Monday, 8 February 2010

Week 4

8/2/10 - I optimised the soldier and worker bees to an extent, but did not go too far with it since we still do not have a solidified polygon limit. I do not want to make the models too low-detail. I also started preparing my PowerPoint slides for the pitch session on Thursday.

9/2/10 - I finished smoothing the worker bee after deciding that it would make sense to have a high detail and low detail version of the characters anyway; part of the investigation is about experimenting with art methods afterall. I then rendered my posed models using some settings and lights that Abi's boyfriend had showed me. Results below!

Ant in attack pose

Soldier in attack pose

Worker in cool pose

The first two poses are taken from Abi's concepts and are similar to how they might be rendered for use in the game; the third was just for fun, to test the skin.

This render setup involved a sky light, three directional lights and a glossy material. I am very grateful for being shown this setup as it makes the models look great!

10/2/10 - This morning I did some research on polygon and bone limits for Unity iPhone - the limits seem to be very low but I'll have to wait and see how the programmers' stress tests go. I plan to have a low-detail version of each character I create, even if they will not be used. I think it's a good idea to have models that are theoretically suitable for development if the game were in full 3D, since this is part of my investigation. Hopefully at the end I will be able to compare the renders, the models and Abi's drawings in context.

Below is another render of the worker bee. I posed him again to make sure that the skin on the arms was deforming properly, and assigned a matte material to see how it would look.

'Ready for business' pose

11/2/10 - Following my pitch presentation and supervisor meeting, I was comfortable with the idea of creating theoretical low poly models of each character for the sake of comparison. My aim is to submit mockup gameplay videos: one with the rendered assets and one with the 3D assets.

I conducted some research into iPhone games which use 3D assets; Touch Arcade and Pocket Gamer are two useful websites which feature articles and media concerning iPhone games. I looked at GTA: Chinatown Wars in particular because there was an article which compared the game on PSP, DS and iPhone. Interestingly, the iPhone version was deemed the most graphically attractive. The article can be found at:

Unfortunately, looking at other iPhone games for use of 3D does not seem to be particularly useful; the polygon limit on screen is heavily dependent on several factors, including the use of animation, physics and the number of models. This means that I still cannot guess at how many polygons or bones are feasible in a model - however I have started optimising the generic ant anyway. My guess is that the polygon limit will be very low, as will the bone and animation limit.

Low-poly ant is still over 800 triangles - ideally he should probaby have even less.

12/2/10 - At the moment I am unsure what would be feasible for our game as far as 3D is concerned; I have no idea what our approach would be if we used full 3D. Given the nature of our game, there will be many characters on screen at any time - the swarm can have as many as seven bees and the generic ants would likely attack in hordes. I am almost certain that animating these models would cause severe slowdown, so perhaps they would not be animated. But this would leave things looking very static, especially the ants since they should be walking.

A possibility is to use 3D bees with attractive swarming motion, with 2D rendered ants; this would probably be less strenuous on the iPhone but I'm not sure how good (or bad) it would look. I might run some tests with mockup screens this weekend to see what happens.

13/2/10 and 14/2/10 - Over the weekend I set up a scene in 3DS Max with a 2D rendered backdrop; I tested the scene with 2D rendered ants opposite rendered bees, high poly 3D bees and low poly 3D bees. Below are the results.

High detail renders of ants and bees. This is method 1 - the one we are most likely to use.

Rendered ants and high detail 3D bees. This is not going to be used for the game and serves as a comparison between high poly and low poly 3D on a small screen.

Low poly 3D bees and rendered ants. This is method 2 and is being looked into. I am not convinced about this method as it is quite jarring, but it will need to be tested in the engine.

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