May 202017
 

Oh boy, oh boy! Look at how sparkling my skin is in this new engine the “Unreal Engine”.

Word on the street is that this isn’t even my final form!

 


JHello Eco Tellers or… rather Eco Listeners,
I want to welcome you to a new stage in the life of Eco Tales’, one where it’s gone from being the studio’s main game to a Jona’s favorite side project.

I want to start off with what has been going on behind the scenes and then at the end of the post, I’ll write a bit about what this means for the project and why this has happened.

First up, an image of Lech posing inside of the Unreal Engine, this is the first version of my Eco Skin shader or… I guess they’re called Materials now, that’ll be hard to get used to.

I think it’s a very good start, especially considering that the textures are auto-generated inside of Substance Designer, his eyes do look a bit dull and dead, but he doesn’t have retinas in this version so worry not, Lech will be his old grumpy self soon enough.

I’m going to test Dev videos and see if those are of interest to you all, please leave a comment on the video or on Facebook if you like the thought!

I will also create art asset overviews something I loved to watch when I was a student and Wolfire Games showed off their game Overgrowth.

(In the future I promise better audio and more interesting deep diving videos, a moving image says more than an image which in turn says more than nine THOUSAND words!)

Onto some Q&A.

Why has this happened?
Eco Tales : My Item Shop is a very large project, it’s two games in one and for a budding studio, it’s just too large of a commitment.
(Don’t be sad, I’ve no longer got a working Netflix account so I’ve got all the time in the world!)

What does this mean?
This means that Eco Tales : My Item Shop is now a one man project, but don’t worry about me!
I’ve always dreamed of one day creating a game all by myself; and Eco Tales : My Item Shop has been brewing inside of my grey head goo for almost two decades by now, long story short to me this is just a fun challenge.

What will KJ do now?
I will take the fifth on this one but let’s just say it will be VeRy exciting!


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Aug 052016
 

Selfie_Villain_01

For this week’s recap I had to take a selfie, as Jona didn’t have the time to take a picture of me, I think it turned out quite well, I’m much better at this than he ever was!

The fun is over, let’s see what the boys have been up to.


JBeing an avid KJ blog follower, you probably already saw this, but I created a short tutorial on getting pre-fractured animations from Houdini into Unity. If you didn’t see it, I don’t blame you, but do make sure you head over to that post, after reading this one.

Due to a family tragedy this post is rather late, but hey, better late than never, as some people I know are very keen on saying.

Let’s start off with what you’ll be able to do if you follow the above mentioned tutorial, pretty cool, isn’t it? Imagine doing that to a door or a chest your character’s been beating at for a while!

July26th_fracturingRealTime

One of the main things I’ve been working on this week is a water shader for the game, and to help me in that endeavour I’ve used a custom Houdini asset which easily allows me to raise and lower water levels and create peaks of different heights.

With that said, it’ll work on any surface and the waves are fully customizable inside of the shader.

July31st_WaterTest

I have since creating that gif also added in a flowmap which is automatically generated based upon where islands are intersecting the water, it colours the verts and then smooths it into a plane which looks like this.

July28th_AutoFlowmap

There’re a lot of other things I’d like to share as well, but that would make this post a bit too long and I’d rather have it more easily googleable than in just a “regular” Weekly Recap, so look forward to that mostly Houdini and shader centric post, soon… ish.

Joul-joul over and out!


K Boy oh boy did I have a bad week, completely overtaken by a cold bringing me to the brim of death. Even Mr Plešec almost felt sorry for me, almost…

3D printed Lech

3D printed Lech

What energy I did have went into doing these 16 hours 3d prints of Lech 3D printed Lech Plešec this time much larger than the first and just waiting for a paint job by me and Jona.

Well now when this cold is finally starting to change for the better we are beginning to finalize some parts of what we have so far to put together some early gameplay.

This week also marks the end of my vacation so back to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 


As always, if you like this post, then please consider retweeting it or sharing it on Facebook!

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Apr 232016
 

Hello there!

By now you know I work as a teacher over at LBS Stockholm [SV], a great school and working place even though they take some time away from Eco Tales 😉

I teach programming, game development and those things but this past Friday I got the honor and pleasure to join some of the media students (film and photography) to go to LBS Borås and the first LBS Media Awards running for the first time ever now in 2016.

Some of the media students of LBS Stockholm

Media students and teacher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First time running this is a major deal for all LBS schools and all of its media students and I really do hope it will grow and grow and grow for every year because what all those students had to show was so fantastic that it needs a proper venue like this to make it justice.

LBS Media Awards Photo Section

LBS Media Awards Photo Section

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plenty of things went right but what I would like to see is a web page up and running as soon as possible, should have been before the event to really draw attention to this great event. The food needs not to be what ever that was, some type of burger or… I just don’t know, also  have eating utensils for people.

Never ever bring up the wrong person for the award and then go oops, we ment this person, mistakes happen but do not let this be one of them, and in the same area, the presenters seamed ill prepared.

All and all it was great, they kept there schedule down to a T which is unheard of and hopefully I will get to come next year also and it will be even grander and more impressive.

LBS Media Awards

LBS Media Awards

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Apr 132016
 

We’re almost at three months and things are starting to shape up, we’re still some ways away from showing off any actual game play, but behind the secretive doors of KJ Interactive studios, there has been sword swinging, that’s for real and for true!


J I’ve continued looking into shaders and post effects this week. Last week I showed off the first version of our main VFX shader.

This week I show off, what may very well be the final one, check out this fire burning in the forests of Eco!

 

I’ve also looked deeper into fonts, Alegreya has for many reasons been on top of my list for Eco Tales, but readability would be a problem within the game itself, so after roughly two seconds of googling I found Alegreya Sans, it was as you may imagine, love at first sight.

Not our logo!

Not our logo!

We’ve also changed the name! The old one was very descriptive, sure, but it lacked a certain… Punchiness… So, Eco Tales : My Item Shop, short and concise isn’t it?

EcoApril10th

ZBrush Hippo

The gear of our friendly little hippo is also coming along nicely, imagine filling all those boards with baskets and sword sheets! Quite the little carrier isn’t she?

Mainly this week I’ve been working on look development, getting colors and lighting to where I want it, more shaders are needed and while the standard shader looks good, it’s not possible to get where I want with it.

Going to further break it down and rewrite the overall light functions so that SSAO and other screen effects still work the way they should (my last toonish-reality shader really screwed the SSAO up).


K Well well well, lucky number eleven, just writing that sentence got me in the mood for Lucky Number Slevin, great movie, I mean not like The Room or anything but then again, what is? Anyways it is time for eleventh recapitulation of Eco Tales: My Item Shop so here goes.

If you remember from last week I’ve been working on the “soon” to be announced webpage for Eco Tales and it is getting ready, now we just need to set the texts and Jona needs to produce the graphics for it but as web development is not exactly what either one of us fancy and there is a bunch of more important and more exciting things to do on Eco Tales it just might take some time.

On that page you will be able to subscribe to our news letter and as an extra treat if you want to subscribe to us via E-mail so you don’t risk forgetting about us you can sign up here for future news letters, and I can’t stress enough that we will not misuse your e-mail adress in any shape or form, this is strictly about Eco Tales: My Item Shop and until our dedicated web page is up you will not be able to unsubscribe in any convenient way but that will hopefully soon change.


So back to what I have actually have done on Eco Tales, that is why we are here after all.
What we have now ins still early in development and requires different amount of work to make them as good as possible so keep in mind that everything you see is in test phase and considered temporary..
  • Player movement – WASD style moving the player in relative to the cameras view point.
  • Camera movement – Follows the player allowing for rotation around the player which snaps back to default view, zooming is also possible.
  • Inventory – With one equippable sword with temporary GUI.
  • Attacking – You can swing your sword around hitting things, a successful strike will not achieve much currently but the basic system is in place.

Below is a quickly recorded video with excellent programmer art and showing a small bit what I have done this past three months.

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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 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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