Switching Hemispheres - Update

It has been about 6 months since my plane landed back home in Sweden after 2 years of game design studies in Australia. This is where I have to use my skills and knowledge to find work in the industry, and continue working on personal projects.

So what have I been up to?

Untitled FPS Game

Almost a week after I came home, SAE’s Make-a-thing jam started. I wasn’t sure if my brain would have recovered enough to participate, but I wanted to do something to keep my momentum going. This was something my lecturers advised me not to, considering how close to burn-out me and the rest of the team of Dragon Drop Games was during the last trimester.

But since I felt fine at the time, I decided to work on something for the Jam, even if it didn’t become anything. I started making a cartoony first person shooter game, where you shoot pumpkin monsters. I quickly realized I wouldn’t have time to finish the game for the jam, because as per usual it grew too big, but I kept working on it anyways.

I had a faint goal of making it into a higher quality game, and only used the low-poly assets as placeholders. I got fairly far on it, and got to work on a bunch of things I don’t usually do like rigging. In the end, I never really had a clear goal for the game, so I stopped working on it, but I still enjoy looking at the things I did for it, as I believe it will become a good point of reference in the future.

Attack!.gif

Mead Maker

after maybe one month of working on this, I took a little break. I still had the game development spirit burning in me, so I decided to try and make something smaller, with full documentation. I went back to my old Viking themed games, and decided to make something like it. I settled on a game where you bounce ingredients into barrels.

From the start I was very uncertain on how to make certain things, like the barrels deciding an ingredient and checking if the ingredient hitting it matches. However, after working on it for a while, it all became very clear on how it should work, and I managed to fix it.

I actually got very close to finish before other things happened that forced me to stop working on it. All I really had left was to decide a win and lose state, and add some polish and sound effects. However as I mentioned, something came up.

MeadMaker.gif
 

East Sweden Game

Pretty much as soon as I landed back here in Sweden, I had kept hearing about this “East Sweden Game”, that supposedly was a community for game developers, and that was fairly new. Having just left Australia, and therefore the indie dev group “Squiggly River Games Collective”, I really felt like getting back into a community that supported all kinds of games and where you could get feedback on your work. Still, I was a bit shy, as I wasn’t sure my level of game making was as high as everyone elses. But I decided to go to one of their meetups anyways.

My presumptions was right, most games here had had a development cycle of at least a couple of months and most of our projects in Australia (not counting the graduation project) was 4 weeks at maximum. But I began talking to some people none the less. After all, I had two years of experience with Australia to talk about. But I began visiting more often, and it is thanks to the creator of East Sweden Game (ESG) that I landed my first job (more on that later).

ESG has been a perfect change in my life that will help me keep momentum on ANY project I make. Everyone here is incredibly nice, talented and knowledgable. I’ve always been taught to surround myself with those that are engaged in the same things as I, and there is no better place than ESG for that.

 

The Accelerator & Dragon Drop Games…?

While a member of ESG, I decided to sign me and Graewolv up for an Accelerator course. This is a business coaching course that will teach us the ins and outs of the business side of running your own company. Teamwork, marketing, and much more will be included, as well as guest visits from other companies.

While I love my job, I still want to keep all my other skills up to par and work on my own projects. This course will be excellent both to improve myself and my teamwork skills within the Graewolv team, and to give me the skills to perhaps revive another group of people making games together. Dragon Drop Games.

The Accelerator Group

The Accelerator Group

 

Graewolv

I got my first job as a game designer! I am now the AI designer and programmer for a startup company here in the town where I live. I can’t mention anything about the game, but it is a very exciting step in my life. I look forward to where my career will go from here.

Currently the project is set in Unreal Engine 4, mainly using Blueprints. I however, mostly work in the Behavour trees, making sure the AI does what it is supposed to.

 

Summary

My time in Australia was one of the highlights in my life. I met so many amazing people that I try to keep track of and in contact with to this day. I hope to return at some point in the future. Things have gone well here in Sweden I’d say, and I hope that within a year or so, things will be even better.

I’ll try to keep updates here on further projects I make, even thought MONTHS pass between each post.

Thanks for reading

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Hard surface 3D model references

For my final assessment in my 3D class I have to create a hard surface 3D asset. Below are some ideas and links to pinterest boards with reference images I'd use to create the model.

Idea 1 - Steampunk Airship

I've always been a fan of the steampunk genre. Most of the steampunk images and media I've seen have been containing super fancy airships. These have been similar to boats, with sails and hot air balloons. Below you can find the link to my pinterest board with some nice reference photos of airships I'd be interested in making. You will also find the VASA ship, a Swedish royal ship, known for carrying so much adornments and cannons that it didn't even make it out of the harbor on its maiden voyage. I put it there because it'd be fun to try and make something similar as an airship.

https://www.pinterest.com.au/victorweidar/airships/

Idea 2 - Junkyard Rocket Launch Station

At the start of our course in 3D modelling we were told it was OK to create assets for our own game. Because of that, I wanted to create a rocket launch station as that is the main point of interest in my newest side project. It is also set in a junkyard so i want it to be constructed out of different scrapped materials and roughly bolted together.

https://www.pinterest.com.au/victorweidar/junkyard-rocket-launch-station/

Idea 3 - Steampunk Rifle

As I mentioned I am a big fan of the steampunk genre. I think there is a lot of potential to detail when it comes to 3D modelling and there is a lot of interesting fun part to model. As a dungeon master for a D&D group, I tend to create worlds and stories. Recently I have created a massive world that I keep building on and make games take place in as part of a massive world-building project. In this world, there is a city famous for it's production of weapons. These weapons are steampunk weapons and with that I will place the mark of that organization on the rifle.

https://www.pinterest.com.au/victorweidar/steampunk-rifle/

Idea 4 - Crystalline Sword and Shield

In my D&D campaign I introduced an item that was essentially a sword and a shield combined, made completely out of a slightly transparent, purple crystal. This asset would essentially be that weapon.

https://www.pinterest.com.au/victorweidar/crystal-swordshield/

Idea 5 - Golem

Golems are usually massive hulking humanoid creatures created out of various materials. Because of my interest in robotics, steampunk and fantasy, I decided to pick Iron golems for this final pick. Much like steampunk, there is a whole lot of interesting details and styles you can put in a golem.

https://www.pinterest.com.au/victorweidar/golems/

 

 

 

Modeling/Animation Production Pipeline

This post will outline the production pipeline for animation and 3D modeling, as part of my elective module for university. I will cover 9 different topics, from pre-production to compositing, and explain what they are and give examples of what they look like.

Pre-Production

Starting off with pre-production, or as many also may call concepting. Concepting can be anything from collecting a set of reference images on pinterest, sketching something on a piece of paper, or taking a photo as a reference. It’s important to have visual aid with you every time you are about to sit down and model so that you can keep a consistent idea of what the final model is going to look like. These reference photos can be placed inside most 3D modeling programs to model after, which also allows you to get accurate measurements of what you are trying to create.

World of Warcraft Weapon Concept Art

World of Warcraft Weapon Concept Art

3D Modelling

So when you have your reference photos all set up it’s time to start modeling. 3D modelling is essentially like modeling with clay (there are several products that act exactly like clay) but digitally and with polygons. For example, a cube is made out of 6 sides, and therefore has 6 polygons. A good way to think of them is sheets of hard paper that you stitch together into models. Where these polygons connect, there is always a vertex. These vertices are dots that when interacted with move all edges attached to it. Edges are essentially that, edges or lines. Below are some examples of this. The highlighted areas are the ones mentioned above.

Texturing & Shading

Texturing

Texturing is the process of applying images or paint to a 3D object. It is a very complicated process that requires a few procedures, one of which being UV mapping. In order to paint on a 3D surface you need to flatten it out to a single 2D image. This is what UV mapping is. Once you have a UV map image you can hop into any drawing program that you like and start drawing on it. This is then brought back into the modeling program and applied to a model.

Shading

Shading (in 3D modeling terms), is telling your application what material the object is made out of, for example iron or brass. This is an alternative to texturing where the detail might be more in the model itself than on the texture. For example, for the robot model above, instead of using a painted red for the body, I could have used red metal shading, at the cost of the detail.

maxresdefault.jpg

Rigging & Animation

Rigging

If you want to make a model you have move and animate, you first have to start of with the rigging. Rigging is the concept of placing a skeleton inside your model, with control points that are then used to move the skeleton around so that you can animate it. Usually, the control points sit in all the joints of your model, so that you can rotate them as well as move them at the same time. Then you have to bind the model’s skin to the bones, so that it moves and bends naturally. This can be done using a method called Vertex painting, where you decide how much each bone influences each vertex by painting them in a “colour”. White represents 1, which is fully influenced, and black represents 0 which is no influence.

Rig.PNG

Animation

It’s time to make the character move. To do this we have to get used with the terms “frame” and “keyframe”. A frame is a part of a second and on each frame the position, rotation and scale can be recorded. If that happens, it becomes a keyframe. There are 24 frames in a second, and if you’ve recorded the position of an object all 24 frames of a second, the 3D program you are using will create an animation out of the keyframes.

Howl2.gif

Lighting

Lighting in 3D animation is pretty straight forward. It is used to light up a scene in the final render. However, much like in any type of media, the lighting is used to set the mood in your scene. It might depend on the angle the light is coming from, how many lights you use in your scene, or what colour you are using for the light. There are also different types of light, and I will list the most common ones here. There are spotlights, that project light in a cone. There are Point lights or omni lights, that project lights in all directions originating from a specific point. There are directional lights, that most people tend to use as the sun. Directional lights light up the whole scene from a certain direction, still casting shadows. There is an alternative to this called skylight, which illuminates an entire scene but doesn’t cast shadows. It creates a sort of natural light. Finally, there is area light, which creates a softer light from an area. Sort of as if you were to have a light the size of a window and aimed it at an object.

Rendering

Rendering is technically the final stage of 3D modelling, where everything in your scene is placed into a single image that the application, with assistance from your computer's settings, creates for you. It all boils down to the press of a button, but there is a lot of tweaks and settings you can use to either render more efficiently, or to alter the way it renders with the help of filters and so on. In an animation for example, rendering would take a very long time since a video is consisting of several images that each has to be rendered with the effects.

Wherever you go to watch 3D modelling work, you’re most likely to stumble upon renders. It is the best way to get light and other visual effects into an image that looks fantastic. Above this you can see a picture of a blacksmiths station. That image is the final render of a scene that has used many of the techniques that I’ve talked about above.

Compositing

Compositing is combining visual elements together into one single media. For example, If I were to make an animation of a robot, and with the help of shading and lighting make it look realistic, and then finally place it in a video, that would be compositing. Using a green screen is a type of compositing, but also using photoshop to combine different elements.

There are different ways of doing this. Part of the compositing progress can be rendering the image in layers. For example, first doing a reflection render that only renders the shiny-ness of an object. Then on top of that doing a highlight pass for edges and a beauty pass for the textures itself. These can then be put together for a final image render that is also part of the composition process.

Bibliography

Birn, J. (2014). 3D Compositing at 3dRender.com. Retrieved from http://www.3drender.com/light/compositing/index.html

Hunt, A. (2015). Introduction to 3D. Retrieved from http://www.cgstudentawards.com/magazine/entry/introduction-to-3d

Slick, J. (2018). Get a Brief Overview of the Complex Process of Rendering. Retrieved from https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-rendering-1954