Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Gigantic Log....

Ok so a lot to write about here. 2 weeks left *scream*. Yea so we finally got the lighting working really well, this is a screenshot from the realtime engine, looking really good so far. Had to mess around with numbers to set the lighting up for specular diffuse and occlusion. To use to fancy maya lighting which lets me just select a colour and brightness! Anyway you can see on this one it has a nice orangey light from the front, to give the lightbulb feel and a second blueish light from the back for this cold dark feel. Works really well contrasting each other, especially at side angles so you can see both lights.
The programmer managed to link everything up now so users can change clothing and textures etc. Also I uploaded more textures of the different outfits, for example below the nice green suit. Sticking to dull colours though. Tattoos turn on and off now as well.
Again just an example with the purple clothes. Tilted the camera up slightly also as I wanted the use to be 'looking down' on the character.
Had a bit of discussion about the buttons at the bottom of the design in the project supervisor meetings and I decided to scrap them and use them in another way. Wasnt feeling the UI to much there yet, was a bit messy and complex so I decided to redesign it slightly. As you can see its a bit more straight to the point, and is even more steampunkish. Will carry on adding extra detail into the background.
Quickly designed some Business cards and sent off for 200 of them. Pretty pleased with how they turned out. Nice and simple and showing my model well. Having trouble with the website at the moment, the hosting server isn't being cool so trying to get that fixed at the moment, fingers crossed ill have it ready in time.
Just the reverse side showing low poly.

The log... a lot to flip through but it just shows more back and forth with the programmer. Is a nice example of how things keep getting re-editted etc. Click and zoom to read properly.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Large Update...

Oh how time is ticking down very quickly... lots to show here though... If your reading the blog from down to up this section will be in the wrong order as confusing as that sounds.

So I discussed the editor with the programmer to see what could be done from the concept I posted earlier.Came up with a draft version which the programmer said would work quite well. I had to ensure that it was possible to get transparency into the engine, although you cant see it here theres a lot of tranparency involved in the UI. At the moment the buttons at the bottom seems to confuse people, it was meant to just be aesthetical but I may need to re-think them. After I got the go ahead from the programmer I did an update on the design:
Came up with a nice little logo design which I may use on other products such as the posters and the book which Ill talk more about shortly. Added a Start and Back button to the editor also, even though these buttons won't lead anywhere due to it just being a prototype it always helps to have them there.
Heres the actual engine running. 360 degree rotation and zoom working. You may notice that the sliders are missing here, thats because discussion with the programmer revealed that it might be more effort than its worth to add the sliders, but we'll see what happens. The lighting is still a strobe type light which Ill want changed as I think it would be better static, might try to persuade the programmer to add 2 lights or ill go down the baked lighting route. Ran some tests on some Uni machines too to make sure this will work at the degree show.Looks really nice from the back... well see when the UI is linked so we can actually change items. There are a few resolution issues at the moment, if you run this on a 16:10 screen it works perfectly, but if you run it on a 16:9 screen some of the buttons are a bit off. Going to try and make it all run full screen as well, mainly for degree short purposes.Nice feature where you can view the normals on the model, not for users obviously though!

Set up a DropBox recently as well, which is basically a cloud for storing and sharing files. It was too difficult sending files over hotmail, and was a bit stupid as well because you could only send 10mb files and the while editor is about 200mb... so yea... will post the exciting logs up here to show how were using it. Note: log changes appear every time someone uses the editor and a couple of other people were invited into the project to just take a look.

Had to post DropBox's image too, funny advertising is always the best.

Not the most exciting image in the world, but it shows how we use dropbox. Note it doesn't show when a file has been downloaded to be worked on.
I have been working on my book a lot recently too trying to get it done for professional practice and my degree show. Its going really well so far and will hopefully order it today, really looking forward to seeing it.Here is the front and back of the book, nice and simple. just sorted out a website domain called www.burntrobot.com, nothing on the site yet but I began to design the logo which will be used on my book.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Discovered an awesome way to render wireframes.... sweeeeet.

Ok... so haven't posted on here for a little while as I've been working on the exciting dissertation stuff... mainly just reading lots and writing little... oh well it will come along shortly.

On a side note the editor is going really well.

Also added a few bits and bobs. Really like the mask.

Sunday, 28 March 2010


Running a few test's in the engine (these are screen shot's of the engine in real-time) seeing if it's worth pre-baking the lighting onto the static objects, giving superb lighting. Each lighting bake takes like 5 hours though so it's a timely thing to keep testing.

(ignore the line on his head, that's just a slight texture error, easy fix)

Saturday, 27 March 2010

40th Post... Time to make pretty pictures

So onto a darker theme... started doing lighting test's on the model to see what I could come up with. Was inspired by the one light tests the programmer through together in the editor, with a black background, and I felt this really added to the character so I decided to play on this a bit.

Maybe he is a tad dark here (really depends on your monitor as it was put together on my very bright superb quality laptop... yes its nice) but you can see what I'm going for.
Also the editor designed in my concept art was a bit complex and wouldn't suit a black background in the first place. So decided to get to work on a new, more simple modern looking one, with inspiration from APB and Mass Effect. Still lots to go into it but it's getting there. The UI will have a level of transparency (lets see what the programmer thinks when he see's it anyway, surely must be more simple to program than the last one I pitched...) and you will be able to see areas of enviroment in the background, pipes, chains, patches of walls etc. Still trying to stick with the steampunk feel aswell to blend the character and editor together, have got to get the balance really right here, and not make it look like some future interface. If you can't tell here the key's are the bottom are like from a tyepwriter, with sciencey symbols on... ooo spooky.

This isn't a shot of the actually really time editor, if we could get the character to look like that in the editor we'd probably have jobs for Crytek. It will look a lot simpler (if thats a word) but still hopefully nice... Running some tests on Pre-Baked lighting, which would make it look high quality in the engine, but with the shadows baked in it would look funny if you say put a hat on the guy and the shadows didn't change, which would add another layer of complexity in the end... blah.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Spent awhile modeling the guys trousers, as this was quite problematic at the bottom of the trousers. Had to use more alphas to curve the bottom, as they fold up etc. This made the normal maps a bit funky too so had to do a lot of painting of the normals which was a challenge.

Also not to sure what colour to actually make the clothes, I know i'm going to allow users to change the colours but I want a base to start with, tryed a dark brown but it didn't look to nice, so tryed a greeny colour which looked nice but didn't really fit in, so then I tryed a dull brown which looked nice, might saturate it a bit more still though.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Chapter Headings

At my supervisor meeting the other day it was suggested I really get my chapters sorted out to help me in writing my dissertation.

- Title Page
- Abstract
- Contents
- Introduction
- Player Agency (illusion of user control during game play)
Uses of player agency
Effects of player agency

- Characters for Games
Design Process (visual vs non-visual)
Emotional Bonds
Character Story Relationships
Why are characters important?

- Customization in Games
Case Study feedback
Questionnaire feedback
Effects on character user relationship
Effects on story character relationship

- Conclusion
The results of character customization
What we may see in the future

- Appendix A: The Sims 3 Case Study
- Appendix B: Spore Case Study
- Appendix C: Fallout 3 Case Study
- Appendix D: Maybe APB Case study??
- Appendix E: Questionnaire and results

- Bibliography & References

Side Project

Just on the side I thought I should probably start some portfolio pieces so here's my beautiful women so far, thought I should do something to contrast my skinny character a bit. Liking the form so far, need to do the head obviously, but in the end you will hopefully see here bulging out of a Halo armor style suit.


So the character has been a bit neglected this last week as I work on the questionnaires etc. But I started creating the supports for his wings, his eye piece is almost done, and I started creating a tattoo layer for the player. I think I'm about a week behind at this point which isn't great but I planned for upsets like that in my schedule.Going for wing style tattoos to keep it in the same kind of theme...

Belt straps there to attach wings too.
More detailed eye piece added, difficult to texture though.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Been a little while

Not posted much up here for a little while. Been busy sorting out other things this last week such as the show reel for the fundraiser and the dare to be digital stuff. Also stumbled across a few problems on the programming side or the transfer side, we haven't worked out which yet, but in basic terms the textures and normals are back to front for some odd reason. Started modeling a few props etc for the background and I've been trying to get this eye-piece right because it just wasn't working how I wanted it.

Also I've been trying to sort out a questionnaire for my dissertation but it's been more difficult than I'd expected. Would of been a lot easier if I found one online which I could use, but now I have to make sure that it's up to high standards, which isn't easy. Currently in the progress of working out chapter headings so I can begin writing my dissertation one step at a time.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Eye Peice

Just started modeling the eye peice, not much done to it yet but it's already starting to look quite nice...

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Shirt Render

Not really too happy with the shirt at the moment, will leave it how it is for now though, work on the other clothes, then come back to it later on if I get chance. It is very low poly though which is cool as a lot of the detail was added with transparency maps which was a first for me.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Free Hat

Just a show that im finally working on the clothes, should be able to throw these together quite quickly now. Really need to get the wings done though, maybe slightly worried about the design and how they will fit together though.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

More Detail

Been working on my questionair some more so should have that up and running soon hopefully... not great at making them so will need to make sure its ok before i start firing it out.

Added some more detail to my character, might leave the body there for now and get to work on making the rest of his clothes/wings etc. Very pleased so far.

Monday, 22 February 2010


At last I managed to sort out the normal maps, took long enough, now I can really speed up my process. Baked out Ambient Occlusion maps and the normals and now I just have to paint on top of them. As soon as I've finished the painting which should just take a couple days I can start throwing out the characters clothes as these should be easy enough to model around him.

I also spent a good part of yesterday fixing the topology again, just making it a lot cleaner and spread out. The arms and hands are still a bit messy but I'm not going to worry to much about that as the renders are coming out fine and the character will be static, plus the tri count is under 10k which was my target in the first place.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Quick Post

Have lots more to show but meant to post this from last week quickly before class.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Major titles at the moment for research:

Character-user relationships.

“A player experiences the player-character at many levels while playing”

(Isbister, K. 2006)

Characters Effect on game play.

“For example, if the player thinks that the skateboarder on the screen is Tony Hawkes, then it may be harder for them to imagine themselves in the game instead.”

(Wood, Griffiths, Chappell, Davies 2004)

Player Agency, user control of game play.

“Character customisation is pointless ... unless it contributes to game play”

(Hartas, L. p50. 2005)

Might be better me actually showing problems in the render than just in the normal map so here goes:Looks ok here....
See how I'm getting lines from the normal map onto the model on the face, I really don't want this...

Here's a wire frame to give you an idea of the mesh.

Just an example of character renders so far: (just tests):

Normal Maps

Spent the last week really trying to sort out the normal maps from my model, been getting lots of artifacts etc which isn't what I want because I really want players to be able to zoom in quite close to the character.
(red circles errors in the normal map, don't want to get to technical but clearly something is wrong with the normal map cage).

Now I could make the poly-count 16000 polygons which might be worth doing, but 10k tris per model is the usual so if I can make this work I will. at (8474 tris at the moment which is nice, could maybe use some more around the head)


So I had my first meeting on Friday with my tutor (Inga) which was extremely helpful. Only posting up feed-back on it now because I don't have an internet connection in my flat (yes old school) which sucks, but I'll try to update this as much as possible.

So the model seems fine at the moment (I'll get into problems in a minute), but I really need to get back into research seen as I've probably working on my project as the major piece of work. What came up in discussion with Inga is the main problem with my work is that not much research has gone into it, making most things I come across so far biased in my own opinion, so I was given some good sites to begin making a good question-air to make sure my project isn't to biased.

www.surverymonkey.com is where I will build my question-air as it is a good site for this, but I will also try to get users to use the site http://blog.brainhex.com/ which will show how people perceive different games and if they would perfer them or not (debatable but it's a start). This will basically be an area to start my research into the public's opinion on character editors.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Posing and More Sculpting

Posing the character into the correct position.

Adding finer details like the spine and more to the face.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Test Character

Created a quick character just to test my workflow and to decide on the anatomy for the skinny male. The topology on the character is a bit weak, as it was shaped around the muscles and not for the silouttee, as you can tell by the flat polygon shapes on his head. Will fix this on the final characters though. Also he's just in a plane T pose here which the main character wont be modelled in. Had a few problems with the normal maps at first but they turned out quite well.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Should of poster this up by now. A painting of the female character. No doubt lots will chance when I get into sculpting as I'm far better in Zbrush than I am at painting.