This week I added walls and floors the the new bedroom level. I have been adding the same door and variation of stone wall to each level to make them feel as if any level could lead into another. For example, if you're playing in the kitchen level and then went to the bedroom level you could say "oh that's whats on the other side of that door" and the same could be said for the greenhouse etc. This helps tie all the levels together even though they are very different levels with very different layouts.
The design team started work on the new bedroom level this week, so I did some research and concept art to find a good direction to go with the scene art wise. We did have a bit of miscommunication this week as well. The designer made this ornate mushroom sculpture without consulting the team about it first. He then claimed we talked about it several times and that it was agreed upon. Other team members and myself mentioned that "plants" were talked about, but never a giant mushroom sculpture. The reason this becomes an issue is because of the extra time that now has to be put into making these mushrooms that was not otherwise accounted for. Plants would have been ok, because it would involve reusing assets and ultimately saving time. He agreed to change out the mushrooms if time constraints became more severe.
The Kitchen level is environmentally art finished! I pulled a lot of long hours this week to get it done for spring break, but it was well worth it. My designer knows Unity's lighting set up better than I do, so she's going to do the lighting now that I'm finished I had to do a lot of work arounds similar to last week to get things to fit together properly, but I think it came out nicely. The ceiling and chandeliers was super fun to play with and get all the little details added to make things feel really grounded in this environment.
This week I bit off a little more than I could chew with the kitchen level. I told my team that I could probably get the entire level done (All the remaining grey block assets). I managed to get things like some counters, shelves, fridge, etc done. It's proving to be a bit more time consuming because it wasn't designed as optimally as it could have been. I should have worked more closely with the designer to make sure that art was also taken into consideration more closely. I made it clear how we should approach the next level from a modular art perspective and making sure that the designers stick to that.
I focused on getting walls and floors in the level this week so the designers could make any last interior changes to the level. Now that the level is pretty design finished, I can go in and finish all the rest of the grey block assets. I'm going to try go get all the grey blocks done this next week, but I think it might be a bit out of scope. There are a few cabinets I can simplify and make modular for less modeling, but there are a lot of unique assets that need to be made like the stove and especially the hearth. It's gonna be a challenge for sure and it's gonna be an hours heavy week.
This week was pretty business as usual again. Just going down the asset list of props for now until the kitchen level is more solidified and I can work on the counters and shelves. I focused on pots and pans mostly and things that I felt would add a bit more life to the environment. We have two underclassmen coming onto our team to make new levels as well, so I'm looking forward to what their planning on doing or adding to our levels.
This week was pretty business as usual. I focused on making more props for the new kitchen level that the designers can use to build the level with. I mad a few utilitarian props like crates and chairs, but also updated out old crystal ball asset. It has a a much larger role in our game play than it did before, so it needed to be a bit more transparent to be able to see the spell VFX that the witch would be casting.
This week I focused on making food assets. I wanted to explore how I could make food in the style we needed for the game and I feel like they're pretty successful. I tried to include more bevels than I normally would when making low poly food so they could catch more light when in game and have more interesting shapes when trying to ready what they are from a distance. I think my team is happy with what I made and I plan on giving the designers more control on actual asset implementation, unlike last semester where I did that process myself because we didn't have level designers. I plan on doing a final art pass on everything they do to make sure it's artistically pleasing, but also functional.
This week I focused on making concepts for our new kitchen level. I wanted to start with a black and white sketch to just get the feeling for values in the scene. I'd say it's a pretty accurate representation of where I wanted to go. In the coming week, our designers will block out our level and I have time to make non essential props and assets for them to play with. I'm focusing on food in the next week, so I'm pretty excited. We also talked about how were going to manage the level with the added designers, it was a little hectic but I think we managed to work something out that we can all be happy with.
This week we meet and made plans with our new team members that we got after the draft. We talked about our plans for the semester and made plans for future meetings. We now have two level designers (one also does narrative which is a huge plus), an animator, and another programmer. I'm excited to get started on our next level and any assets that I get to do. I'm also looking forward to working with our new level designers, but I also know it's going to be a lot more work than last semester when we didn't have a level designer. I have people that I have to filter all my work through now and that could potentially mean less work for me, or more depending on how they work. However, I'm not too worried about creating a good discourse with my designers because their pretty cool people and understand where I'm coming from.
Fall Semester Post-Mortem
Well the time has finally come, the end of the semester. I am proud to announce that our game, Breakout Brew, has made it to next semester. After all the QA's and presentations and demos, we are finally through. We have just drafted four new members to our team. Two designers, an artist, and a programmer to join us for next semester.
I think now is a good time to reflect on how our team did over the course of this semester. I've worked with this group of people in the past, so I knew we could get things done well and with very little animosity over the course of this very stressful semester. Everyone did a really great job this semester and we created something that we can be proud of on our 4 month journey. That being said there is definitely room where we can grow.
There are some aspects that I, personally, could have done better on. Capstone is an interesting class for sure. You're asked to make a game in 4 months, often with people you haven't worked or even met before. As an artist, it is especially challenging. You are asked to put in 12 to 15 hours a week for a class that, if you're a realistic artist, is basically a time suck and a portfolio killer. So you could say I wasn't going into Capstone with the best attitude for doing my best and making stellar work. I realized last semester that classes like this aren't necessarily for me. They're for the designers and programmers, content wise, to show their skills to recruiters and use this for their portfolio. The only thing it really, truly offers artists, is communication skills. Don't get me wrong that is super important and everyone needs to know how to talk to the other disciplines to know what they're asking for and how to work through conflict in a productive manor, but it isn't in the best interest of the artist to make good work. I did my work and that was that, I gave my team something to work with and I'm proud of the work I did for the time challenges I was under. So, that being said, If the circumstances were different, say this was my job, I would have given it my full attention and we would have made a basically Steam ready game in a semester. This was a problem I noticed with our other artist on the team as well. We're two lowly artists just trying to make it in this incredibly stressful time and if doing more for my portfolio is necessary to land me a job, then that's what I need to do.
I think this process has made it easier for me to be more forward with my team in the things that I believe are achievable for our game in the time we have. I have gotten better at making more accurate time estimates for any tasks that I do and I'm not afraid to tell my team if something isn't doable in that specific week.
Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable experience and I'm happy that I got to work with an amazingly talented group of people and I am excited to see where we take our game in the coming semester. Our lead designer is even trying to get us Nintendo Switch Development Kits so we have another fun and unique aspect to our game. And how cool would it be to have your name on a game made for the switch?? I'm thinking pretty cool. Expect more updates to come in the following months as our game expands with new people and content!
And always remember,
It's not Rocket Science, it's Basically Witchcraft.
Week 10 :
The final presentation is within sight! This week and the next, are going to be spent almost entirely on polish. Our programmer has given us to the "no more features" stage go now it's bug, bugs,bugs.
This week I started fleshing out our menu system. I started with the idea of a 2D start screen, but after my team pointed out that I was trying to make this look 3D that I realized it might be easier to do in 3D. So the first iteration was my guide for the 3D layout. I started a new scene in unity and added props and characters in their "stun" frames to make them look scared. I also added some extra "juice" with sweating and candle flame VFX. I also added in some little crystals that I made earlier in the year, made them glow, and animated them with a little bob and spin to give them life.
Week 9 :
Our team really focused on trying to challenge into vertical slice this week. Which included a lot of documentation. On the art side of thing this included updating the art bible with not only updated art, but also looking back at our iteration process for all art aspects (Character,Environment, VFX, etc). I did a break down of first idea concepts with the mouse in the kitchen idea and how we came to the witch's greenhouse idea.
As far as updating game assets goes, I fixed a few assets that were missing things- ie. bottles that weren't closed so you could see through them, a few texturing errors as well. I added a ceiling with the hope of making the windows transparent so the player could see the night sky, but I ran into a problem with unity's material shaders and I wasn't made aware or a work around until mid thursday. so the following week will be implementing those materials and updating the sky.
We are also getting into the polish stages so a lot of the coming week will be going back and making aestetic and function based updates to in game assets.
Week 8 :
This week I focused on fleshing out VFX for some traps and player effects. I made two stuns (one for each character). The bird character has a stun that shows little birds circling the players head, and if you are the pig character, it shows little pigs. Having this small customization for each character allows for the player to feel more grounded in their character and it's a simple little tweak we can implement quickly.
I made the wind movement trap VFX this week as well. It's such a visual trap that it needed a VFX right away for the player to understand why they are being pushed around. I wanted it to be very shape based wind to match our art style, because if it was small, the player might not understand what the effect is doing.
The lightning effect is still in early stages because it's hard to make an effect that is going to be spawning from the top of the level or a predetermined location.
Week 7 :
This week we are trying to challenge out of the Deep Dive stage. We believe that we have established the Core game play loop even though we don't currently have multiplayer. Multiplayer is a huge part of our game, but since you are not interacting with other players to the same extent as other multiplayer games, we believe that we could move forward with what we currently have.
I ran a QA session on Saturday and we had a great tester turnout of 30. We got some great feedback that the art is really heading in the right direction. They also mentioned how cohesive out art styles were, so that was really exciting to hear at this stage.
For art this week, I continued to work on the level walls and assets, made an art bible that explored our texturing, modeling, and implementation pipelines, and put some art into the presentation.
The walls are at a a place holder stage, but I wanted to be able to show that the wall was going to be a rock wall and not just grey plane for the demo. After some feed back from the team, I will make them more brick like and less stone like to feel more like a castle exerior
Week 6 :
This week I focused on making more props to flesh out our environment in the with greenhouse theme we are trying to achieve. I did research on common things associated with witches and things that would most likely be in the home of a somewhat modern witch. I plan to add more props in the coming weeks to really feel lived in. I also want to focus the environment back to plants because there are a lot of props that are currently contradicting the theme a bit, so more garden themed things would be good. I also focused on the actual walls, windows, and floors, and added the first iterations of those assets this week. I still have a lot to do in regards to those, but I think I'm in the right direction. I also adapted the texture sheet as I was going along to get more browns for floors and walls. I explored making crystals, and that was pretty fun. I made them colorful, but light as to be noticed but not distracting as the player sees them around the level.
Week 5 :
After postponing the challenge for an extra week, we have fully decided on a concept we are going forward with and are confident that we can get our game to the vertical slice stage by the end of this semester. Taking an extra week to really get our direction straight, review QA feedback, and evaluate what needs to be done was really worth doing. If we had attempted to challenge last week we would not have been in a good place and we would have been rushed into a prototype that wasn't completely fleshed out and given information that would then be inaccurate.
This week I focused on getting all the documentation that was needed to complete the challenge done, which included part of the presentation and the Art Bibles for both the Halloween Game and the Collection Game. Since we decided to go with the collection game, I focused my modeling in that game. I made a lot of props that helped sell the "witch greenhouse" aesthetic, so more plants, bottles, potions, books, etc. I also worked with the character artist to try to nail down the textures we would be using for both aspects and we made one texture sheet for characters and one for environments that we can tweak as we go. The character texture sheet is more vibrant and saturated than the environments texture to try to make the characters stand out and be seen from a distance be other players in the game.
Week 4 :
Our Team was planning on challenging this week, but after some setbacks and a rush to try to define both game ideas, we decided to postpone our challenge until next week to better define the games and really analyze the feedback from QA, then decide and move forward.
This week I focused on iterating on the characters for the Halloween game more, and more environment assets for the CTF game. Our team had a level set back, so I was just testing assets in Maya this week instead of in engine. I was testing color and if our current environment texture has the necessary colors. After testing, I believe we can pack the texture set with more colors to really utilize potential color combinations.
For the Halloween NPC's I wanted to play with different color combinations and see if making some similar/different colors would affect readability. For instance, the bunny and the devil are similar silhouettes and because they are so close in color, it makes them hard to differenciate in a crowd.
Week 3 :
This week I focused on concepting further on the Halloween game and doing my own iteration on the Capture the Fag (CTF) game.
For the Halloween game I wanted to look at more possibilities for NPC costumes and explore them in regards to silhouette. I looked into the most popular Halloween costumes in recent times and noted their silhouettes and if they could be easily readable in the game. One costume that I really wanted to explore was a zombie costume, but it was very difficult to give the character a profile that allowed for easy recognition in a crowd. I also iterated on the overall shape of the NPC's. will they have legs? will the have arms? hands? all of this needs to be considered when going forward and what the team is comfortable with doing.
For the CTF game, my take on it goes into the life of a baby bird who uses their shell to roll around the environment to try to collect food to bring back to their siblings in the nest. The player can change between an open and a closed egg for moving, but the player will not be able to traverse the landscape without using each. The environment is set in a greenhouse or a garden with lots of greens and natural colors. Using the type of texture set that I talked about last week, I was able to quickly make another set off or the Halloween set and expedite the texturing process.
Week 2 :
This week I focused on basic concepting for our Halloween game. I wanted to do some traditional concepting but after speaking with my art adviser, who suggested I concept in Engine (Unity), I started that immediately. I set up a very basic scene with very simple assets for both characters and environmental pieces textured with our set upon texturing methods.
The Halloween game is a party game where one player controls a ghost trying to control NPC's in a crowd to try to not get spotted while also trying to kill as many people as possible. The other players control ghost hunters trying to find the ghost character as the ghost jumps from NPC to NPC.
I chose to make the characters bright and mostly one color to help distinguish them completely from each kind of NPC. This allows the ghost hunters to make callouts more effectively. Each NPC also has a unique silhouette that allows them to be spotted quickly. Some characters, ie the witch, are most often identified by dark purples and blacks, I pushed those colors brighter to help every part of their silhouette be more viewable.
The Ghost Hunter character, I went for a ghost busters theme to help sell the idea of a ghost hunter. I made the tops of their heads a color that stands out from the rest of the NPC's, but also, we will probably add markers above each player to firmly distinguish them in the crowd.
The environments are made up of a much duller color palette to keep the focus on the NPC's. I also focused on lighting the scene to first feel like a party, and then we can later shift the focus to Halloween with props and decor.
The shape of the characters was designed to be accessible for quick iteration and require very minimal animation. We might add arms or hands down the line if that is the direction that would benefit the game play and feel of the characters.
Week 1 :
During this first week, our group met twice to discuss game ideas that we could potentially prototype in the weeks to come. We ultimately came up with 52 game ideas that were pitched, fleshed out, and built upon for further deliberation within the first group meeting. On Wednesday, (9/6) we voted for our top choices in a spreadsheet. Here are our current top 5:
You play as a mouse trying to get food from a kitchen without getting killed or spotted. Similar perspective to I Am Bread. Survival game.
Narrator controlled game. Cooperative or Competitive. One player controls a character moving around a 3D environment, another person controls what the narrator says and it causes things to happen in game. Competitive: One player trying to reach a goal while the narrator sabotages. Coop: Try to work together to get the player to a goal.
A zombie trying to find food and not get killed by people. 3rd person over the shoulder survival game.
Ghost possessing objects to get revenge on the person that killed them. The ghost has 24hrs to try to kill their killer by possessing objects and making the killer die from random events / objects.
Ghost hunting game co op game where a group of three tries to find a ghost/monster in a crowd at a Halloween party.
A sort of 3d tetris where you stack block configurations into a tube. The context is packing passengers into subway cars. Perhaps isometric perspective. (Placed #24)