Thomas Schmall is back from Japan and so we had a ‘Welcome Back’ diner last Thursday. Whilst having some Chinese food, we discussed our progress and brainstormed about the paddle redesign, menu and general presentation of the game. Finally we have got our Graphics visionary back, good you’re here again Thomas!
We have more or less finished the levels of our first graphical theme and next week we’ll start on new levels. A bit late perhaps, but still as a present for Sinterklaas: a screenshot. And keep in mind, this is a singleplayer level:)
This new object is a bit simpler than the old batch, because the rushed assets usually turned out nicer in the game than the detailed ones. It’s one of the toughest parts in game art to keep the bigger picture in mind. When an artist works on something, then it is easy to optimize detail/contrast/colors for this specific item. But all those properties work completely different in a scene it has to share with many other objects.
So here it is: thicker lines on the texture. Less and softer details. And less color.
One of the assets rushed in for Indigo. Will get some brush-up and normal maps later.
That was by the way some of the interesting feedback I got: the most rushed assets got repeatedly positive reactions. My perfectionism makes me cringe a bit – but of course I should be happy because I can work much faster than I did with some of the older assets. They turned out too detailed – it does not only not show up but also makes their impact lower.
One of the first bigger assets in it’s final form: the farmhouse. Which is right next to the start on or prototype level. I made a little turnaround movie – one with the diffuse map, and one with just the normal map (Normal maps are basically just showing the shape of a form, instead of the color).
I think I’ll keep this style throughout the project – after all the testing I’ve written about earlier, I’ve got it working: It’s quick, and unique enough. With some after effects we’re planning for this should work well in the final game (again, those asset shots are not done in the real engine yet, but close to it).
On request to add desktop sizes of the last images, I’ve made the caromble wallpaper page. Hope this works for everyone.
And the following images are some more asset-shots to test the final 3D look.
As pointed out in the last post, this is not in-game, but close to it. If we get features like the black outline to work, it will help us also with the gameplay. We could change the color to highlight important objects.
While working on the cow screenshot, there was a little accident. I put the wrong texture on all objects. But I think it actually has something to it – it looks more gritty, evil and in despair. Wile the overall technique for the other assets is ok, I will try to incorporate some of the effects from this mistake. Maybe the cow will get a gasmask one day.
After the 3D tests I showed earlier I had a pretty clear path to go. Inked lineart did a neat job: it is clearly visible, gives a unique look and is well workable. The next step was coloring to create some final assets so I know it works for all the remaining pieces. From the concepts I had a good idea of how the coloring should look like – and I wanted to take the loose approach very directly into 3D.
Here are some 3D tests that are further along. Note though, that while these are real-time shots, they are not from the actual game. Certain features, like the black outline are still missing. But I think we’re close – the depth of field (blurring in the distance) is working already albeit not as perfect yet.
Here the texture of an oil barrel. Each object will have also a damaged version – thats what the cracks are for. For who is not into 3D usually: The light blue part is a normal map, which helps the game with the lighting. It adds little details like the rims, without having to change the mesh.
It was a guideline from the team to create these, because the Ardor3D engine is able to handle modern shaders quite nicely and we want to show that off (and it looked nicer anyways). While in the game the lights is not set up well yet, these normal maps will look better than in those test shots.
When we went for the city design – I had to start thinking about how to transfer this look into 3D. It’s great that the team gave me the OK to go for a pencil experiment. I am used to work on huge game projects with hundreds of people – there is not much flexibility there, and not much trying of new things. The switch to single artist is a very nice experience.
I started with a simple container as first test object. And I did the texture in a pencil style. Hoping to get as much of the drawings in to the final version.
There are some problems with this approach. As you can see in the texture-scan, it’s all a bit noisy. And when adding a color overlay (since the final version would surely be more colorful), the lines are hard to read.
In 3D this all got even worse. In the screenshot above you can also see a version with a normal map added. While this looks nicer to me since it seems much more detailed, it makes the line-effect nearly disappear.
Maybe adding contrast on the lineart would fix this, but it tends to look “dirty” with scanned pencil art. Which also creates another issue: Whenever I would add something in Photoshop, I would have to emulate the noise effect. Keeping in mind that I will have to do all assets on my own for now (the downside of not having a big team), I had to find an easier way.
So I made several dummy-objects with just ink-lines. It is faster, and way easier to fix in Photoshop.
The lines are much stronger, and won’t disappear, even if I add color later. I decided to go for this – and made one more detailed object to try the workflow. Some ambient shading definitely helps to sell the shapes.
I think with this I have a good balance of “easy to work”, while still having a somewhat analog look to it.