Saturday, 12 May 2007

Day128 Sketching, Good Game and World in Conflict

Sketching
Did a handful of sketches today - was nice to work with the paper again some more. I did some dancing, western and comical ones, plenty of fun. I will have to pick one and actually PS3 it.

Good Game
This nice little show (http://www.abc.net.au/tv/goodgame/) on ABC2 is all about computer gaming, pretty much like a gaming magazine really. It is nice and Australian based, so we got to see them interview the makers (Auran Games) of Fury an Aussie build MMO coming our way. The game uses a modified version of the Unreal engine - but is very PvP-centric. They also previewed World in Conflict - mmmm awesome.

World in Conflict
Another title arriving this year to revitalise the RTS market, this one looks yummy. The visuals look truly stunning, the ideas and setting refreshing - has me looking forward to this sort of gaming again actually. Their site (http://www.worldinconflict.com/index.html) shows off the game - the trailer is just awesome. The Cold War setting grounds the game and immediately draws you into a world that is approachable yet interesting. It seems to be a game that while an RTS has more in common with things like Battlefield than other RTSes out there. The 'respawning' type gameplay without the bases certainly is a departure - so it will be interesting to see how it all feels. The feel of the whole thing from the trailers is so cinematic and close quarters - having this overlaid with the strategy could be a potent mix indeed.
Check out these screenshots from the game - yep ingame shots:

[screenshots of World in Conflict from their website]

Friday, 11 May 2007

Day127 Cinema4D

Cinema4D
Thinking about all the realtime work I have been doing with HL2 and previously the 3DSmax modelling - something that could come to mind that would fall in between would be Cinema4D.
The Maxon site (http://www.maxon.net/) has plenty of info on their flagship Cinema4D plus the now included Bodypaint 3D. Though the app does have a realtime walkthrough engine - it is actually quite basic whn compared with the likes of the full-blown gaming engines. Yet I have heard it can do some nice things - more investigation required!
The images below show that it is a fully fledged modeller, painter and renderer with a good range of capability. I have gone a little crazy and included a whole bunch of pics - but they show off the app and give me ideas.




[images from the Cinema4D site showing what the software can do]

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Day126 Virtools and more squarehouse

Virtools
Having seen such positive reactions to the squarehouse HL2 model I had a peek at Virtools (http://www.virtools.com/). These guys specialise in 3D realtime and VR solutions - some of which look very good indeed. The Shader Head Demo (http://www.virtools.com/applications/technology-effects.asp) is fun and beautiful. Many of the effects we do see in our favourite game engines, but this is a nice application and shows off where this tech can be without all the mayhem and adrenaline.
[project images/screenshots from the virtools site]
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Squarehouse
More people got to experience the squarehouse model again today. Poor SW got all motion sick and we had to have her turn away while I moved to new areas for her to experience (see). This is another little issue that we may have to allow for going forward. The value of the model though is considerable even in its relatively rough state and there is enthusiasm for taking the model forward and seeing how 'complete' we can get it.
Some of the many things just itching to be done: fix up design to show changes; add exterior and roundhouse; add schematic workshop equipment; get office props etc into the hammer model; fix lighting; revisit wall and surface textures; create operable doors; create dyanmic and switchable lights; add NPCs; get server running.
Another parallel project/extension will be to see just how much detail/beuaty we can get into the model - can it rival rendered flythroughs??

Hammer map optimisation
A super guide to optimising maps in HL2 (http://www.student.ru.nl/rvanhoorn/optimization.php). There is lots of important info in here on func_detail, visleafs and more - essential reading.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Day125 Squarehouse Model

Hammering the Squarehouse
Today saw several new people get to experience the model. Some of them had never driven or even seen game interfaces like these, but after just a few minutes were navigating around and seeing past any 'schematic' pieces to see the potential of the tool, plus critiquing some of the design areas as they stand. Several things which in plan looked to have potential problems were definatively issues requiring change once experienced through the model.
This combined with more discussion was really exposing the potential of the medium to express a design. One thing that will be needed is a 'mini-map' - being so familiar with the plan I never get lost or lost my orientation, but people less familiar need more 'plan' references. Fitting out the spaces more than just the blank rooms also helped deliver feedback on locations, usage, space sizes and more.

One thing is for sure, this is great fun and proving useful all at the same time!!

Here are some screenshots of the current model with props added to flesh out some of the spaces and their usage. First a look into the computer room, then a view from inside the 'shop' out to the light workshop, then a look into the main office from the woodwork area and lastly a view back through the general workshop with the office in the distance as seen from the studios. The layers of glass produce a nice effect.


[screenshots of the squarehouse gmod/HL2/hammer model]

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Day124 Squarehouse and Psyop

Squarehouse
Got to show some people the current state of the squarehouse today. PM as a complete newby got to 'drive' after we showed him around briefly. He found it 'fun' to experience the space and liked the grungy look that came along with the HL2 textures I had used.
The model was already useful in demostrating some issues with the design such as storage in the office and space behind the shop counter.
Russ had a look as well and that got us talking about a whole heap of issues with peoples perceptions of the digital realm. Many find it hard to see schematically when presented with what look like finished graphics - so we may have dumb down things for some audiences while in the design stages. I will make a version of the model which is essentially all grey and with no fittings, then continue with the model I am working on but with all the trimmings fleshed out. On this front along being in gmod was great - we could fitout the office or storage areas quickly and they had instant visual recognition.

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GCFScape
Grabbed GCFScape from Nem's website (http://nemesis.thewavelength.net/index.php?p=25) so I can grab the bits from the GCF files that I need to populate the squarehouse map. Simple things like the office chairs, dell computers and signage mdl files.
Mighty stuff Nem!

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PSYOP
Russ showed my this super little company where one of his friends works, Psyop (http://www.psyop.tv/main.php). These guys do amazing things not only with the CG medium, but the ideas, expression, imagery, message clarity and pure enjoyment evident in the form are inspired. Some of my favourites in their little archive are: foxnascar, cocacola, motleybird, fanta - blimey they are all super.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Day123 Hammering Away

Hammering the Squarehouse
Squarehouse model is zipping along now. Definately not the worlds most accurately dimensioned work, but it really does feel like the squarehouse now.
Took some reference pics today, and here are the equivalent bits of the model.
[reference pics of the squarehouse and the gmod/HL2 model]

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Day122 Hammering

Hammering the Squarehouse
Set about building all the glazed walls as geometry to see how this works. The alternative is to use textures for them all and both have appeal in different ways. I still have plenty to learn about map logic in hammer (what should be grouped with what, with what settings - func_detail is proving a life saver, but interacting with these settings is weird. Viewing the settings and working in groups is messy in this area).
Compared to the place-holder texture walls I has in place until now, the new model looks great. It doesnt have the multi-layered transparency artifacts that were there previously and the frames and glass work together beautifully.
Here are a few shots of the current state first showing the main entrance, then a shot in the light-workshop with the 3D print room in the centre, then a shot from inside the computer room looking back out to the lockers:

[screenshots in Gmod/HL2 of the squarehouse map]