Was having some problems with my bakes, and I came across this video that has some good information on UVs, vert-counts, smoothing groups, and normals.
Metro Last Light
The first time you’re up on the surface, just wow. Really pretty environment for, you know… an apocalypse…
If all we ever experience is games, then our products will become narrower, more incestuous.
Anna Marsh in her rant for GDC13’s Hothead Rants panel.
Read the full rant here.
A Mini-Guide to Maps For Modeling
When you’re making an asset for a game, it’s important to know all of the different kinds of maps one can use to make an asset look better. I’ve compiled a little quick reference guide to just a few of the different maps and what they do, so you too can understand the technical jargon used by artists in the game industry!
[EDIT: There are SO many different kinds of maps, so I’m just going to cover the most basic of maps, the very first ones I learned. If you’re looking to find out more about these or other kinds of maps and their uses, a great guide can be found here on Polycount.]
UV Map - Before trying to create any of the other maps, you first must create a UV. This is a good example of what a UV would look like for a box. If you were to cut this image out of paper and fold it up, you would get a box! This is exactly what a UV does for your model. The UV acts as a blueprint for the other maps. You can color in between the lines, and when you apply it to your model (aka cut-it-out-and-fold-it-up), the pretty picture you created will show up on the model.
ALL of the following maps use the UV map as a blueprint:
Diffuse Map - This is what most people refer to when they say “texture” map. This map is used to place the color on the model.
Normal Map - This map is extra-special. You can use a normal map to add extra detail to a model without using geometry. This is a pretty good example of what a normal map can do. See how the squid on the right has much more detail than the squid on the left? Well, all of that detail is fake! It has not been modeled at all. This map uses RGB information to tell light “hey, this is how you’re going to bounce off this flat polygon ‘cause we’re gonna pretend that this surface is totally bumpy”.
Specular Map - This map is used to convey “shine”. If you have ever walked down a street in Call of Duty and noticed how everything is super shiny, that is what a specular map does. It is a great tool for helping to convey materials. For example, chrome will be super shiny, while suede fabric will not be shiny. It doesn’t have to be black and white, but the lighter the value the shinier that portion of the model will be. The darker the value, the less shiny it’ll be. You can get creative with specular maps by adding dark areas/light areas to subtly convey scuffs and scratches on a surface. It gives your piece and extra level of dimension and really pushes the detail.
Glow Map - A glow map can be used to make a part of your model glow. (You don’t say!) The same rules from the specular map apply to the glow map: lighter values make things glow, while darker values make sure they don’t glow.
Great tutorial on how to make spot-on alphas. It even shows how to turn the whole process into an action in Photoshop so you’ll never waste time again.
Courtesy of Bill Kladis from imbueFX
One of Miyamoto’s secrets for engaging level design
Koichi Hayashida (director of Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario Galaxy 2) reveals one of Miyamoto’s secrets for engaging level design:
“Yes, I do think it’s really important to decide on a core concept in level design,” says Hayashida, when asked if the levels in Super Mario 3D Land were each designed around a specific gameplay idea.
“First, you have to learn how to use that gameplay mechanic, and then the stage will offer you a slightly more complicated scenario in which you have to use it. And then the next step is something crazy happens that makes you think about it in a way you weren’t expecting. And then you get to demonstrate, finally, what sort of mastery you’ve gained over it,” he says.
“It’s very similar to a narrative structure that you find in four-panel comics. Something that’s talked a lot about in Japanese manga, for example, is a phrase, kishoutenketsu, where you introduce a concept, and then in the next panel you develop the idea a little bit more; in the third panel there’s something of a change-up, and then in the fourth panel you have your conclusion.”
This is pretty much how I approached the layout of Break. I knew I needed to introduce the player to the different kinds of things they’d encounter before we threw them into the flames. Overall I think we did a decent job on the learning curve.
Well, hey there.
While I wait for UDK to build my lighting, I thought I’d take a few minutes to actually upkeep this blog. This quarter has been crazy, and with less than two weeks left it’s only getting crazier.
HvZ hit a very, very low note on Day 4. The game ended up called off for the night. Luckily, we came back on the last day for the most epic final stand ever. Humans almost won— we set off the bomb, but we weren’t able to get 10 people to the “helipad” for evacuation. Thus, the game ended up technically a tie.
My “I-really-want-to-be-gameplay-coordinator” feelings came back extra strong afterwards. As of now, I still want to go for it. I think the opportunity to coordinate HvZ my senior year would give me very valuable experience as a game designer. But more on that later.
Otherwise, things have been…going. My C++ class is kicking my butt and my project for Environments & Level Design is driving me crazy, and between these two projects it’ll be a miracle if I get everything done in time. I’m ready for this quarter to be over. But despite how obnoxious this quarter has been academically, I’ve learned a ton. I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned in my next set of classes.
In the fall I’m taking Fundamentals of Game Design, Modeling for Games, and Intro to Sound— all of which I am very excited for. I’ve found myself leaning very heavily towards level/game design and environment art for my focus. I love both, and I really feel like they go hand-in-hand a lot of times. So for now I’m going to learn everything I can about both areas of study and see where it takes me.
Super Quadruple Fine
There’s been a lot of internet-news out lately about industry rock star Tim Schafer (creator of Psychonauts) and his indie studio Double Fine. First, there was the fantastic Twitter-exchange between Tim and Notch about a possible Psychonauts 2, in which Tim lamented his lack of funding for the project and Notch flat out replied:
Then, only fourteen hours ago, Tim announced that Double Fine would be using KickStarter in order to fully fund a new project— a point-and-click adventure game. In an effort to revive a genre and cut the strings attached with getting funding from a publisher and/or other big investors, Double Fine has done something never seen before. They have looked directly to their fan base and asked for support.
Publishers tell us that adventure games are dead. Our fans tell us they aren’t. (doublefine.com)
Clearly they aren’t dead. In fact, they are so much not dead that it only took 12 hours to meet the 400k goal. As of this moment they are about to hit $700,000 and the number is still rising. Rapidly. Since they have 33 days left to raise money, there’s a really good chance that they’ll hit a million dollars. Probably more.
This is something completely unprecedented in the industry. Much like Notch’s Minecraft phenomenon, Double Fine’s success in this endeavor is going to change the face of the industry. It’s incredible. Independent developers can look to Double Fine as a source of inspiration and optimism, as they prove that you can get the funding you need. Big time.
I think this is going to change the way people look at publishers, and there is going to be a strong trend towards platforms like KickStarter as developers look to taking their games back into their own hands. This could work wonders for the industry at this point, since it’s no secret that the AAA world is rapidly sliding downwards into what could be another crash. But with the indie scene only getting stronger, the industry itself is about to see a huge shift— most likely in the developer’s favor. It’s an exciting time to be in games right now. I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Long live the indies: taking a risk, taking charge, and changing the game.
Two players play as different aspects of the same patient; one physical one mental. Using different abilities and aiding each other, the players must escape an asylum filled with the terrifying projections of the patient’s broken psyche.
Here is Break, the game I worked on for Global Game Jam 2012. It was made with a 10-man team in UDK in 48 hours. It’s intended to be two players, so grab a friend and plug in an Xbox controller to get the full experience! However, it is possible to play by yourself with the mouse & keyboard.
Click here to download & play the game (Note: Windows Only). Let me know what you think?