Feb 262016
 

Yesterday I got a question about creating a quick sketch for a new boulevard in the municipality of Stockholm, naturally, having never done anything like it before, I agreed.

For this assignment I was given a 16 hour deadline and decided to use Unity as a tool to build up the area, I started up with a simple SketchUp model and a plan drawing straight out of AutoCAD.

Sketchup Base 3D Model

Base non-UVed boxes

With most things having to be done in post-production, I still wanted to get some nice lighting out of Unity, additionally, having the main textures already applied and corrected according to perspective when entering post would save a bunch of time.

Having used 3Ds Max for. Wow… This month marks my tenth year anniversary of opening the program for the first time, I went with that.

Look at that, my first finished model, isn’t it lovely… Hah, if I had a penny for every time I got bullied by my friends at Uni for it, I would never have had to start working at all. It’s even copyrighted, one of them still uses it as avatar on Steam… But I digress.

Ten year anniversary

Ten year anniversary

Modeling the street, UVing the parts that needed to be textured, the creation of some nice chamfered edges around all small parts of the environment, as well as the placing of most props was done here.

Finished 3Ds Max

Final 3Ds Max model

Next up was textures, the old classical workflow of tiling images from the area specified wouldn’t work for two reasons, it isn’t built and creating textures that way takes a long long time, therefor I decided to go with Substances, I love working those graphs!

Sadly though, while I would’ve loved to get deep deep into Substance Designer to create all textures, I knew there was no time, as such I used Allegorithmic’s Substance Share and merely adapted the graphs for my own specific needs.

Since the final product was to be a still image, I found that floating geometry can be used for things other than normal maps.

Substance Share

Fake it until you make it!

The area was close to a park and I wanted to have trees with a nice correct lighting throughout the leaf crown of every single tree, while this is certainly doable in Photoshop, finding and cleaning images still takes a very very long time.

Instead I risked a gamble, bought a license for SpeedTree and got started.

Roughly 6 hours into the process.

Roughly 6 hours into the process.

SpeedTree is wonderful, I will make sure to write something on it later on when I start using it for hand painted trees in our game, Eco Tales.

Here’s the final Unity3D scene, my screen shoot tool sadly can’t get any of the post processing in on the capture, so I had to forgo it, but with it activated and a few more hours, I’m sure Unity can measure up to Unreal Engine 4 when it comes to visualization projects.

Base picture from Unity

Base scene from Unity

A tip on layers when working on something like this, make sure you name them, doesn’t have to be spelled correctly or well thought out, but trust me, it saves you a lot of head aches, especially if you have to reopen the file again.

Name your layers

Name your layers

This is the final image after 16 hours of work and a lot of back and forth, more work will be done, the trees need to have a species change and there should be more people lulling about.

If you had to guess, what part of the image do you think this image is trying to sell you, which design element is for sale? Tweet me @Gruckel I’d truly love to know if I’ve managed to sell the correct ting here!

Version 3

Version 3 of project Opp

After initial feedback and some back and forth this is the final image we’ll be taking to the client.

Camera moved for final version

Camera moved for final version

The ease with which SpeedTree allowed for quick iteration of the look of the trees as well as species changes has been truly invaluable.

The pattern was moved to where it will actually be placed in real life, most post effects were reusable with slight changes to masking areas.

With the extra hours I also managed to add some post-rendering to the trees and some improved shading on the people.

Another thing which didn’t stick out enough on the original was the seating wall which will run along the entire boardwalk, with people placed there in a seated position this has become way more obvious.

Most interesting of all in a way was the fact that the original seated tables for cafés were switched out based upon how they looked in the last image, creating this image has in a way already payed for it self!

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Feb 182016
 

Here we are, the 4th recap week of Eco Tales, time sure does fly, we’ve done some work and had some fun, celebrated an old man turning 30 and two cruises having sadly stolen a lot of our time.

J I’ve been painting a lot lately, trying to get better at it, the progress is slow but steady and, in my own humble opinion, things are starting to look rather good!

A new workflow I’m trying out is creating a simple base in substance designer, it may look something like the following image, a simple tiling pattern that has some random rotation and lightness variation, I generally also add some scale variation.

These variations, at least as far as scale and rotations are concerned are extremely subtle, +/- 1-3% in scale and +/- 1-3°. Giving a range from 0.97 – 1.03 and -3° to 3°  respectively.

Substance base

Starting point

Next up as in case of these cobblestones, I select a base color and using the lightness variations from the base texture, I also alter the hue slightly on each stone.

In this case, the texture is of a seemingly grey material, however, nothing in nature is ever really truly without at least some measure of color. Here each stone has a unique hue at an intensity of about 3-5 on a saturation slider in Photoshop.

As you stare at the texture, I doubt you can tell that some of these has a green base and some a pink one, but that’s not the point.

In this case I’ve also laid out some base lighting. For all of my textures, the light will be coming at an angle similar to if the sun had been up but mostly covered by clouds, since, without a light direction, everything will look dull and washed out.

Cobbles Draft

Cobbles draft

Next up is an almost finished piece, a simple brick texture, next I’ll be adding some mid-range details.

Look at the brick second from the bottom on the right side of the texture, see that dent? This would be a mid-range detail.

After that I’ll be adding some surface details, scratches are a good example of this, but not too much, as these will tile, you don’t want anything which will make that too obvious.

In these the hue variations are even more subtle, ranging from slightly more yellow on brighter tiles and generally slightly more red on the darker ones.

EcoTales Bricks

Bricks at 90% done

This here plank texture on the other hand, I’m calling done, this is a level of graphical fidelity that I can feel proud about. There is room for more mid-range details and most definitely some surface details, but sometimes, very often actually, less is more.

KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid, remember this acronym, it’s true within all walks of life.

Another great tip while we’re on kissing, just say “Hi”, if the interest is there s/he will be more impressed by that, than any variation of ; “Hi, I might not be Fred Flintstone, but I can still make your bed rock.”

Aaand… Back to textures, were I to revisit this in the future, I would probably add some hue variations, writing this, I’m fairly sure I will.

Another very likely case is that I will use these textures as a base for broken and or dirty variations which I will “paint” onto my buildings and environments using vertex colors and a custom shader I’ve written.

Eco Tales Planks

Finalized plank texture

Finally we have something that I like to see in games, decals or big broken parts of otherwise perfect buildings etc, painting it like this, makes sure the breakage looks and fits into the background; see how the unpainted plaster leaks into the crevasses between the bricks? Pretty nice isn’t it?

Now consider that the purple plaster part is transparent and we’ve got a recipe for success!

We could even throw our planks and cobblestones under a nice broken plaster and whop, the house is suddenly unique.

Damage to plaster

Damage to plaster


 

K What can I say, it is that time of the year when students are beginning to care about their grades so I am totally swamped at work which leaves little time for ECO, I have managed to squeeze in a few hours at the expense of my social life but sometimes that is required, ECO deserves it, but I have not much to report I am afraid, hopefully I can squeeze in a few more hours this weekend.

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Dec 152015
 

Wow! The weeks sure pass by in a jiffy when you’re having fun, and by fun I mean devving!

So far at least one hour per day with some days being closer to eight and most at around five to six hours.

December 14th

J Despite my fever haze I managed to read up on advanced facial rigging and create/steal some nice scripts. These will increase the speed of future rigs, super exciting!

I know that I, in the end, will be creating a lot of morph targets to bring the characters to life in game. To avoid a lot of work, I’m going to expand my facial rig to the level of a last gen AAA character. Create all animations for one character then using a hopefully, relatively simple retargeting system, to fit the same animations to all other characters.

Wish me luck… This is unexplored territory for me.

PyMel Python MEL scripts for rigging

PyMel, Python and MEL scripts for rigging


K During the days I work as a teacher, I teach game developemt at LBS Stockholm in Stockholm (surprise surprise) and this week is the last week before all the students leave for their holiday break, needless to say there is a lot on my schedule right now. Enough with the excuses, I managed to scramble together some time and researched some tools that might cmoe handy later in the development, biggest concern right now is how to handle the procedural dungeons, roll my own solution or buy one?

December 15th

J You know those pesky helmets and hairdos where your ears and/or nose clip through, but you know the design works better if you don’t have to make it thinker and longer? After all, wouldn’t the helmet just push the ears in?

Well, considering that I may at one point want a character to scratch its nose or flip an ear, I decided to add three more bones to my rig. This brings the added benefit of allowing us a simple animation state where we can fold ears and nose into for example a helmet or bandana!

This could be a smart solution

This could be a smart solution


K More teacher stuff happening today besides my baby brothers birthday, well at least I had the time to record a instructional video for my students on how time works in Unity, so if you understand Swedish you can enjoy that and several other game development related videos from here.

December 16th

J You’re probably getting sick of this guy’s face, the fact is however that for new characters to be made, this rig needs to be finalized first.

I think that enough of the rig is done now for me to start creating some animations for out little friend.

Face bones, for happy and sassy expressions.

Face bones, for happy and sassy expressions.


K I have begun work on cleaning up and abstracting some systems to release on Asset Store for others to use or learn from.

December 17th

J Created most of the controllers I will use to create base animations and future blend shapes.

Controllers are done

Controllers are done


K Today I finished work on the settings system and prepared it for the asset store where it will be available for free for you to use or learn from.

It is a basic XML based system with a in Unity editor and easily extendable.

UNity3d Settings Editor Window

XML Settings

December 18th

J Made a few expression tests, neutral, happy, shocked and angry which are now driven by a single float value, it’s working quite well.

Expression tests

Expression tests


K This was the last day before the break for the holiday at work, and according to traditions we finish with a big LAN party, now I took the time to work on continuing the work from the day before but know my brains is mush from lack of sleep so I will return tomorrow hopefully with some more work.

December 19th

J Today I skinned some clothes onto the fat man, this is going to be incredibly annoying to fit into a game ready equipment system.

Skinning clothes

Skinning clothes


K Having visitors over for the weekend did not leave much time for work so I am squeezing in some thinking and reflection time thinking about how the different systems will work together.

December 20th

J We’ve just bought a domain and registered a Facebook page name, here’s an idea for the Facebook group profile picture, it’s way too grey though, that’s sure as sure.

Facebook profile pic

Facebook profile pic


K We have done a lot these past weeks and it is time to start thinking more about the story and aesthetics of the game  as its definition will affect a lot of the game itself so now with the holidays quickly arriving there is less time for coding work so I have begun looking into possible themes and settings of the game, looking into folklore.

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Dec 082015
 

Week 2 is up, what will we produce this week?

We’re still going at it, must be at 5 hours per day since the start of December, this was a great initiative by @nerdtimeblog.

December 7th

J I’m back to sculpting again, working on a pair of tier 1 boots for the adventurers and NPCs, just baked the textures before heading off to bed.

Boot workflow, may have gone a bit crazy here…

 


K The 7th of december me and my girlfriend celebrated three years together, a hell of a thing to do on a monday but still I managed to get in my one hour of gamedev, to Lindas great dismay, well I needed to get in some basic animations connected to the player movement, and I did.

 

December 8th

J After baking the shoes I painted them and added a nice matcap with some specular highlights, I do like this look, I took a few of my older assets, a pistol and a shield, edited them slightly and threw them into my scene. Makes me want to render the character and his clothing a bit more thoroughly but I’m afraid there’s no time for that.

Eco Dec 8th


K While we flesh out the game concept I am beginning to test some shop functionality, started out with creating a test scene working my amazing programmer art skills, Jona watch out, soon a will be able to make something more advanced than cubes… Cylinders coming up…

Unity3D Scene for testing.

 

December 9th

J This is going quite well, one hour per day has turned into multiple hours per day, today I clocked in at about 4 hours, in that time I managed to get this skeleton all jointed up and after a pass of geodesic skinning and about 25 minutes of manual tweaks, all that’s left is to make sure the fingers deform well as well as, of course, setting up the controllers for the rig!

Skeleton done, controllers to come!

Skeleton done, controllers to come!


K This day I turned to some of the shop functionality with the ability to place and pick up items for sale shown below with this poorly made animated gif that might or might not work in wordpress.

3D Test Shop

Test Shop with pick up functionality.

 

December 10th

J Today I started on the controllers for my rig, I’ve got the main functionality down, however I want to add a foot roll and a basic facial animation setup.

Would have been further along, however I noticed that chaning colors and freezing transforms was taking too long so I decided to create some basic Python script as well as a MEL script, I’ll convert this to Python later, however I just couldn’t manage in the time I had allowed myself.

Eco Dec 10th

Base rig and controllers

 


K I managed to squeeze in my hour in an otherwise stressfull day by starting looking into Dialogue for Unity which seems to be a really competent dialog system, and even though I’ve made a ton of these myself this will save us a lot of time and have a workflow much nicer than what I have ever accomplished.

December 11th

J The controllers are connected to the rig, there’s a foot roll, and the fingers are animatable, this will be by far the most advanced and easily handled rig I’ve ever created. Currently I have things like the foot roll as well as finger middles and ends connected to custom attributes but I’m thinking I will want these as separate controllers later on.

Rig day 2

Rig day 2


K Today I dwelled deeper into Dialogoue for Unity fixing some left overs from yesterday and looking into its localization functionality from, well… Today.

Oh, and if you are in need of localization or can offer help to indie developers, swing by the Indie Game Localization group I manage on Facebook.

December 12th

J I’ve managed to get a decent if basic face rig going, there will probably be some morphtargets as well in the future but, I think most of the work will be made using the rig.

Oh and here’s a gif for your enjoyment!

Rig Day 3

Rig Day 3


K On the twelfth day of xmas I looked into A* Pathfinding Project Pro for all our path finding needs. I have worked with this tool before a few years back and remembered it as being well rounded solution and well it has only gotten better since then.

I quick test scene later it is up and running with an NPC walking around in the shop browsing warez.

December 13th

J The rig is almost done, going to make a final skinning pass and then I’ll be creating a lot of wonderful morph targets, for now, here’s an old fat man falling over.

Falling Over

Falling Over


K It has been a rough week, we have achieved a lot so today after getting some work done on the dialogue and path finding of the game I decided to clean up the office a bit, something I have failed to do since I moved in here some time ago, well deserved and such a morale boost, so keep it clean, now for some much needed rest.

Clean office

Clean office

Dec 032015
 

Hello fellow devs, and Hi mom!

To not overload the blog and Facebook page we’re going to write weekly posts, which we update 7 times each, once per day.

Let’s get this done!

December 2nd

Technical artist Jona searching for the meaning of life in the lens of camera.

Today I took a few asset I’d made for Unreal Engine 4 and pushed them through my Unity pipeline, sadly, most of my original files had been lost so this took quite bit longer than expected.

I will need to edit the textures a bit to fit in with the rest of the game.

Additionally, adhering to the one object per day rule I also created the cherries seen in the image below.

Fat Eco Man Day 2

5 hours of work


Programmer Krister in a bad mood on the subway.

For me, the programmer had a nice one hour yesterday as well, we had a small base of code from last weekend so I improved upon that, working with the weapon system, cleaning up and improving the attack code a bit.

So far I am working with temporary graphics of course, with some from Jona and some programmer made visuals, I think it is safe to say that I am the better artist of KJ.

Programmer art is much superior

Programmer art is much superior

December 3rd

Technical artist Jona searching for the meaning of life in the lens of camera.

I created the base of a flan asset using Maya and started looking into a custom shader to change colors of it depending upon taste, I’ve not yet decided if this it the way I’ll go with it, but there’s time for iteration yet.

I also started and finalized the ecological chocolate bar seen in the image. Most time was spent looking into the Unity 5 Standard shader.

I’ve yet to decide if PBR is the right way to go for this game, it’s lacking something important, maybe the lighting will stick, as for the rest, big things are coming, I’m sure of it!

Eco Dec 3rd

The first consumables are ready, time for custom shaders perhaps?


Programmer Krister in a bad mood on the subway.

I went wholeheartedly into creating a system to handle settings and configurations with restore to default capabilities and also started looking into using cInput. So not a big update for me, nothing as fancy as sweet chockolates but I am a firm beliver of having a strong foundation of these general systems inplemented early as it will help during development, also since we don’t have all the concepts and ideas of the game done it is something to work on while we figure things out.

December 4th

Technical artist Jona searching for the meaning of life in the lens of camera.

Busiest day of the week, managed to get an hour in, however, I wasn’t even close to managing a blog update after, spent too long on this haha.

One hour of work

One hour of work


Programmer Krister in a bad mood on the subway.

After creating the basic system for handling settings in the game I continued with creating a settings editor just to avoid the hassle of having to deal with the XML file.

XML Settings in engine Editor for Unity3D

Settings Editor

December 5th

Technical artist Jona searching for the meaning of life in the lens of camera.

Today we went into full work mode, I worked on writing some shaders and started on some clothing, using a free trial of Marvelous Designer, it was a lof of fun, it’s prone to crashing but very powerful.

Marvelous Designer shirt

Marvelous Designer shirt


Programmer Krister in a bad mood on the subway.

This saturday we went full work mode and I took the time to improve upon the item and weapon systems as well as started working on the inventory ststem.

December 6th

Technical artist Jona searching for the meaning of life in the lens of camera.

I continued experimenting with Marvelous Designer, here are a set of pants I created somewhere around midnight and beyond, hopefully I’ll have the time for another update today.

These clothes need some nice textures, painting time!

Marvelous Designer Pants

Marvelous Designer Pants


Programmer Krister in a bad mood on the subway.

The last day of the firs week I spent some time cleaning up the code from yesterday, making som small improvements to the code.

 


Technical artist Jona searching for the meaning of life in the lens of camera.

I end the sunday with this, my current favourite shader iterations, which do you prefer? Send me a message on Facebook or twitter and let me know!

Shader variations

Shader variations

Sep 282015
 

Hello UE4 devs!

Last week I bought you this post, Lightmapping 101, however, I neglected to add a section on auto-generation.

Would you like to know how to never worry about lightmaping for the rest of your life?

If you’re working in Unreal Engine 4, you can start by watching this, the shortest video ever.

Disclaimer! While this is a must for prototyping, a sharp project may need custom authored lightmaps, check out last week’s post for a quick intro into the world of lightmaping in 3Ds Max, Maya and Blender!

Loads of Love
//Jona

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Aug 272015
 

All the characters we know and love, Cars, Wall--e, Toy Story, The Incredibles, Monster's Inc, Ants, Ratatouille, Up and just now Inside Out!

Khan Academy just released their new series “Pixar in a box”, and it is just as awesome as it sounds! Together with Pixar, they have created an extensive set of videos on how they create their movies from both a technical and artistic viewpoint and how, two so different kinds of people work together to create the movies we all know and love.

Too many words will just lessen your excitement so without further ado, here’s the link to the Khan Page containing Pixar’s tutorials!

https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/pixar

Personally, I can’t wait to go through these, maybe it’s time to take a few days off of work, on thing is for sure, it’s gonna be an exciting and enlightening weekend!

Enjoy yourselves and learn, learn, learn!

//Jona Marklund

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