UPDATE 4-21-17: I finished the model around August last year, but never got around to posting it. Here she is!
We now resume the blog post.
I’ve made significant progress on the anti-drone gun model. Today I got all the texture work done for the stock of the gun- diffuse, occlusion, normal, height, and specularity. A few years ago I used Crazybump to build maps, but since then I’ve found cheaper and better software like xNormal and MindTex. xNormal is free, but from my experience the maps produced by MindTex are higher quality than those produced by xNormal. I brought the finished model of the gun stock and the maps into Marmoset for rendering.
I’m delighted that the stock turned out so well. I might go back and change the orange and yellow lights on the stock however. In contrast to the rest of the model, they look flat and cartoonish. By adding a subtle gradient to the edges of the lights, I think I’ll be able to make it mesh better with its surroundings. I’ll count this as a small victory, but I still have a lot of work ahead of me. In addition to making these changes, I have to finish tweaking the geometry of the gun’s body and texturing the rest of the model. I’ll see if I can finish this within two weeks.
Hello my readers! I hope everyone’s doing well in their game development quests!
In my most recent adventures, I’ve attended several portfolio reviews and received valuable feedback. Of my current three portfolios, game design, concept art, and user interface design, I’ve learned that my game design portfolio is the strongest. Huzzah! However, I do need to beef up my skills in concept art and user interface design, so to do this I’ve started doing more work in those areas.
Currently I’m working on weapon concepts for an urbanpunk setting, either for a game or comic. Pictured left from right I have a drill axe, an electric sword, and a katar. The electric sword I’m most proud of, and if I were ever to face a horde of zombies, it’d be my go-to weapon of the three.
Progress after importing the image to Photoshop. I’m a little odd in that I like to work right to left. I’m finished with the katar, but I’m still working on the electric sword and haven’t even started yet on the axe.
In addition to building up my concept art repertoire, I’ve been working on my user interface portfolio. Currently I primarily do just the art and design side of user interfaces, but I’m learning how to code and implement them using Scaleform. I love working in Unreal Development Kit (I find the node based system for materials to be extremely useful), and learning Scaleform will greatly increase my capabilities in the engine.
The menu below is a main menu screen for a fictional game called Dragoon Chronicles. I wanted to create a menu for a game with a dark fantasy setting, like Infinity Blade or Diablo. Currently I only have a static image, but I plan on importing individual buttons and states into Scaleform and see what all I can do with them.
It’s a bit daunting, having to learn software and languages, especially when it seems like a new one emerges every several months. It’s getting better though; I’m realizing that with both engines and programming, many concepts remain the same, despite the addition of new features and versions. In a way it keeps development from getting stale, as there’s always something new to be learned.
A couple of months ago Vinton Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet, came to give a presentation at my college. After his presentation, he allowed students to come up, shake his hand, and ask him questions. I was a bit shy, and introduced myself as “just a student”. I will never forget his reply, in which he told me
“You are never just a student. A student is one of the most important things you can be. You should never stop being a student. You should always be learning.”
Even when formal education ends, it’s always important to be learning: learning from experiences, learning from other people, learning new ways to do things. From my experience, I’ve seen that the happiest people are those who continue to learn and grow. Those who refuse to open to new ideas become stagnant and depressed.
It makes me incredibly happy to know that I am in a field that is constantly evolving. It’s been a journey so far and as far as I can see, adventure stretches into the horizon. I have a lot to learn, but I am excited about all the discoveries that lie ahead. Stay passionate comrades, and always be willing to learn.
Immediately I chose to go with the Soviet theme. I decided on the name Comrade Quest, to evoke nostalgia for old analog games and to give it that goofy, campy feel. I immediately went to work fixing up my pitch document and adapting the character sketches I had made in my notebooks into viable concept art. I had friends and classmates proofread the pitch document once it was done, and went to practice pitch sessions held by the Student Game Development Alliance. My heart sunk a little when I was told at the practice pitches that Comrade Quest didn’t have unique enough mechanics to make it into GPL. However, I was not defeated.
As it was, Comrade Quest was just a standard brawler with puzzle elements. It didn’t yet have the special mechanics to make it shine. When working in the labs one night, I was looking through my notes and I noticed an idea I had wrote down in class about Faberge eggs. It was an idea for a mechanic that casted random effects on the players when activated, similar to the party ball item in Super Smash Brothers. The eggs would be scattered throughout levels, and could be picked up and activated when needed.
I decided to include the idea of Faberge eggs in my initial pitch document, however I wasn’t completely sold on the concept. The idea of using magical eggs just seemed too childish- like an Easter egg hunt. I played around with the concept in my head for a while, but suddenly had a revelation. Instead of featuring the random, grab-bag power eggs as items found throughout the level, what if players had the ability to activate the random power whenever they had enough of a certain resource? And thus the Communist Summon mechanic was born.
With Communist Summon, all players would have a communal “Communist Bar”, which they would build up as they fought enemies. Once the players built up the bar completely, they would be able to activate a Communist Summon. A Communist Summon would summon a random Communist or Capitalist leader. Each leader would have different effects, with Communist leaders providing beneficial effects for the party, and deleterious ones if a Capitalist leader was summoned. With this mechanic, I wanted to give players the opportunity to turn the tide of battle if a fight was getting too difficult for them, or to fail horribly and hilariously. Some may regard including random negative effects as pointless or even contradictory to giving the player a good experience, but from watching others play games and playing them myself, sometimes a good laugh can be had from a bizarre or uncanny death.
As I continued to revise my pitch document for submission, the weekend approached and with it an unexpected rough patch. The entire weekend was awful, but I knew that I had to keep polishing the pitch document. I also had to polish promotional art for Comrade Quest’s playable characters, which I knew would be quintessential to a live pitch. By Monday I was feeling better, and turned in the finalized pitch document. On Wednesday that same week I would find out what games made it to the live pitch sessions.
Now when I submitted Comrade Quest for GPL that semester, the selection process was in tiers. Any student could submit their idea to be reviewed for GPL, and they could submit as many different original game pitches as they wanted. However, of all the game pitch submissions submitted, only twelve game pitches would go on to the live pitch sessions. A panel of judges, comprised of UTD professors and industry professionals, would secretly decide which twelve pitches would go on to the live pitch sessions.
In the live pitch sessions, the creators of the twelve selected pitches present their idea to a live audience and another panel of judges, also made of UTD professors, industry professionals, and alumni. Presenters are given five minutes to present their idea for a game to the room, and are asked questions about their game by the panel. For the live pitches, it is best to have visuals for the game, or even better, a functional prototype of the game. Even if a game idea makes it to the live pitch sessions however, it does not guarantee its acceptance into GPL. Of twelve game pitches accepted to live pitch sessions, only five are accepted into GPL per semester. This process of elimination makes getting into GPL extremely competitive.
After I submitted my pitch for Comrade Quest on Monday, the GPL professors announced they would let students know which 12 pitches would go on to live pitches. Not wanting to be unprepared, I continued to work on visuals for my presentation, and started practicing how I would present the pitch for Comrade Quest in under five minutes. To get myself in the right frame of mind, I listened to traditional Russian folk music and the Hunt for Red October soundtrack as I worked. To this day I still attribute the song Hymn to the Red October to giving me the extra boost needed for presenting.
Wednesday quickly rolled around and with it, live pitch announcements. I was elated when I read the email announcing Comrade Quest’s acceptance, but I knew that meant I would have to get in front of a live audience and present. I had presented a different game, Red Shift, at live pitches the semester before. However, it was unsuccessful at getting picked for GPL, and I remained unsure of my public speaking ability. On top of my insecurities, live pitches were in two days- on Friday. I had to buckle down and practice my speaking abilities if I wanted to succeed this time.