Orientation. Interesting being at the receiving end of an online course. I do feel as if I know a lot of this already. Looking forward to more of the actual content.
Apprehensive that this may be a little too low level for me, and disappointed that all of the live classes are taking place at 7pm, when I put the kids to bed. Looks like I'll be missing them all and be playing catch-up using the recordings.
Adobe Portfolio set up and ready for course files
Tell us about your favourite computer game
Weirdly, I've actually never been much of a gamer. I grew up with classic 8bit arcade machines, but never really had very much cash to spend down at the arcades and we never bought a console. The first computer game I remember blowing me away was the original Star Wars sit down arcade game, vector graphics and all. As a child I remember thinking that sitting down in that cockpit and actually flying down the death star trench, the future had actually arrived. That feeling of a fully immersive simulation is something I think I've been chasing ever since.
Creating Game Textures
I've used Photoshop for a very long time but never knew how to make a seamless repeating texture. Very pleasantly surprised that I've already learnt such a useful technique.
Very much enjoyed the Live Class. As I knew I couldn't make it live for the 7pm London session I just watched the Australian class once the recording became available. Frustrating not to be able to ask questions, but I may post my query in the help forums and see if I can get some joy there.
Again, very pleasantly surprised that I'm learning new techniques. Learning to create textures from scratch was a joy. Doing the crate was especially rewarding as I started to see how games made with hand-painted styles are created. It certainly made me appreciate their artistry all the more.
Generated/rendered textures: https://jeromedipietro.myportfolio.com/rendered-textures
More game ready textures (as I felft I needed more rock face options) https://jeromedipietro.myportfolio.com/more-game-ready-textures
Been working on my terrain and of course realising that not all of the textures I lovingly created in the first week are particularly useful. It reminds me that the level design process is very much an iterative one.
Where it comes to textures it's almost impossible to know if it will be suitable until it's actually mapped onto in game geometry. Thankfully Unity is wonderfully flexible with the updating of asset files. With the Editor open, you can open the file in Photoshop then edit and save, and the file will automatically update in the Scene view. You don't even need to export to jpeg or png, Unity will quite happily work on psd files and export to the appropriate file format at build time, according to the optimisation settings for each platform.
A few things learnt...
The x/y size of the texture may need to be adjusted depending on the scale of your terrain. I found a lot of my patterns were too large but reducing their size settings introduced a repeat pattern that was too obvious. There's a real skill in getting the right image resolution/ size of the texture image.
The texture map slot for terrains additionally accepts a normal map. This makes textures render with a slight bump/relief which makes them look more realistic. A quick and dirty way of getting this normal map is to use this online tool: http://cpetry.github.io/NormalMap-Online/
Level design is all smoke and mirrors
It's very easy to go crazy and add a million trees and other terrain features without realising that this has a significant impact on performance. Occlusion culling and other in-built features will help, but you still have to realise that every bit of geometry and every texture loaded has an impact. When designing the terrain, the temptation is to realistically model every nook and cranny, but you don't need to - unless you're specifically going for an open world sandbox game. Otherwise, think about your player's journey through the level. Sculpt the terrain and add props in a way that guides your player to where you want them to go. Use colours and lights to help with this - people are naturally guided towards light areas. Ground textures like paths (or worn grass) are useful guides too.
The Unity Asset Store is full of useful free resources
You don't have to create everything from scratch. One of the best things about Unity over UE4 is the Asset Store. Some are paid assets but there are many quality resources available for free. In my pirate island I've made good use of free rock and bush models, as well as a few paid assets I already own.
The flip side of the UE4 vs Unity debate is that Unreal Engine is known for its impressive graphics quality, out of the box. However, Unity's new Post Processing Stack has changed all this. Other new features like the Timeline and Cinemachine also make content creation a lot easier. As I'd not used either before I decided to take the opportunity to create a cut scene to show off my progress so far.
MicroSplat for textures. A free-ish terrain shader that automatically generates normal and occlusion maps for your terrain textures: https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/96478
Customising default clothes in Fuse is great but everything does end up looking a bit samey so I'm going to try to make my own. Documentation and guidance for this is a bit hard to find so here's what I've found so far...
Importing Custom Content: https://helpx.adobe.com/beta/fuse/help/import-substance-character-clothing.html
Fuse Creator Pack: https://www.mixamo.com/#/software (This is needed to model your items to scale and position them correctly on the base model)
Create custom clothing: https://helpx.adobe.com/beta/fuse/help/create-custom-fuse-clothing.html
A lot of the Mixamo links I found posted on forums and via Google searches seem to have stopped working. I'm assuming this is due to the recent changes on the Mixamo website. A content directory for user generated Fuse content is sadly one of the casualties (https://community.mixamo.com/hc/en-us/community/topics/200221377-Fuse-Content-Directory) What a shame as this is very much what is needed for this app to really come into its own.
MakeHuman is an obvious free alternative to Fuse (http://www.makehumancommunity.org/content/downloads.html) It includes an online repository of community created clothes and accessories (http://www.makehumancommunity.org/clothes.html) Take note Adobe!
Finally, it's worth noting that you can import your own models into Mixamo and use it to auto-rig humanoid figures (not just ones imported from Fuse). Click on the 'Upload Character' (under 'Download' on the character page). Ideally models should be in the T-pose. It's not as good as rigging your own, but it's pretty good. The benefit over doing it yourself (apart from saving you the time) is that the bones are named in accordance with what Unity expects for a Humanoid rig.
Here's my current list of good sites for 3D resources https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-MCk6ed6NrZgwFeEG_rvcaAwTVTTX2cVsZqlJL-2Ck8/edit?usp=sharing
Amazingly, importing custom clothes into Fuse isn't as difficult to do as I'd anticipated, although it did take a little while to work it out.
Your obj model needs to be UV mapped or you get a nondescript error on import into Fuse. Other than that, the default settings in Blender seemed to work fine. You also need to load in the Base Mesh figures (e.g. MaleFitA or FemaleFitA) from the Fuse Content Creator Pack. Use this to get the placement and proportions right.
The original hat model was made by Benjamin Huguenin and kindly made available on Sketchfab https://sketchfab.com/models/05360cf92138434d87fddbf5d504d8a1
The 'Create Custom Clothing' link above covers everything you need to know about the textures files. What's not immediately obvious is that there isn't what you might usually expect in terms of a Diffuse map. Instead, you need to provide a colour mask mat - with each area on the item set to a different primary colour (e.g. #ff0000 is area one, #00ff00 is area 2 etc.) These are what creates the different material slots in Fuse (i.e the pockets or sleeves on shirts)
Finally, once imported, I found that I had to set the different materials and tweak the setting for my hat and eye patch (using the Customise panel). Make sure you click on 'Set as default' and the next time you open Fuse all of the settings are remembered for that item of clothing.
From the excellent Extra Credits YouTube channel, a series on animation and character design:
Tracer & Pose Design 101: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmLkVtqjf1A
Game 'dynamics', not just mechanics
Game tasks need to adapt and evolve with the player's growing skills
Progress so far
This week I've been worked on getting the basic game mechanics up and running. Although I've never done a game jam, this has felt a lot like I expect one to be - kit bashing assets, getting the code to a workable prototype as quickly as possible. Four weeks in and I've got a basic combat system, scoring, health, pickups, death all in place. Still more to do but getting there.
I could easily get lost keeping working on the details - tweaking animation transitions, making AI states a bit less awkward and buggy. I particularly want to add a flintlock pistol as a weapon pickup and provide a shooting mechanic for the player, but I'm weary of feature creep.
What parts of your game do you feel still need work?
With the basics in place, I now want to concentrate on the game's story again - expand the island to include new areas, where new encounters can occur and tie it all in with a basic quest system loosely based around a simple narrative. After the opening encounter with the group of fighting pirates, I'd initially I'd planned to add a cut scene with a drunk sailor telling you what to do next (basic conversation system, and audio lip sync) but in the short term I may just introduce scrolls as pick-up objects that give you text information on what to do next. Or even a map that slowly builds up?
I've lots of ideas and I'm trying to balance the fun of adding new stuff with the danger of stalling the entire project due to ballooning complexity. On my to-do list...
- Island natives, village/encampment (with some sort of treasure)
- add animal enemies - spiders ?
- Add traps (holes) and falling rocks (all great ideas by Mark Shufflebottom)
- A broken rope bridge you need to jump - falling a long way should add damage