Monday, 19 April 2010

Week 14

19/4/10 - I spent most of the day refining the dissertation; I went right back to the start and proceeded to re-read, correct things here and there and add references and images. This 'second draft' should hopefully be finished by the end of the week, when I will start to look things over again. This evening I met with my group and we looked over people's submissions for the publicity showreel.

I also completed the Bea model, although she needs some tidying up:

20/4/10 - Continued to refine draft 2 of the dissertation, and also UV unwrapped and smoothed the Bea model.

This is a very basic texture map which I will add some shading to later; the colour scheme may change slightly so I will wait and see what Abi says. There are still a few things I'm unhappy with, like the part where her head joins the collar and the texture on the wings; but mostly I am pleased with how she's turned out - very cute!

I also created another icon in Illustrator; I decided to post a large image of the rest as well since they were not that clear from the screenshot. Learning Illustrator is a slow process, but it is fun. I need more practice.

21/4/10 - Following today's supervisor meeting I have been refining the Bea model; I also added a skeleton but since it is not much of a visual progression there is not much point posting an image. After receiving some constructive criticism on the HUD design and mock-up level, I am working on new ideas for those.

22/4/10 - I have re-done the first level based closely on Abi's storyboard - the biggest issue with the original was the matter of scale - and have taken a screenshot to test out a new idea for the HUD layout (see below):

The main criticism of the original HUD was concerning the analogue wheels at the bottom - they did not fit in well with the aesthetic of the game and looked very much like they had just been stuck on (which they had). We discussed ideas such as the wheels looking like flowers, a different colour scheme and to have some sort of horizontal flow along the bottom; so I have attempted all of these things! The pink and blue match Bea's colours and the leaves provide a nice border along the bottom of the screen.

The flowers are very large so I set their opacity to 50%; the bees will still be visible behind them. The centres of the flowers could act as 'sticks', so that when pushed they would move (like a top-down view of an actual thumbstick). Lots of iPhone games do this, and perhaps with the centres at full opacity it will be clear that those parts of the HUD are interactive - but I'm really not sure. This idea needs to be run past the team before I make clean versions of the flowers.

I skinned and posed the Bea model, made some adjustments and fleshed out the texture a little. Unless any more refinements need to be made, her model is finished so I will design a plinth for her in the meantime. The pose is based on Abi's concept painting, minus the gigantic happy smile since that would mean changing the face! Bea still looks very happy, which is the main thing.

Another update!! I designed a plinth for Bea (obviously a flower was the perfect choice) and rendered a scene with all the fancy lights. I will hold off from rendering turnaround until I get some feedback on the model, since changes might have to be made.

23/4/10 - Today was development day, so I spent some time re-exporting assets and creating new ones for the game - just small things like rocks. I also had time to place the characters in the new level layout, and I will render a video overnight. I created the new analogue wheels in Illustrator and conjured up an iPhone demo screen, complete with HUD.

I think these flowers could perhaps be quite visually confusing, although it might look better once the images are moving and the flowers are still? I can create an overlay for the level video tomorrow and test things out. The screenshot is not terribly indicative.

Small change: the leaves are opaque but the flowers transparent. Not sure if this is better, worse, or just different without addressing anything. I used a different scene as well, one that is busier. Once again I feel that a video is the best idea since we will see the whole level in motion.

24/4/10 - Level video with HUD overlay.

I took the level layout and replaced all the 3D characters with 2D rendered images; I will render the video at some point to see how it looks in motion. Below is a still capture.

The bees look really nice here, but the ant looks rather flat; it's not helped by the alpha blending which has given him a lovely white outline. I think this is something that we would have had to deal with in the game as well, but hopefully it is less noticeable in motion.

25/4/10 - I wrote up a definitive list of deadlines and tasks so that I can plan my work in these last few weeks. The deadlines are as follows:

10th May - draft dissertation
14th May - Professional Practice submission
17th May - Honours project submission
18th May - end of year presentation
21st May - final dissertation
21st May - launch of Degree show

The closest deadline is for the draft disseration; at the moment I have it all written up and have checked it once over but I need to write the bibliography, which will be something to focus on next week.

The Professional Practice submission consists of the work we will submit for the show - in my case it will be 3 videos, up to 5 images and a poster - as well as a press pack including business cards, artist's statement and promotional synopsis, 1000 word report and relevant promotional material (such as a DVD in an appropriately labelled case). This is by far the most extra work to submit, since I have not been in a position to do any of the written work yet and have not designed business cards or a poster.

The Honours project submission will probably consist of the work I submit for the degree show along with the weekly diaries, learning contracts and a link to this blog. My project submission videos are nearing completion: one video will be the character collection (complete but needs approval), another will be the level fly-throughs with low poly and rendered characters alternately (90% complete, needs approval) and the last will be a collection of tech demos and gameplay videos (need to be collected from the programmers).

These are the main things I am working towards right now - polishing off the material for the videos, refining the dissertation and starting to plan the press pack content.

I now have drafts for two of the three videos which I plan to submit: the character showcase and the level mock-up comparisons.

Since the video layouts have all been set up, it will be easy to tweak and replace content (eg. re-posing a character, changing the HUD, adjusting the level). I expect that some changes will be made yet, but it's good having something to act as a progress piece in the meantime.

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