CAGD 493 – Week 02

This week I start the first planned character of the semester. I spent the last couple of weeks trying to decide exactly what type of character I wanted to do, and have narrowed it down to three ideas.

The first two ideas center around Heroes of the Storm (HotS). With the small amount of free time I have it is the game I play the most and I think it would be cool to do either of these.

Idea 1: Take a character from a Blizzard IP not already in Heroes of the Storm and make a model for them that would fit the environment and perspective of HotS. The characters I would consider for this are:

Malthael from Diablo
Malthael

A Fire Bat from Star Craft
Fire Bat

or Tirion Fordring from Warcraft
Tirion

Idea 2: Is to take a character from Heroes of the Storm, and give them a AAA Next Gen type model, since HotS is a top down, stylized game, I thought it would be cool to see how some of the blizzard characters looked more realistic.

My main choice for this would be Johanna. I think the armor, cloth, and hair would be really fun to work with.

Johanna

Idea 3: Participate and follow along with this months Polycount Character Art Challenge. I think this could be fun as well since I would be submitting my progress online in addition to the class to get advice and critiques.

Polycount

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CAGD 493 – Week 01

It has been a while since my last post and the last time I was able to take a modeling course. Two Jobs + Graduate Studies apparently takes up a lot of my time, who knew?

Last time I took CAGD 493 I started out with a big ambitious project and ended up switching to multiple others, I learned a lot but I never got much out of it in terms of portfolio work. This time I want to take the approach of more bit sized projects, with a goal of 2-4 projects this semester. The main thing I have been wanting to work on for a while now is my character modeling and sculpting. I haven’t gotten a chance to do a character project in two years and have been dying to do so since then.

To start I want to spend a couple weeks going over new tutorials, I am most likely a little rusty when it comes to character work as I mainly focus on Environment Art. After that I will break into working on a character from concept art I find online, and once that is complete my goal will be to work on a unique character, something from my head concepted from the ground up. Taking things from my imagination has been a weak point of mine for a long time, I want to directly tackle it this semester. This final project will overlap the entire semester in certain ways as I will be trying to come up with ideas and concepts in-between other work.

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CAGD 398 – What to do Now?

This post was made for the students of CAGD 398, but others may find use in it.

Every summer I make it a goal to do at least 40 hours a week of learning or project work related to game development, and every summer I come back leaps and bounds ahead of where I was. Odds are you have never spent 40 hours in a single week working on a project. It may feel like it during the school semester, but you will probably also have multiple classes, GE courses, and possibly a part time job, or multiples. 40 hours can seem like a huge commitment at first, but the reason for this number is the idea that if you want to work in Game Development you might want to try working on your stuff in a full time capacity. Summer is the perfect time for all of this.

To keep track of everything I usually go to spreadsheets. I have made a quick draft of the spreadsheet I will be using to track this summer. You can view it and make a copy if you want here.

Following this method alone wont make you magically better. You will have to work hard and push yourself. The only person stopping you from getting better is yourself. Never wait for a class assignment to start working or learning.

To get your started I suggest checking out these resources:

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Chico State Game Studios Modeling Weeklies

This semester I decided to have the modeling team I lead at Chico State Game Studios submit their weekend online weeklies to a polycount thread.

You can check it out and give feedback here: http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=157460

If you are not from Chico and want to know more about Chico State Game Studios you can find past student projects here: http://www.chicostategamestudios.com/

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Week 14 – The End? Or Just About

Lots of changes this semester overall. Unfortunately not much time to sit down and work on a single project from start to finish, which is a bit disappointing to me. Luckily there were a lot of things that I did accomplish this semester that worked out great.

First is getting everything ready to start my masters. A little less than 2 years ago I started at Chico State with the only goal of giving myself some time to finish a portfolio and obtain a Bachelors. I thought that since I had been at community college so long I might as well get a Bachelors for all my work. Now I face a similar point. Another 2 years to go, but this time with much more focus and knowledge.

Second was getting a start in some other areas of game development I wanted to explore a bit more, like level design, and scripting. I will continue working on modding games, as well as working on my level building application.

As for summer I have a few goals. A couple which need to be accomplished are completing at least 1 level in Torchlight 2, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, UE4’s first person template, and shootmania. None of these require custom asset creation which is good, but all of them need to be accomplished for ID Tech. I plan on creating very basic maps in each, demonstrating all the things the students will be learning, and then as the weeks go on expanding each as I have to teach them.

My second goal is to finish the abandoned school project I started. This I will be diving into right as school ends and going pretty heavily at it.

The third goal of summer is to port Rocket Volley over to Unity, and get it into a much more presentable state than it has been since the end of last semester. Most of this will involve scripting but I see myself doing plenty of art assets as well.

For next semesters 493 project I think I am going to spend the semester working on a custom KF2 map mod. Unique assets and all if it is supported at that point. If it isn’t supported I will finish off my throne room scene, and move onto another 3d project or mod for the rest of the semester.

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Week 13 – Tools n’ Mods n’ Games

The Abandoned School will be picked up on when classes are done, or possibly dead week. I want to go all out on that project and I just haven’t had the time I want on it.

Instead I have been working on a lot of projects that I can easily spend a half hour, hour, or so on at a time, and see a noticeable improvement.

1. Level Creator in Unity
Last week I had started on a level creator using unity’s editor scripting. After rethinking what I wanted the goal of this level creator to be I thought it would work out much better in play mode. Basically I want this to be an accessible tool to be used by modders or level designers. I want to cover some advanced features, while at the same time allowing people with little technical skill to draw out makes and generate them easily. The best way is to build this into its own executable that can be saved out and sent to unity or a game later on.

Main Features so far include a pixel drawer and a map generator. Neither are anywhere near feature complete but they will be the first two things I finish. After that I am going to work on more advanced features to add. Like selecting individual meshes and editing their properties or textures.

I also think it would be nice to put in a brush based system to lay out random props that don’t conform to a grid for more organic games.

Above is the current pixel drawer. Right now you can’t apply it to the map generate mode but it isn’t far off. Also I want to add some more controls for navigating the canvas and other things. Right now you can only use the middle mouse wheel to zoom-in and zoom-out.

Here is the current map generator screen. It has mimiced maya viewport controls since they are the ones I am most familiar with. Right now you can load in a map from its file location in your system. I want to look into doing a quick file browser type window. Right now a very temp object selection works, which will eventually bring up a object properties window on he right side so you can change parameters and other things. I also will be adding more customization into the left hand side like choosing which meshes go where based on colors.

2. The next thing I have been working on is Killing Floor 2. Not much to show here as I am just getting familiar with the game and current level design. Look out for more on this later as I want to create my own map and possibly multiple maps/mods later on.

3. The last thing I have been working on is modding torchlight 2.

This is something I will be teaching over summer, but I love the game and will probably be creating my own mods in this in the future as well.

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Week 12 – Level Generator

Abandoned School Post will be Sunday. Today I will be showing off the current progress on my level generator for unity.

Basically I wanted to be able to take small images and use a color ID like masking method make a game level editor out of it.

Right now what I have is this:

1. Take a small image using basic colors

2. Throw it into an editor window made in C# in unity that will parse through and pick out the colors.

3. Insert some game Objects and hit Generate

Right now that is all it does. The next step is to give it more customization options through the meshes itself. Such as having a generic “wall” game object that can change meshes based on what side it is on. Or a Props game object that randomly generates various props using the placement I give.

I want all of that exposed in editor scripts, along with lots of substance parameters on the textures of whatever meshes I use.

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Week 11 – Busy Week

Had way too much to do this week so I spent the time I did have towards lots of research of my current project and the next. I will post midweek (Wednesday) with actual model/texture updates on the project.

For now here are some things I found this week.

1. How to create your smoothness map for Unity 5 inside of substance painter from Wes McDermott

2. Super PNG, a plugin that promises to fix many of the issues found with Photoshop’s handling of PNG files. Haven’t used it yet as my use of photoshop has fallen off the last year or so, but I have some plans for something in photoshop soon, maybe i’ll try it out.

3. A video series on how to model various nuts/bolts by Mike Hermes. Which pairs very well together with Digital Tutors recent series on floaters.

4. The well known polycount user known as Earthquake, or Joe Wilson if you want his real name has a great thread on working with normal map bit depth.

5. Another post/question started by Earthquake, but solved by another user gives a great answer for anyone who wants to create an environment in UE4 to use as a cube map in something like marmoset.

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Week 10 – Abandoned School

A day late, but with much more content!

First, I decided my new project will be an abandoned school. This way I can mess around with tile flooring/walls, decaying areas, foliage, etc. Lots of fun stuff I either love to play with or stuff I have been meaning to get my hands on more (foliage). The image posted above shows off what I am currently playing around with in engine lighting wise. Because UE4 uses an eye adaption setting by default I’ve had some issue getting my lighting to be consistent between sessions in UE4.

This is the lighting in the scene without eye adaption.

And here it is with eye adaption.

Also the original image of this post is what the scene looked like when I opened UE4. The reason I think this is happening is because when I opened UE4 this session my camera was already inside the room. If I had flown out of the room with my camera and come back it would have probably ended up like the lighter image above. I am going to have to keep this in mind as I move forward because it is the best way to get lighting accuracy in dark areas. Our eyes adapt to the environment so having a room that you can barely see in makes little sense when there is more than enough light pouring in for our eyes to make things out with.

The current blockout is a bit further than this but is sitting in maya at the moment. I’ll post a screen shot of that later in this post. But for now I want to go over random discoveries this week in terms of other blogs/sources.

1. This week GDC updated the vault with all of the 2015 talk stuff. This means new free talks as well. I am still going over these, but my favorite so far was Ultimate Trim which went over some cool tools and methods for creating modular assets. I really like how they did the paint brush effect with vertex colors.

2. One of my favorite things this week was the release of the Substance Maya Toolset. Being able to bake everything inside of maya speeds up my work potentially a ton. I no longer have to swap between the programs to problem solve weird baking issues caused by mesh errors. I can handle all of my baking problems before switching programs.

3. Something else to note from this week. As I mentioned last week I have been spending some time recreating the character controller of my old game prototype LITTLEbit. One of the biggest helps with this has been the Math for Game Developers by Jorge Rodriguez on Youtube. One of my biggest issues back in the original controller was being limited by collision detection. My character could only go so fast. With the help of this series brushing up my vector math knowledge I was able to recreate the detection scripting and have so far been unable to break through walls with my character even if I am going 100 times faster than I ever intend it to go.

4. Another good resource I found this weeks is A Practical Guide on Normal Mapping for Games. I was hoping it would have a bit more in depth info on unsynced workflows but there is a ton of info in here that I wish I knew while starting out. I hope I am not breaking his request of not posing the guide without his permission by just posting to his polycount thread. If I am sorry.

As for that blockout, here I am. Going to play around wit the layout and small prop placement all weekend it seems. At the same time I will be listing off what I need to model/texture/etc. Hoping to have the floors and the walls started texturing by Monday.

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Week 9 – New Beginning

I know most of these blogs so far have been text, tools, and WIP stuff. But after this post I will be working on an environment. Currently researching and planning it out. Expect a post tomorrow or Sunday.

Most of my work over spring break was scripting work. I recreated most of the character controller from my previous game LITTLEbit, once I finalize it I might start working on some models for that as well.

Also I grabbed some clay sculpting stuff since I haven’t done it in years. I may not start anything on it until after the semester is over but it is awesome to have waiting to work on now.

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