Category: Ekow

Upgrade – Final Animation

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Upgrade – Environment Final Evaluation

Planning and production process

From the beginning I had a strong idea of what my 3D environment would look like. I knew what I wanted to include, and what I wanted the environment to feel like, however the layout and the exact content of the level remained a mystery. To help me discover the basic structure I experimented with a few different layouts in Cinema 4D, eventually going with this:

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 15.47.13

A basic indoor environment with enough room to manoeuvre the character, but compact enough to facilitate elements of platforming. I knew I wanted an indoor industrial facility, and from this basic layout I developed it into a loading-bay/warehouse.                                                        Every large new addition to the environment was saved as a separate file so that I had access to a history of development stages, named Upgrade 1, Upgrade 2, Upgrade 3 etc.

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Adding more detail and objects layer by layer the environment began to look more fleshed-out The production process continued like this right up until I started to focus on gameplay elements. This is when my focus shifted onto level design.

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I wanted my environment to be beliveable as a game environment, and the addition of items and objects such as explosive barrels and health chargers really brings the game feel forward, as for gamers these are all concepts were are familiar with.                                                                               Unfortunately as far as level design, I didn’t manage to create the look  and feel of movement through the environment that I wanted.

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The later stages of the environment revolved around creating a harmony between colours. The biggest problem I faced here was not letting everything blend into a dull grey mess. One of the disadvantages of indoor environments with multiple light sources is that its very difficult for shadows to create any strong definition of geometry, the answer to this was making objects contrast each other in colour, and ultimately ambient occlusion.

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With the environment almost finished it was time to finalise the lighting setup. For this environment, I utilised a global ambient light to create a soft illumination, and then added spotlights casting shadows to bring depth and believability.

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The use of the virtual camera was simple and basic, and it suited my needs well enough. The camera was pointed in the right direction and then simply ran across the spline. Same process with the Drone.

Final 2

The final rendition of the environment adds extra details and elements, but also reworks some of the textures to reflect light and objects giving the look of a polished floor. The spotlights illuminating the floor and glowing LEDs dotted around brings the environment to life.

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These are the render settings I ended up going with. As you can see, there isn’t anything particularly demanding enabled, so a single frame render only takes around 20-30 seconds. The object glow is necessary for the glowing materials, and the colour correction helps add a little something extra. I added some saturation and contrast to the colours to help achieve that blueish light look.

The output settings for my animations are a series of .tif files rendered at 1920 x 1080.

Creative ability and technical ability

I feel that my game expresses creative flair through it’s visual style and design. I was able to envision my enviroment well enough and put it into production with the confidence I knew that the final product would look like.

However, it’s not to the standard I would have liked. When I started my environment I was in no way as skilled with C4D as I am currently, and to keep a consistent style everything I’ve done since has to be to the same poorer quality standard.

This environment was created using a number of extremely simply techniques, mostly extrude, move and bevel. As the environment and style was so simple, I couldn’t find an opportunity to exercise any advanced techniques, so I didn’t have any trouble creating the environment on a technical level. The hardest part was probably creating the pipes using splines and the bezier tool.

Time Management 

I had run into numerous problems regarding time management, mainly due to rendering time. I had to render my environment up until the very last week due to myself not anticipating how long it would take, and because I was without an external hardrive for most of the time, using Google Drive meant long and slow upload/download times when switching to different machines.

Opportunities and Limitations

The greatest opportunity from this brief was of course, the freedom of choice in what we were able to create. Having that sort of freedom means I was able to pick an idea and just run with it, slowly building it up as I progressed through the course.

Limitations came in the form of deadlines. Were it not for the deadline, I think I would have been able to expand my environment far more, and included particle effects, more animations and sound effects.

The greatest limitation however was the rendering time, and as a I had to reduce the quality of the final renders. I had achieved my goal of rendering at 30fps at 1080p, but given the opportunity I would have liked to utilise more rendering settings and shaders.

Finished product

The finished product is satisfactory. I feel the environment represents my original intentions and concepts well, as the environment maintains a strong and unique style throughout.                                                                           The objects and scenery are low-polygon as to boost rendering time, and to practice modelling techniques that are required to render objects in real-time.

The environment is suitable for my target audience, as it contains no blood, gore, discrimination of violence.

 

 

 

Upgrade – Environment Progress II

It’s been a while since the last update on my 3D environment, and I want to go over a few things I might have missed. Better safe than sorry.

My environment is finished. Unfortunately it’s not to the standard I would have liked. When I started my environment I was in no way as skilled with C4D as I am now, and to keep a consistent style everything I’ve done since has to be to the same, no so good standard.

Final 2

Final 3

Final 1

The style and overall feel of the environment has changed slightly. I’m using a system of ambient lighting to illuminate the whole environment at once, and then adding spotlights to add some believability.

The texture of the floor is slightly reflective to give a look of a clean and polished environment, and the ambient occlusion adds definition and depth where the ambient lighting setting cant.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 11.14.58

These are the render settings I ended up going with. As you can see, there isn’t anything particularly demanding enabled, so a single frame render only takes around 20-30 seconds. The object glow is necessary for the glowing materials, and the colour correction helps add a little something extra. I added some saturation and contrast to the colours to help achieve that blueish light look.

I experimented with global illumination initially (as seen on Upgrade – Environment Progress I), however without the presence of a physical sky or any dominant light source I found it to produce very little difference. Certainly not worth it considering how long it took to render.

Finally, the output settings for my animations are a series of .tif files rendered at 1920 x 1080.

Graphics Production

From the concept art I posted previously, I have been tasked to produce polished, finalised digital graphics. I shall show the original ‘art’ alongside their finished, 3D counterparts and explain any techniques I used to create them.


UNIT 07

We’ll start off with the big one, the model that best represents my ability with Cinema 4D.

Original Concept:

Upgrade Concept Unit

Final Graphics:

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 12.20.32

The production for this behemoth encompasses everything I’ve learned thus far.

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This is the main body of the model. I’ve tried to use as least objects as possible to create the geometry, and instead ‘sculpted’ the shapes I need out of a single primitive. Initially I started with a cube, but slowly extruded and pulled my desired shape into form.

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Eventually I was of course required to shape more primitives into the extra details I needed. I utilised symmetry a lot to save time but it also helps with the modelling process. Seeing how something is displayed on the opposite side instantly helped me a lot with the spacing and positioning of the fins on it’s back.

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Finally my main character was taking shape. For the main shoulder parts I had shaped a cube into the basic shape, and then used the bevel tool to create a smooth shape on the outside. I also used the bevel tool to achieve the look of the joins. The small hydraulic systems near the end of the arm are cylinders parented to the main shoulder, so that they can move with the shoulder as it rotates.

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It was now time to start the hands and feet. I had initially tried to sculpt the hands into a single model, but the problem with that being they were no longer posable. Eventually I went the more complex route and grouped each finger individually in a way that lets it move with it’s parent model, and also allows me to flex it.

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Using the same techniques over and over again on different aspects of the model, It was finally completed. The model it’s very high-polygon, but high enough so it doesn’t look blocky and rough. All that remained was to add textures.

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This is the final rendition of the model. I wanted it to resemble the look and feel of my chosen art style, providing clean cut colours and materials, and also feel like all the colours work well with one-another.


Energy Capsules

These are obtainable items within my game that restore a small amount of your energy. This is by far the simplest model I have made.

Original Concept:

Upgrade Concept LEC

Final Graphics:

Capsules 1

This is by far the simplest model I have made.

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Everything has humble beginnings, and in this case the beginning is a single cylinder. I always create the basic height and width of the model initially to help me gauge the size of the final product.

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I created a symmetry on the axis I required, and simply dropped another cylinder in there that I then manipulated into the basic shape of the lid. Of course it was all then immediately mirrored to the bottom where I needed it.

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I then extruded the top using extrude-inner and pulled out a smaller shape to complete the top of the lid. For the side parts I manipulated a cube and mirrored it on all sides and then on the bottom too. Very simple.

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The final rendition just involves a glowing texture for the centre. The render mimics the position of the capsules in the concept art.


 

LED Energy Charger

This is an object in my game that the player can utilise to regain a large portion of energy compares to the capsules, however they are not nearly as common to find.

Original Concept:

Upgrade Concept LED

Final Graphic:

LED Charger 1_0040

This model involves some slightly different techniques.

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Once again I start with a simple primitive. I used the extrude-inner tool to grab an inside section of the top and pulled it upwards to create an angled edge. I then started to remove sections from the model and filled the gaps using the bridge tool.

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For extra geometry where my previous techniques would not suffice, I used the knife tool to create a diagonal polygon to extrude. I also moulded an extra primitive to add the extra shape I need.

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Using the extrude technique further, I managed to add more and more detail to the model without adding any more primitives. Everything is built off the main model to conserve polygon count.

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Even more primitives were added to facilitate more detail.

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Ditto.

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For the pipe I used a linear spline. Positioning splines in a 3D space in tricky, but eventually I managed to form the spline into a shape that looks natural as the pipe hangs off the device.

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The finished model.


Crane Arm

The crane arms are objects in the game that enable dynamic portions of the levels.

Original Concept:

Upgrade Concept Arm 1

Final Graphics:

 

Upgrade Arm 1

Upgrade Arm 2

Unfortunately, I have no work-in-progress snapshots of this model, however all of the techniques I used to create this I feel I have already explained sufficinetly above.


 

Main title screen

Upgrade Menu

This is the first screen you will see when you start the game. The process of making it was relatively simple.

Firstly, I found an image representing the style of my game on google images. Secondly, using the transparency for the layers function on Paint.NET, I added rectangles to frame the text, and then added the UPGRADE logo.

The rest is simply adding text to make it seem more believable.


 

In-game HUD

Upgrade HUD

This is probably the simplest piece of work related to my game. Because of the game’s minimalistic art style, anything else would seem cluttered.

The process is even simpler, just adding a dark background and simple shapes is all there is to it.


 

All the models shown here can be downloaded here.

Unfortunately due to time limitations, I was not able to model the Spider Tank concept into cinema 4D. I shall indeed post pictures of it when it is completed though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upgrade – Environment Progress I

The environment for Upgrade is coming along quite nicely. I’ll explain my progress and thought processes with some screenshots I took during the development stages.


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This is the first development screenshot I took. During this phase, I was just focused on getting the basic lay of the map started with simple geometry, as it is easier to work out. Game mechanics and visual features would be progressively built around it.


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The next stage was to fill/replace the basic geometry with detailed assets and objects. The crate stacks were modelled to fit within the basic rectangular cubes previously, and any extra detail like pipes, walkways and supports are modelled around even more basic shapes. Layer by layer, the environment started to look somewhat believable.


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Parts of the environment that are dynamic and can move have been grouped in a way so that posing them in different positions is easy. This is a crane arm that the player can activate to move the suspended platform. All assets have to meld with the environment in a realistic and physical sense, so any mechanics and structures have to look and work in a  believable way.


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Items and powerups were added next to make the environment feel more like a game space. Items visible here are the L.E.D energy regenerator, and it’s smaller weaker counterpart the L.E.D capsules. At this point I was also starting to add textures, most notably reds. A small part of level design also started to emerge as I began figuring how the player would move around the environment, and what objects and platforms would be available to them.


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A test render experimenting with the wonders of ambient occlusion. Thought it may be a bit too heavy in this scene, it’s one of the shaders I plan on using for my final animation. Almost unnoticeably I also textured various surfaces, but it seems that the default object texture in C4D is strikingly similar. Finding a balance of colour harmony without it all blurring into a a dark-grey mess is a challenge.


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This is a test render using Global Illumination. Global illumination is perhaps my favourite shader in C4D, but its also the most demanding to render. As you can see I ran out of time before the scene even completed rendering, so using this shader for my final animation is out of the question until Pixar finally responds to my letters and lets me use their render farm.



UPGRADE – Pre Production


 

– 3D ENVIROMENTS PROPOSAL –

Synopsis

The aftermath of a colossal war between superpowers has left humanity in a rather desperate state. During this war, 77% of life on earth has been destroyed. The excessive use of chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry has rendered the majority of the planet’s surface uninhabitable by normal means, and any surviving human population resides mostly underground in military complexes. Even in the face of it’s own destruction humanity continues this war, each side blaming the other for the desertification of the planet. As a result of this shift underground, I won’t be required to create any sort of natural structure like trees or mountains, the visuals of the game needs to feel sharp and mechanised. I’m going to need a whole range of man-made assets, from crane arms and distilling towers to crate shelves and ceiling supports. I’m attempting to make an interior industrial space, so plenty of light sources are required to keep the game from being too dark. To guide the player throughout the enclosed space certain objects will have illuminated features, not only to lend to the artistic style but also serve as gameplay elements.

Objective 

The purpose of the environment is to facilitate the games platforming and combat elements. The level needs to be spacious enough to facilitate certain larger enemies and freedom of movement, but also contain workarounds and spaces to use vertical mobility, such as overhead platforms and handlebars to swing from. During the later stages of the game where more and more movement options become available, the environments need to be adapted to work with many different styles of gameplay.

Structure/Constraints 

The basic layout of the environment will be constructed using primitives in cinema 4D to gain a very rough outline of the shape and design of the space. Once I’m satisfied with the layout, I shall slowly build upon the environment, adding details, gameplay elements and eventually textures and lighting until the stage has been completed. During this process I don’t aim to work around complex level design, I only aim to achieve the look and feel that the game provides, and display as many gameplay elements as possible in the environment. Any legal and copyright issues should not occur as all the models and designs are of my own creation, I’ll just have to take care and make sure I’m accidentally creating a copy of someone else’s work. The same applies to any sort of discrimination, as human characters remain almost entirely absent.

Visual Design

The visual design of my game is rather specific, so the 3D environment will have to represent that also. The environment will be some sort of industrial warehouse or loading bay, with plenty of room to manoeuvre up and across ceiling supports, or down and over crates or crane arms. If I decide to create the loading bay, I want to create some sort of locomotive or train as a dynamic set piece. The emphasis on platforming will be achieved with different layers of suspended walkways or containers. The lighting within the environment will be completely artificial, and feature plenty of spot and point lights to illuminate certain areas. Any existing design I can compare to is that of any modern factory floor or storage facility.

Look and Feel 

The game is rather simplistic in style, using somewhat flat textures and striking colours.Upgrade_Crouch

The graphics are stylised to work with gameplay elements. This graphical style also ha the advantage of being easy to produce (vs photorealism), and doesn’t require as many resources to render. Any existing designs comparable to this may be Mirrors Edge. Like Mirrors Edge, I plan to create crisp environments with striking palette choices to help direct the player throughout a stage, and important game assets highlighted in louder colours.

Technical Specifications

The technical specifications depend heavily on what I want the final  product to be. If it’s a series of standard renders, I want the output resolution to be 1920 x 1080, however I personally think that a walk-through animation of the set will help give a better understanding of how the game mechanics work. I’d like the animation to be 1080p, but of course depending on the quality and time required to render, I could settle with 720p. The games style and mechanics demand a relativity low polygon count, somewhat due to the excess of shaders I plan to use, but mostly due to large quantity of models needed and high-draw distance required.

Delivery

The final product at the end of this project will be a large 3D environment designed for the game Upgrade. It will feature a first-person walkthrough displaying how the player moves throughout the environment and showcase in-game elements and features.


 

– PRODUCTION SCHEDULE –

A production schedule is important keeping track of your time and providing goals that ultimately lead to the finished product. Here is my timetable specifically for creating my 3D environment (Not including weekends)

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– EQUIPMENT NEEDED

Due to the general simplicity and low-keyness of my game, very few (If any) physical pieces of equipment are required. However, multiple pieces of software will need to be used to create my final product. The game is planned to be produced on Unreal Engine 4, due to its graphical quality and general user friendliness.

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The sound recorder is included if I ever decided to produce my own sounds, however due to my extremely limited knowledge in such an area, I plan on using sounds that are not subject to copyright.


 

– CONTACT LIST 

If I want to produce this game, I certainly can’t do it alone. I need people with talents I don’t have, and these are the carefully chosen group of people I have selected to help me build my game.

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Payment depends on whether I have money to pay, or if I plan on actually charging for the game when its released. If it’s free to play however, micro-transactions may be included in the game.

Pre-Production

Pre-production one of the most important aspects of any major project and it’s involved in most any media production. Pre-production is the process of planning and organizing the various elements of the production, including budget, team construction and hardware/software acquisition.

For my pre-production example, I shall be be creating a game. The game is called Upgrade. Its a 3D 3rd person action-puzzle game in which the player exploits the environment and the enemies to ‘Upgrade’, thus creating solutions to progress though the stage. Since the game is in a sci-fi setting, collecting pictures of props to reference may tricky. Of course, inspiration for in-game assets can found in the real world, so it wouldn’t be a total loss to find pictures of factory floors, modern machinery and high-tech military hardware… getting permission for that last one might be tricky, though. During a AAA media production, artists would be sent on ‘reckies’ across the world (depending on what the game demands) for inspiration and to observe real-world examples of what they are trying to replicate in their game.

Equipment is one of the biggest (and can certainly be the most expensive) ingredient in production. For the hardware for my specific project, a tablet is required to effectively create concept art and textures for game assets, and a good sound recorder to create the SFX. Of course, the most important aspect of game production is the computer hardware. Depending on what you aim to achieve, you may require higher specification PC. For these circumstaces, a custom-built PC can be used to get really specific specifications for certain progams, but the majority of the time a high-end PC of the shelf works just as well.

When it comes to creative media, I’ve plenty of experience with the visual aspects of design, such as concept art, artistic style and modelling. I am, however very lacking in any sort of coding knowledge and require a programmer to help create me game. If you are going big, a marketing campaign is crucial to get as many people buying your product as possible. Sound designers are very important and often very under appreciated, sound technicians who can record real-life objects and work them into your game always create a more visceral and immersive experience. Payment of course depends on the level of skill required.

Materials for in-game assets and certain hardware can be found most anywhere, however sometimes you require certain specific things. Sounds can be found anywhere on the globe and all of them have applications in games. Programs for creating materials for models can be achieved with many different programs, such as the staple Photoshop, or use of other programs like Paint Tool SAI, Painter or Paint.NET. All these programs require certain hardware specs. The more powerful the program, the more computer resources it will use.

Without a production schedule, a large project can quickly become a disaster. I’m seriously not the best at organizing things, and I’m even worse at managing my time. A production schedule dictates when certain aspects of the game should be finished, and ultimately when the game is going to be released. It helps the team keep a steady head and remain organised. During AAA game development, certain publishers/companies (EA) may demand unrealistic deadlines for the completion of games, and this the game isn’t completed to a satisfactory standard. In most indie-game companies though, a release deadline is rarely in place, as development is often uneven and stretched out over long periods of time.

Locations are far more important in videogame development then one might think. During AAA game development, artists and designers will more often than not (depending on the type of game) go out to real-world locations to take pictures or observe certain items. This real-world inspiration can really make a game feel all the more realistic. In my situation, I will be developing the majority if my game inside either at home or in college. Because I’m making a sci-fi game, there exists very little in the real world to compare to or use, so there is no real reason to go outside. Ever.

Paperwork is unfortunately and essential part of any project. The most initial piece of paperwork you should make is that of a budget sheet. A piece of paper detailing any equipment, supplies or personnel you need for you project, and tot up the cost. The rest of the paperwork is generally consists of creative work, such as storyboarding, proposal/idea lists and scripts. Having an established list of needed features and even an order to produce them them can really help foucus a team and have them work more effectivley. The creative writing such as scripts and storyboards helps shape the world you are trying to produce, and helps the designers and artists ahdere to a certain artistic style.

Code of practice can be a swift and painful end to your project if you are careless. The easiest one to get caught out on is the use of copyrighted materials. Anything can be copyrighted, from music and materials, to sounds and models. It’s important to recognise if you are breaching any sort of creative law, as creating something that has too similar a likeness to something else can lead to a serious suing. Health and saftey oversees the well-being of your employees, and even just the people around you (If you are filming in a public place, for example). If anyone is injured as a result of anything you own (cameras, chairs compters ect.), that particular person may choose to sue you for compensation.

The PEGI system is also something to be wary of when undertaking this kind of project. PEGI is the Pan-European Game Information system. It’s designed to help inform consumers about the content of the product, and also to moderate the product away from audiences for which it may be inappropriate. A game that features content such as horror, violence or sex is going to be moderated to consumers of 18+ only, and certain shops may refuse to stock your game entirely, leading to a far smaller consumer base and ultimately less sales.

TIGA is The Independent Game Developers Association. It’s a commercial and trade association that works with governments and businesses across Europe in an effort to make provide business opertunities for independent developers, making it easier produce and sell their product. TIGA  hold high voices in places of politics, using this to improve the commercial environment for game developers in the UK and across Europe.