Reflective Journal Week 1 (06/03/2017)

Monday 6th March: Our teacher briefed us this morning on what our little task is for the week. Our task is to complete a proposal document and small presentation so that we present our idea to an audience which in this case would be our on class on Tuesday 14th March. I decided the most important section of the task would be the 1000 word proposal document, which I tackled straight away. I will make a first draft copy and then continue to polish, re-structure sentences and grammar at a later date. Hopefully my trial and error plan will work out and I will end up with a very high quality proposal at the end of the week.

Tuesday 7th March: Today, I continued with my proposal document, as I want it to be of a very high standard to achieve a higher grade in my project. I would love to make it so that every piece of work is as close to industry standard as I can;even if my current ability is not. I have checked what I have already done and made sure grammar and spelling is correct. It seems every time I read over my work again I can always make improvements. I then carried on and finished section one and two which are the bulk of the proposal. I talked about what my project is and how I want it to affect the player. I also spoke of what I want to do in my own personal role and have had the idea to create the bigger structures and foliage to surround it, while my team mate Ryan Hodder wants to make the level interactive and focus on more smaller assets.

Wednesday 8th March: Today we received a pleasant surprise, we were going to get a presentation from a member of Codemasters games development team. In particular, this member was one of one-hundred people that works on Formula one annually. At the moment Codemasters are currently developing Formula one 2017, so just getting the opportunity to talk to someone whom is relevant in the industry was truly valuable and adds to my personal experience.


Tiffany Berenguer's presentation consisted of various jobs available in the industry and key skills that are required to be successful in those professions. She specialized in programming, so naturally, she was much more knowledgeable in that area. She explained many skills required such as communication, persistence and, in her area, an ability to use code languages such as C++.

Tiffany then went on to tell us something we know all too well: the game industry is extremely difficult to get into. Many people that get into the industry start off as a QA tester, however that is the most competitive spot in the game industry so it's best to not rely on that particular entry point. She explained that the industry is very flexible so even if you don't have a degree, as long as you're able to prove you can do the work then developers will be open to employing you. Just before Tiffany left, she said "Never give up." which was extremely motivating as she was standing in front of a class that she had never met before and had to go through the same process herself.

Thursday 9th March: Today I focused on getting my website finished for hand in on 10/03/2017. I followed the guidelines set by one of my tutors David Walters and used Adobe Muse to complete this section of my course. I added various widgets that allowed me to input images of work I made for my final major project. The navigation is all working and although the website may be a little bland until I add more images, it is still operational.

After I finished, I then filled out a one-thousand word evaluation for the second section of my hand in. My evaluation touched on points such as "Did it go as I expected?" and "What would I change if I were to do it again?". Finishing this work marks the day I can put 100% focus into my final project.

Friday 10th March: Today I began creating foliage in 3DS Max, The plant I created will be used along with many other assets to create a stunning environment to surround my inanimate objects. I would have done many more plants today, however I decided to polish off the evaluation from yesterday which took much more time than expected. The evaluation is now much more clean in terms of grammar and spelling.

Foliage (reference images)

Looking at many different types of plant allowed me to gain a broader understanding of the composition I would need to use in creating a buzzing environment. I would love to create a wide variety of plants that bundle together to create a more visually pleasing experience for the viewer (as seen in the bottom right image). The river I plan to add running through my level also seems to compliment this design (as seen in the middle image).

  • Created a simple plant model
  • Learned new tools in 3DS Max
  • (Above is a reference video I used to create foliage).
Plant_001 for final major project

As I have no experience in modeling any sort of foliage, I decided it would be a good idea to gain an understanding on how the process works, so I watched this YouTube video (Above). During this YouTube tutorial, I first learned how easy it is to manipulate the "plane" shape by using the bend modifier and playing with vertices to create a simple leaf shape. After more research, I realised that many modelers prefer to begin with a plane as it is much easier to manipulate than a 3D object; besides, you could always add a "shell" modifier or "extrude" faces to give it some thickness at a later date.

Making instances of the same leaf and bundling them together gives off a great illusion of different components, even though in reality it's the same one -- just resized and rotated. The instances are awesome, as I only have to apply the texture to one of the components and it applies to all of them! This gives me much more room for a more detailed texture. If you edit one instance it applies to every other instance of the object, which means that this could be super useful for showing stages of something: (e.g.) you could make 6 balls and edit just one but every time you reach a new stage, make one ball "unique" which means it no longer gets edited with the others. Doing this 5 times would allow you to show how your object has developed.

I learned I could create a curved line with the "fillet" tool on a selected vertex. I then rendered it in the view port to create a vine-like shape, which is super useful as its all too common when looking at foliage. I prefer the fillet tool for going into the object and changing each vertex to "smooth", as it saves loads of time and I find it much easier to control the curve.

Using the bend modifier multiple times allowed me to create a more realistic but simple leaf shape, as the curve on multiple axis appears much more true to real life. The bend modifier saves loads of time as it saves you from moving every individual vertex into place. You can also stack this modifier to bend in multiple direction; controlling both angle and direction.

Key tools in action

Saturday 11th March: Today I decided to tweak my final project proposal. As the proposal only allows for 1500 words max, I had to give brief descriptions while also touching on key points. My proposal was a document containing information about how I plan for my final project to turn out, what impact I intend it to have on players, and also how I plan to evaluate my progress.

Proposal document

Did I encounter any problems?; What were the solutions? The first problem I ran into this week was being able to achieve a high standard proposal document while being able to keep within the word limit. I was always under the impression that higher standard comes from the minute detail you add to the work, however to solve this, I decided to focus on specific key points and generalise them across a whole area. Doing this allowed me to delve into more detail and obtain a high standard of writing whilst being able to refine my work.

The last problem I encountered was with the tutorial video I followed to gain an understanding of foliage. The video did not have a voice over to explain each step, which made it extremely difficult for me to remember the process. However, watching the video a few times not only helped me remember the steps, but it also increased the quality of my work through trial and error.

Did I accomplish my weekly goal? I did complete many of the tasks which I planned to do. I was even able to get an early start on how to model foliage. I would have loved to have completed my presentation that goes along with my proposal document, but it won't hurt to finish it off on Monday, ready for display the following Tuesday.

My skills in relevant software such as 3DS max and Adobe Muse have increased this week. In 3DS max I now have the basis of how organic life can be modeled as the shapes are much smoother than that of structures I'm used to creating. The tools I have described will be put to good use, and combined with tools that I plan on learning I can tread ever closer to the industry standard of work.

What do I plan to get done next week? Next week I really need to finish off my power point using Microsoft PowerPoint with images and text. I will need to speak clearly, make concise points, and really make my classmates and tutors understand how educational I am with my own idea.

Next week I hope to begin with mass research; starting with foliage through the use of mind-maps, concept art, inspiration and reference images. Once I have a solid foundation of research I can then have a solid idea on what exactly I need to do when it moves into the development phase.

I will most probably practice my skills in 3DS max once again with various plants. I would really like to get at least another 5 to 10 plants done before the end of the week. I will review these plants in my journal to see if I've improved from this week.

Considering I finished every goal I set this week, I think it would be interesting to see if I could do more next week to push myself to the next level! I will attempt to do a substantial amount of work that will hopefully be reflected in next week's journal.

Keep improving and moving forward!

Created By
Jordan Watkins

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