Mar 292016
 

Easter week and despite some fever going around, a lot of days off of work!

Before we get to the recap, we’ve got exciting news, we’re now live on IndieDB! Check it out and follow us there for all the latest on Eco Tales!

Now, without further ado, here’s what we’ve done this week.


JDon’t know if you know this, but the 21st of March is actually International Day of Forests! In celebration of it, I created a new tree in, what else, SpeedTree of course!

Happy international day of forests!

Happy international day of forests!

It is ALSO World Poetry Day which we celebrated by using @CrazyMinnov studio’s SALSA.

I’ve also joined a challenge on Artstation, it’s to create a 3D transport, something we will need in Eco, I moved it up the priorities list though, I can do that, I’m the Lead Artist after all!

concept art

Hippo concept art

You can check out the challenge and Eco Tales new Hippo, here, below is a shot of the hippo in Unity with a very simple texture, there’s a lot more to see in the artstation thread which I linked earlier.

I will, of course, also be making a post on the entire Hippo-project once it is complete.

textures 3d coat 3ds max maya

Hippo in engine with test textures

Not a huge deal but while I was looking at the scene I got entirely fed up with the ugly green pants that have been hanging around for about three months, so I turned them into a light leather armor.

Ugly green pants turned into light leather armor

Light leather pants


K

Hello, hope you’re having a great time this eggcellent (see what I did there? It is Easter, a week we celebrate the egg) week.

This upcoming week is Easter and being a teacher I have that week off so I can dedicate that fully to Eco Tales.

Well anyway this week I’ve managed to squeeze in some work but not as much as I’ve wanted to of course so this recap on my part will be short.

I’ve really only done some ground work with the player input and the camera improving it and also some ground systems that really only effect us developers so yeah…. That’s it, no nice pictures, no, no interesting tales no nothing so hopefully I will have more to show you next week but I bet Jonas recap above mine was all the more interesting (I wrote this before him so I haven’t read it yet).

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Mar 212016
 

Two months now, time sure goes by quickly when you’re having fun. Which we are! A lot of nice things have been said about the game since we went live last week.

What is the game really about many have asked and well, we’ll get to that soon!


JSo what have I done this week? Mainly painting swords, but it’s been a busy week at work so I’ve done way less than I wanted to.

Here’s the main villain on Sketchfab!

Looks mad doesn’t he, might be because you haven’t yet liked our Facebook page! So get on over there and like it!

Four low tire swords for sale!

Four low tire swords for sale!

We’re going to need a lot of different weapons and armours for the adventuring part of the game, I’ve had my fun creating these four base swords which we will need when we show off how different sword weights influence your adventurers’ swings!

Next up is the first set of armour and the interior of the shop where you’ll be able to sell these wonderful swords to customers and even friendly adventurers looking for an upgrade.

Alright, phew, so, I’m not really known for my 2D skills but since we want feedback from fellow devs and gamers I’ve got to bite the dust, would you like to see an adventurer you hire in @EcoTalesGame wear something like what I’ve painted below?

Speed concepts

Speed concepts

Here are two variations of a low tire leather armour, one of them complete with a duelling vambrace, the 3D version will most likely look quite different and naturally be a lot more detailed, there’s also a high tire steel armour on display.

While these wouldn’t land me a job as a concept artist I know what to take away form them when I go into 3D, and that is enough, time is a precious commodity after all.

Since we’re on the subject of concept art, the right most one is my first attempt, I spent way more time on it than any of the others, most of that time was spent just rendering each piece, and putting them into layers. I never stopped to consider the change in silhouette or if the design was at all interesting.

photoshop concept

Time waste traps!

Isn’t it lovely, that amount of work and dedication put into each piece of the armour, named layers and a pattern layer not to break what’s underneath… But in all fairness, isn’t it just… Brown? As well as dull design-wise? It barely changes up the silhouette and… It’s brown, I don’t be dissin’ on brown but how about throwing in some blues? Like in the second concept that took a fraction of the time.

Learn from my mistakes young pawans and sithlings, first silhouette, then values (enough to bring out a shape), after that toss in some colour and voila, concept art! Want my number one time saving tip? Well, you’re getting it anyway!

  • Set your brush to 100% opacity with only line thickness based on pressure.
  • Then try to use no more than 3 colours/values to define your concept.
  • You know you can’t make it perfect so you’ll stop as soon as it looks like the design you’ve got brewing inside of your head!

Oh, back to the number four again, including the fit female we now have four body types. These three body types will be what all other human males are built upon, we’d love some feedback on this, different enough or nawwt? There will naturally be more skin tones and different characters will have different faces, but model-wise this is looking to be it!

Three male bodies and one female so far.

Three male bodies and one female so far.


 

K I have managed to spend my entire weekend on Eco Tales, pure joy!

Swordplay

Warrior poses with Butcher Sword

The combat in Eco Tales is physics based meaning that if the weapon actually touches the enemy during and attack there is a good chance some serious damage will be dealt, unless your Kung Fu is weak of course, but remember practise makes perfect.

So one of the things I have done this weekend is prototyping such a system and we now have a beautiful (programmer made) area in which you can try your chances against a dummy trainer.

A game like Eco Tales requires some fine tuned camera work and animations and I believe that is something that will require our attention throughout the complete development time of the game but I believe I got the first system ready for testing and evaluation to see if we need to rethink it all together or go forward with this style.

Well after such a great weekend filled with much work and little sleep I think I deserve a trip to the gym and some housework so I will hopefully hear from you next week for some more great news and progress.

Mar 162016
 

First of, and this one is REALLY exciting! Our Facebook page is now live, you can find it here : Eco Tales Facebook make sure to like it for steady updates!

It's true, we're on Facebook!

It’s true, we’re on Facebook!

 

In addition, Jona has been a so called Straw Man, or gräsänkling in Swedish during most of the week, so he’s managed quite a few hours every night, most of these have been spent in SpeedTree so that’s why this post is extra long!

There will also be a special post on SpeedTree soon:ish, so look forward to it!


JWow, what a week! It’s been amazing, and things are sure starting to look more and more interesting. That’s why you have to make sure to follow us on Twitter @EcoTalesGame and also me @Gruckel, did we mention we have a Facebook page now!?!

This week I managed to find my credentials for an old Unity account, in it I found the SSAO Pro plugin which is now attached to the main game camera, it’s amazing, so amazing in fact that I decided to buy SE Natural Bloom & Dity Lens as well… Not that they are related.

These two along with Colorful FX which I recently upgraded, will form the basis of our post-effect line-up, I wanted to write some of my own, but that’ll have to be a fun side-project for when I’m bored with asset creation.

Onto SpeedTree stuff, the grass you see in some of the images in the post are based on a custom mesh I modeled in 3ds Max, this mesh is then instanced multiple times in SpeedTree and spread out with random rotations and scale over a larger area than one mesh could cover, in this case it’s about 10m². This also allows for the grass to use the SpeedTree wind parameters, very exciting!

SpeedTree Free March Assets

Based on the free March assets

Below are some trees I created in SpeedTree, I’ll probably create a different leaf texture, given how this one is built upon the large bladed ones from the free March asset pack, but not in the way you might expect. The sprite is actually created inside of SpeedTree using a small bush that I made. A tutorial for how this is done will definitely be made!

Small Trees in SpeedTree

Small Trees

I also had the opportunity to look at a lot of SpeedTree models which were already made by someone who has been using it for a long time, I learned a lot and it gave me quite a few ideas. Here’s a bush based entirely around fronds, which means that it’s completely built upon alpha cutoff planes.

I wish SpeedTree had a better LOD-system for fronds, but I guess it’ll have to do, these assets aren’t really that triss-heavy anyway.

Thorn bush

Thorn bush

So what else did I do this week? Well, over the course of the weekend we had a small workshop, managed about 20 hours or even more in less than 48 hours. I as I am one to do, did a lot of shader research, mainly however I focused on creating two new characters.

One fit male and one fit female, I also created the gear needed to not have all characters walk around naked whilst wearing nothing in our screenshots.

Fit Male

Fit male with standard shader

Fit Eco Male Clothing

Fit Eco male with clothing using a custom shader

Fit Female

Fit Eco female wish clothing using a custom shader


 

K Wow, what a week! It’s been amazing. I have started drafting the camera, as we have a lot to decide on and plan I still need to prototype and make general systems and look deeper into any bought systems, getting to know them and how we might be able to use them.

The camera I have worked on is your general third person camera system, you know, move it around, wiggle it a bit, zoomable, that is the camera we might use for the adventure part of Eco Tales while the shop part likely will be something different.

Besides that I have done other programmy thingies, as a coder or a human being I don’t know but I find great pleasure in trying and learning new things so after buying a starter Arduino kit for some of my students at LBS Stockholm (sv) I got so jealous watching them working with it I just had to order my own which quickly arrived and after getting a Light-emitting diode to blink I got into something bigger namely begging Eco Tales (-> Facebook <-) for forgiveness for not spending every moment awake working on it, but I think I managed to sway her a bit.

Sucking up to Eco

Sucking up to Eco

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Mar 082016
 

Another week another post, let’s see if there’s anything interesting for y’all to learn this week!

JIt’s been quite a week, this busy little bee has been going at it, hard. Even more so next week, can’t wait to write more about my SpeedTree adventures in the next recap! If you scroll past the shader section there’s some SpeedTree thoughts here as well!

Busy Bee

Buzz buzz buzz

So this week I’ve been looking deeper into shaders and the over all look of the project, I’ve had long debates with myself on whether or not we are going to have normal maps as part of the asset pipeline.

The quickest way for me to create characters is to sculpt them, thus, getting the normal maps for the characters is pretty much free. As for other assets, there’s no way I can sculpt them all and there will also be a lot of tileable textures for the majority of the environments.

Part of dissolve shader

Part of dissolve shader

We don’t have to worry about the triss amount with the art style I’ve chosen, so getting the tiled assets to look good won’t be an issue, normal maps or not.

While playing around with the shaders I always went back to the standard shader. This was to make sure that that didn’t look better. To be honest, with correct lighting the standard shader truly is gorgeous. Because of this I’ve started to break down the Unity standard shader to see what I can possible add, maybe I’ll want light ramps, I know for sure I’ll want transmission and Fresnel for some assets and effects.

So what have I decided upon you ask? Well have a look at the difference between these two screenshots, one is with and the other is without normal maps.

Normal | No normal

Normal | No normal

While this in no way resembles the final look of the game, it’s clear to me that skimping out on normal maps, especially on the characters, will give way less visual interest. Also consider that this is just a still image, when the light is playing over the surfaces, the difference is greater still, especially on the foliage!

So we want normal maps, but with me being the only artist, there is not enough time to sculpt all of these textures, what about generating them from a diffuse texture? Will it look good enough, the answer can be found in the next sentence.

When I went into 3D content creation, we had Nvidias Normalmap filter, great for small surface detail, but is it strange that people who have been in the business for a long time are still using zBrush for all their normal map needs?

New | Old

New | Old

With today’s normal generators being as powerful as they are, this, in my opinion is something we can consider skipping. At least for non-hero objects. If you paint a texture with solid lighting, you’ll get an almost sculpted looking result at a fraction of the time!

SpeedTree

Now then, let’s talk SpeedTree! (If you’re interested in SpeedTree, make sure to follow Gruckel and Eco Tales on twitter.)

I’ve modeled trees before, it was ages ago, and it took me a long time to create, look at it, it is there, up in the corner! Luckily this is the only image I can find on the net which contains content made by me that many years ago.

Fumbie Tree

Fumbies the Cloud Creatures

I got an opportunity to dabble into SpeedTree for a Landscape Architecture project last week at work, you can read about my first thoughts on SpeedTree here.

This weekend however, I managed to create for roughly 18 hours, straight. From noon until 6 am on the following day! Sure I was fueled up on some Red Bull with… “Condiments” but doping is luckily allowed in game development.

I started out by painting the texture, I wanted something for my larger trees first, something with a large gnarly pattern, after some painting I removed a lot of detail, don’t want people to focus too much on the trunks after all.

Looking at it now, I may return to it to give it some additional micro and possibly even mid size details (here’s some info on detail levels), then again, maybe not, I’m quite happy with it.

Hand Painted Gnarled Bark

Måla måla måla!

When I was done painting, I wanted to start of with the most enjoyable asset type there is to create, a hero asset, the tree on the right hand side is in this case my hero tree.

I used the hand draw feature to give it a nice interesting curve and added branches in the same way, branch level 2 I left up to the generators, I then created a few different leaf generators both billboarded and stationary ones with small branches which connect to the tree itself.

At this point I was still using the leaf sprites and leaf models from the free Broadleaf asset, I’m keeping the models, but the textures I am going to recreate myself, more on that in a later post.

SpeedTree:ing it up!

SpeedTree:ing it up!

With this tree looking as unique as it does, the next step was to create a base tree which with rotation and scaling can be used over and over again. For this I went with a standard trunk base and spent a few hours learning how to generate a tree by breaking down SpeedTrees mobile vs desktop versions.

Our triss budget for the trees is quite high, but you should never go overboard just because you can, we’ll see if these will need some polish in the future. For now I’m calling them done.

I will be creating some free basic SpeedTree tutorials in the future, I’m also considering a gumroad tutorial on how to create a fully featured hand painted tree in SpeedTree.

Let me know on Twitter if this is something that would interest you!

 


K Well well well, Jona has indeed been busy while poor me had to be away from Eco Tales and go to Prague on vacation with my partner, it was a few days filled with excellent food (I am some what of a Goulash lover) nice drinks, and a lot of walking and looking and enjoying life to do.

Needless to say life was great, but now I am back and life is still great, any time spent on Eco Tales is time of love and adventure.

So here is an image of me freezing my hairline of in an ice bar in Prague and I will see you next time when I have had a bit more time to actually work on Eco.

Cold in Prague

Cold in Prague

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Mar 012016
 

Yeah, it is spring break in Sweden and half of KJ Interactive can enjoy some time of from their main gig to focus on Eco Tales before a few days in Prague, that half is of course only for me, Krister as I am a teacher in Sweden I connot only enjoy the promising future of some young game developers over at LBS Stockholm [SV] but also some of the same recess as the students.

One who cannot enjoy spring break is Jona so I stand here infront of my desk with a glass of schadenfreude dance coding on our great unannounced game.

K

This week I regretfully turned 35, I have done everything in my power to stop it, I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for that group of mischievous teenagers riding around in that ugly van with that weird looking dog of theirs.

All of this did of course not stop me from working and my focus area this past week have been making it possible to working on Eco in Unity3D as smooth and painlessly as possible with little effort required to test, create new levels and assets. I needed this before we had too big a base making it a hassle.

As usual I have nothing nice for you to see but who knows, next week you might get a nice photo of me enjoying Prague in all its glory, but for now you have to settle for a photo of me trying to explode my head to put out the fire on the cake.

Blowing out candles

Blowing out candles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


J Don’t worry, you’re not the only one to not understand the old man’s rambling, dogecar?

Doge Car

So, I’ve been UVing again and testing out a few of the asset packs we bought over the madness Unity asset store madness.

I’ve also done some painting, here’s another pass on the cobble stones, I think this has taken about 20 hours, which is an insane amount of time.

Hopefully I’ll manage to get faster the more of these I paint.

Cobble stones final

Cobble stones final

We’ll be posting reviews of all our asset packs and how we’re using them eventually, for now you’ll have to make due with a test video for SALSA.

Setting that up took less than 2 hours and that was including the creation of morph targets, additionally, it was my first time using the asset pack.

This, which uses the same sound and a custom animation running the length of the clip took about the same time, but it looks and was super random and would have to be setup for every single sound clip in a game.

Here’s my happy birthday wish for Krister which is also using SALSA, sadly I managed to dislocate the jaw in this test so the teeth make an already disturbing video even more so..

I’m impressed with SALSA so far and I’d recommend you pick it up at the sale, I’ve yet to create final tweaks to morphtargets and settings inside of Unity, yet it’s looking pretty cool.

This project is going to be so amazing, trust me!

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