Monthly Archives: March 2015

Conflict of Interests (Thesis)

Put aside all rivalries in the ranks, and trust your fellows, for there will be no one else to stand by when the deadline draws close.  The meaning for these posts? It is hard to get aught done alone in this world, and teamwork, even if done with gritted teeth, is mandatory.

Anyhow, we have finally picked a story to work on! The tale is called: The Boy and the Giant.  We now need a couple of models – the characters: boy, maiden, and American bison, and props.

Everyone on the team has their own agendas, and they may not be to the best interest of the project…

Reconstruction (Thesis)

Expect less of everything, then you will no longer be disappointed.

Anyhow, it has indeed been a very long since the last time I made anything from scratch in Autodesk 3ds Max, still, the results were acceptable for the purpose.  These are models based on Erica’s concept of a coyote, the trickster in Western Native American legends.

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Low poly model on the left, high poly on the right.

 

We are probably going to have 3d character models, since these are infinitely easier to animate than 2d sprites.  Before I forgot, here is the latest team roster:

Producers: Paul Bills and Benjamin Driggs.

Engineers: Aqueel Tapia, Karthik Narayan, Sean Keanaaina, Saurabh Kulkarni, Amit Prakash, Diana Wang, and Harrison Reiser.

Artist: Katherine Marsh.

Technical Artists: Erica Larson, Wuchen Li, and yours truly, Yung-Cheng Yang.

Interesting enough, a good portion of the team was from Glow, the first prototype last semester.  Even so, there are dissent in the ranks, and it would be best to quell such notions of dissonance before we go far.  With just over a month left before alpha, we are running out of time before getting started…

Lonely Vigil (Thesis)

Aye, I shall stand watch here, while everyone else has a jolly good time.

 

These pictographs were done in the Fremont style, a form that pre-dates the Ute/Shoshone Native Americans.  They will have to do for now.  Drawing using the pen tablet takes a while to get used to, but for the sake of a uniform art style, got to get good at it.

Hope Spot (Thesis)

Besides OpenCV, we are also testing out the Metaio technology – this is the software that was used in the IUGS award winning game Ice-Bound.  Ice-Bound was a narrative-heavy experiment developed by Aaron Reed and Jacob Garbe from UC Santa Cruz.  The attractiveness of the said technology is that it can detect words shown on a web camera with great degrees of accuracy, enough for it to constitute as a novel form of input – exactly what we need for Ochre.

We are also entertaining an alternative to the Native American rock arts, in the form of hand gestures, if we can pull it off.  Thus behold, ninjas.

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Or not, nevertheless, the ninja sketches were a distraction, and we are still going to stick with the rock arts.

Internal Stabilisation (Thesis)

Mental dump of the GDC event last week:

While I have learned quite a few things concerning the game development process, these were to two that stands out technique wise: Software matters – a lot, do not believe the words of the salesperson who claimed that polys are free with the next-generation hardware, for literally every single pixels matter in the optimisation of the game.  There are a plethora of ways to scale down on art assets to increase performance, ranging from converting 3d models to voxels and back to remove invisible vertices to atlasing all textures onto a single map when possible to reduce draw calls, most of these do not even require the advertised tools to achieve. Elsewhere, I have also learned a great deal about character animations and cinematic, using terrains to funnel players into just the right place to start a cutscene or by using the camera to greatly enhance immersions.  All in all, there were many more experiences, perhaps too many to list on a single page.  Still, these experiences were primarily relayed to us by a varied group of talented people.

Within the confines of the Moscone Convention Centre, I have met an indie developer by the name of Chris De Castro, a generalist of a sort who has decided to move away from the field of filming.  The meeting with this individual and many others there suggested that track specialisation is more favourable in larger, more organised studios such as the one that we have, and these generalists reminded myself of how it was to work alone before EAE:MGS… Outside, there was a Benoit Alain of the Sauropod Studio in the Humble Bundle party, he is of Canadian origin and the creator of Castle Story, a sandbox game now available for purchase on Steam.  He was… a bit of a free spirit, a living nod to the comment “what do you mean it was not made on drugs?” for some of the more unique titles in the industry.  Nevertheless, this individual provided valuable feedback, even while in his mentally altered state.

If there were any disappointments during this expedition, career opportunities would take the cake: Indie developers were unfortunately less open to taking in new blood due to their limited workspace and budget, leaving only triple A corporations or non-developers as our choice this season.  Possible employment opportunities include a temporary QA jobs from Disney Interactive here in Salt Lake, as well as open positions for Senior Tech Artists
at Certain Affinity.  Indeed, the creative landscape of the video game industries have changed in the last decade, for better or worse.

Students from C6: the best advices and feedbacks happened to come from the experts, even intoxicated ones – do not shy away from alcohol soaked gatherings, and approach individuals boldly, chances are some of the stragglers that are leaning against the table with a drink nearby is a fellow developer.  Second, invest in a smartphone or some other digital device that can display the map of the city, or at least hold on to a friend that has one with dear life! There were few things more awkward on this trip than walking for a whole hour only to find oneself on the wrong side of the city due to its eldritch layout.

End mental dump.

Wake-Up Call

Game Developers Conference 2015 has been a valuable learning experience – it provided a much clearer perspective into the gaming industries and its fluid nature in a week than the whole last year in the MGS.  In short, there is a lot of grinding to do for this one to get anywhere.

Incidentally, Hironobu Sakaguchi attended to the conference:

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