Ghostly Apparitions – Bath Level, Old Man design Concepts and nudity

With the intensive elements of my dissertation wrapped up, and the second prototype of Ghostly Apparitions ready for this month’s milestone, I am now to moving my focus to the development of the central character that will be featured for the end of year show.

GreyBoxRoom.png

Grey box of “Bath Time” Level

The premise for the level is “Bath Time”. You are haunting a old man in a hotel room and trying to get him to leave through any means possible, while the old man is trying to set up and have a bath… like The bath, he is really dedicated to it. The game’s tone overall is to focus on Tom and Jerry/Home Alone styled slapstick and humor, with a bit of my own cheeky humor thrown in, based around these kinds of simple yet absurd mission statements and characters.

GhostlyApprationsSplashM1.png

So to the old man himself. His design is to be a revision of a older unused concept of mine from a few years back, the guy above that I used to throw together the visuals for this games pitch. There are a few changes however that need to be made before I can start modeling a revision of this concept. Stylistic I aim for the character models of this game to be more simplistic and geometric, making them faster to model and easier to animated and adapt. Along with that while I want this character to be distinct, hence the fat design, I want to keep the overall skeleton near neutral so I can use it as a reference for future models that the larger project will require.

OldMan_ConceptsSession2.png

Above are the quick concept variants from my second session(the first practice session is shown below) at the design of this character. These aim to give me a anatomical idea of what to aim for, once I set on a overall design I will then move on to doing some style focused concepts and then a finally reference sheet. To partially address the elephant in the room(pun slightly intended) the character of this level is being designed so he can be nude, I will post a longer write on my reasons for this later, but for now i’ll sum it up as being part of the humorous style I intend for my game, however I will be discussing and examining the pros and cons of this, over the lifetime of this project.

Session 1 Concept

It’s been awhile since i’ve done a humanoid concept or model of this style, session 1 was a initial attempt to break me back into the groove of things, while not at a level or look I intend to actually use, the above practices were helpful to get me back into things after only programming for so long.

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Ghostly Apparitions – Bath Level, Old Man design Concepts and nudity

Mecanim – Working With Root Motion

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Mecanim/Root Motion based movement certainly has a lot of pros for a animator, overall sequences of movements and flourishes can easily be done animation side. However simply recreating the responsive feedback of a consistent program and number based movement system is hard to intuitively emulate.

ToastyMecanim_02.png

Working with my first attempt at animating for root motion movements, I(as shown above) made a number of paths to move my characters along in blender for reference, changing the root movements direction at each step distance. I then exported these animations to unity and tested how they felt to move, their responsiveness, speed and so on before editing and trying again.

ToastyMecanim_01.png

With these initial test I wanted Toasty to feel weighty, clunky to serve as a good contrast to the planned smoother shadow movement later. This may change down the line if this proves to unsuitable for the stealth game mechanics, player feel is one of the key elements I am trying to refine here, but that will have to wait until I can see how this version of the player avatar fits in with the rest of the planned features.

Mecanim – Working With Root Motion

Mecanim Animation

So after the Stoic Sugar Cubes prototype i’ve decided to spend the summer planning for the next iteration of the project by refining and redesigning all elements of the game before returning for my final year at Uni. In particular the player characters movements and abilities.

So to start this off I have gone through John Mac’s https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKFvhfT4QOqlEReJ2lSZJk_APVq5sxZ-x tutorial series that goes through how to make a nintendo-esque 3rd person player and camera system using mecanim, complete with pivoting and all, and am now attempting to implement it to my own character and animations.

In this video I demonstrate the current movement set up with Toasty, a simple character I have designed for the purpose of faster testing over the summer. As it is now the controls still need more work, over the next few weeks I will be tweaking the animations, animator settings and script in my attempts to make a character with a nice and physical game feel as I get used to this method of moving characters.

Mecanim Animation

Woman In dress – Retrospective

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The aim of the woman in dress model was to attempt the full production pipeline for a hi-poly character model from beginning to end.

Below are the main areas I wanted to use this assignment to improve on:

  1. -Using Zbrush for modeling
  2. -Adding fine details to high poly assets
  3. -Making a high poly model without making a Maya base
  4. -Modeling a light dress, for game engine use
  5. -Learning more about Quicel
  6. -The final stages of texturing high poly complex models

Many of these are areas I had not covered before, and were outside of my area of knowledge. Because of this, some aspects of the final model lack a level of polish they could have had if I had gone for something closer to my knowledge set, but I felt that would have defeated the point of this assignment to not use it to improve on these areas.

ZBrush

ZBrushBust

I had used Mudbox last summer for a modeling practice so sculpting wasn’t completely alien to me. An area of weakness I discovered last time was my ability to sculpt faces so this time I spent the first few days in Zbrush doing practice bust of different styles.

ZBrushBust2

ZBrushBust3.png

My skills improved but there are some areas that working off a maya base would have helped with, such as making the eyelids more distinct and other fine details. Next time around I feel I would work better making a mid poly maya model, where I can establish the lines and details with edge loops, and faces, and then transfer it to zbrush to refine the overall form.

Fine modeling Details

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While I didn’t do alpha based hair for this model, instead going for a cartoon like solid mass with a focus on sculpt details, I did attempt to give the character some finer details with alpha brushes before moving it to quixel, for skin pores and knuckle details.

SkinPores6

While palatable this is an area I majorly need to spend more time on. My knowledge on using alpha brushes for textural details is still next to nonexistent. My focus on overall sculpting and cloth took too much time to greatly expand on this area during this assignment, however I think with my next attempt I will make this part of modeling the main focus.

Cloth and the Dress

DressEdit

I’ve already discussed my issues with the cloth in this post(LINK), however now i’m at the end of the project I can comment with a view to next time. While better in the final model then the first attempt, I am not overly happy with the dress. It feels too heavy and there was too big a difference between the low and high poly that caused errors in the baking.

nClothnnd

 

Some of these things I now know to avoid next time, however I will need to continue looking into the proper use of Ncloth and, more importantly, on how to texture cloth-like objects for a lighter feel. One of my lecturers mentioned trying some alpha effects, once I increase my proficiency with Quixel I would like to attempt some simple cloth test for the Unity engine over the summer.

Texturing and Quixel

Out of all areas of research for this model Quixel, and texturing in general, are the ones I am least happy with on the final model. While I did improve with using Quixel over time, and even managed to implement a custom pattern for the vest’s polka dots, I found adapting things such as the woman’s skin tones incredibly difficult. Often I would see drastic differences between the model’s, appearance between the unity engine, and the Quixel editor, and was overwhelmed with the range of tools in the software, but comparatively little online documentation.

Quixel

In future projects I think I will work with simpler materials and textures, to slowly build up my range, I also believe I should spend some time practicing my general painting skills and simply try painting the skin textures on, rather than relying on the software.

Topology02
In the end the model doesn’t have the same level of polish as my earlier project the Bird Mask, however unlike the bird mask this model ventured into territory that I was an outright novice in, and while hoping for a better result, I was anticipating an element of failure as I learnt. To my benefit I feel that I now know how to avoid some of the pitfalls of modeling a high poly character, and can take the lessons of this one to create a more polished model next time. In the meanwhile I think, to work on the areas lacking in this model, I should try doing some smaller practices assets every now and then, with a focus on texturing and fine details, such as modeling a close up of an eye or making a simple strip of leather with stitching, using Maya, Zbrush and Quixel.

Woman In dress – Retrospective

Stoic Sugar Cubes – Player animations

While there hasn’t been time to do a fully textured and modeled player character for the vertical slice I did put some time aside to give the character model some much needed animations to help the player differentiate between their different actions in game.

Above is a video showing all the animations as they were before being implemented in unity. Some of them had to be speed up in engine to better fit their actions, so some of the more cartoony details were lost, so I put this together to showcase them in full.

Stoic Sugar Cubes – Player animations