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.