Monday, 24 February 2014

Shader day

Today has been all about shaders for me. Classmates started fiddling with it and it seemed fun and like something that would be good to sort out before I delved too deep into building. I'm glad I did it because I came to results that look so much nicer than standard UDK materials, but I might have to consider a different approach to how I build my models. 

The major failing in standard UDK materials is that the colours are really just black, and it's not very nice. 

I tried on a cell shading material for size, it looks cool but it won't work for my purpose. 

This was a Team Fortress style half lambert shader, it's pretty nice, but the shadows are so hard. Maybe there's a way to fix that. I don't know enough about it.

Mitch set up this shader for Shay expanding on a different lambert shader we had. Shay then showed me how to go about doing it and here we are.

I like this a lot. It lets me control a lot of parameters like the hardness and colour of the rim lights, diffuse intensity, and most importantly it lets me control the shadow colour. 

I will need normals for this to work proper so the idea about leaving those out is pretty much a no go. It might also be good to make the grass as a separate object and make it separate from the rock, in order to adapt material properties so they'll look more right. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

I wasted a lot of today trying to clean up files and scripts. The package I was working from was a test package and was named as such, and figuring I was starting to build the level proper, that wasn't really applicable. So I moved my assets over to a new package more appropriately named, deleted assets no longer needed, and so on.

Obviously this messed up essential custom scripts, especially in regards to the player pawn, so I had to go trough all the affected scripts and change file paths. Then I tried to tidy up the scripts a bit so that it wouldn't be depending on so many scripts outside my game folder, but I ended up getting nowhere and had to revert back to square one. For some reason I can't get my own scripts to load my mesh, even when I follow tutorials which tell me how to do so. It works fine as it is, I just thought it would be nicer if it was cleaner set up, and mistakenly thought it would be an easy thing to do.

Anyway. Much time wasted and no progress made.

Also I made a rock.
I think my next step should be getting my own skybox in; I can't really get a proper sense of the colours until then.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

I slapped some colour on my whitebox today, mostly to test if the colours would work with my character and to see how the light works with my general colour schemes. 

I am pretty pleased with it, it's definitely something I can take further. 

Also finally finished my diffuse map. I've been picking away at it in bits and pieces over the past week, glad to see it done. It's not very detailed, the character is very small on the screen after all. I'm not sure it'll need normals, it has all the detailing in the diffuse. It'll probably need specs to control that gloss UDK slaps on it though. Ew. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

whitebox iteration 2

I spent a bit of today building a new whitebox according to the concept I painted last week, so that I could test the colours on it with the diffuse of the character. As I was testing it in UDK before putting colours on, I realised my scale is completely out of whack and started scaling and and tweaking and away went the day...

Now what I've got is a fourth the size of the corresponding area in the old whitebox, but it works much better scale-wise and there's a much better sense of location and where you are and such. I'll have to give the rest of the environment the same treatment, but it's not as important since those parts are mostly quite straight forward and have little verticality to them. 

I'll be the first to admit that last week was incredibly unproductive. I was threading water a lot, I have a lot of tasks that need finishing and I have a hard time settling down and giving any one task the attention it needs, and I was really just generally a bit burnt out with it all, I think. I'll just trudge on and try to break down and select my tasks better from here on. Better planning.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

I got bad with the blogging last week, as I felt (and still feel) there hasn't been much to blog about. But the longer I let it lay the worse picking it up the habit will be.

I've been working on the diffuse a bit. I'm using Photoshop and 3D Coat and switching back and forth between them. I've never proper used 3D coat before, but it's been very easy to get a handle on it. Especially the ability to seamlessly toss the texture back and forth between 3D Coat and Photoshop with no faff at all is just fantastic and super useful.

3D coat also has a functionality where you can export a screenshot from 3D Coat to Photoshop, paint on top of the screenshot in Photoshop, and then 3D Coat will take the screenshot and project your painting onto the model. I found it really helped me in the initial stage, especially for the face.

I had an initial pass at attempting to texture the character with watercolours, but it didn't work out very well. I will attempt emulating it digitally instead, once I've got the colours down.

I'm going to start building the tube station, so I've been trying to plan it, working on top of the whitebox. I realise that some spaces in the whitebox are just way too vast, like that cave, and I'm going to adjust it a bit. 

The main reason for my silence is that I'm working on a 16 page comic for a western anthology to be published back in my home country this summer. I needed to get two pages done by today and it sucked up a lot of my time, but from here on, I should be able to combine working on the two a lot more effectively. Here are a couple of panels.

- - - 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

the same picture over and over

After the feedback from Monday I've been working on trying to put together an image that describes what I want in terms of colour and layering in my level. This is very static, but it served my purpose well enough.

So I did this first but I wasn't entirely pleased with it. 

Receiving some feedback from Jolyon, we established that the vertical trees-thing I was trying to adopt from illustrators like Bauer is just not going to work very well. The character is also not sticking out enough against the backdrop.

He also told me to have a look at some concepts by Eran Hilleli for a side-scrolling game named Lady of the Sword, where depth is handled quite cleverly.

I grayscaled the concepts so that I'd have a better idea of what's going on without being tricked by hues.

The foreground elements have the highest amount of contrast, with elements having less and less contrast the further away they are. Backround elements further away are simply block colours only a few values lower than the sky colour. It's a neat way of achieving atmospheric perspective.

The middle ground where the player walks seems to be brighter than the fore- and background elements immediately close to it as well, especially where there are platforming elements. It's obviously important for the player to quickly know where to jump to.

Breaking this down really helped me get a grip on what was wrong with my own values. Here's the image completely desaturated. There's not a lot of variety in the foreground- and player path areas.

Especially the foreground is just looking really flat here.

I did a second pass, upping the contrast in the foreground grass layer and the path while desaturating all the tree layers. That's just a lot more depth already. 

Looking at this and being pretty pleased with it, I've laid down some guidelines for me to continue into further concepting. 

This is working a lot better in terms of depth. It doesn't address the composition-issues with the trees.

Even with just some really quick, flat colours overlayed, it works a lot better than my first pass.

One fun observation: When I designed the character I consciously tried to avoid gendering it because I wanted the player to sort of be able to identify regardless of gender. A thing I've noticed is that men talking about the character tend to refer to it as he, and girls tend to refer to it as she. It's not true 100% of the time but it happens often enough. I think that's really neat. 

Other than thaaat I've been working a bit on the character's diffuse. To be honest I feel like the past two days have been a bit unproductive and I'm not at my ideal level of activity. Boo hiss. 

Monday, 3 February 2014

Presentation day

We did progress presentations for the tutors today, I was really nervous and I started laughing a lot when it was finally my turn to do the presentation, probably because I'd sat dreading it for so long. It spun my head around a little. 

I painted these while waiting. 

One thing I realised after the feedback for the presentation, is that I have nothing to show people when I want to show them how I want the game to look like or explain the visual style. That's bad and I want to make something to fix that tomorrow.

After the presentations our tutor Mitch helped me with some UDK issues I was having and he also solved the whole "but how do I make my character the game pawn" issue in one fell swoop. So now the character is in the actual game, it plays the idle animation but otherwise is just static when moving. But apparently getting the animations to work right is simply a matter of making directional blendnodes in the animtree which are controlled by speed. Or something along those lines. 

Mitch also helped me remove the HUD, and with that, all my technical problems are gone for now and I can start focusing on pretty things.