Friday, April 18, 2008

Train Station WIP #3 - Decor! Color! Iteration!

Train Station WIP #3 - Decor! Color! Iteration!
So. To put it simply. I did a lot of research for art nouveau. I found some pretty funky stuff! I ended up making my own with some copper/gold trim in mind. 1st on left is a picture of the pillar design with a normal map in UE3. I see potential in it but the sides are really plane. I need to do something. I was thinking a fan or something similar.

Color: I then started slapping some globs of color on there. I decided on a pallete for the scene based off this piece and the train. I'll post the pallete that I used in a later post. I went through about 4 iterations of colors for the pillar, but decided I really liked the red/maroon center with a gold spec on it. There is an ugly line in this picture. But the idea was "paint it fast, get it in, see if I like it". So, it served its purpose. I painted the texture and uploaded this material in about 20 minutes. You can imagine how much time this can save if you do this for every major piece. It saves a lot of time.

Basically, what I'm saying is, Do not get caught up in details early on. Too many artists get caught up in making it perfect the first time. It's all about iteration here. So, its perfectly ok for your first piece to look a little jank. It's all about finding the right colors, shapes, and feeling before taking it that extra step and finalizing it.

Shot 3 more colors: You can see I adjusted the colors here to a more gray with a hint of yellow in it. Most of the over powering yellow/gold is from the specular map that I have here. This is going to be a very dramatic lighting scenario, so I know what I can get away with, and what I can't. In picture 3, one thing to notice is the detail levels. I focused on large, medium and small. I still think I'm lacking a little bit of the small detail, but hopefully that will come later with additional environment assets.

Shot 4: Another shot with a temp fan in there as a material that I've used elsewhere in the past. BioShock actually uses a lot of geometry. The final one will be geometry spinning on a center axis. It will be an asset that can be used in a lot of situations to provide that extra flare to the scene. BioShock did a great job making a lot of moving parts. It made it all feel very real. I'm am taking that aspect into my scene here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Train Station WIP #2 - The Train

Train Station WIP #2 - The Train!
Influence: (Ben Mauro)

So, I started thinking about the scene and how foggy/steamy it would be. I decided that it needed to have some hot emissive materials for anything emitting light. So I setup the headlights and the interior lights to a 3Vector Constant material seperate from the Train texture sheet in Unreal. This lets me very quickly control the emissive light that is coming from the trains lights. It really REALLY helps when you start completing the scene and need to quickly adjust the lights. Much better than reimporting a texture that's for sure!

The train is covered in bolts / rivets. I loved that about Ben's concept. One because it just looks super industrial, and two for another more technical reason. In the engine, all those little bolts are going to add a very small hint of light/specularity and will really add that small scale of detail to the train.

I obviously took some liberties with the design. My favorite is his above connected train/passenger carrier, but I felt this one would fit the scene better.

I originally made this a 2048 but ended up scaling down to 1024 for the engine. There are some Alpha wires on the underside that help sell it if you are looking straight at it.

Fun model. Next blog will be the start of the world environement import into Unreal 3.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Train Station WIP #1 Intro

Bioshock Art Study.
Inspired by and 2K Boston/Australia's BioShock.

So, I started a scene based off my love for a few things.

1)A need to expand my art abilities and styles.
2)I enjoyed playing Bioshock.
3)I feel its a good test to my skillset in Unreal Editor.
4)Because its fun. And you all know how I feel about fun.
5) nuff said!
Timeline: 1 month. Lets see what can get done between my job and this!

So here is the first screenshots. Top: I loved the emissive signs in Bioshock. I really wanted to emulate the style of signs here with my Locomotive sign. I really liked Arcadia and the ROLLING HILLS sign. Lovely. Still have more work to do on it though. Second: I really like this method. Blocking everything out in Maya or a 3d package. It really lets you have a better understanding what your scene will look like in the end. (and also make a ton of changes quickly).

Bioshock "We all make choices in life, but in the end our choices make us."

I found this quote very fitting for me! I really enjoyed this game for a number of reasons. I guess what really stands out first and foremost is the art style. I really enjoyed the Art Deco/Nouveau styled environments, which was very fitting for the game and period of time they had the game take place.

Ah, Rapture! I love it. I mean yea, sure, it has crazy weapon upgrades and plasmids that make you shoot fire, but you know what? When playing through the game, it all seems believable. I really like the advertisements in the game. Everything from the wall art to the little animated plasmid videos you get to watch.

I actually enjoy the story. I've personally always been intrigued by stories that go against the norm. Andrew Ryan and Rapture had a very interesting idea in mind. You can tell that Andrew Ryan really believed in his city.

Which leads me to Character development. I love the audio journals. They really make the story for me. I couldn't wait what to hear what the next person had to say. The only annoying thing here was that if you were in action, you couldn't really hear what they were saying. But, you could always just go back and replay it.

I'll be posting my WIP from a scene I've been working on for about 2 weeks now. Please check out . As my scene is very inspired by his concept art (and obviously, Bioshock)


Friday, April 4, 2008

TF2 Study "I never really was on your side!"

Ahh. Team Fortress 2. Definition of FUN. What a great game. The things I like about this game are:

1) Colors: They really drove home the blue vs red. They did such a great job with the textures and feel of each side. The cool vs warm colors. The steel mill look vs the farm look. I love it. Too many games are super desaturated these days. They look good in their own right, but I'm just happy to see some colors!

2) Simple = Fun: Valve did a great job balancing out the classes. Game play for TF2 is very simple. It is a clear case of less is more and it really works for the game. Their decision to take out grenades for TF2 was a great decision simply because it added another element to the game.

3)Character Development: Oh man. I get excited watching the "Meet the Team" videos. Each character has so much personality! My personal favorite characters are the Engineer and the Pyro.

What I'd like to see (besides the new content in April) is an adjustment to how the Engineers points are accumulated. I think they are not getting enough points to provide incentive to play them.

My personal study into the game has yielded a lot of hand painted textures. Lower resolution maps with higher polycount objects. My favorite part of my TF2 map making and asset creation is the ability to give an inanimate object a personality or characteristic feel.

I just want to take this time out and reiterate on how important FUN is to the player. It is important to gamers. Too much complex stuff going on in a game can really pull away from the FUN aspect. I think Valve did a great job explaining this at GDC 2008 during the portal talk. If it wasnt absolutely necessary and fun, they axed it. Guess what!? Portal was fun too.