Sunday, 30 January 2011

FMP idea?

I've been throwing allot of ideas around in my head about what I want to achieve from my time in the 3rd year. The biggest choice for me is to decide if I would like to spend the time improving on my environment skills or my character skills. The possible project that I have put the most thought into at this time, and the one I feel most passionate and confident about is an environment. I think this is the path I will choose to take in my final year at university.

The most simple way to describe it is if you have seen the opening scene to the 2004 film The Day after Tomorrow, written and directed by Roland Emmerich. I won't go into the full film as its irrelevant but if you haven't seen it its worth checking out.

Now I know it's probably not the best way to pick an idea for a game environment but my initial thoughts for this were to think of an environment that wouldn't include you typical bricks and mortar buildings. I also wanted and environment that would offer me a chance to experiment with lots of effects such as weather, time of day, atmosphere, colour pallet, etc. So I thought of the Antarctic. I had watched an episode of Human Planet on BBC1 that was about inuetes and the scenery took my breath away.

Now this concept got me exited but it still felt as if there was something missing from the complete picture. A centre piece for example. It was at this point I thought about the film. The opening scene basically shows the hero and his colleagues as ice core scientists in the Antarctic. They have a simple camp set up with a portable laboratory. This would be the perfect eye candy to accompany the beautiful surrounding environment and also add a contrast from vast open areas of snow and surrounding mountains etc with the compact and confined working environment they had created for their research.

I've done some research into this and there is allot of resources into ice core research on the internet. It basically allows scientist to construct a high-resolution record of climate and environmental change on timescales covering several thousand years.

Lead character / NPC

The project wouldn't include a lead character of a npc but I would like to make it feel like there is life around. Have maps or documents on the table used coffee mugs etc.


The are many vehicles used to get around the Antarctic but the coolest looking one are the piston bully and the sno cat. Both have tracks (or belts) hat help plough through the snow. The actual laboratory would be a portable attachment that would be pulled behind.


Obviously a vast open snow covered area with surrounding mountains. I could also include sea with floating ace burgs etc. Weather effects would add to the feel of the level such as heavy falling snow and snow blowing across the ground.

Props / Scenery objects

There wouldn't be a great deal of objects to model just enough to stretch my modelling muscles. Thing like the drill and tubes for the cores. boxes to hold equipment. In the lab there would be microscopes and screens and computer etc. One thing I would like to look into would be things like flags and tents blowing in the wind. There's a tutorial that come with max that shows how to create a flag animation using wind simulation I could also apply it to the tents and export the animation to unreal witch I've also found tutorials for.

I probably wouldn't need to use Zbrush as most of the object would be hard surface so I would mainly be using max and Photoshop for assets. Also over the winter I would use my camera for reference for textures. The whole scene would be built in UDK creating terrain and sky domes etc. Particle effects for the snow. Also as the sun would stay in the sky through the whole day I could have the sun rotate around so I would be peering behind the mountains varying casted shadows instead of a day night cycle it would be a day day cycle.

My Concept and Painting skills

So this is my latest piece of artwork, and although I'm not completely satisfied with it, I'm still pleased with it. Not that it find it completely original as I find that really hard. What I tried to do with all my painting now, is keep the same time frame (5-6 hours). This way I can see if I'm getting any faster by seeing more quality and more detail in my work.

Friday, 14 January 2011


This is my final render of my latest 3D project were we had to create a character based around a book by Philip reeve called Mortal Engines that also had to look like us. I really enjoyed the book. Hope you enjoy my render.

These two are sculpts I did in zbrush that I did to add surface details. Really getting into zbrush now.

Level design

So computers are pretty fast these days. Game look like they're having more and more detail as each new one is released. Real world environments are becoming ever more believable as the line between reality and virtual reality is blurred.
So for level designer this is a big part of their jobs to make levels as realistic and believable as possible. But is it the most important aspect. Some would agorae yes, but I believe there is a more important stage that needs to be addressed before art and style are taken into consideration. Is the level fun to play to begin with!?
I don't think there is anything more depressing than to have a game that looks so realistic that you can't wait to dive in a have a look around, but by the 4th level you have become so board with the dreadful linier unimaginative layout of the levels that it doesn't matter how interesting it looks it's just not fun to play. There has been many articles and books written on the subject because it's such a big deal. And perhaps not something that it so easy to achieve as one may first think. Game developers go through many iterations on a level with hours and hours of play testing with nothing more than one texture for the floor, ceiling and walls. But if it's fun to play then do you really need to have all the eye candy. I use to play CSS and some clever guys made a game type mod called gun game. All you had to do was kill people to advance to the next weapon. Starting with pistols, getting onto the bigger guns. Then you would need a grenade kill, finishing with a knife kill to win the round followed by a map change. I became a admin for a clan I was in and I created (alongside another member) loads of really small very simple maps to put on the server. They would be nothing more than symmetrical box shaped rooms with multiple levels. We had one that was a main room just full of spawn entities and is was so much fun. My point is we understood that for this game type these were the ideal layouts to maximise the fun. Small fast paced. Not vast open worlds of vast forest and rolling hills etc.

With that being said. Eye candy is still important These simple ,maps were adopted as they were fast to download from the server if you hadn't already played on the server. So maps can be played with lots of detail just as long as they come with the game. TF2 release community maps with their updated. Only the best of the best layout get chosen and are voted by the community by their popularity. How cool is that. Just before Halloween this year they had a map that had nothing in it except for it layout. Mappers had to give it an art style with custom models etc to win. The winner made a haunted mansion because he was clever enough to realise Halloween was coming up and valve love making a big deal about Halloween every year with tf2. This year saw the first boss being included into a map that would randomly spawn out of the ground, and if you killed him you would get his hat. What more do you want on Halloween when you have enough sweets to choke a fully grown elephant. Threes a pun in there, think of Charley and the chocolate factory.)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


When thinking of composition it's important to understand the subject in which you plan to draw. The most basic form being landscape and portrait. The form of a person is tall, yet the form of a landscape is wide. Hence why the page would need to be one way for one and the other way for the later. Obviously this is the very basic definition of the word but this can be applied into other aspects. A tall building for example would need portrait. but it's a landscape really. Images with clutter distract from the focus of an image. Understanding the focus of a scene is also important. When someone looks at a painting, that persons eye should be drawn to main focus of the piece of art. A photographer for example would have his lens focused with other areas blurred. This can also be applied to paintings. Line and shapes have and influence of how someone's eye would focus on objects in the scene. Brighter colours can catch someone's eye as opposed to darks. But blacks are very strong colours. That often appear at a far. But strong blacks in the distance of a picture can distract the focus of the main focal point. So contrast is important. The feel and mood of a picture can be composed by colour but also positioning. Looking up could suggest dominance for example. A lions leap would have more of an impact if it was viewed as the lion was towering over rather than viewed from afar. As I spent time as a chef we were taught the rule of odds. presenting in odd numbers is more appealing to the eye than even numbers. I agree with this entirely but it's hard to understand why. You would think that uniformity would have more appeal. Maybe chaos plays an important role in beauty because it offers more interest. The unknown plays an important role in interest. The focus on something in the dark can draw in the attention of the onlooker. The same as why people need to look at accidents as they drive past on the motorway.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Asus WAVI Xtion

Prime scene, the guys who's technology is inside Kinect. Have teamed up with ASUS to bring its awesomeness to the PC. It don't look as good though, and it definitely don't sound as good as its been called the WAVI Xtion. It will have the same role, controling games movies music etc. But it's aimed for living room use. Bit strange as most people are mor elikley to have a Xbox in there rather than a PC.

The is also plans for Asus to have an entire app ecosystem just like everyone else seems to be doing but thats for another post. We should see a release in the 2Q of this year.

With the ability to already connect the Kinect to PC with custom driver will it be worth forking out the extra cash. We will have to wait and see but I doubt it.!