I finished what I set out to do. To create a playable character in a prototype game, that could move around the level and transform between two states.
But I didn’t get the quality I wanted. Mainly because I had to decide if I was going to do just the things I wrote in my proposal really well, or do everything that needed to be done for the game to feel more complete. I decided to do as much as possible for the game. But still try to prioritize the animations I had to complete to look the best.
Over time I had to increase the speed and mobility of the character to almost double the original speed, to make it easier to survive and cap the “battery” . But since I only increased the animation speed in Unity. It degraded the look of the animations.
Like I wrote in one of my earlier posts, I implemented some of the character controller myself as well. Mostly because Felix who was in charge of the network syncing didn’t have time to also research how to implement the animations through Mecanim. After the base of the controller was working, he could sync it over the network.
The last week I was more or less done, i felt that tweaking the animations even more was not worth it before I remade them to fit the new speed (Alter the original animation instead of the playback speed in Unity).
So instead I helped out on some other things that needed to be done: UI elements, particles, texturing, etc.
If I did this project again I wouldn’t have changed much. The only thing would probably to have more people, so I could focus on my specialization. For the future, I will keep practicing my animation and rigging skills. But since I also enjoyed the implementation part of this project. So I will add programming to that list.
Today was our first screening of the game for people outside the school and “friend” circuit. We were invited to Balderskolan where we set up shop and students of different ages with a variety of experience with games, got to try out an early pre alpha build of Impacto. It was a rough start when we set up the computers and a couple of technical difficulties postponed the testing an hour, but at least it worked out!
We got a lot of good feedback from the testers, and they seemed to enjoy the game very much once they got used to the controls. We had many close games that ended with only a few points seperating the teams at the end, and after the first match the players became really good, which shows the game can be played by anyone, but at the same time the ones who have played a couple of times have a greater skill than newer players. This is for me a great part of any good game. Skill progression is a vital part in games that have longevity and are played more then a couple of times.
We also had help from one of the second year CG students Fredrik Ortmon that helped finish the battery which is the “flag” in our HTF/CTF game mode. A big thanks to him! It looks really great both on it’s own and when attached to the robot.
Now theres 1 week left until MS3 and 2 weeks until the gradshow. Needless to say we are all really hoping that we can present something extraordinary for the gradshow and something good for MS3
Been working mostly on the controller this week, the animations is starting to look acceptable. I added a “Mouse Look” control and merged the running/turning with the strafing so it is now more of a standard third person controller and less of a car controller (which the ball is still more or less)
I still have a problem with the transform out animation. For some reason the robot looses ground contact just after the animation, which starts the fall animation for 2-3 frames and makes it look wierd.
After the transform out bug is fixed I will polish the strafing animations, since they look too different from the run and walk.
I have started redoing / upgrading the animations. Beginning with the run and turn animations. It’s not easy to get them to blend smoothly when everything else isn’t working perfect. First trouble I had was that the controller was snapping to full value on key press, that is they were digital. So I had to do some scripting to tween out the states and get a smoother transition. But of course that did so you barely could control the robot at all, because he was turning to slow. Eventually I solved that aswell by make him turn back faster if you try to turn the other way. It still needs some tweaking but it works for now.
Then Felix started working on the robots impulses (earlier he couldnt be pushed by balls). Which for a while made the animations all jittery, when that was fixed I noticed that sometimes the robot didn’t move as expected. It was like he froze for a moment before continuing, what I didn’t notice was that he lost the contact to the ground when running over uneven terrain, since he didn’t have a “fall” state he just continued to run in the air without moving. The camera also sometimes makes the game look like its lagging(mostly when turning). I can’t really test the animations in game with these problems. A smarter person would hold off with updating the work directory but “luckily” I still have alot of other animations to do.
Anyway enough ranting, here’s a short video of me running around with some new animations and controller.
I just realised I haven’t posted about the texturing, but it was pretty straightforward.
I decided I´m going to use a 1k map for the shields, a 2k for the body of the robot and a 1k for the tire and core in ball form.
I baked out AO and Normals in Xnormal in 2x the resolution and scaled it down in PS (Photoshop) to get smoother edges. The textures themselves are based on metal pictures with dirt ontop. I freehand erased the amount on spots wich are more exposed and added more on the areas closer to the ground.
So now 3 weeks to Milestone 3, I’m beginning the animating. Which was fine when I originally planned it. The problem being we really need more animations than I thought. I’m going to focus on the forward running/walking and the transform animations, because that’s the ones I wrote in my proposal. Then do as much as possible on the rest.
I already have mockups/tests on all of them so I don’t need to start from scratch.
Progress is slow on the asset creation. This week have been very stressful and as of now I’m behind schedule.
My lack of posts this week is due to staggering modeling progress and I have not been able to pull up any fully textured models to show here on the blog. I’m now forced to lower the level of detail on my assets to make due.
My workflow have been interrupted a couple of times after every game test by tending to small fixes here and there on the level and have been very time consuming. Various inputs from testers have led to improvements to the level gameplay, but not the aesthetics of it.
With 3 weeks to go until milestone 3, I have made alterations to my schedule to try and put out a fully textured level, but I will not be able to have the level of detail I first set out to create. This is a disheartening realization, but I remain true to the goal: To make a fun prototype level to show the game’s potential.
As can be seen in our gameplay videos, the level have received ramps on both sides of the pit of death as well as a pipe dangling from the crane. This addition has gotten both positive and negative response from the testers. The negative critique often come from the players who lack the skill and precision to fly into the pipe and take part of the power-up inside.
But after a few tries, they too get to savor the sweet taste of extra damage.
We have passed Milestone 2 – ‘Proof of Concept’ which for me meant a playable level that fits our game mode and game style. Everyone in our group has their own vision of how a good level looks like and during the past weeks it has been my job to combine them into one and put it into the game engine. It has been a time consuming process, but we are pretty happy about the progress of our prototype. After only a few game testing sessions the level has improved a lot and people are having even more fun.
Here are some of the steps I took during my level designing:
An idea to add/alter something is presented and it sounds reasonable.
Make sure it fits our game mode and the theme of the level.
Make new/alter existing mock-up geometry.
Game test the idea with various groups of people.
Democratic vote within the group to make sure it is to everyone’s liking.
The idea is implemented into the game.
Progress and repeat.
We have now passed a crucial milestone so we are not going to add any new big features or assets to the level, but we reserve the right to alter the existing ones to further improve the gameplay if necessary.
My job is now to create those assets that have been implemented into the game and use the old models’ measurements as frames as I have now started sculpting more vivid and more detailed versions.
During this week I have altered my planned approach for a finished level. Instead of having all models pass through phases of highpoly modeling -> lowpoly modeling -> baking/texturing, I am now going to finish groups of assets in succession. This is to get earlier visual feedback in Unity.
The first group of assets are the cliff walls surrounding the level.
I haven’t posted in a while. The animations are in the programmers hands for now, they need to implement my mock animations and figure out if something doesn’t work before I can move on to the real animations.
I’ve been working on the lowpoly models for the ball and the robot. At the moment the robot is at about 17k and the ball around 12k.
Since there is only going to be 6 players (for now) at the same time, I will leave it as it is. They can definitely be more optimized but that is not my focus in this project. As long as the game runs smoothly, the models can have a few extra polys.
The next step is texturing, but before that I have some UV-mapping to do.
To make a fun level within the timeframe that we have been given, we must prioritize quality over quantity. And since we are only making a prototype, I am determined to create a good template where we can explore the future potential of ImpactO.
As soon as a geometry is added to the level we explore it to the max. If something doesn’t feel right, it is quickly altered, re-positioned or deleted. It is a thousand little design decisions back and forth, and I concept at the same time as I model.
The process is slow, but rewarding. The level takes tiny steps every day, and will have it’s final layout on Monday 11/2-2013, Milestone 2 – when we will hand in our ‘Proof of Concept’.
Below I will show you the major steps we have taken to make our level more alive.
Spawn points: Red and Blue. You will be able to spread out into the neutral zone from the sides and strategically position yourself.
Highways: Fast lanes where you can build up speed for an attack or to evade pursuers.
Bottlenecks: Narrow paths where conflict will be forced upon you and your teammates.
Danger Zones: You must strategically make your way from one part of the level to another to achieve victory. Risks must be taken to be successful.
More game tests with up to 6 players will be done this weekend to ensure we have that flow we want for our game.
All that is left on testing the animations is for our developers to add the character to the game, more specifically making the models shift when the character goes between forms.
So meanwhile I have been modeling the high poly model. Now I’m not that good with hardsurface modeling, I’m more of a organic guy. Fortunately for me I could reuse alot of what Johan already made for his garage.
The design changed a bit, firstly the head looked a bit to much like something else… The hands or “shields” got a socket in the middle since there is going to be weapon attachments there.