Tea ‘n’ Cake


The ISS Thingemy?

 

Ship01V2Angles

This is “Last Week Tonight!”, but not with John Oliver, and not a political satire in the slightest. It’s a very spurious comparison really,  in that I made this stuff last week, and I’m showing it tonight. I finally got round to fixing the default ship. Still kept it really basic for mainly style reasons… Admitedly a style choice driven by my desire to NOT have to spend years making gorgeous high detail ship models. As tempting as that is, I’d starve. You’ll all just have to settle for beautiful low detail ships instead.

I do love great art, but I’m very much a gameplay first developer, and since the artwork is generally small and visually informative in game, rather than stunning and the star of the show, I’m more than happy to show everything in it’s worst light. After all, what is teh point of doing a dev diary if you only do it when the game is finished and fully working. Here is a tiny, low colour, granular gif to demonstrate… something.

 

Brighter_Ships

Even if you dislike the simplified style, I hope that you can appreciate that every feature of the ship design does have a purpose. From main gun, to missile launchers to directional jets to… other parts that have not quite been coded in yet. Go on though, you can have a guess if you like. For those of you you are in the “whatever, don’t care” category. Have a screen grab taken from an angle that is never seen during active play.

Ship01V2

It’s  a Tonka toy train… In space, which I’m sure @Tom_SaysHi would approve of. It’s also the red team! Which may get voted off the X-factor soon! I say that because there is a small chance that the red team is doomed. Either that or the green team, depending on colour blindness testing.

Last week I also spent a bit of time tidying up code and getting rid of some of the smaller and more obscure (but annoying) bugs. The most amusing of these was the teleportation system bug. I ended up rewriting  a lot of the teleportation code since after looking at it again to fix the bug I released much of it could be done in a cleaner manner. The initial bug was that, very occasionally, the teleporter just didn’t work. Very occasionally is still a huge problem when a giant ball of plasma is flying straight at you. I did fix the bug, but before that I created a far less stable teleportation system that just went on and on.

NewTeleportMadness01

As you can see, it may not make for sensible gameplay in the long run. The actual problem (occasionally failing to teleport) was a simple one to fix. I have commited the old sin of collecting my input each Update, and acting on it during the FixedUpdate. for those who don’t know. The Update loop often happens at a much faster rate than the FixedUpdate loop, which is designed to keep the physics running at a constant predictable rate. Long story short, I was collecting input and dumping and resetting that input, all before the other part of the code had a chance to do anything with the input. It was an easy fix once noticed, and then I had a very long drive across France. If you care about the game, or are just nosey about my holiday adventures do the Social media thing. ( TwitterFacebook, and Youtube.)

bye for now.

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Le Homme et la femme. Deuxième partie!

This week I’m continuing on from what I talked about last week, specifically the evolution of the original chosen concept art. By the end of last week we had made the sculpt of the player characters, but still had a couple of issues to deal with. IF you forgot, or didn’t read, get on back in time and read it… or follow this link to that blog post.

The most important design change that was left to visualise was the gun being too bulky when running around. This has now been redesigned to be a simple bullpup rifle that can fold in on it’s self. Here is a picture.

ReplacementRifle
Kept things simple detail wise because that is the style and keeping the poly counts down means I can have more things happening in general. So it’s a simple model that could be simpler if need be, and we’ll leave it at that.

The characters are geometrically fairly simple also at around 600 polys. Both of them + guns +back packs are still under 2K polys. So stylised… or lazy. Whichever you fancy.

Wireframe
One of the wonderful things about modern tech, is that there are a lot of fab tools which make doing simple things very quickly. Back in “The Day” I’d have spent a lot of time painting on shadows and the illusion of shape, but now, with modern per pixel lighting and normal maps, it’s usually better to trust the tech to do all that for you and leave well alone. The only downside of this is that the colour/diffuse/albedo texture doesn’t look very interesting in comparison to the fab painted textures of yesteryear which were works of art on their own. Nowadays we spend our time creating clever materials and then launching them onto the model with a magic spray can, so we end up with multi image uninteresting textures that we present like this.

CharTextures
That is probably the only time you will see one of those from me because I don’t think they are worth anything except to acknowledge how many images make up a texture. On the other hand I do see the value in showing off a basic model in it’s standard pose. It’s not super shiny or covered by post processes, and is a good place to stop and think before trying the asset in game (and under game conditions rather than a fancy “In-Engine” production render). I’m not saying never do that, just that I am unlikely to. An artist will make a beautiful piece or art. I will make an asset for a game. The two things are not mutually exclusive, but they aren’t the same.

SpaceTimePilots
I’m quite looking forward to getting back to the UK so I can get these peeps through Max and into the game for a proper test. Perhaps the backpacks are still too large, and maybe the top view of the gun isn’t contrasting enough. We’ll only know for sure when it’s in. You can send me stuff on social media as usual ( TwitterFacebook, and Youtube.) but you won’t get a reply this week since I’m not on them. Just sign up to everything @radiationburn related and nothing could possibly go wrong. Bye for now.

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How a Concept Evolves

STBaseCharEvolution00

The concept art you see for many games is usually a little different from the final version that you see when you play. Sometimes it isn’t, but that’s normally because it isn’t concept art at all, but rather illustration for the purposes of marketing materials. We aren’t going to bother talking about that today though.

Today, we are going to go over the concept idea for the characters in Space Time, and how they changed over time, why parts changed, and also some unexpected user feedback that focused our choices.

Original
This was the original doodle we decided to move forward with. I can’t show all the rejects from doodle stage because I don’t have the doodles. I’m in France right now and the piece of paper may be in my office, at home, or more likely, already recycled. Besides, each picture takes ages to upload so be happy they aren’t all 16×16 pixel icons.

Anyway. Back to the concepts. Some had feet and club hands, although there were never to be any distinguishable fingers because I wanted to keep a fairly low poly and bone count for the finished characters. Before this design the designs had been a little more generic in terms of biological features and gender signifiers, but too my surprise when asking players and randos alike, many of whom were children, the overwhelming majority wished to have a distinct male and female character, even though they liked the fairly featureless look of the face and extremities. That is what brought us to the coloured selection you have seen before.

STBaseCharacters
The model based on the male design here was the first one that made it into the game. I hadn’t bothered making the arms white though, because it was obvious shortly after colouring this, that I would have to make either the helmet or arms adopt the team colour, so that the team colour would remain clearly represented, even from the far-removed top view. At this point the general colour blocking was far more important than the overall shapes, but once the menu became 3D and the characters were able to be viewed closer and more from the side, I thought it best to mix things up and create a variety of shaped characters, while keeping the colour blocking and helmet the same (as that bit wouldn’t change from the top view). The resulting shapes were as follows.

STBaseCharEvolution01
This was when we got some interesting feedback. The numbering below has nothing to do with what order they were created in. That order would be 1, 3, 5, 2, 4. I personally like number 2 the best. It’s very stylised and I like the overall curves that it creates, but it wasn’t the character style that was most chosen. Almost universally the favourite was 5, the most realistic person in the group. This was true regardless of the age or gender of the selector, and true for both the male and female character models.

So where I started with the intention to make the characters a generic, sexless, speciesless entity, the preference of the end users appears to be a generic, fairly human shaped character that can be easily categorised as male or female. I figured at least kids would go for the more abstractly shaped character but apparently not. I shouldn’t be surprised since that is exactly what scientific studies have generally shown about preferences, but it’s still interesting.

The design as it stands now is looking a little like this.

STBaseCharEvolution02
You can see there are still a vew differences from the concept at the start of this post. Each change has a reason behind it as stated on that image. The gun and backpack were too blocky in game, so the chunky look was toned down, and the gun will be reimagined as a multi-purpose fold-out rifle, that can be pulled out of the large pistol holster. This means that it will be a little sleeker looking, and also it will be more obvious if the character is in a fighting state or not.

The white trainers had to go. The white gloves work great and are very readable in the Mickey Mouse way you would expect them to be, but the shoes beneath clashed a bit with the hands, so using some very old, but still valid logic, we chose to make them a darker colour so that they read beneath the lighter colours of the torso.

Moving forward the character will get some more detail on the texture pass, a design for the weapon, and a couple of glowy bits, then finally integrated into the game properly to replace the placeholder guy.

Whether you like the design of the character or not, I hope you found me talking about the process at least a little interesting. If you were just wondering why the hell I put so much thought into something that spends ninety nine percent of the time being tiny on screen, then you should just understand that I tend to overthink most things to that same degree. I’m not saying it’s a good thing. I’m just saying it’s what I do. Feel free to argue with me about it on the usual platforms. TwitterFacebook, and Youtube. Bye for now.

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A Variety Of Things That Were Done!

Hi Everybody. Sure. It’s a lazy title given that almost every week I do a variety of coding, designing, animating, and arting… Why is “arting” not a word? Is art supposed to be too metaphysical to be a verb or something? meh. Nevermind that, I need to get on talking about nothing in particular including some […]

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The Complexity of Simplicity

See the picture above. That is an explosion which could be used to demonstrate the concepts that I’ll be talking about this week, but instead I’m just going to leave it there, completely detached from this weeks dev diary except by happenstance to demonstrate that the inside of a ship blows up when the outside does. […]

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Social Mediocraty… And Explosions

There was no blog last week and I don’t even feel guilty about it. That’s because… well, it’s a blog. I didn’t kill anyone or steal someones lunch. Geeeeez, get off your moral 15 blogs a week high horse. OK. Take a minute to get over your ‘lack of blog’ rage… There we go, just breath, […]

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Spool Up The Jump Drive!

Welcome back to another episode of me just talking crap. From the title of this week’s blog you might have guessed I’m a Battlestar Gallactica Fan. I did enjoy it very much overall, and especially loved the very reality grounded look and feel of the tech. I wasn’t big into the spiritual side of things […]

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What’s the Verb for Boundary?

Clank! Clank! Bink! Bink! That’s the noise of things being tinkered with and “mostly” being fixed. Still a lot to get through in the next few weeks but at least there are some visual changes as you can see in the image above. You may also notice that there is an obvious collision bug. Specifically, the […]

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Things Divided by 2

Lots of little things have been happening, although admittedly, the blog being updated hasn’t been one of them. The most amusing thing that has happened is that the world has been properly scaled. All the ships and particle effects and various other things have been shrunk to undo when they were made twice the size […]

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How Do You Steer This Thing?!?

Hey everyone. It’s been a while. Part of that was unavoidable and part of that has been a series of failures on my part. There’s nothing particularly comforting to admit when a problem becomes insurmountable, but it’s worse when you have to admit to yourself that it never was, and only seemed that way because internally […]

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