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yuenkay

The Environment

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Hey everybody, if you are here you probably are curious how we're going to put the world together. I'm Jane and I'm gonna be making this world, yay. DF call me a "World Builder", but I would be better known as an Environment Artist in the industry. I was Andy's lead artist on The Cave (coming out soon!!) and before Thanksgiving I took a couple of weeks to remake the world in Brazen.

Anyway, here goes.

Day 1 is always tough for a WB. This is equivalent to staring at a blank canvas. Well actually you have to make your canvas first. My first job is to go into our world editor (called MUE -> multi-user-editor), and literally create a world. That usually takes like 5min, but however, it took a few hours to sort out today because we are all starting off with a new code branch and some stuff just wasn't working right off the bat. It took the better part of the day to make sure my blank canvas was actually working, and by about 3pm or so, everybody's got a white-pizza-box man running around in a super crappy looking world. Imagine safeway lighting on astro turf.

Last night when I was mentally prepping to start on this project, I realized that my major issue would be lighting. In the Brutal engine, we have a lighting/climate system that is engineered to deal with open spaces, and it really doesn't work at all in enclosed interiors. To give a super brief explanation, the SUN is the only source of shadow-casting light, and you have a SKYLIGHT element that is kind of like an ambient light color. That's all fine in a field, but urm, in a Tower, there is no Sun, so erm, that's a problem. I can get into much more detail if anyone is interested why but just trust me that'd look bad with just ambient light and a few point lights that aren't interactive. The last game we did with mostly interior spaces is Stacking, and we had a whole different vertex lighting system that we determined this morning to be TOO RISKY to attempt to port over in 2 weeks. Which kind of got me crapping my pants.

I didn't actually crap my pants but, after went to pick the brains of people who worked on the Stacking prototype (before they had the real vert light system). We are now going to emulate what Stacking did during its AF. We're just going to hack our vertex-color blend system, and then to bake lighting inside Maya into one of the color blend channels, to then use as a base for our lighting, on top of using the existing climate system. One of our programmers is going to try to give me one shadow casting light (that isn't the sun), which will hopefully give a nice look. We'll see.

So this afternoon, I spent most of my time trying to teach myself how to light with Mental Ray in Maya, and how best to combine it with our existing climate system. Last time i used Mental Ray it was like 6 years ago or something, which is forever. By the end of the day I think it's looking pretty promising, at least my canvas isn't blank anymore, it's good to have something in the right direction that you can go with.

I have attached a couple of screens from the PC game here. There is also a screen of my test maya scene. This is not what the tower will look like, it's just a close enough approximation for me to learn lessons from it. Note the hot pizza-box-guy.

Oh right, I also don't have concept art yet so, I also don't know what the tower will look like ha.

Day 2 we will have to deal with the camera system. It is next to impossible to find out if our spaces are remotely in the right scale before you have a decent game camera to look around in. I will have to go around making sure a programmer can actually hack me my vert light system. Hopefully I'll get some of Derek's time to draw me a tower, or some bits of it. That's the plan. Oh, maybe I'll try to make the outside world not look like total shit.

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wow what a great read thanks for writing all of this! very insightful and great that you are writing what is happening with such detail :D

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The fact that your isolating what are potential problems in the prototype this early and how you'd fix them if this wasn't a prototype means the game is is safe and reliable hands. I'm really looking forward to this one going forward.

Derek's art is mindblowing and combined with an obvious passion for this from you makes me want to play... now.

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I wish I was able to observe the livecasts and didn't have to work myself during those hours (I'm making a mural) so I could get to see you guys work on this kinda stuff - I feel like I'd learn how to make games in hyperspeed.

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I wish I was able to observe the livecasts and didn't have to work myself during those hours (I'm making a mural) so I could get to see you guys work on this kinda stuff - I feel like I'd learn how to make games in hyperspeed.

You can watch the archived videos on the Twitch channel. They are super long and you have to skip around and find the juicy screencast bits. but they're so cool!

http://www.twitch.tv/doublefine

As far as I know, all of the streaming we do for this event will be saved, so no worries!

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That's awesome, Jane !

Thank you very much for letting us have a look at your creative process. Please keep sharing. :)

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Glad you all like the post, it's nice to keep track too because I always regret not documenting the progress. It's fun having the "before" and "after" comparisons. I'll try to do it everyday if possible. they may screen cast me sometime but I told them maybe when I'm doing some real modeling, it'd be more interesting then, tests and porting files are not very sexy.

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before Thanksgiving I took a couple of weeks to remake the world in Brazen.

Ah, so am I to understand that the Brazen we downloaded was not exactly what resulted from last year's AF? That makes sense, it really seemed too nice to have been made in 2 weeks. Although that had gotten me decidedly optimistic for this year's round.

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before Thanksgiving I took a couple of weeks to remake the world in Brazen.

Ah, so am I to understand that the Brazen we downloaded was not exactly what resulted from last year's AF? That makes sense, it really seemed too nice to have been made in 2 weeks. Although that had gotten me decidedly optimistic for this year's round.

Think they said somewhere in the stream they worked for another 4-6 weeks on it to clean it up add steam multiplayer and some other stuff.

Compare the results more with the costume quest/happy time prototypes though they might be a bit better because of having bigger codebase then 4-5 years ago.

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before Thanksgiving I took a couple of weeks to remake the world in Brazen.

Ah, so am I to understand that the Brazen we downloaded was not exactly what resulted from last year's AF? That makes sense, it really seemed too nice to have been made in 2 weeks. Although that had gotten me decidedly optimistic for this year's round.

I worked on the original Brazen AF last year (with Andy as well) for 2 weeks. We used a lot of old Brutal legend stuff because it's just supposed to convey ruins and it didn't really matter what it was. We also had a more greco-roman feel to characters that can use existing animations we already had from Brutal, since most of the animator time was devoted to testing out the Gorgoth (which we couldn't repurpose from other projects) and the claymation-stylized animations.

I then got on for another 2 weeks to revamp the world because:

1) They've had a bit of time to come up with a more specific art direction, not just "use whatever we already have!"

2) We are now doing it on PC instead of Xbox, which means a lot of things that looked ok on Xbox is way too ugly on the PC

3) We have since made a lot of really good zbrushed rocks that can easily be repurposed to fit the Brazen look

4) Derek had some time to paint a sky dome and vista cards, which is much better than plain boring blue

5) Needed to do a big pass on all environment textures/materials to fit current AD and PC requirements.

The Gorgoth is essentially the same as from the AF prototype. The layout of the land, and the ocean is also basically the same.

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Good read, Thanks for taking the time to share. It's really interesting to see how these things come together. Hope you have some time to do more of these.

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Yeah, this is great. I wish there was someone doing this kind of thing from every "field", a programmer, an artist and so forth. I understand that doesn't suit everyone, so thanks to you for doing at least this one!

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Jane I just wanted to say you have been the most fan involving person on stream so far. I love how you treat it like we are just sitting right there next to you. You are awesome

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+1 Jane

I'd love to see some streams of DFAdventure stuff with this kind of interactivity/depth... Really amazing! (learning a lot just watching this in the background.. fun!)

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Oh that's good to know! Thanks so much! :D I figured it's hard for me to communicate what i'm doing without a note pad, since i'm not just modeling, and I jump around a lot, and also I cannot see any of your comments since I cannot see the stream screen while I'm doing work. And it's probably not as interesting if you just see me click stuff without knowing why.

I'll do more. It wasn't as terrifying as I thought it'd be, since you just see my screen instead of my face being twisted into crazyfaces.

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Oh that's good to know! Thanks so much! :D I figured it's hard for me to communicate what i'm doing without a note pad, since i'm not just modeling, and I jump around a lot, and also I cannot see any of your comments since I cannot see the stream screen while I'm doing work. And it's probably not as interesting if you just see me click stuff without knowing why.

I'll do more. It wasn't as terrifying as I thought it'd be, since you just see my screen instead of my face being twisted into crazyfaces.

I'd like to add that I enjoyed watching your stream, too, Jane! I hope I can tune in for more. It's great to see professionals get stuck on stupid mistakes such like we do -- I'm referencing to the time you made a mistake by not saving the background tree image to the ground and getting frustrated when it was floating meters high. :)

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I also came here to comment on how I enjoyed the screencast. It's pretty hard to understand what people are doing without some form of commentary. Think-out-loud (or write-in-Word) notes are awesome.

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Thanks for taking the extra time to post your thoughts about what you're trying to do and how it's going. Even if we were to see your screen and understand more or less what you were doing, there is no way for us to know how that measures up to the assessments and goals that are jumbling around in Jane's head. Hearing your grumps and hoorays and eurekas adds a whole extra dimension. It's like a Let's Play of development =D

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Thanks everybody! I'll keep doing now that I know people actually enjoy them.

Also, I posted Day 2 progress on another thread, so it's easier for peopel to skim without going through all the comments. Enjoy!

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Your segment was great Jane. Even though I am not an animator I enjoyed watching you piece parts of the world together to make puzzles. Right now in school I am learning Unreal and having to make levels and shape meshes can get both engrossing and frustrating. Also nice touch with the notepad. It was fun seeing your thoughts, hopefully that returns if more screen sharing does. And to the people that were making fun of you at the office were just mean!

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Your segment was great Jane. Even though I am not an animator I enjoyed watching you piece parts of the world together to make puzzles. Right now in school I am learning Unreal and having to make levels and shape meshes can get both engrossing and frustrating. Also nice touch with the notepad. It was fun seeing your thoughts, hopefully that returns if more screen sharing does. And to the people that were making fun of you at the office were just mean!

Thanks! Not sure I can do that everyday, but for sure I'll do it again, with notepad!

Oh the making fun of is good natured, they only tease me because they love me. it's just like how I made fun of DaveG's stuff not to scale to the entire internet. haha!

I will publicly make fun of Andy next time, since he makes fun of my mouse paint.

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I will publicly make fun of Andy next time, since he makes fun of my mouse paint.

Sorry, mouse painting IS funny - haha ;)

Epic stream. It would be easier for you to use a mic, if you feel more comfortable with 'us' now? (Also, if there's one available in the office). Push to talk for a second and return to your mouse paint?

Love the blog posts. Historical event. No prominent video game dev studio did something like this ever before so transparent & in public. I hope, others will follow & share with fans a week or two, despite usual tough working days. You carry the torch and the kids follow your light!

Enjoy your (work-free!!) weekend.

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