PHASEgaming

Jason Pook's Games Design Blog


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Manic Moles- Studio Game Jam 2

Continuing on from the previous Game Jam (Plant Trap) our tutor decided to organise another game jam to once again give people the opportunity to gain extra credit. With this Game Jam my team was Me, Phil, Mark and Shane. The topic for this game jam was an application (mobile game) and we have to have 1 main character, 1 main mechanic and 1 environment. We could do this however we liked to build any game we wanted along as it tailored to these categories. To begin the design process as always we planned our what makes a good game. We went down the route of mobile games being addictive, fun to play and easy to pick up. Due to this we collectively thought of examples of games on our phones:

  • Flappy Bird
  • Bloons: Tower Defense
  • Paper Toss
  • Angry Birds

These are just a couple of examples, from this we determined that animals in games birds and monkeys etc. So from that we tried to list as many animals as we could that potentially had or hadn’t been done. From this we narrowed it down to a Mole, obviously games like Whack-a-mole are in existence but we could do our own game with a mole character. From this somehow we decided it would be fun to make him a funky disco mole with huge sunglasses and an Afro who has friendly disco moles and rival gang moles trying to sabotage his funky life. Alongside other moles trying to sabotage his mole hill we looked into common predators for moles, this came back with snakes so another enemy designed was a snake. Then to gain a life we had what moles like to eat which is worms once you collected enough worms you gained a life. My personal involvement in this project was in 3D and HUD, I designed the main character also known as “Molevin” it was a really simple design but could be edited and re-textured to create other characters. Which is what I turned Molevin into the enemy character who had different attire wearing a vest and a top hat with a flower in, then for a boss I scaled it up added a bandanna, match in his mouth and a bomb in hand with gloves on. Simply by reusing and editing the initial main character I created 3 characters for in game use good, bad and boss. I also created a tree stump that i projection painted using a mudbox preset to be used for the environment which wasn’t implemented in the end due to it being a unnecessary obstacle on a small environment game but it was used in the Game Over screen to add a visual. The environment is a field and the mole sits in the middle in what was supposed to be a mole hill but its more of a ditch at the moment. It has randomly place assets of grass and stones in the level just to add to the visuals.

This is my work for the HUD designs, using Photoshop to create simple circle icons, i took images of the characters to link it directly to the game, good guy is people saved, worms are lives, and the enemies are how many you have killed throughout the game. Very simple icons but still useful for covering the HUD elements in the game and also with it being a mobile game we didn’t want too much going on to get in the way of the game so small simple icons were effective in avoiding too much distraction from the game.

Here is the in game screenshots of the working HUD and game with my characters in. The menu system, game over and leaderboard design was made by Mark using the custom typeface we created by using a paint brush to go the font on paper then scan them in to be textured on the signposts. Mark used assets from all team members to piece together the menus, start featured everything, game over features the bad guys to symbolise they won and you lost, then the leaderboard was just visual models like grass, rocks and tree stumps. This game I had quite a prominent role in the modelling due to my increased skills over the year and primarily being the more advanced modeler in my group. As for HUD designs I was pleased with my products as they was simplistic but worked well with the theme of the product. As for the game to evaluate it we was very pleased with the end product it was fun and addictive players had to click (or tap for mobile which didn’t work) the enemies to kill them (1 for standard enemy and 2 for the snake). This racked up your score for kills and the aim was to last as long as possible as move and move waves of good and bad characters came into the level at varied speeds and difficulty as it progressed. Only disappointment I had was that my boss character never got time to be implemented but like the other game jams if we had time to progress we would implement a boss level for example. This was my personal favourite of all the game jams as i liked the style of game we had created. I’m looking forward to next next game jam which is in Cambridge Jun 2015.

Here is the video footage of game play from Mark Shaw’s YouTube channel:


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Client Project Session 16/17

Through illness I missed one client session but have been informed by fellow students on the goings on of the project. In session 16 (my absent session) the group held a group critique so that we could evaluate if the new formed pipeline and sub-teams are working more effectively than the process we was following previously. From what ive been told much higher quality work and amount has been produced since the formation of this pipeline. This pleases me greatly as the method of industry practice that we have implemented has worked and collaboratively we are now showing that we can work as a team effeciently. For the rest of that session everybody continued with the work already tasked to them after Phil had introduced to the group the research on PBR (Physical Based Rendering), with a little bit of research we realised that UE4 our engine is a PBR engine, therefore all the texturing we have currently done is not going to be the standard it could be if we did PBR methods.

PBR basically deals with light naturally like it is in real life, the most common maps to use are diffuse/albedo and gloss then you can apply normals and so on. Basically with PBR there is no need to adjust brightness/darkness on your textures for different lighting in engine it is one texture that works for all the albedo map has no lighting information on it so its all calculated in engine. It the latest exciting thing in games that is currently being used in next gen games such as RYSE and Dragon Age Inquisiton.

PBR is briefly explained here:

Then an example of how amazing PBR can be is demonstarted in Quixel’s Demo Reel here:

A brief glimpse there of the types of maps all used just to make a incredibly realistic leaf. If we want our project to look and feel real we have to really look into this and learn the tips and tricks behind pulling it off for the project. I found this demo reel after a bit of PBR research one night and then showed it to the group, it just proves how amazing the detail can be all in texturing we just need to knuckle down and work it out to maximise the potential of our work. This project using PBR could we a fantastic porfolio piece, so this is now the art teams main focus.

Moving on to session 17, I return still not 100% but I dont like being off. The begin the session Phil had been showing me his progress on a portion of the street he was remodelling from semester 1 which he had now included shop interiors, this had been discussed earlier on in the year but never materialised. Now to show what it would look like and how it would be done Phil showed his work to the group and we delivered a group meeting based on interior design for the buildings. We stated this would not be applicable for all the buildings as we may be trying to run before we can walk but certainly for certain shops that we can show off 60s fashion, music and culture this oppurtunity shouldnt be passed up. This means more work for me and my 3D team but it will be beneifical for the project, one of the feedback notes we was given for the project at Hand in is that the shops dont look realistic when looked at because of the shop fronts/ windows by modelling a simple interior (possibly inaccessable) it creates a more naturalistic feel to the project that will further immerse the public in our work.

We then proposed to the group to do a section of the project each for my 3d team. By doing this models should all meet up correctly, be to scale, and having multiple buildings produced side by side by yourself will be great for a porfolio piece. The street i chose to take was Silver Street (Right side) this was because i currently have wetherspoons on trinity house land which goes round the corner onto that side of Silver Street so its only logicial to continue with that area. The street section chosen by each person will require them to model interiors (where applicable and approved by myself) and all assets related to that area of the street. For example if my street has a flower shop, that would require me to model flower shop related assets such as a flowers in a vase to go in the shop window.

After this i had a little talk with Paul my tutor, he expressed he is pleased with the groups advancement and focus since the return but as team leaders myself, Phil and James need to keep a close eye on who isnt working enough. To tackle this Paul proposed we set weekly tasks to the individuals in our team to complete by the next client session, this will make sure people have a sense of deadlines and produce the work. Now as a leader i have to dicuss with my individuals what they think for them is achievable in that period of time. I explained to each one of them this will be a trial and error thing what do they think they can do in a week and what they actually can do, so one week i may realise that as Viktor has sculpted a statue by friday instead of tuesday is that he has been under tasked so in coming weeks a balance can be formed to how much they can do. Its a test to show that those that might not always be in fifth gear if they complete an amount of work then underachieve in the following weeks they should be working harder as i know they can.

Alongside this obviously i have to task myself some work to do. Currently im working on wetherspoons on trinity house lane and my new tasked street is Silver Street’s right hand side.

This will be very helpful for the speed of the project, the sooner we get the streets done the more time we have to fine tune and improve every aspect of our work. With 9 weeks left times running out for us but we can do it.


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Development Diary- Hellblade

HellBlade_Teaser_Screenshot_05

I was just checking up on latest game progression and news on my phone when i came across a game in production called Hellblade. In this brief article was a video attached which showed some amazing work for such a small team showing me personally some of the skillets required for industry, and how broad knowledge can help a pipeline massively.

This game is also being made in Unreal Engine 4, the engine we are using for both our client and my self initiated work. The part what amazed me was the blueprint scripting for naturalistic blends of assets in environments which are a combination of photographs and textures to create high detail that of which matches what you’d expect in a AAA game and allowed multiple duplication’s of the same asset to be used without breaking immersion being unnatural.

“We’re not  competing on scale, therefore you have to compete on being different. Hellblade has to be unique, something you wouldn’t be getting in a big budget AAA experience.”

Here is the video:

This gave an insight into how to work in small teams to accomplish big things, the ability to adapt workflow habits to enhance production and collaboration, and ways in unreal engine we have not yet experimented with to create amazing aesthetics.

To my surprise this was the 8th part of a development diary from developers Ninja Theory according to Loadthegame it the best look at the game so far.

They go on to speak about character development in enemies and how simple adjustments in software with slight alterations in textures can create an array of different characters quickly and efficiently. The use of silhouettes to prototype different shapes and deformations of the body allowed a character designer to modify the base character add assets like helmets to create what appears to be a completely different design. A very clever pipeline is being created here are Ninja Theory despite the small team as quoted above they are achieving alot more than expected not on a AAA budget.

The idea of time distortion and using perspectives in both combat and world to create visuals and illusion (illinx) was one that could give them the edge using a different idea to compete with the AAA budget they dont have with a small team.

This gives hope to us who may want to go into indie developing as with alot of work and research that we can achieve high quality AAA standard work with just 1 artist like they have done.

The idea of the development diary id like to implement into my own work for my self initiated, with a development diary it shows my unique way of a design process which can be used or changed to create a solid process of producing work. It also gives proof that my work is not a one off and actual thought has gone into the work I produce.

Id like to thank Ninja Theory for this video as its a great example to people like myself as a Games Design student on how to work in a industry pipeline, create multiple iterations of work, design and develop work from start to finish and delve into new ways of working. I will now watch there other development diaries to see what I have missed.


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Client Project- Hand In

It came around alot faster than expected but we have now handed in for the client project. Despite a recently blog on my christmas and session 13 work we was given a slight extension to our initial Tuesday hand in to the Friday due to some engine issues that with slight extra time would be implemented, also a lack of textures from most people was still to come in so we was grateful for the extra time. Despite that by now we should be tuned to deadlines having them done before the actual day so any fine tweaks can be made with little panic.

With this slight extension it gave me some room to do some more work. I could have gone many ways to add to my work like texturing my car but I realised this process may need slightly longer and not to be rushed. So instead I re-addressed my textures from the whole process going back to my first buildings to improve the general look.

When I went back to look at some of my early unwraps and textures it shocked me how far i have come in advancing my unwrapping and texturing skills. With some quick tweaks to early unwraps without redoing it all i made some more room for larger uv’s which means higher quality. One thing in particular lacking from some early buildings was that of doors and windows, early on we mentioned the idea of multi subbing windows to give a realistic reflection and look to the buildings but to do this we needed an interior otherwise you just see emptiness behind your building. I decided for now to apply some simple window textures which isnt as realistic but at least its not seethrough glass or a grey untextured area. Then for the doors most of my buildings are shops and with our setting being night time i just applied some shutters so imply its closed and locked up.

Here are my hand in buildings:

I was pleased with the outcomes of m&s, poundland and parliament street building probably because they are my later buildings to be textured i had a bit more knowledge to improve my work. With the other 3 being basic buildings not much could be done but correct stiching unwrapping has been done so cannot complain much just needs a bit of work. There was a minor issue with the windows on crawshaws they look very washed out and white also the bottom windows have some random shapes on them, im yet to figure out why this is its probably a quick fix once i figure it out though.

Overall very pleased with my extra work done in the additional time and feel i am improving on the texturing with each piece of work i do. Next is to tackle unwrapping and texturing the cars for the level, this may take alot of time but it will get there and make me a better worker for it.


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Client Project- Christmas and Session 13

At the end of the previous session we discussed what we would be doing over the christmas period running up to hand in. Using Basecamp we set priorities in the form of to-dos some specified to individuals for example myself i had to blueprint pawn possession, or general to-dos for everybody like finish all building textures. This was made very clear before the holiday and the use of basecamp and communication was mentioned prior to that aswell as vital over the holiday period. This was evident due to basecamps tracking of log ins half the group didnt use the program at all and few used it regulary, this picked up when reminded but it should be a habit by now to be keeping well involved with all the work making sure your not missing one bit. That being said we reiterated it on return hoping for a collective group to be working professionally using the likes of basecamp on a regular basis.

Over the holiday period most had to admit little had been done or more could have been done, I myself know i did do work but could have done more if I had only special occasions off. Despite that I have managed to texture 5 of my 6 buildings after finishing the parliament street building model with the last texture in progress , my blogs are current in the client. Since return I have modelled an interior for the classic mini, blueprinted Pawn possession (with assisstance from Phil for the exiting of the vehicle which took a while and 2 heads to figure out), and most recently to much joy I have managed to correctly rig, weight paint, animate and blueprint my mini to be driveable in engine. I will now elaborate on my process for each of these with images.

As far as textures go most i have already uploaded so ill just show the most recent, which is a model im also yet to show.

 

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This is a building down parliament street, I chose it as I know modelling is one of my strong points so I felt a more difficult looking building would be better tasked to myself. I had some issues along the way despite that the making of the bottom half was the hardest part with the extruded sandy parts needing different sizes each time and to bend around the window. I am very pleased with my final product of the model and doing such a detailed building in 2781 polys when a high detail building was originally tasked at 20000, shows im getting better at modularity and having an eye for optimising my model.

parliament_textureThe texture i was very pleased with, I used simple planar mapping for most of the unwrap then just a few cases of needing to grab verticies to not have stretches around stiched corners and then just scaling so that the checker pattern created nice neat squares across each area. The changes i will make to this will be the bottom section, the stone part was a basic tileable stone texture that I have hand painted it to make it look like bricks, but after some digging a stone texture like that of the original building was found so its just needs applying. There is a slight issue with the bricks on the left window they skew a bit I wasnt sure on why this was at the time so i continued with the unwrap and when I textured it I forgot about that being left. This needs patching up once I find out why its done this but shouldnt be too much hassle hopefully. Next is to apply normal maps to my buildings to create more realistic textures.

Moving on I modelled an interior for my classic mini using my own reference and just reference from classic mini online stores for accuracy.

With this interior modelled we can now have the in car view for the classic mini not only for people walking past to see a interior but for the pawn possession feature we can drive this in first person view. Im really happy with my end result for the interior all that is left for the car now is to be textured. Im not sure ill have time for this before hand in but certainly will be a definate for the end product.

Now to have all this used to its max I was tasked with the pawn possession feature for interactivity which would be done in blueprints. This is a slight alteration of my initial idea early on of a racing game due to the figure of 8 on the map but i wanted to be involved especially when they are my vehicles in the project. Being fairly efficient in blueprints this was a task i felt confident in completing using the help of online tutorials and ue4 answer hub. Now this was the case i had it all working then realised that we need to get out once we are in. This was proving more difficult as the player would spawn back at player start instead of outside the car. Also spawing the player inside the car in view for 3rd person example purposes made 2 collisions collide and send everything absolutely mental.

With the addition help from Phil it took us most of the day but we finally figured out how to get them in and out of the car. After celebrating we then realised we can get out and in at anytime from anywhere. Simple fix of a radius overlap on collision enabling the key press to enter, then the exit the player could just bail tuck and roll at anytime like GTA. We didnt want this so again took time to work out how to calculate it to only be exitable when throttle is less than 1. This was completed by the end of the day and we now have a working pawn possession in our project to add to interactivity.

But to make this our own personal touch rather than Unreal Engine 4’s preset sedan vehicle in our game which didnt match the 60s theme at all, I was then challenged with the unknown area of rigging a vehicle for it to then work in Ue4 with our pawn possession. Im going to be straight I did this process over and over so many times due to issues with bones, not weight painting it right, UE4 claiming un-weighted bones, wrong hierachy for the bones. And that was just 3DSMax issues, when i got all the max issues resolved I put it in UE4 for animation blueprints not to fire, car controls not to work, the car to have everything set up and stay stationary, physics assets not correctly set up, the sedan to be clashing with the custom vehicle blueprints and setting up the front and back wheel blueprints wrong having all wheels rotating manicly. It was a laugh but i can now say ive done it that many times through trail and error the process has been memorised and hopefully mastered for future use. It was such a relief to see car wheels spinning after hours of stress and frustration on why it all was going wrong for me. Persistance got me there and now im proud to have the vehicle able to be possessed and driveable. Additional animation will need to be taken into consideration due to the interior view like the steering wheel with hands, gear changes, dials etc but for now it works to a standard im pleased with for a rookie in the rigging area.

Here are some screenshots of the process in 3dsMax:

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Then moving into UE4:

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Despite this lengthy process it was well worth me sticking to it, not only for end product for the client but this will also help me in my self initiated racing game.

On reflection im pleased with the work that I have done but would have liked more done over the holidays to have a larger amount of especially assets to hand in. Due to the complexity of cars its not a botch quick job it takes time and with focusing on them in client and self initiated i think i need a break to rapidly produce smaller assets for the project.

As for the hand in, Myself and Phil will be making the modular road system again due to some slight measurement miscalculations and then texturing that ready for hand in. Hopefully we will have a collective textured section of our project which is the primary target. We already covered the interactivity side with a treasure hunt, involving pick ups, inventory system, gate and key system, driveable car (pawn possession), throwable object projectiles, and then a basic HUD with minimap and inventory system. My contribution to this was the pawn possession due to my main skillsets being in modelling and Phil taking the lead on the blueprints side of things.

Hopefully everybody does manage to get everything tasked on basecamp done within prioritising so buildings modelled and textured the priority then all the rest being added bonus. I look forward to our feedback as i know we should be alot further ahead and hopefully the group steps up to really get the best out of our client piece for the final product.

EDIT: I have now resolve the brick skewing issue it was a mistake on my behalf aligning some verticies horizontally that shouldnt have been, really simple fix thankfully.

texture fix