Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Few Things

I figure that since 2 holidays have passed since my previous update it may be time for another.

I've gotten through building the interior of the house and making it as modular as possible. Something a bit more challenging than I had expected in comparison to the exterior. I layed out the Uv's and everything and then proceeded to pretty much get stuck from a design standpoint.

1. Modern Homes are really boring.

Originally I had imagined this home having a more modern design but it only took a couple days of researching stuff to realize that this was going to be a very boring building aesthetically. Flat colors, everything brand new and clean. . . I was beginning to really hate it. Especially when I tried desperately to think of a way I could make it more visually interesting (on the interior) with wallpaper designs, only to realize that that would take the home from modern suburb to ultra modern demo home. I knew that lighting could always fix the problem but after staring at flat filler textures for a few days I began to seriously reconsider my approach to everything. Good thing too, as I had started to build props for the inside and at least didn't waste my time on modern appliances and instead could make some more retro pieces.

Basically I'm going a little beyond the source material here.

Pallet Town is always presented as being rather a rural town but also having a very Japanese modern feel to it. I've decided to reconsider that altogether and now am going to look at it as a much older town with slightly worn homes. Still warm and cozy but with a better sense of history. This will allow me to distort things and make certain elements a little more wonky without seeming entirely out of place. I also probably will end up redoing the town layout I had made in illustrator to look less like a suburb and more like a country village.

Realize I may need to add a fireplace now. . . .

2. Testing

Before I even got into this sort of stuff though I made sure to weld the whole piece together, create a custom collision for it and bring it into Unreal to make sure it was at least comfortable enough to run around in.

Now, characters in UDK are meant to represent a 6 ft tall person. Since I imagine this being a game of course that's bent more towards a younger protagonist (traditionally 10 or 11 but I'm going with 15/16). So I adjusted the size of the building to reflect a player character that is not 6 foot but closer maybe to 5'6".

Most everything played well. Moved through doorways pretty easily but ended up adding an extra 6 feet onto the back half of the home to give the stairs an extra bit of width for easy movement.
The family in front of their. . . home?

As you can see, I slapped on a UT texture. The skeletal meshes standing there are modified sizes. The tallest dude WOULD be 6 feet after taking the size adjustments into account with the building. The middle tallest is the actual player size (about a 5 feet and a half) and the smallest is I believe about 5 feet, closer to an 11 year old.

Next part of testing would be door movements. When building the kitchen assets, I made it so a couple cabinets and drawers can fully open to collect items out of (just for the heck of it). Rigging them up with matinee will be a bit of a pain but I'm eager to see them in action.

3. Retro Appliances have all the fun

I'm being totally serious here. They really do. Probably one of the more fascinating parts of the project (at least recently) has been getting to check out old style tv's, fridges and the like. While I would never want to have one of them as far as functionality goes, its still interesting to see the evolution of design in appliances over the years.

I may take away those room dividers since I'm starting to realize they are a bit too modern. At the very least I need to change the angles on it, maybe to be more of a paneling. Which makes me think i may need to add that to all the walls as well. . . . Anyway! Once again a couple of the drawers and cabinets there open to reveal shelves inside. The fridge also opens and has an interior. So yay for now having to dress it with all sorts of misc. items. . .

4. Color

As you can see I've been playing with flat colors so that I can at the very least not have to stare at gray all the time. These general colors will probably change though now that I'm going to do an older style home. On the second floor though are 2 bedrooms. The idea being (in the hypothetical world of this actually being a real game) 1 door is for a girl player character and the other for a boy. Whichever bedroom is the opposite of the player character's gender would be locked. Both rooms will have (not an over the top) design slant towards one gender or the other. Pokemon has actually used this kind of switch before in their games.

As for the exterior, I'm playing with a red/blue combo, somewhat similar to traditional pallet town colors.

It'll be roughed up more of course. Still haven't decided how red I want to go with the tiles. I don't want it to be boring looking, I want it to look distinct enough. I really want another accent color for the window frames but more blue just looks too God Bless America and any other color looks less sincere. So it'll probably stay white.

Okay I'm starting to bore myself.

I'll leave with this finalist for the National Geographic Photo of the Year contest. There are other photos in the "places" category that are more than likely (and deserving) to win, but this one really caught my attention for some reason. I think it's mostly to do with the colors and shadows. Yeah, yeah, I know, its probably tinkered in photoshop, but still inspiring.

You can see the other entries here. Be careful, as I spent 2 hours today just looking through all of them.

On the Games Front:
I've been playing Rome: Total War (an oldie at this point, and boy does it show graphically. . .). It's been a while since I've played a really good RTS. I have like 2 on my xbox right now that I'll probably never get around to playing, mostly cause an RTS on the xbox is exactly what it sounds like: dumb. I have 2 because one was given to me for free. Anyhow, I've been sitting on Rome for almost a year now thanks to all the Steam sales that seduce me into buying games that I normally probably wouldn't consider or even get around to playing right away. I have to say I like it a lot. The battle AI can be really frustratingly stupid at times and requires a good deal of micromanaging. The overall campaign and governing side of things though is pretty detailed and kinda awesome, especially when you start hoarding more money than all the other factions combined.

I started a few different campaigns and learned from mistakes in them before finally hitting it up hard with the Brutii Roman faction. Currently I have over 50 regions (part of the requirements to beat the imperial campaign). Now I have to take over Rome and the senate, but that seems almost impossible right now considering that the poor Scipii Romans have been pretty much landlocked to Eastern Africa during the entire campaign so they have like 20 armies just twiddling their thumbs back near their capital which happens to be right next to Rome. So basically the minute I set up siege on Rome those guys are gonna throw a shit and start wailing on me with all they got. I'm almost willing to just call it, considering I own 60% of the map (pretty much the entire western side of it) And the only other factionthan the roman allies are the Britains.

I also got the expansion as part of the bundle and I tinkered with it a bit but I'm not all that impressed. Its pretty much the exact same thing just many more smaller factions. I may give it a better go later on.

I've also finally been getting into Team Fortress 2. I'm waaaaay late to the party but never had people to play with (not to mention the time) until now. Ben plays it a lot so I've started joining in. Now that I've been playing it somewhat regularly I'm starting to like it now that I've gotten a hang of things. FPS's have never been my strong point, mostly cause I can't bring myself to suffer through that initial embarrassment of working my way over that learning curve while playing with other people.

Ben also bought me Left 4 Dead 2 recently when it was on sale and we've been playing some of that with friends. Add to that our recent love for the new Walking Dead show on AMC and I'm starting to have a lot of zombie on the brain. If that show has taught me one thing, its that my suspicions have always been correct that red necks will be the most likely survivors in a zombie apocalypse. Makes me think that maybe I should learn to shoot a gun, just in case. . .

The man has a crossbow and no sense of right and wrong to hold him back! He's gonna out survive you!