Sunday, November 16, 2008

Michelangelo-like Marvel!

So, I made my first sculpture of my life today. Ok, not including some things i vaguely recall messing around with when I was 8. We got some clay a month or two ago and I finally found some motivation to sculpt with my dad. My dad used to be relatively good, but that was when he was younger than me, so he's obviously a wee bit out of practice. I'm excited to watch him as he gets back into it though, I think it'll be pretty cool.

As a side note, I feel like there's some joke to be made about how it's a clay rubber duck....of DOOM!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

In This, Our Time of Reckoning

I find myself feeling extremely satisfied with myself and the work I have done over the past two weeks.

Especially the past four days, tuesday to friday.

Something inside of me turned me into a machine. I have been dedicated to the animations for the game to an extent that I'm pretty sure classifies me as obsessed. It's as if there's a spigot of work ethic inside of me that opened up and told me "WORK!!".

I have slept a total of 10 hours over the past 4 days. In that time I modeled two additional characters, animated all of the hero's sprites(111), another 121 sprites for the Skeleton enemy, and another 121 for the Knight and all of his actions.

So The Designer said he wrapped up the demo we've worked on for IGF and now it's just a matter of waiting.

In the mean time though, my work ethic doesn't feel like it's fading, so i'm still plugging away. I made a walk cycle for the skeleton character, and all of the character portraits. I've also resolved to do at least one walk and one run cycle every week. Since I was able to make something passable in about 40 minutes, I think that using a bit of my free time over the course of a week and fordcing myself to create full action cycles within this time frame will be great practice. On second thought, I'm thinking that the rules I impose myself should be one movement cycle(running, hopping, walking, skipping, swimming, etc....) and one non-cyclical action.

Also, i'm going to see if I can get myself to start consistantly sketching. I draw for my classes, but my ethic towards drawing extra-carricularly is significantly below where I want it to be.

With that said, here are the three reference sketches for the 3 characters i've modeled so far. I'll upload that characters themselves later on.


Knight, an enemy character.



Skeleton. Inspired by the Ray Harryhausen skeletons in Jason and The Argonauts.

Lastly we have the protagonist....of DOOM!!

I had almost forgotten that convention(of DOOM!) that I intended to use at some point in every post....of doom.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Time of Reckoning Fast Approaches

So.... with only a few days left, it is very unfortunate that I have so many assignments to do this week. Including writing a speech, an After Effects project, and silhouettes for my next illustration project.

This is to be done in the same time that I try and crunch out my characters/animations for said characters in record time. With Tuesday(today), Wednesday, and Thursday being the days that I conceivably have to finish(maybe Friday morning too? though unlikely in the extreme).

So here is the final rig over which I have lost so much sleep as of late.

Wait....I can fix that! I can TOTALLY fix that....

*Ten Minutes Later*

Though I think the Grand, Stretchy-Armed, Groping Groin-Grab of DOOM! would be a very effective fighting technique for him, it would have caused cohesion problems with his fellow actors :P
Ok, so I think I've frozen everything's transforms, zeroed out all positions, checked all the orients, etc, etc....

The one thing i'm still worried about is the spine. I've never used one like it before and i'm kind of nervous about how it will work out.

Here he does his voodoo dance of anti-life induction(better known as "death").

Ok, so now that that's done. Tomorrow i'll make the Knight, though it was supposed to be done LAST week, the rig obviously delayed me quite a bit. So these time constraints obviously also mean that i'm going to be transfering over animations between characters. Though I do have the Skeleton model sheet done too, so hopefully I can get a version of those in as well to make up for my tardyness.

Now i'm off to bed, in order to get 5 or so hours of sleep before getting up to do my other projects, animate this little sucker, go to school, do my After Effects project, and then go home to do more game work. At some point in the day i'll also have to write and rehearse my speech :\


P.S. I realize that he doesn't have eyeballs OR a sword. I also realize that his frontal silhouette is weak, but luckily he won't be SEEN from the front. With that, i'm off to bed before i pass out in my chair xP

Monday, October 27, 2008

....and now back to our scheduled programming....

Well, it seems I failed miserably in keeping this thing regularly updated with progress.

Since I didn't get the internship, I decided to spend one more summer in Bulgaria. This turned out to be a generally poor decision. On the plus side, some may say the generally poor experience built character. I am inclined to believe this, if only because it would explain the 5 or 6 different voices in my head as recently built characters.

In other news, I have been conscripted for a quick little project with a fellow student in one of my classes. This project requires from me that I animate several characters. Whilst this is very appealing, there has been some stress in trying to compress any of this activity into my schedule. Not only that, but our lack of a dedicated modeler leaves the work to me.

The positive outcome of all of this is that I get a bit of experience, and all of this work is work I can generally fit my preparation for into one class or another. So that puts a big, stupid, toothy grin on my face :D

So hopefully i'll have made it through all of these rigging tutorials on my list by the time i'm done with the model, so that I can plunge straight into rigging the damn thing. The one issue with this is that I had planned to get the model done some time around....let's see.... today!!

Unfortunately I was delayed significantly by another project i'm working on, an animation desk. But more on that in a later post.

Anyways, here's what little progress I have made with the model. I plan on punching out the rest on Tuesday morning, and to hopefully magically finish a rig too.
I borrowed the new Intuitive Animation by Gnomon from a friend. It has me quite inspired, and hopefully i'll be able to produce some kick-ass animations for this thing.
Oh, right. Here is the blog of the project's designer. It's quite the entertaining read.
Hmmm....it's an interesting futility when I, possessing a blog with fewer readers than his solitary reader(me), am making a referral to his site.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

More Stuff

To prove that I DID actually do SOMETHING during the semester, I'm uploading a bunch of the stuff I did.
First one is my first ZBrush model I made this semester. If it's not readily apparent what it is, i've failed miserably.
Then I have the monster i've been working on as of late, which is nearing completion.

This gives a sense of the relative scale of the legs and head to the body.

Here the shell normal maps are more visible.

Here is the final shot, showing the skinned rear leg. Most of the detail is from the normal map i painted in photoshop.

Everything else that's worth mentioning was previously posted, and I hope to have a finished version of the creature posted shortly.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Catacomb

Here's my catacomb submission....

Wish me more luck....

Well, needing a place to post some kind of work to show for my internship application, I decided that this would suffice.
First up is my WIP for my Maya modeling class. This will eventually become the head to a much larger alien, of which I plan to post shots as soon as I can get back on my school computer(tuesday). I plan on taking this into ZBrush on tuesday to give it a nice displacement and normal map set.


















Here is a shot of the alien head comparing a few slight modifications in shaded(above) and wire(right) views.









This is my own interpretation of the Parthenon. More recent image soon to follow. I have yet to decide how to do the tiles on top. I don't have the desire to send the poly count up another 100k just to add tiles, but I know not of any implementation for parallax mapping in maya, which would be great. I'll probably just create a displacement for it, if I don't find anything. If anyone happens upon this humble blog and does know, please do share with a comment.


Lo and behold my second ever head model. The nose needs some more work, but his main purpose was to make some blend shapes. Though this has been put on the back-burner until my semester is over.

Here's an eyeball I made to complement the head. Once school's out I hope to give him proper skin too(SSS woot!).

Now to prove that I do at least know of the existance of color, here's the first dirty iteration of a shield, one of hopefully many props which will populate the Parthenon. I decided to mess with Maya's procedurals to try and make the leather, which I think has some potential.


Hopefully you enjoyed my stuff, more to come soon.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

If only, if only....


If only I had started working on this project sooner, like the beginning of the month, as opposed to a few days ago.... If only I had anticipated that I wouldn't end up competing in the Pan-Americans....

On the plus side, I'm definately having fun with this project. Though the deadline for the Gnomon catacombs challenge is in.....very few days.... it has gotten me to work, as opposed to just fiddling around with small experiments as I usually end up doing. The reason i'm actually posting this is so that I can ask everybody I know how bright this looks to them, because apparantly my monitor's set relatively bright. Hopefully this will allow me to better gauge what people will be seeing. I also hope the final image will be something I can be proud of....I guess we'll find out in about a day or so. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 3, 2008

More Eye-Candy

Ok, it's been a while since my little rant on graphics. Let me clarify a few things that I don't think came across quite right.

1. The main point was that having a consistent art style, and clean graphics is what's most important. For example, Prey was touted as having amazing detail....but the people's faces looked rubbery, it made them look less like humans and more like moving manakins. I feel it would have been better to sacrifice the detail provided in their normal maps in exchange for proper specularity, or some other such trade between resources.

2. Graphics should be advanced as much as possible. I merely mean to say that they should take a back seat to the game itself. As I mentioned, I kept getting lost in various areas in Halo 3; the reason being that they were adding so much detail that few things really stuck out as saying "Go Here". In the earlier games, any glowing and/or transparent box denoted a power up of some kind. In Halo 3 I witnessed various objects with these same properties....but they did nothing.

3. If physics is actually implemented in the GAME( not just in terms of what you see, but in terms of what you have to do to get through the game), then they deserve just as much attention. I recall reading an article that said that there was only one programmer who did all of the physics in Insomniac's Resistance: Fall Of Man. On the other hand, I believe I heard that there were 4 or 5 for Doom 3.

4. To elaborate on Van Gogh's Self Portrait, and to defend my slight feeling of contempt for modern/modern expressionist art and their correlaries.... it employs a vibrant use of many colors in a way that would be difficult to concieve of for anyone not well versed in using color(the eyes have around 40 colors in them, I hear), it shows proper form/proportion, and uses not only variation on light, but variation in color to give a sense of depth and life.

5. I hope to get the opportunity to do some graphics or at least be involved with art direction at some point, so I am in no way saying that art is not important.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Eye-Candy

Well, it's nice to know i'm not crazy.... or that I at least share my crazyness with somebody else. While it is true that in the future I want to do art work for video games, I must say that I think video games are going too far with trying to look good. 'What?!' you ask yourself, How could he say something like that? They may look better than before, but they're still not mistakable for reality." Well, it doesn't matter, they've still advanced too much. Now you may wonder whether or not I shoved my head in a microwave recently. Rest assured, this isn't the case.

Now, let us justify my outrageous statement. To be more accurate, I believe video game graphics have advanced too much, too FAST. I'm not saying that they shouldn't advance, but I believe that they have advanced too fast with this last console leap. My reason for believing this is that I have been playing Prince of Persia, The Sand of Time....and you know what? I enjoy it more than Halo 3. I don't care that Halo 3 has real-time bloom effects, when I look at a window in PoP, I get a glare too. I don't care that when you bump into plants they react, the do the same in PoP(granted, not throughout the game, but there is a courtyard area where this is implemented). PoP has a refraction effect on it's water. Whilst it's not nearly as realistic and detailed looking as Halo 3's, I am still well aware that it is water, and it serves it's purpose of looking cool.

I will concede though, that Halo 3's graphics implement much more impressive shaders, higher-resolution textures, and has many more polygons in....everything. But I refuse to concede that this makes it look better. I also refuse to concede that this makes the game itself better or, more importantly, more FUN.

Van Gogh's Self Portrait(possibly my favorite painting EVER) does not depict every single pore in his face, it doesn't try to realistically simulate the lighting conditions of the room he did the painting in. But it is still a beautiful work of art, and an impressive showcase of his skill.

Why then, are "last-gen" graphics considered inferior? Isn't the point of the graphics to help convey what's going on? I don't quite see how it matters that plants bounce back when I hit them, I rarely stop to admire them while i'm being shot at. What do I care that my enemy has thousands of unique ways to die? I just want to know the bastard's DEAD.

There is the argument that graphics help create an immersive environment.... which is true....but nothing breaks that environment's immersive-ness like wondering why the developers couldn't have gotten the level designer to make sure it's easy for me to find my direction again if I get turned around when I look away for one reason or another. Is it because they didn't have time? Well, maybe they would have had more time(and money) if they weren't busy worrying about making sure that the color saturation adjusts when you move from a dark area to a light one, so as to mimic the reaction of a human iris.

Don't try to tell me that the immersion level of old games isn't as good when you go back. Some of them, most definately lose something, or a lot of something. But the ones that were truly well put together in the first place do NOT. I have been playing Fallout on and off lately....while I definately NOTICED that the pre-rendered characters didn't use SSS_Skin shaders, it honestly doesn't break it for me. The world's color scheme is consistent, the style of architecture and character design works well, and it just looks good. By the logic of lo-res graphics not standing the test of time, that means that Pac-Man should be unbearable. On the contrary, I love playing emulations of Pac-Man, there's even an arcade not too far from where I live, PacMan's probably the game I play the most.

I am not saying it's bad that we're massively advancing graphics. But it seems like it's usually just with a "bullet-point purpose", where the only reason they include it is to have something to flaunt. Marketing has convinced average consumers that graphics=awesome, which equals more fun. The problem is, that simply adding more detail doesn't change the fun of the core structure of the game, or whether or not it's art style works well.

Luckily, as I mentioned waaay back in the beginning, I have a supporter. This supporter is none other than Lord British himself! Richard Garriot! In his gamasutra interview
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3535/interview_richard_garriott_is_.php
he expressed similar opinions to mine, but going further in observing that this happens with the beginning/end of every console cycle. Ok, so he doesn't really say exactly what I just said....but he does seem to follow many of the same ideas, and I agree with him whole-heartedly. The difference is that I percieve this last jump, coupled with gaming's new popularity, could push things in a direction that's not necessarily positive. I mean, many people still refer to PS3/Wii/360 as the "next-gen". Even though it is the current gen now, they seem to feel that they need to perpetuate this concept of more technology being better. I think it's, in great part, a problem with who the games are being sold to though. Most people aren't really aware of whether or not something is fun, just whether or not they want it. I guess it's just a manifestation of our Affluenza, we simply seek more.

I think developers need to all just slow down a little bit, and try to figure out how to push the point of fun, rather than physics/rendering aspect which have no effect on the game. Because that's what video games(IMO) are all about, fun.

[Note.] It's a little late, so I'm not sure if this came across right....or if maybe I worded some things incorrectly, so there's a good chance i'll edit it tomorrow or the day after to make more sense and increase coherency.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The beginning.... of DOOM!

Well, firstly, welcome to my blog. I plan on relatively regularly updating with my thoughts on the world, life, etc.... but mostly video games. The great majority of these blog posts will center around video games first and foremost, second will probably be updates on my progress learning 3d modeling/animation.

So, it's quite convenient that on this, the day of the first post on my blog, I have stumbled upon a Gamasutra news post that my favorite book will have a video game based on it. This book is Ender's Game. Orson Scott Card has partnered with Chair Entertainment Group to 'create a series of video games based on the "Battle Room"'.
http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17157
This is something I have long dreamt about. Whilst I had fantasized in said dream that I myself would have the honor to work on a game based on the Battle Room, I am none-the-less absolutely ecstatic about this. Besides, there's still their space combat game to work on...

My two main thoughts are: How will they translate the movement described in the book? As I recall, the participants were described as pushing off of the walls. To do this to get around would involve aiming your character one way, then having to get him to push off in another.... so how will they keep from making the camera have to whip back and forth from looking at where you're going and looking at the action? I can think of how this will be done of course, it doesn't take too much imagination.... but I can't think how they would preserve the ability to perform this unconventional method of locomotion while trying to hit moving targets which are doing the same thing. I suppose they may break it down to some sort of a cover system like Gears of War, where you never really WANT to shoot if you're not pressed behind cover(in this case, "Stars"). Though hopefully they can keep it from getting frustrating trying to navigate from cover to cover in the 3d spaces.

Secondly, and far more minor, is that the founders of Chair worked with Card on Advent Rising, which had somewhat mixed reviews.... some liked it, others didn't appreciate it so much. I just want to know it will be as great as it can be.

A third thought also came to mind.... how will they implement the concept of having body parts frozen? Ender implemented this to sheild one's self using the player's legs....

These thoughts are, of course, assuming that the game will work in a certain way. Primarily, i'm assuming that the game will give the player direct control over an individual player. Perhaps it will be a tactical game where the player takes on the role of the commander.

If you have any thoughts of your own, or have some sort of hypothetical answer to my questions, please comment.