Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Week 17: Cranking out a level

Over the course of a week our Container City has gone from this:

To this!

I'm just going to go ahead and count this as a a victory. I completed what I set out to do and more, to help take our container city  level out of the white box stage. My textures and decals for the duplicated containers were finished , along with my assets last week.  With those out of the way I set about  arranging and replacing the main container blocks with my edited models, and applying my material to it.

Assets,container and texture examples

From there I began the task of placing all of the completed assets into the level. Unfortunately a lot of my time this week was spent troubleshooting either my own work (mainly getting decals and sprites to work in game), or my team-mates assets (sorting out export errors, scaling, textures and light maps) which has taken a lot more time than I would have liked to get fixed, but at the moment though the world is looking good!

One of my main achievements for this week happened today, with blueprinting the key and door mechanic of the level. Zhane had already made a working opening door beforehand, my job was to make it so the door couldn't be opened without a key, and would then open once the key was found and brought to the door. Though there were hiccups along the way and in the end I needed to help of other students (and YouTube) to get this done the mechanic works! I also completed a stretch goal by adding an extra mesh to the door (which will be replaced by a lock mesh) that is present on the door, but destroyed once the key is used on it.

With a few days left until hand in my to do list almost has everything crossed off. My main goal is to model and texture the lock and key for the door and to continue to place and populate the level with the current assets. Unfortunately it has come to the point where assets and components that need extensive troubleshooting probably won't get put into the level, as it is too close to the deadline to have to deal with that. This level is turning out a lot  better than I imagined, I'm positive that we can get our level finished, whether or not we can get fancy with it is another thing entirely. So here's to the final push to Friday.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Dailies #1

A week or so before the new year I decided to dedicate at least one hour of my time every day to just do some studies, or really draw whatever I want. I'm currently a month in and its going well! Doing this stops me being bummed out when university work isn't going well, it's stress free and I can get time to sketch again, something that I can't really do much of on the course, though I try and sneak it in when I can. Overall it's a good thing for me to be doing. Here are my favourites of the month:

Monday, 19 January 2015

Week 16: Bits and Peices

Well this last week has been very much as mishmash of work, so this blog post is a reflection of that. I started the week out with drawing out a few concepts for the basic housing the container town. since I'm not great at photobashing I found sketching with notes a lot faster for this process. This is going to be a realistic level so I didn't do much in terms of drawing out concepts, my  time instead was spent finding reference for various assets, to later be 3D modelled, that could then be put into our level.

Asset Reference
After this I spent some time sorting out the atmosphere of the level, just by painting and overlaying some colours over some screenshots of our level. Later on this week I should get the time to figure out how to bring one of these thumbnails to life in unreal 4.

As well as the above concepting I took one of my favourite areas of the level, the alleyway and attempted a paint over of it, again I realised that that wasn't really the best time to do that, having so much work to get through. So instead I just made a basic sketch over the screenshot to get a basic idea of what I want it to look like. Maybe when I get the time I'll learn how to effectively photobash concepts, but for this project I unfortunately don't have the time to learn and practise the skill to the point where it'd be helpful for the project.
Close to the end of the week I figured that it was time to start modelling some assets. My main aim in 3D is to focus on the assets that go directly onto the container homes, though I threw in some general street assets as well. These are all Modelled, unwrapped, and ready to be textured.

I plan to dedicate this week to texturing these assets and creating the materials for all of the duplicate containers of the level. I'd also like to sort out lighting of this level, make it more like the thumbnails I drew out. This should bring the project out of the white box stage into something even more solid. Though I plan to be more organised with my work this week, it is looking up to be another mishmash of work as the project passes the half way point. There's a lot of bits and pieces to be done and I seem lined up to do a lot of them. Here's hoping that my group can get this level to almost completion by the end of the week.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Week 15: New year, New Projects.

Happy new year! Back at university, and back to blogging after a lovely little break at home. The university year began with the Container City project. This is a group project where the basic idea is to create a game level , where the main building structures are shipping containers. We had two themes to chose from either Sci-fi, or Dystopia city. My group opted for the dystopia city. The project started off a bit slow considering no one in my group really knew about level design, let alone level design in unreal 4. I managed to get a extremely rough level plan out, but it was my team-mate Zhane that really solidified our level. In terms of concepting we threw around a few ideas for the setting and aim of our level, first starting with an uninhabited jungle/ island type setting, then we tried having our city built into the side of a cliff, but at that time we really didn't have something to commit to. The idea of having our city underground having fallen down from a sink-hole was thrown in the mix and for me that was definitely the most interesting idea for a level. So I did A little more research into sink-holes or environments similar to that and I stumbled upon a video of a marble quarry in the Apuan Alps, Northwest Italy.

The stark white environment of the quarry sold it to me as an environment, and that's are final environment. Looking at more pictures of marble quarries I realised that a lot of my references came from the same photographer, Edward Burtynsky who also published a book of beautifully detailed shots of quarries, Luckily this book was available in the library! It's now serving as the main inspiration for our levels environment.

Right now I'm going through the conception stage of the project, I volunteered to do the concepts for the basic, duplicated shack buildings of our town, and of the large end goal building. I grabbed some reference and made a mood board of several types of architecture to guide me. I looked up the locations of marble quarries were and tried to find some images of the homes in those areas to influence my concepts, but I didn't really find a lot to work with. So instead I searched wider geographically for some general shanty style shacks.

Right now  I really want to get my concept done and approved so I can more onto basic paint overs atmosphere and colour compositions.

To end the video of my week is this awesome short animation "I'm a monster" by Headless Productions

Here's to another year. =)