The presentation regarding Upgrade can be viewed and downloaded here.
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.
We’ll start off with the big one, the model that best represents my ability with Cinema 4D.
The production for this behemoth encompasses everything I’ve learned thus far.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is by far the simplest model I have made.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This model involves some slightly different techniques.
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.
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.
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.
Even more primitives were added to facilitate more detail.
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.
The finished model.
The crane arms are objects in the game that enable dynamic portions of the levels.
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
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.
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.
Because of my research, I know understand the many different aspects of visual design has certainly helped me realise my ambitions in greater clarity. It’s a reassuring feeling to know that other developers share my ideas and use the techniques I plan to use too.
It’s one thing to realise the artistic and graphical style of your game, but it’s a whole new process to be able to effectivley produce results with a set of software, and I personally plan to use Unreal Engine for this. I have used Unreal Engine briefly before, and have semi-successfully imported models from Cinema 4D.
Unreal Engine has the immediate advantage of having a powerful graphical engine already built-in, and more specifically it has a user-friendly interface for scripting called Blueprint. Blueprint is a way to visually represent and manipulate your scripts, and is going to help me learn the basics of programming.
There are two game engines I have considered; Unreal Engine and Unity Engine. Both have their pros and cons, but in the end it really comes down to personal preference and what sort of project you aim to create. Unity has always been renowned for it’s user-friendliness and and broad compatibility with other software, however Unreal engine is more to a professional standard. It has far higher-quality graphics settings than Unity, and is capable of translating itself onto almost any platform. Both of these softwares will do the job, but depending on what you want to create, one may always be more favourable to the other.
Having a powerful game engine is only half the battle though; it takes another level of understanding and skill to discover what your game needs to look like to provide the experience you desire. I’ve taken inspirations and techniques from games that provide a strong sense of direction and forward momentum, these games include Valve’s Half-Life 2, and DICE’s Mirror’s Edge. During the main portions of the game, I never want the player to feel lost or without a solution, so the graphics are stylised to work with the player and the gameplay elements to provide direction.
My chosen graphical style has the advantage of being easy to produce, and doesn’t require as many resources to render. Like Mirror’s Edge, I plan to create crisp environments with striking palette choices to help direct the player throughout a stage, and have important game assets highlighted in louder, brighter colours so the player can notice them easier. The aim is that eventually, players will learn to identify certain colours with certain in-game interactions.
So far within my 3D enviroment I’ve had different measures of sucsess with graphical direction. I haven’t considered level design as much as I’d like to at this stage, but I am slowly finding balance between colours and materials, and figuring ways to promt progression with graphics. As for Unreal Engine, I have sucessfully created dynamic particle effects and managed to port some of my C4D models into Unreal Engine with varying degrees of success.
To finish, I’ve founResearch on Visual Design – Evaluation (Draft III)d the research preceeding this evaluation to be quite useful. I’ve found ways to breathe life into my characters via subtle motions and animations, and experimented with character silhouetting.
A few rough concept ideas for Upgrade. These sketches were done to help me realise what certain parts of my game should look like.
I’m really not proud of these sketches, and unfortunatley I don’t have a scanner available so I had to make do with my camera phone.
I’ll start with the half-decent stuff.
This is what I want the general feel of my game to look like, cold hard and calculated, while being colourful and striking enough for players to find the game enjoyable to look at. Of course, an emphasis on the colour red is an important aspect of my game, so made sure to use that effectivley.
This is the start menu of the game. I wanted to keep it minimalistic and sharp to represent the art style of the game itself. Since this isn’t a big budget title either, I wanted the players to feel involved in the game’s progression by providing a live feed of features and fixes in any upcomming updates for the game.
My game foucuses on a minimalist and sharp artistic style, so I need the HUD to fit that critera also.
I know it doesn’t look like much, but anything more and it would draw the player away from the in-game enviroment and destroy the immersion. I want the HUD to sit quietly on the screen while you play and only provide the essential information; health (white bar), energy (blue bar), and currently eqiped upgrade (white box).
I’ve been inspired by many different things throughout the design process of my game (notably Half-Life 2) At the end of the day, these are just rough concepts and absolutley everything is subject to change.
The main protagonist/antagonist of the game and who you play as; Unit 7. My currenent 3D renditions of Unit are really quite rough and flawed in many ways, and this is really how I wanted it to look. I wanted it to feel more biomechanical, so I added strange animal-like hands and feet, and I plan to make it seem very animal like in how it moves also.
I didn’t even realise what my inspirations for Unit were until I had finished designing it. The apparent inspirations include;
D0G from Half-Life 2, and the Antlion Guard from Half-Life 2
I don’t have a sketch of my enviroment per se, but I have sketches of objects that will populate the enviroment.
This is a crane arm that protrudes from the wall and enables different dynamic game events, such as lifting a platform or transporting the player. The idea is is that players will come to recognise these crane arms as things that aid progression, and figuring out how to use them in conjunction with the enviroment and puzzles is a strong game element. The main inspiration for these are a range industrial manufactoring arms.
This is in essence a health charger, an object the player will come to know as LEDs (Liquid Energy Dispensers) They are bright yellow in appearence and are scarcley populate the enviroment. The player can use them only once to regenerate their health, so knowing when to use them in the most effective way is something players will come to learn.To avoid confusion between full and spent health chargers, the light in the center will change from blue to red.
My main inspiration for the health charger was the HEV suit charger from Half-Life
The smaller and more common counterpart to the LED, is the LEC (Liquid Energey Capsule)
These can be easily found throughout the enviroment due to a blue glow they emmit. They are smaller, and thus only recover a smaller amount of health for the player when they pick them up. They are normally found in groups of 2 or more.
The enemies in Upgrade are almost always other robots or units.
This is a design for the ultra-heavy platform Unit 2. It’s like a tank with the movement of a crap of sorts. Of course, it’s main weapon is the giant cannon on its back. I aim for this to be the first boss you encounter in Upgrade. I’m not really sure what the inspiration for this is, it’s really just an idea. At the moment it doesn’t reflect the style of the game at-all, and I’ll probably end up completley revising the design at a later date.
The inspiration for this probably comes from the Scarab Tank from Halo 3, and a small part of the Tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell.
Graphics style and artistic direction is crucial among game developers. Art styles dictate the entire look and feel of the game and influence target audiences. Some examples of various graphical styles are;
This is a piece of concept art for Team Fortress 2, from Valve.
The developers chose this style of graphics mainly due to engine limitations at the time. Cel-shading is much easier to render, and due to not necessarily having to draw dynamic shadows on the models, and not having to render as nearly as many shades. The Team Fortress 2 (Abbreviated as TF2) creates a very unique style. The edges and textures are very soft, the proportions of the models are generally exaggerated to give very cartoony, but still very much grounded in reality feel.
Team Fortress 2’s art style is crucial to its gameplay. One of the key features Valve wanted was for the player to identify each class of character simply by their silhouette, thus making team-play easier and identifying foes quicker. Team Fortress 2 is a competitive team-based first-person shooter, often with extremely fast-paced gameplay, and complex graphics would be overwhelming and confusing towards the player.
Team Fortress 2 went through a very long and complex development, with many different styles of graphics and gameplay elements experimented with. Of course eventually, Valve ended up with this iconic game, a game that mostly iconic because of its art style.
This is an in-game screenshot from Ubisofts’ FarCry 3
FarCry 3’s graphical style is both beautiful and terrifying, and both of those aspects of the game are achieved with a stunning degree of realism. Ubisoft undoubtedly chose to head in this direction not only for continuity of the franchise, but to really immerse the player in the game world and story. A world in which the player can loose themselves in, is a world where the story and environment become more potent to the player, and ultimately (in most cases) more enjoyable. FarCry 3 presents an array of characters who all have individual stories and personalities. As such, the player can far more easily relate to those characters if they look and act as a real person would.
The graphical choice forces the player to play differently, and in FarCry 3’s hostile tropical environment, it can really shock. Real-life threats like tigers, sharks, and armed militia only feel as threatening as they do because they are represented as realistically as possible, forcing more of a reaction from the player. Dangerous and hostile environments certainly have been represented in different art styles, such as The Long Dark in it’s cell-shaded style. It works in a very similar way.
This is a screenshot of Limbo, a side-scrolling puzzle game developed by Playdead.
Limbo introduces the player to a dark and abysmal world, a world where very little is explained. Everything either seems out of place, or terrifyingly in place. The game is exclusively grey-scale, meaning details about the environment remain a mystery. The art style of this game what made it such a hit, very little like this game has been seen before, and its the general minimalist-abstract style is what makes the entire game work so well.
A large part of Limbo’s appeal is the fear of the unknown, the lack of certain visual feedback just adds to the general surreal atmosphere that surrounds this game. Only the silhouette of anything is every visible, it creates the same feeling of seeing an unknown shadow on the wall. Limbo is only Limbo because of it’s very unique art style, and without that style the whole game would be turned upside down. It’s hard to imagine it in any other style.
Graphics Types and Purposes
Concept art is the preliminary sketches or mood boards that set the style for the whole game, it helps designers realize what the game should look and feel like, and assist the designers in creating in-game assets like models and textures.
GUI stands for Graphical User Interface. It’s a way for humans to more effectively interact with a computer system, using various visual elements like buttons and icons, as opposed to a purely text-based interface using type commands. The visual structure of the GUI can vary dramatically from platform to platform.
Pixels are tiny units that exist on a graphical display. The word pixel is actually a combination of picture and element. Pixels are the smallest ‘measurement’ on the screen.
Image Resolution is directly linked to the amount of pixels on screen; the higher the resolution of the screen, the more pixels are a available, and the higher the image quality presented. Within 3D games the resolution of the rendered scene can dramatically change performance, the higher the res, the more the GPU has to work.
Bitmap image a raster image, and the opposite of a Vector image. When enlarging or distorting a Bitmap image, individual pixels may be seen. Bitmaps are by far the most common form of digital image. Popular Bitmap file formats include JPEG, PNG and GIF.
Vector images are the general counterpart of Bitmap images. They are images that maintain a perfect resolution no matter how much it is enlarged. Vectors use a series of mathematics algorithms, calculating the relative space to one-another, because of this they take far longer to render.
Compression is the term used to describe the size of a file being decreased using algorithm. Compression is useful for saving storage space, however compression may have unintended side affects, and before accessing a file you must to uncompress it.
Many different ways exist for capturing and digitizing images, the most common of course it capturing them with a digital camera, but the best method for digitizing physical images is scanning them, converting the image into a file format. Once the image has been obtained, a place for it to be stored is sorted immediately afterward. Digital images can be stored on HDDs, USBs, and in a variety of formats. You can even the cloud for safe storage.