If all we ever experience is games, we’ll never make anything new.
My favorite event of the year.
4th year lets gogogogogo
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.