I created the meshes and the functionality for the rechargefields. These are fields of energy that can have different effects on the Avatar.
Different meshes and effects for the rechargefields
I also developed a new sort of platform that switches from active to inactive if you press the left trigger. This feature is still a bit experimental.
I also made a lot of small tweaks, like the animation for the gate doors.
After weeks of technical problems due to the 4.14 update, I finally wanted to finish the animations of the player avatar. I wanted to make all traversal feel good, since movement is the most important aspec of our game. I had to retarget animations from mixamo to the avatar skeleton, which was a difficult process. This is because standard 3DS max skeletons use collarbone joints and mixamo skeletons use shoulder joints. After a lot of iteration I finally got it right, I guess i created some funny bugs in the process.
Some Examples of animation-retargeting bugs.
Now that I could transfer mixamo animations, I needed to recreate or rework a lot them. Some animations didn’t loop or had root motion baked in, some i basically recreated from scratch. Then I started blending the animations together in the animation Blueprint. I wanted the transitions to feel very smooth, so that it would be a joy to control the player character.
Examples of animation blending.
Then I added some particle effects to some animations to make them feel better, like to the dash an the wallrun.
Examples of animations with particle effects.
We also weren’t happy with the level Tigo created for the playtest-class, because we thought it would be too difficult for new players. So I quickly created a new level for the playtest, with a built in tutorial. It is very straightforward, so that the new player isn’t confused about where he/she should go.
Screenshots of the Playtest-level.
It was my job to implement the Avatar mesh with correct animations in the game. I started out with finishing the low-poly mesh. That meant finalizing the design on some aspects of the character. The hardest design elements to create were the legs and the feet. After some experimenting I was pleased with the result.
Low-poly mesh of the legs and feet of the character
After this I rigged the main character, this was a pretty straightforward process.
Stress test of the character rig
Then I started implementing the cloth physics on the main character. Since I already knew the workflow of APEX cloth, this went relatively smoothly.
Apex cloth setup in 3DS Max
However, when I started implementing all my work into the Unreal Engine, everything fell apart. Apparently Apex cloth doesn’t work with the 4.14 release of Unreal. I realized this after about a day of troubleshooting.
Cloth errors in Unreal 4.14
When I tried to implement the cloth physics in a 4.13 Unreal project, everything worked fine.
Correct Cloth implementation in Unreal 4.13
Also everything else related to animations and skeletal meshes is broken in some way in 4.14. We wanted to use animation retargeting to use some animations we found online, but this feature also doesnt work with the newest Unreal version.
Early test of animation retargeting in 4.13, it still has a lot of issues, but at least it works.
Now that we finally established a definitive artstyle for our game, Tigo could continue to work on the environments while I designed the main character. Since the player is always looking at the avatar model, we wanted to make sure that the mesh looked and animated nicely. The main idea of the character was to design a simple, female, sci-fi character with a cloak. From early on we decided to give her a slender build to represent her speed and agility.We also wanted to accentuate legs of the character with clothing, this reflects the fact that running and jumping are the main types of interaction with the environment.
Early design sketches, illustrating the slender build with accentuated legs.
After making a fair ammount of thumbnails, I decided to block out the big volumes of the character in 3D. I used Zbrush for this. After I was happy with the main shape, I detailed the parts made of cloth, to later bake down to normal maps.
WIP sculpt of the main character
The final shapes blocked out in Zbrush.
Then I took the mesh into 3DS Max to create the low-poly mesh and design the hard surface elements of the Avatar, like the helm and the legs. I wanted to create a clean topology for the character, but I allowed myself to use a fair ammount of polys to get the shape definition that I wanted.
CloseUp of the topology flow of the low-poly mesh.
The final low-poly mesh, optimisation still needs to be done. Some elements need to be added.
After I made the low-poly basemesh, I imported it into unreal to see the result. Some optimisation still needs to happen and some detailed elements still need to be added.
The final basemesh rendered in Unreal, with testmaterials applied.
With the milestone quickly approaching, we had to nail down the style of our game. We had an internal deadline to have a small environment fully worked out by the first milestone. In the previous weeks we were making our materials way too realistic, while we were actually trying to achieve a more stylized result. Also, the first tests with sculpting environment assets were not up to the standard we set for ourselves. The result: we had to remake almost all the static meshes in our game. It was a lot of work, but I’m happy about the result.
Example of environment assets. They are stylized but still take advantage of full PBR shading.
We also finished the design of an important aspect of our game, the Fusion Points. The goal of every level is to reactivate a Fusion Point and bring the environment back to life. They basically are the big milestone points in the game. Because of this, we wanted to have an iconic design for this object. I think it worked out pretty well.
Sculpt of the Fusion Point Mesh.
When all the assets were ready, we had to put them together in an environment. We wanted to have dramatic, directional lighting in combination with small environment light in the scene itself. Another important element was the height fog that obscures the depths of the pits where the player jumps over. All of this creates a mysterious and adventurous atmosphere that we’re pretty happy with. The only thing we dont know yet is what we are going to put in the far distance of the levels.
Screenshots of the final environment Art-test.
I spent most of my time during the holidays on the Graduation Project milestone, so my work-output wasn’t spectacular for the Game Projects course.
After a lot of thumbnailing, I finally have a main character silhouette that I am happy with. She will have a slender build, to accentuate her speed and agility. However, Her upper legs are very big, to make her high jumps believable. The cloak has been a constant design element since the beginning of the project, although it has become less all-encompassing as before. She will have some robotic parts and some organic parts, but everything will be covered. She doesn’t have armor because the game has no combat.
Examples of thumbnail-designs for the main character.
Another thing I worked on was the procedural generation of noise maps for stylized textures. The material definition has become a bit too realistic in the latest weeks, so I tried to develop a node that can be used in Substance-software to generate grunge maps. These maps are designed to be used for the creation of more stylized textures. This is important because we will need to finish our test-scene by next week.
Some examples of stylized grunge-maps generated by my substance node-network.
Example of a metal-material generated with my custom noise functionality.
This week I tried to define the material-aspects of the ruin assets. We want to give the impression that they are built with big, ancient stones. All the materials are going to be procuderally generated with Substance software, to make the asset creation easier.
Procedural moss on stone test.
This week, I tried to finalize the style in which we will make the 3D assets of our game. I experimented with aesthetic choices as well as workflow options. I ended up sculpting most assets in Zbrush, and baking the normals in 3DS max.
WIP of the asset sculpts.
I also explored the ways in which we could use modularity in our levels to make as few assets as possible. The final result of all this work is a small testscene to illustrate the aesthetic and scale of the game. There is still no material definition however, that will be something for next week.
Due to the Sci-Fi setting, a small number of assets can be used a lot.
Screenshots of the final composition.
GIF of the foliage material.
An important part of our game’s aesthetic is the cloak of our main character. We would like to make it move in a realistic fashion with the help of PhysX. The idea behind it is that the character’s nimble movements get enhanced by the fluttering cape.
Although the PhysX engine is pretty robust, a lot of technical tweaking is necessary to make it work in a real-time environment. I used a simple testcharacter I already rigged and attatched the cloth asset to the skeleton. The trickiest part is setting up the collisions for the cloak, to make sure it doesn’t clip trough the character.
PhysX Cloth Setup in 3DS max
PhysX Cloth setup in Unreal
After I set up everything in Unreal, I imported some test animations and quickly made a functional Avatar based on the third person template in Unreal.
Previews of animations in Unreal with PhysX cloth enabled.
Playable Character in Unreal with PhysX cloth enabled.
There is still a lot of tweaking to do, but the base functionality is there.
This is the outline of our favorite game-pitch, a 3D platforming game in Unreal. We loved the idea so much that we made a seperate presentation for it.
Link to Pitch Document