will it help me now, it'll also help me with documentation later. 

I got a lot of help from Shay putting these together, so I've made three spreadsheets. 

One is a list of things I absolutely must do (making the level and the player pawn) things I should do and things I could do it time allows. 

The second is a day-to-day schedule containing a list of tasks I've done that day, weekly milestones, changes in the schedule and so on. Having this also lets me estimate how long a task will take if I need to complete a similar task again. 

I've put in what I've done the past three weeks as well, for the sake of documentation and visualising what I've done and the time spent. It's a good thing I've been blogging almost daily, so that was a pretty simple matter. 

The third, and most important spreadsheet contains my asset list. I really need to sit down with this list over the weekend and fill it out, but the gist of it is that it contains file information like what texture sheet belongs to this file, what is the actual mesh named, where does it belong and so on. It also contains the production pipeline I have to go trough.

Maybe this seems unnecessarily complicated to most people but for me visualising tasks in this way is really going to help. I can only hold so many thoughts in my head and when I get stuck, it's because I have so much to do I can't keep track of things any more. So I really think this is going to help. 

Also I made it really cute and friendly-looking and pastel-ly. Look at that cute font wow so cute

I'm going to figure out how to put this into a google doc so that others can view these. I mean, I don't know why you would want to look at my spreadsheets, they are very cute but rather boring. It's mostly for my tutors I guess. 

So yeah wow spreadsheets! Magic wow

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Today was mostly spent doing more animations and more research into technical stuff. It's kind of bad, because at the end of a day like that you're just sat there with very little to show for it. 

Also I wanted to test out some texture stuff. I thought I'd try to paint out elements of the texture on paper, and put it together in Photoshop like a sort of collage. I don't think it's working very well, it's actually pretty terrifying. Sorry. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Yesterday I successfully managed to import my character, the skeleton mesh and the test animation into UDK with no hiccups, and so with that pipe-line tested and everything working, it's time to put together an anim-tree in preparation for making the player character actually be the player character.

Most of the past two days have been spent researching anim-trees and getting a grip on doing actual character animation within Max, instead of the weird spastic rig-tests we've been doing. I like dabbling with animation, but I don't know a lot about the theory behind it, so I've also been reading The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams. It's been very helpful but it's very apparent I'm not going to become good at animating just by reading a book.

So far I've made a set of looping idle-animations. There's a default standing one, and three small idle actions (kicking ground, wiping her hands on her jumper and looking around). They all start and stop the same way, so the character can play the idle animation, then immediately start playing a random idle variation, loop back to the idle animation, loop into a different random idle animation and so on. 

Once I have a walk cycle down, I should be ready to build the anim-tree and start scripting the player pawn and replace the default UDN pawn. I will need more animations, like a set of jumping animations, but the main thing is to get this working, and then refining it. 

Ohh this is a very boring post with no pictures in it. Hmmm here's a warmup drawing of a person wearing a ladybird mech armor:

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Monday, 27 January 2014

It's been a productive start of the week. 

First thing this morning, I realised why the mirror rig-tool didn't work, and it's entirely a really dumb mistake. I'd forgotten to put the mesh pivot in the right place, and trying to fix it after skinning messed up everything. 

I guess this has been a good life lesson. 

So I had to re-do the skin today, and this time it's worked fine with no hiccups. So far. I've had a play around with the rig, trying to articulate the character and get some life into her. 

I've also unwrapped the character, though texturing it isn't a priority for me at the moment as I'd much rather get the technical stuff looking solid before going into looks.  

Also here's a silly animation I made because I got bored with rigging. 

Friday, 24 January 2014

Rigging time

Outside of classes and stuff, I've spent a lot of time the past two days looking into how animation works in UDK. I wanted to be sure I was going about doing it right before I actually started rigging, instead of doing all that work and realising I'd done something dumb and avoidable. It'll still probably break and not be as straightforward as the tutorials I've watched made it look, but I guess I can't know that until I've tried.

I am so glad I spent all that time getting the shoulder topology right because it rigged pretty easily this time. Everything else seems to be deforming neatly enough as well. 

I've rigged one side now so I guess I would technically be done. But the mirroring tool doesn't seem to be working and I'm getting annoyed so I'm going home to take a nap.

And also here are some warm up paintings from the past two days, I like allowing myself 30 minutes every day just to paint something fun.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Not much to report today. I started retoping my character and it's gone pretty smoothly. I've focused especially on the joints and shoulder topology, trying my very best to get it right so it'll rig well. I predict finding flaws when I rig it. but having it done so fast will give me time to fix stuff. 

Some drawings as well because retopoing is dull and fiddly. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

I made some good progress on the character sculpt today. Most of the day was spent just pushing around shapes trying to get something that looked close to my concept. I am happy with the shape now, so I'm going to take it into Max to make the final model. 

I am aiming for around maybe 5 000 - 7 000 tris.  

Also I made a logo for my project:

 And here's a little fun painting.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Door puzzle

Yesterday evening I did a few edits to my script stuff as well as implementing the edits to the whitebox. The character is now slightly to the left of the screen instead of in the center, and the jump height and distance has been reduced. I've also implemented the door puzzle and I've had people play it, it plays pretty well though I did the animation for it really rough and it looks very clumsy and untimed. But that's allright,when I've done the proper rock and door asset I'll make a better animation.

So here's the new changes and tweaks I've done today:

1. This area is way too narrow and clumsy to navigate. Stair collissions need to be ramps instead of actual stairs as the camera is way too shaky when it walks up stairs, that’s gross.

I was also thinking it'd be cool if this was an underground tube station instead of a factory thing, it needs to be concepted and tweaked a lot.

2. This is good now.

3. Even with the adjusted jump height, player can jump this chasm. And I don’t want the player to go down the chasm in the first place so placing a block in the way might be necessary.

4. Roof height is nice here now.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

First whitebox

This is my first whitebox level. I had a go at putting it into UDK to see how it played, and it needs a lot of work still.  

I like the starting area, but I think there should be a simple obstacle the player will have to jump to ease the player into understanding what sort of game they are playing.  

The rest of my issues I have annotated. The red line is the path the player ought to follow, the blue numbers I will explain now:

1. This area is far too spacious and needs narrowing down to be more claustrophobic.

2. These platforms will be too tall once the player jump strength is adjusted.

3. With the current jump length of the player character, it is possible to jump this chasm. It should not be once the character jump strength is adjusted but I still want the player to be able to see the other side of the chasm when they are stood at the edge.

4. These platforms are waaay too difficult as the steering while jumping is not sensitive enough for the player to make it up here. They will also be too steep.

5. This needs a lot of looking at and areas of interest need to be established here.

6. There will be a locked door here, forcing the player to take the up-path first. At a point the player will cause something heavy to roll down the hill and crash into the door, opening this area up. I think it’s best to do this with a Kismet sequence, it seems a bit too elaborate doing it with physics.

So that's what I have so far. I will be tweaking this until I am personally happy with it, and then I will let others play it as well to see how they get on with it.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Side scrolling game update

I've spent today working out some technical stuff and I've finally got a working side scrolling game mode which I am satisfied with. I did it by following this tutorial. It's really simple, it just inherits information from the basic UDK game and forces the camera and the player to follow a locked axis.

Unlike the UDK platformer starter kit, this camera has a satisfactory distance from the player character and can also be tweaked. As of now I think the character jumps too far but that can also easily be amended.

There are still some things I need to work out. For example, I do not want that HUD. I don't want a HUD at all. The character is also sort of aiming towards the mouse position and I don't want that either. Ideally I also want the character to move slower and to be positioned sorta more to the left compared to the camera. But it's at a point where it is working and I can start whiteboxing and planning out the areas and how they connect.

So that's neat.

Also here are some watercolour colours exploring potential colour schemes, I like some of these but most of them are no good.

Friday, 10 January 2014

What time is it?

FMP time!

Today is the actual first day of the FMP production stage. The coming week I am going to spend working out technical bits and bobs, as well as working on the player character.

The first thing on my to do list is to make that camera work. I wrote about it in an earlier post but to recap, the problem with it was that it was fixed too close to the character. Otherwise the UDK platformer starter kit contained a lot of unnecessary elements, so I am going to look into a different way of doing it.

I've started sculpting the character in Zbrush and have made a nice start on it. It still needs to be pushed a lot more but it is going well.

Successfully stylizing 3D characters is difficult to pull off and one of my worries is that it'll end up looking really bland.

I'm looking at 3D characters and dolls I think are really cool, in an attempt to help me avoid that.

Razputin from "Psychonauts"

Coraline from "Coraline"

These characters are really nice looking. They have strong silhouettes that are easy to read. Especially Rasputin is a good example for my purposes. His feet and hands are greatly exaggerated and enlargened so their placement will read easy even on small screens. They are also very dark so they will contrast with the bright environments of Psychonauts. I think I will do it differently and make the character very bright compared to the environments, but it is something I still have to look into before I come to a final decision.   

A lot of their life does come from pose and expression. It's very easy to look at a t-posed character and feel disheartened because it is so life-less, but I noticed I was a lot more pleased with my previous character work as well once they had a bit of attitude and were posed up... even if I'd done a bad job with the rig and it was painfully apparent.

I'm really excited to finally get to focus on this 100%. I feel like I am kind of just diving into it but I don't want to loose my pacing from the past few days.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Player character

I am in a character sort of mode after the warrior project, so I think I will focus on my FMP player character in the next couple of days. I want the character to look really simple. 

It is important to me that the character reads easy from a distance, as it will be quite far away from the camera. It is also important to me that it has a colour scheme that is easily readable in all the different sceneries of the FMP. Since this is a side scrolling game, an interesting profile silhouette is more important than the front view. 

These look too young but the idea is there. 

This is close to what I want, I think.

Warrior project 5

All posed up and positioned on her skull pedestal, she looks a lot cooler and a lot more like I envisioned and I am a lot less disappointed in myself now. 

She still looks like she is wearing pyjamas but I guess she's just too tough to bother changing. I think that could have been avoided if I'd done something different with her arms. I could've made the sleeves shorter or stuck with the armour idea. 

Anyway it is done and dusted and handed in, so next up is focusing on FMP stuff until I drop and/or May rolls around. 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Warrior project 3

Warrior project update! I have been working on her over the Christmas break but I've not been any good at keeping my blog up to date over this period. 

I took it into Zbrush very early. I felt that would work out better since I'd have to retopologise her anyway, so why faff around in Max when you can get the same result in Zbrush much faster and more intuitively? Here's a progress gif, it doesn't have my earliest iterations of her as I didn't save them, but I started out with a very blocky 3Ds Max mesh before taking her in, feeling it was easier if I had her basic mass down before tweaking the shape in Zbrush.

I didn't bother with making the hands in Zbrush, I think those are easier to make in 3Ds Max so I left that for later. 

Here's the final retopologised mesh. I tested out Zbrush's Zremesher tool for this. It takes away some of the drudgery but to say that it does all the work for you is a fat lie. Or maybe I am doing it wrong, I dunno. I exported three different Zremeshes for different parts of her, and stitched them together in Max. I had to redo her face topology completely as Zremesher couldn't give me a satisfying result in that area. 

I think Zremesher is probably best for organic objects that won't move. 

I'm texturing today, I'm having some problems baking down maps to an object with two different map channels so I'll probably have to find a way around it.