Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Asset update: DONE!

So here is a screenshot of the final line up of my assets that made it into the level. Some were specifically designed to be featured in the tavern, like the Longbows for example, however many are designed to be not just used in the tavern courtyard but, spread throughout the level.

My main approach when it came to asset design, was first and foremost, research research research. I believe that is one of our main strengths as a group, that we have based our level and assets off of historical references and documents. We really pushed the idea of this being a Historical recreation, So that meant too much creative license was a bad thing in our eyes...except for when it came to things like the Bear tavern, which had only vague descriptions and no obvious depictions, things like that required smart concepting from the ground up.

I will leave individual renders for my design doc as there would be too many to be practical right now. Overall I'm quite pleased with them and its been exciting seeing each new object find a home in our Southwarke remade.
I will note that its not been an easy ride, and there have been many highs and lows, and many many late nights. But as a team we made it in the end and I at least am still alive, that's what counts! Plus everyone's work looks great and meshes really well together so I'm very pleased. Time to present! fun fun.
Normal/ spec maps not applied here: Smallest to tallest, its been challenging and fun, plus Ive learned a lot.
Here are some renders in 3ds max where I was attempting to simulate the lighting we have in our level, but I was also experimenting with idea's for my own personal presentation. I also wanted to show the most recent assets I created. Those being the Oil lamp, complete with particle Flame and the wooden tankard. Plus a poster I made advertising the Bear tavern and its  in house musician for the night...

One of the things I was very keen on since the beginning was to have immersive audio playing from the tavern to draw the player to it and add interest because it is our key assets. Liam and I both worked together gathering appropriate sound files to use in our level. While I focused on the tavern area, music and animal sounds, Liam gathered ambient environmental sounds and anything else needed then worked his magic getting it all synced and working in game. I have to say it was a real halleluiah moment for us because we knew the sounds would add that extra level of depth to our level and they have turned out great!
Floating lights will have lanterns housing them.
The bear tavern sign I painted
In some of my earlier research I used examples of lighting found in Skyrim and that has definitely influenced my goals for the lighting in our level, Especially the Tavern, because it needed to feel warm and welcoming like a public house would. And Skyrim pulled this off really well, for example:

This must be a similar time of day to our level and It looks really nice, the only problem is it is very shadowy and much of the saturation has left the textures, so in order to showcase our hard work, we opted for a slightly warmer, brighter night, and used many artificial light sources like lanters and braziers. Both of which we found to be historical accurate, with room for some debate of course...

Ill finish up with another two early renders in Max where I was testing lighting, arranging some of my assets into the courtyard and making sure all the texture maps worked correctly. I've decided I love orange glow! 0.0

Side view down alley and back entrance.
A view from part of the courtyard.


Tuesday, 7 May 2013


so i had the fun job of sorting out al the particle effects in the level. having had no idea how to do them I thought that this might end up being a difficult and time consuming task, it turned out that it was super easy. 
after working out it for a night i managed to get a rough fire, which was super exciting. from here i started making smoke, fire sparks and loads of other things. it turned out that most of the work i had to do was making sprites which didn't take too long. i ended up making sprites for leaves, fire, smoke. glowy things, flies, rain drops

even though the particles effects were pretty easy to put together i think they've added a lot of life and movement to the level.


Bridge Entrance + more!

So as I have mentioned in my previous blog, it was my responsibility to work on the London Bridge entrance as my first asset. We decided to tackle the big stuff first before going into the smaller details to help get our heads round scale and size of the level. After doing the initial block out I had some serious design decisions to make. The etchings suggested it was made out of stone but another painting we came across portrayed it to be far more colourful so I was not sure if wood or plaster may have been used or the stone itself had been painted over. After discussing it over with my group I decided to combine all three materials as many houses that were three or four stories had a stone foundation as a ground floor so this decision synced well with all the other architecture in the level. Heidi had also was working on a Gatehouse that would sit just before the entrance which was all made from stone, so I thought it would be nice for both to stand out with their own materials.

The initial idea was to embrace a two tone aesthetic with plaster/wood over stone and vice versa all the way to the top, this however would fail as the plaster/wood would crumble if stone were to be placed on top.

After finalising the design it was time to texture! I found some good wood references from the shambles trip to York we went on and I also tried to tile texture almost everything on the building. 

I was in a similar situation with the bridge considering design as so many etchings and paintings depicted it with its starlings in so many ways. However, I decided to keep it simple as the player would not interact with the whole bridge, especially from the outside. 

Here are the reference images I decided to work with. I only used one tile texture for the entire bridge and worked into a little more detail when it came to the starlings, although after the fourth starling, the rest are LOD’s with a baked texture ID. The Entrance stands at 23k tri’s and the bridge stands at 11k tri’s. I think the Entrance could have been optimised further now looking back but it is something to learn from.

(Reference to confirm 19 arches and 20 starlings)

Once this has been completed, we decided that a stable was needed. As most of the buildings are closed structures I wanted to make this one a lot more open, so we could put smaller assets inside and make it look occupied.

I also created a horse stand to add to the streets, for people who came with horses and had no place to tie them. To add to the stable, I made some horse dung that could sit inside and around the level suggesting that horses were occupying the streets/selective spaces.

I moved on to making a cart and a carriage. The carriage I think was a particularly important asset as I found out they had been around from the early 1600’s and ‘The Hackney Carriage Act’ was established so horse-drawn carriages could be available for hire.

My final asset was a Merchant Ship. I started it as a LOD with a very simple texture in mind but ended up adding slightly more detail than I planned. The design is based off the ‘Mayflower’ which was built around the 1600’s and was known to be used at least up till the 1630’s.

Monday, 6 May 2013


I had a major personal victory tonight as we finally were successful at placing an animated rat-boid in our level. They skitter about in the mud and they’ll squeak as well.

This is just a screenshot from my own test-level with just the rats.

When I took this task on I thought it would be really easy, some sort of automated process, which turned out to be the opposite of the truth. It was a massive faff and I had to re-do a LOT because I did things wrong initially. I even had to write scripts. Like nothing spectacular and not from scratch but it was still an entirely new thing I’ve never dipped into.

Here's a render of the model, isn't it super cute!

 However I’m really glad I went trough it and I learned so much and seeing those things running around in the mud was probably the most satisfying thing I’ve experienced since I made my first 3D wheelie bin.

After a meeting around our house..

We all agreed the level is looking pretty much finished and up to a reasonable standard. Now to start the finishing touches finish putting the sounds in and finish figuring out the animated rat in engine. A lot of it is up to Liam at the minute as he has the level and is working hard on the engine bits. We're all contributing in the documentation and input for the final presentation which we'll be planning tomorrow.

Everything is in the level now just need james's windows and Tree. The sound will be of huge importance to our level as it's going to add atmosphere, so we're just getting in the rat noises a bell for the cathedral and rain ambience for a hazy background noise.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Updates and Lighting changes.

So for our presentation on Tuesday we wanted to get more of our smaller assets in the level to flesh out the large open spaces we had. Making sure we had a market and updated the vertex painting and textures on the cathedral was a must. Liam had been playing around with lighting and had fixed it as if it we're early morning.

Also Liam spent some time perfecting the terrain and seeing how you can blend the mud with the cobbles and grass. getting everyone's assets in the level and seeing how it all comes together was important to show in the level. Breaking the space up and having that variation with the buildings was also what we were trying to portray.

So After some much appreciated crit we decided to go back to our original plan to begin with. With some help we managed to get the level looking like it has a lot more atmosphere. With darker lighting and a foggy moonlit sky, the level began to come together and feel like 17th century gloomy London, especially when we got the rain working.

We took some inspiration from a collection of images that had some beautiful weather and lighting

Jimmi began to play around with particle effects as we figured if it were to be a night scene It'd need to be well lit with the right lighting in appropriate places to lead the player around all the right places. Fire was the particle effect we wanted the most,Liam got the flies working to put on assets like the meat and rubbish. Jimmi made some smoke particles that give a nice bit of movement on the rooftops. Also the windows now glow to give it some more atmospheric lighting.

As soon as the skybox was applied we all felt happy that the level was really coming together. The dock is a much larger area now after Kat and liam worked on the scale and structure of it.

We want as much character as we can possibly get which we're finding hard with a deserted environment. Kat made some interesting posters after doing her research on the area. Also Kat's been working on a rat and managed to rig and animate it. We're just currently in the process of figuring out how to import it in, so soon we should have a little movement aswell as the swaying grass.

Right now its a case of assets being finished to give Liam time to put them in and juggle things around until they feel right in the level.