Thursday, 23 May 2013

Loch Dreagan Vegies

As things hadnt been going completely to plan with the Loch Dreagan CryEngine level, I set about rebuilding the vegetation logic from the ground up. Along the way I was tweaking the TimeOfDay settings for the sun, fog, ocean, brightness, saturation and more.

Working with the built-in assets it is obviously a little easier to create a nice forest, but the various elements are translating pretty well to the foggy Loch. Now that I have a working model for the environs I will propogate things all way around and then come back in and add things like old broken walls, fish and birds, etc. Then I will spend more time on the monster modelling so I can bring some experiments into the Engine - that will be very exciting.

The image sequence below shows a progression of this area of the Loch: nicer pebbly shoreline; new grass; skybox with clouds; pebbly grass; scrub and bushes; tree testing, feature tree for the right spot, shrooms and sunrays; nestling in the new vegetation; flowers on the hillside and patchy bushes separated by grassland just like the reference images.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

CryEngine Fog Volumes over water

My current level for Loch Dreagan is using the 'ocean' to create the large body of water that is the loch. One thing I had been looking forward to adding was a fog/mist hanging just above the water. Alas the controls for the fog volume (either of them) just dont seem to be able to generate something that works over water. Things are under control as far as density, dimensions, falloffs etc until you try to put it above a lake or ocean - then strange artifacts are rendered. The fog looks as though it is under water, or glowing or only illuminating the shoreline or insanely dense etc etc. I just tried using a water area entity instead of the ocean and while the shaders interact slighty differently - the result is the same...

So this looks like a cool effect I am going to have to live without, at least I still have the global fog going which looks very nice.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Game Design Theory

I think I will have to go back and read Jesse Schell's Art of Game Design again now that I am right in the thick of the Loch Dreagan creation. It would be very cool to have the cards (is that too extravagant? I just grabbed the app for phone and tablet (iPhone in my case) - free and instant)

Anyhow, apart from that great reference there are other useful systems, these Game Design Frameworks offer ways of looking at and crafting game experiences.

The Mechanics Dynamics Aesthetics framework by Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc and Robert Zubek is a nice simple way of breaking things down:
Mechanics: The rules and concepts that formally specify the game-as-system.
Dynamics: The run-time behavior of the game-as-system.
Aesthetics: The desirable emotional responses evoked by the game dynamics
Apart from the paper, check out the PPT link as well.
I like under Aesthetics the taxonomy of 8 kinds of "fun":
1. Sensation Game as sense-pleasure
2. Fantasy Game as make-believe
3. Narrative Game as drama
4. Challenge Game as obstacle course
5. Fellowship Game as social framework
6. Discovery Game as uncharted territory
7. Expression Game as self-discovery
8. Submission Game as pastime
See the PPT from 2004:

I have had a quick look at the Learning Games Design Model by Barbara Chamberlin, Jesús Trespalacios and Rachel Gallagher from New Mexico State University, USA.
The “I’s” Have It: A Framework for Serious Educational Game Design by Leonard A. Annetta, North Carolina State University has a different take again using a cascade of 'i' terms to structure thinking for educational games.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Loch Dreagan Level Evolves

I completed the intro CryEngine tutes on Digital Tutors in between working on the Loch Level that will form the environment for any video or card art pieces. While I remembered lots, there were details of strange key combos that I probably wouldnt have found.

Here are a few more screen captures (have been using cfg files to help with that and experimented with stills to patch together to make video as well). I have spent time (probably too much) playing with terrain textures, blending them together along with some surface modelling to help get the effect. Vegetation has been tricky - working with Grim Grass has been good and frustrating at the same time. While it is gorgeous, I may have to find an alternative that is more consistent. You can see in the last 2 images that just turning slightly drastically changes the brightness - no idea why. One thing tutorials rarely provide is all the bits needed to solve such oddities.


I like how things are looking, esp as I try to achieve things that look something like these gorgeous reference images, the bare rocks, pebbles, dense bushes in patches etc. Apart from working these details into the entire map there is some fun to be had with fog volumes (mist hanging just above the water), rain, boids, skyboxes and all the Scottish walls and village bits and pieces.