Studio One, Week Eight

This week has seen a slow in our project progress because of a submission outside the studio unit as well as preparation for an upcoming studio presentation. The presentation is to be given to the games students as we are to collaborate. I am quite excited for this collaboration as there is the possibility of bringing our combined creation into VR.

Apart from preparing our presentation,  I have been tidying my assets, with help from group lead to get them green-lit. During studio sessions in the last couple of weeks we have had feedback regarding poly count. While modelling is not something I wish to specialise in and is something I still feel a slight disdain for, I wish to improve my skills. I have found it difficult to keep my model “clean” while modelling and reducing the number of polygons is quite tricky. It is hard to retrospectively augment a model which has issues.

As my knowledge grows it becomes easier to see where problems will arise down the road. however I feel I know just enough sometimes to know that I have not modelled something the most optimal method, without knowing exactly what the most optimal method would entail. My intention is to immerse myself in more modelling tutorials.

This week I have had the opportunity to discuss options for my learning pathway and how this can be tailored towards my goals in terms of my future role in the creative industries. Having the opportunity to create a video game environment has helped me to clarify what I would like my goals  to be. I have very much enjoyed the process so far, and the studio scenario has strengthened my liking towards a career in the video game industry.I have been given information this week about what would be involved in being a games artist.

From what I can gather a games artist is more useful when having multiple skills, whilst still specialising within their own skill set. At this point in time a combination of concept art, modelling and texturing seems like a skill set I would like to develop as far as possible. I know that out of the three skills I am far more interested in concept art and texturing , and this has not changed  since the beginning of our studio project.

I will keep these things in mind as the project continues.

 

 

 

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Studio One, Week Seven

After week 6,  I have started modelling and continue to study up on texturing and plan how our specific project will be textured.  I am also receiving help with my modelling to improve efficiency. I am thankful for this as I know I will be able to concentrate on texturing. the models i now am in charge off are mostly modelled but need refinement and tidying. I have received tips and help with ensuring my models are ngon free. I have learnt that when creating quads and tris to remove ngons it’s always best to use the vertices which already exist. Part way through modelling I have realised that it is best not to attach elements, and so when modelling my hatch I have used the pro-boolean tool to combine the base of the hinge with the main body of the hatch. The pro-boolean tool proves quite useful as using the union option, extra edges are created instead of having an object which is simply pushed into another as you would have with the attach tool. I have also played around with other setting within pro-Boolean such as subtract. I have noticed that the topology is not ideal but it is a quick method to achieve desired shapes.

Problem solving within 3ds max in the past few weeks has proven tedious however I have had moments that I am pleased with ideas that are simple but help efficiency. A perfect example is modelling one of my assets, a curved  table for placing monitors. The table is butted against the curved wall in our biosphere space and to ensure the length and curvature to be correct for a snug and correct fit  have modelled from a copy of the wall. Copying and scaling, I then modelled knowing the back fits our space.

In terms of texturing i have been putting into practice the decisions made regarding such practicalities as the texel density which we will use. Looking into the matter, this is something which varies from project to project, with no real one standard. It seems sensible to start with a density higher to anything we will reasonably use, which we can export and reduce later as needed. Considering what we are aiming to accomplish I am starting our textures at 2048 x 2048. At this stage I have been experimenting with various base textures, mostly for architectural surfaces. Our generic base concrete texture has been made seamless, and has been redone from scratch as the first version did not fit within the style we are aiming for. Now that I am satisfied I have been brushing up on how to create the other maps needed for texturing beyond the diffuse. Playing around with levels I have tweaked the concrete texture to a point I am happy with and have moved on, several textures are currently being adjusted (base textures and decals).

caution-sticker-v1
(wyld,2016). Caution sticker decal.
concrete-v1
(wyld,2016). Concrete base texture Version 2.
concrete-v2
(Wyld,2016). Concrete base texture version 2.
metal-v1
(Wyld,2016). Metal and warning strip version 1.

 

 

References

Wyld, A.(2016). Exo (working title). Caution sticker decal.

Wyld, A.(2016). Exo (working title). Concrete base texture version 1.

Wyld, A.(2016). Exo (working title). Concrete base texture version 2.

Wyld, A.(2016). Exo (working title). Metal and warning strip version 1 .

Studio One, Week Six

After finishing the art style guide and environment map, I must turn my attention to my assigned model sheets. There is a change in my priorities. I would have liked to had more time to design my model sheets however as art style arbiter I have also been assigned the job of finalising the schematic design of  our environment through the environment map as well as the art style guide. These are both necessary components in the pre-production phase.

I have learnt that it is best to ensure that communications and resulting decisions made are factored into adjustments of written task management, for example gantt chart. It is easy for decisions and conversations to be left behind along the way if you are not in direct control of such documents.

These tasks have taken priority in my schedule. Unfortunately the art style guide has taken a large chunk of time,  in order to develop our intended aesthetic and style. I had been communicating with group lead and had been instructed to take this and the environment as priority. The environment had gone through many iterations as it was critiqued and refined during studio, with feedback being considered during the creation of the following version.

While there has been much back and forth between myself and team lead, with a change to my assigned priority tasks, this had not been factored when it came to the gantt chart.

Moving on from this, I am working to complete my model sheets as quickly as possible. It currently looks as though I may need to rely on concept sketches I have made if we are to move on to the production phase and model.

While doing my model sheets I also have a few assigned tasks. One of these small tasks is brainstorming names for the fictional corporation which features in our game idea. Some examples of names which do not exist as yet as companies are Lumos Corp, Oracle 5 Labs, Tritium X Corp. The one which I am leaning towards however is Xentium Laboratories. I have also searched for fonts which can be used in our project as public domain. It has been narrowed and I will be using a font called “Furore” (Dunham, 2016). With the name and font I have created a fictional logo. During my research phase I have noticed that game environments often have these small details to allow the space to feel tailor and believable rather than generic.

prp_Logo_Xentium Laboratories_AlexW_V02
(Wyld, 2016). Xenium Laboratories Fictional Logo.)

 

 

References

 

Dunham, E. (2009). Furore font free by Jovanny Lemonad. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from https://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/furore

 

Wyld,A (2016). Exo (Working title). Exo style guide.

 

Studio One, Week Five

This past week has seen the overhaul of our main asset, the biosphere. We have worked to develop and refine this asset and after much discussion and planning are happy with the design. Post Friday studio this asset has moved into the modelling phase. The overall concept of the biosphere remains the same despite  a reworking of the design.

The process of redesigning the biosphere to bring it into the production phase has proven quite tedious. Collaboration between the three group members has been quite smooth however the hypothetical functions of our biosphere within the context of our environment design has prompted changes to the access (via hatch), the placement of the bio-pod within as well the general design choices which indicate the functions of the object. Two elements have helped in the decision making process.

The first of these if the fleshing out of a style cheat sheet which helped in making choices that are congruent to our overall scheme. This is something which was complete prior to Friday studio and was available as an aesthetic reference. An example of its usefulness is in the process of assigning materials to the biosphere asset. With an established palette the decisions came quite naturally. As art style arbiter I have been given responsibility in ensuring that all aspects of the environment design are congruent to each other and communicate our desired art aesthetic. When asked by my group members for input on the matter I am glad for the process of deciding clear art style rules.

The second component which helped in the process was an understanding of the video game environments context through story and the purpose of the environment within the games narrative. This is something which we have spent much energy refining. The decision by our group leader to spend more time on such aspects of planning is something which has allowed such tasks as asset design easier.

Moving on from week 5 my next assigned tasks will be to model the bio-pod and biosphere hatch as well as begin to create our base material textures (predominantly concrete and metal).

Exo Art Style Guide
(Wyld,2016). Exo style guide.

 

References

Wyld,A (2016). Exo (Working title). Exo style guide.

 

 

Studio One, Week Four

After last week’s feedback and our new plan of action for the rest of the pre-production phase I have now been assigned the task of pushing forward with the EM, which we will then work further on within the group.

After more consideration it has been decided that the environment design will be broken down into three sections. This is part of our planning to maximise the result of the final product if the scope has to be reduced due to time restraint. The three sections we have decided upon are the Biosphere (To have priority), Lab space (to be next in line for priority) and Observation room (last for priority). These type of decisions made within our planning phase have helped create a strategy which reduces uncertainty. Our group leader has decided that planning will extend till the end of week 4.

Something which has been underlined during our studio time is that there is flexibility to the planning timeframe but it is crucial to consider that the more detail to planning the easier the work will be later in the pipeline. This can be a daunting idea at first, but there has been satisfaction in the group from the successes we have had in progressing and sculpting our own game plan.

In terms of the environment map progression, I have again looked into some videogame maps to inform our design. Examples which stand out are Portal 2 (Valve,2016) and Bioshock (2k Games, 2016) which both are capable of influencing the experience of the game story with its well-constructed spaces.

bioshock-map-design
2k Games, 2016. Bioshock Game Map.
portal-2-map-design
Valve, 2016. Portal 2 environment.

It has been useful to look over these videogame industry examples after further development of our art-bible and design intent. Believability and atmosphere are two aspects that seem to require much consideration and conscious thought.

I have used this research to assist in fixing the circulation and spatial problems in the Environment Map. It has greatly helped when I ask whether the space would make sense to a player moving around within the finished environment. The major change has come from the placement of the security checkpoint. This has dramatically altered the nature of the different spaces, and helped in determining the 3 sections we had decided.

After our allocation of the 3 individual spaces it has also become clear that much of our focus shall be on the Biosphere asset, and will be the main feature to the environment. While the grand scale has already been determined much of our planning has been deciding how to implement the object in terms of floor and ceiling heights etc.

Using the EM, the entirety of the environment will be blocked out in 3D, from here we can use the resultant model to determine the adjustments needed, especially in regards to the biosphere.

prp_EMConcept_P01_AlexW_V3.jpg
Wyld, 2016. Environmental Map Design

References

BioShock the collection on 2K.com. (2016). Retrieved September 29, 2016, from https://www.2k.com/games/bioshock-the-collection

Corporation, V. (2016). Valve. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.valvesoftware.com/games/

Wyld, A. (2016). Exo (working title). Environmental Map Design.

Studio One, Week Three

 Week 3 has had a focus on finalising the documentation and planning of our project in order to move out of the pre-production phase. The progress has been substantial but has required us to revisit the asset list, which has already had many iterations. Our group leader I find has handled this well and has made multiple difficult decisions based on our group discussions.

While the pre-production process has been frustrating in terms of planning and pragmatics, I have thoroughly enjoyed the satisfaction of accomplishing tasks and solving problems in a group. Examples of this include solving design problems in development of the Environment maps and collaboration to create concept designs which are congruent. I have found that small victories have provided much needed motivation.

During the course of the week, moving towards our art bible goals I have focused greatly on completing moodboards, and my chunk of the concept sketches. A question which has been posed at this stage before the production phase has even begun is how we wish to tackle the creation of our environment in the modelling and texturing phase. We are in the process of fully understanding the implications of modular Vs non modular design. From what we can see a blend of the two would be ideal but the difficulty is in deciding the perfect ratio. Something we have learnt is that the asset list feeds directly into the modular Vs non modular project structure.

Currently we are figuring out to what extent we will have a modular work flow. The nature of our environment is one which is clean and fairly minimal, but must also be passable as a research facililty. To be convincing our design must reflect the consideration of real-life examples of lab/military research buildings.

During studio we have had a lengthy feedback session where our design was scrutinised and many flaws uncovered. While we are still aiming for the same atmosphere and style, and are happy with our concept development, the spatial design and pragmatics of the environment needs plenty of reworking. This will also mean further iterations of the asset list.

One crucial thing I have learnt is to let go of ideas which I have grown attached to once their usefulness has expired. Two examples of this has occurred in our last feedback session. One is the security checkpoint I have already designed and imagined within the space. The other is a security door which I had imagined as grand in scale, which now needs to be resized, and further designed.

Our new plan of action as discussed within the group and given the go ahead by our group leader is to further develop several options for our EM layouts. After this we will develop one option further to the goal of a refined space which can be blocked out in 3D. It has also been decided that from our EM we can determine what assets as well as how many assets will be needed. From this point we can make an informed plan towards our hybrid modular/non modular work flow, with this determining our asset list.

alexw_asst1_prp_concept_rawscan_isosketch
Wyld, 2016. Isometric Environment Sketch.
prp_security-door_concepts_scanp07_alexw_v02
Wyld, 2016. Security door concept sketch.

References

Wyld, A. (2016). Exo (working title). Isometric environment sketch.

Wyld, A. (2016). Exo (working title). Security door concept sketch.

Studio One, Week Two

Thursday, 22nd September

After this week’s first environment design group presentations we have received a chunk of useful advice. This included a prompt to consider the reasoning and justification when making decisions about our environment design. The biggest thing I have taken from the feedback is the necessity to develop a strong treatment and narrative as well as taking the effort to become informed with the necessary so that we can make better decisions after the production process and create a believable and consistent environment. It has become obvious that a finished product needs to have elements which are congruent with the subject matter which inspired it.

My first port of call has been to look into these sources which were suggested for reference:

  • Half-life (Valve, 2016) for environment map, security implementation and the concept that a player works their way from the depths of the facility and back towards the entrance.
  • Bio-shock (2k games, 2016) for its architectural design.
  • And adrift (505 games, 2016) for its overall environment atmosphere.

 

I am still in the process of looking into these videogame examples.

 

All these things considered I feel that the pre- production stage will need to be handled delicately. In my in-experience I think that the project could be over whelming if not planned well. In the days that have followed the presentation our group (which has been tentatively named the brown coats) has spent a lot of time trying to work out the crucial details we need quickly. This has meant the creation of all our documentation and a focus on working out the details of the narrative and the schematic layout of the space we will design.

 

This has involved treatment, story and lore development, mood boards, rough environment maps and sketches. We are aiming to complete the narrative and environment maps in the coming week. Due to our newness to our in-experience and will negotiate the time spent on concept development and model sheets to fine the balance between moving onto production as quickly as possible and not allowing a drop in quality.

 

References

Corporation, V. (2016). Valve. Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://www.valvesoftware.com/games/hl2.html

BioShock the collection on 2K.com. (2016). Retrieved September 29, 2016, from https://www.2k.com/games/bioshock-the-collection

ADR1FT. Retrieved September 29, 2016, from All, http://www.505games.com/games/adr1ft