Friday, 8 February 2013

Snow falls on CryEngine

We have a new version of the CryEngine SDK now 3.4.4 which has as one of its key new features a new weather sim system for snow. The Sandbox has a new Singleplayer demo level now, Forest_Winter which is decked out with the full snow covered experience including new music and even Christmas trees etc. Here is the promo vid which shows just how pretty and immersive the CryEngine experience can be.

There are quite a few places in the level where the ambient dark areas are coming up too dark for my liking. my footprints are almost black which works ok where the snow looks thin as in the screenshot below, but in other areas doesnt look quite right. You can see how dark the rocks are in contrast to the snow in some of the shots, but some of the effects are just gorgeous. The floating ice is great and I felt cold falling into the water. I did want to shoot up the ice though and feel that would be doable quite easily.

Here are some screengrabs of things running on my machine, first some shots of the Forrest level, not sure if it has changed much and then of the new Forest_Winter which has the snow weather effects and extra elements throughout.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

MakerBot Pocket-Tactics

3D printing continues to evolve and with the ability to fire one up at home with options like the MakerBot – board game creation has a greatly expanded capability to explore and playtest. I havent yet posted on the new game concept that is evolving in my head and through the pages of the sketchbook, but knowing that I could create some play pieces this way is very exciting.

Pocket-Tactics is a game that is crafted by the Ill Gotten Games guys to be downloaded and then printed out in 3D using a MakerBot! This concept combined with their move to Kickstarter has one game hitting an armada of modern gaming cool points.

The game uses a collection of midget tiles and miniatures which look at treat on the table if the pics are anything to go by. Check out these pics and the various sets on the Thingiverse site: 41740, 29385, 28641 and 45269.

[Pocket-Tactics imagery via the MakerBot pages]

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Runed Keg

When thinking about board game concepts and mechanics one of the fun ideas that still has some solid legs is the concept of adventuring dwarves in a fantasy setting who gain power through drinking special ales, brews, beers and such. These dwarves love their drink, but with each power-boosting pint, they also become more ... well drunk. So players need to manage the flow of drink into power and then various levels of intoxication.

This idea needed something to bind this logic into something that felt like a tighter story and adventure suited to a board game session. Thus was born The Runed Keg Inn. This special dwarven wayhouse is built in the midst of a long abandoned and ruined dwarven lands that are now inhabited by all manner of friendly and definitely not friendly creatures. One of the cool things is that the dwarven ales are extremely resistant to the ravages of time, indeed the runes scorched into the barrels imbue the content with more power as time passes. So beneath their feet and occasionally hidden in an above-ground ruin are the left behind riches of these dwarven lords - beer.

The players job is to work together to delve into a now infested dwarven ruin and bring back the required barrels for the inn. While the pay isnt too good, the amount of free beer more than compensates for the insane danger of the task. The first playable set would be The Runed Keg: Nest - this would feature a ruin that is now the home of many spiders and other denizens. The issue of dealing with webs, many an eight legged creature and all those eggs will set the starter set apart from any expansions which will introduce further thamatic adventuring areas.

Our heroes are chosen not just because they like adventure and drinking, but they are strangely attuned to the runic power of these ancient ales - so much so that drinking them imparts with almost magical powers when consumed in large quantities.

I certainly havent fleshed out the mechanics in any detail yet and I am keen to develop the idea with friends - collaborate on things. I like the idea of adding drinks to a track which drops off the older drinks over time, but also fills up adding to your intoxication level. The game is chock full of theme and supports multiple playable heroes very easily. I can see the game supporting a fair amount of randomness to suit the theme - esp with rising levels of drinking. The games Political Correctness is questionable - but the fun should outweigh this if done well. I havent played Red November, but that has a grog mechanic and is coop as well, one to check out for 'research purposes'.

I will post more on the idea as we put some flesh on some interesting bones. Plus there is another game in the design stage that I will post about soon that will see some real progress by the time I post.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Brett Demonpuppy Sketches

From back in my comic collecting era one of the Wildstorm artists that delivered truly inspired work was Brett Booth aka Demonpuppy. Rather than my blog just having sketches and drawings from me - having some gorgeous work like this grace the virtual pages is a treat. Brett's lines are full of style and impart some real energy into the characters while keeping them refined and classy. His blog has plenty of work on display and makes for great reference material for how to make figures hold dynamic poses and show off their concepts

Check out some of the stunning covers for the New52 Teen Titans. I think I will let a few of his pieces speak for themselves, but everyone should check out his blog for more, really - these are just a taste of his work and it is great that he has these sketches up on his site for us to admire and learn from.

I really enjoy concept sketching and thinking through ideas for characters, places and creatures - but it would just be such a treat to be able to impart this much class into a piece. Beyond the concept stage, how nice would a board game with Brett Booth art be for example ... gazes into the air wistfully ... ok onto the art:

[Brett Booth Comic Sketches vis his Demonpuppy Blog]

Plus here are two of the covers from the DC site

[Brett Booth Teen Titans covers via the DC site]

Monday, 4 February 2013

Voile Noir

This short film brings along a nice blending of CG and live action shooting to deliver a single strong message. Voile Noir was created by ArtFX School students using primarily Maya with help from tools like V-Ray, Z-Brush, Photoshop, Mudbox, After Effects and Nuke. There is a great little 'Making of' video as well which shows the construction of several scenes and assets used to bring them to life.

[Voile Noir promo poster pic via cgranjon]

The final compositing and grading and look of the film are perhaps the finest qualities, though that work was done atop good bones with decent footage and some nice models and effects (fire, smoke etc). This is a pretty good student film as they kept is short while taking on a big topic and grand outlook. They used live action integration to handle the more complex characters and animation which also gave them practice with that compositing side. Plus they really finished it, it looks, sounds and feels complete which makes it a treat for all of us now.

3DWorld Mag has an interview with Michael Balthazarts, one of the co-creators. This is a good example of what should be achievable by students and I really need to get onto my project so I can show off the things I have learned through the MDM thus far - big projects are scary though...