Monday, 19 May 2014

Steam Locomotion: Empire State Express 999

For one of my end final year projects I decided to produce a realistic project. I wanted to focus my skill on producing a high end model that would show my ability to work to references. I knew wanted to produce a vehicle of sorts but was unsure what exactly i wanted to produce it was a choice between a tank or a 4x4 land rover initially. Then I sat down and thought what can I do that is a little different and I came across this image of an old Steam locomotion and I knew straight away this was exactly what wanted to try and replicate.

As this was my last of my projects I decided that I wanted to time myself to see how quickly I could produce the piece and and how accurately I could get it within a shorter time frame.
I allocated myself a week to finish the project then a further 3 days to try and get any improvements form feedback implemented.

I got really excited to start the project and decided that liked the contrast of the material on the trains and the black and gold theme worked well, the train required lots of fiddly sections and I collated a lot of defences  to try and help break down the design into more manageable sections.

It was fairly difficult to find the exact blueprints for the train and unless I took a impromptu visit to the museum in america where it is hosted I struggled to get very clear images. However I decided to look in to model versions of the train and found better results to work from.

I started by blocking out the design and worked out proportion  and basic shapes and basically what details were repeated through the design and what could be replicated.

The main details such as wheels, Pipes, Rivets, and the drive shaft would be symmetrical and exact copies so rather than filling all these detail in at once I worked out what details I could unwrap and use singular texture sheets for and  this helped speed up the modelling process. 

The were distinct sections to the model and I worked out the main engine needed to be unwrapped in such away that allowed for the correct amount of detail. As for the rest of the model it was just a case as ever, looking into the details and working out the proportions.

The rough block process took about 4hrs, which seems a bit long but once I was happy with the scale size and correct structures I used some of the blocked out details and refined them and it sped up the process.

Once I got to a Stage that I felt happy enough to continue I started to look at the details that would really sell the deigns and I worked into details further and looked at how each detail would interact with different components and whether it made sense to the design and whether it looked as though it belonged.

After quite a bit of fine tuning I got to a stage where I thought it was getting quite near completion and I went to back and started looking at the topology of the design tried to reduce the poly count where able to try and optimise the design, and lower the over all final count.

The train took a little while to unwrap but I managed to blast out the modelling part of the project in under just over 3 days. The unwrapping  process took a day to do properly and lay them out correctly and try and get as much out them as possible.

The texturing was quite fun but tricky at the same time. As the limited colour scheme was primarily black and metallic i tried to get simple shades of colour and work with shaders within MSTB2 to try and get the best replication of the matte metal effects.

Below are the wire frame render and the finished colour model and overall I am happy with the way its turned out and I learned a lot more about shaders and continued to improve my textures and process of modelling. There are a few areas that I would like to revisit and try and add some dirt and duct layers before the final submission

As always c&c are always welcome, and not long left of the course now but looking forward to having free time to play with past projects and develop them further.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Business Research: Ubisoft Entertainment

Ubisoft Entertainment S.A is a French multinational video game developer and publisher, headquartered in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France.

“Ubisoft is the third-largest independent game publisher in the world, trailing Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts (EA). Ubisoft Entertainment S.A’s worldwide presence includes 29 studios in 19 countries. The company has subsidiaries in 26 countries.Ubisoft's largest development studio is Ubisoft Montreal in Canada, which employs about 2,100 people.
In March 1986, five brothers of the Guillemot family founded a computer game publisher, Ubisoft, in Carentoir, a small village located in the Morbihan department of the Brittany region, in France.[6] Yves Guillemot soon made deals with Electronic Arts, Sierra On-Line, and MicroProse to distribute their games in France. By the end of the decade, Ubisoft began expanding to other markets, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany”                                                                                                                    
Some notable titles:

With such a large company, you get an even more impressive backlog of titles across multiple platforms and genres. Most recently renowned for the Assassins Creed and Far Cry Franchises, and behind the new forthcoming Watchdogs title. The company has a ridiculous and insanely vivid spread of styles throughout their games and back in the day, when I was a young boy, they were the company behind the Prince of Persia games which despite becoming quite dated now, was quite influential in the creation of the Assassins Creed saga.

The Company is wide spread and across the globe. Though the dream would be to work in the Montreal, there is a production studio a little closer to home in Newcastle. They offer a wide range of game genres from puzzle and simulators to the adventure role play of Assassins and Far Cry. I would give an arm and a leg to be able to work on both titles and with the new release of Watchdogs coming soon, I think that game is going to have a few follow on sequels, and with the hype surrounding the game it looks to be a big success.

The selling point of the company form me are the vast environments ranging from historical, to more exotic climates and war torn landscapes, to slightly futuristic dystopias. The incredibly deep and engaging story plots and the in game mechanics that mixed with the high end quality of graphics and amount of control the player has, just creates an amazing immersive gaming experience.

As an avid fan of the AC (Assassins Creed) saga, there is a very unique approach to the game that helps it to break the conventional combat adventure game stereo types. The introduction of historically based plots with a hint of exaggeration and the complete control of the character to explore and act out the players own desires to a situation, this accompanied with very satisfying combat system and the ability to traverse almost all obstacles it  makes the escapism of gaming that much more addictive.
There are a variety of environments and settings that the games take place across, ranging from Damascus, Venice, to America, and the Open seas in the latest game. Each environment has that sense of awe to them and almost every building is capable of being climbed and traversed. I love the attention to detail during the game as, form the smallest basket to the largest kart, to each different clad horse and npc characters, nothing has been subject to neglect as everything seems to fit perfectly.

I would love to be part of a company that delivers such high quality and enjoyable games. Realistically a job like this would require quite a few years of experience within producing AAA games, and I would be looking to produce the environments and assets to help flesh out levels. There is going to be a few years yet before I feel confident enough to apply, but I will however practice skills in order to get to the level required and one day, hopefully I will be accredited on the future release of the Assassins Creed title.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Samurai Robot Project : Completed

After a very long and sleepless week I finally managed to complete all the elements of the design, and then focus on rendering them out.
 I had a rather fine and arduous experience within z-brush over the last week, and after a few melt downs I managed to solve the issue what was causing the problems and finally got on with the sculpting. I made a few tweaks to the design as I felt that certain elements did not work as well as previously thought. The hat needed changing and I tweaked elements of the swords and guns in order to make them suit the theme a little more.
I tried to replicate a sort of general grievous inspired bone looking material for the main armour, and tried to keep the materials to quite worn and metallic bases. I overall feel the design came out alright, I'm happy with the final product with the way looks in terms of proportions and colour schemes, but there are elements but I do feel there needs to be some tweaks. I may play a bit with the  final textures just to add a little more realistic effects to certain elements and tone down some of the elements that seem a little too grainy.

The robotics and armours included a lot of repeated elements to make the details, but from previous experience I made sure I unwrapped one object and duplicated it in series to avoid having to texture each segment individually. They way in which I unwrapped the model, seems I modelled first then went into Z-brush meant that the z-brush model I worked upon looked half completed as much of the  detail was captured from one piece of the mesh, so basically rather than render uncompleted shots, I thought I would wait and update with a more complete model.

I worked on the weapons after the main body was completed, and I worked on them in separate files and posed them later within Maya. I tried to capture some floral motif design into the gun, on the handler to try and replicate some decorative elements to Japanese guns flintlock pistols.

I think I need to tone down the textures on he gun as it does seem like its made of a ferrous meta as opposed to looking work and damaged slightly. I may go back and look at the floral motif and make it stand out a little more, as it seems a bit drowned out during the piece. I had a lot of fun creating my own alphas and all suggested changes can be made very quickly. As I am still learning z-brush a lot of the techniques used were experimental and if I were to go back alter the model further it wouldn't take as long now having leant from my many many errors during the process.

The swords textures were enhanced using MTB2(MarmosetToolbag2) as initially though having hand painted textured for each element, the shaders and surfaces available within the software meant that I could portray metallic texture more accurately. I tried to add a sort of engraving to the blade to make to look more like a katana blade, despite being more heavily influenced by Count Doukoo's blade from StarWars. I decided to add a metallic decoration to the scabbard/sheathe as to help make it more interesting as opposed to just a leather cover.

I went back and altered the rice hat and made it flatter and to look more leathery worn. I feel this did help design as the hat kept drawing the eye away and initially it didn't look right. I am happier with the design and thanks to z-brush managed to incorporate some pattern work fairly easily, and it made the hat look that much better.

I feel that this project once again helped and pushed me that little bit further with using z-brush and I feel a lot more confident using the software and am now staring to get quicker at getting desired effects from the application. I am by no way an expert, but every project I do will present new challenges and make me use it in a different way. I have only ever used z-brush after having sculpted something previously in Maya, but now with a bit of experience I feel confident to produce work straight in the package and use the different workflow of modelling then retopologising  afterwards.

Turnaround Video  <<<<<<<<<< click to follow link

I was a really nice break to model something different from a car and assets, and I would love to be able to rig and pose this model. Though I don't know how to as of yet with more time and after deadlines I would love to pose the character to get a better feel for the character. As it stands time is slipping away and I can't find an animator to rig this for me, but hopefully I will learn to in  the next couple of months.

No its time to steam ahead ( bad pun I know) with with my locomotive project as this is the only one I have not yet started and with the deadline in less than 3 weeks I am up against it. Challenge accepted. Lets get to it !!!

P.S as always C&C always welcomed.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Business Research: Respawn Entertainment

Respawn Entertainment is an independent video game development studio formed by Jason West and Vince Zampella, former co-founders of Infinity Ward and creators of the multi-billion dollar Call of Duty franchise. The studio is currently working on its first title TItanfall.

They are a Californian based studio, who team consists primarily of ex-Infinity Ward members, the guys who brought you some of the biggest titles in the Call of Duty franchise. There are some quite murky surrounding behind the dissolution of Infinity Ward, but the two top guys have now made Respawn Entertainment, and just recently released their first title Titanfall.

The game is fairly fresh shall we say but oh my word is it epic!! There is the definitive flare of Call of Duty like gameplay but with a greater focus upon the graphics and environments, oh yeah by the way in case you didn’t know there are huge ass metal robots that are playable during the game.

Titanfall take every boy boys dream of robots and warfare and blends it together to make this highly competitive, next gen shooter. The gameplay is intuitive and has a fairness between genders of players, i.e. male character and female characters are balanced. They take the art of warfare and made it into an art form. The game has campaign that really gets confusing as you play it via a co-operative online assault against other live players, however the game modes and abilities within the game are what really separate this game from any other shooter.

They take the best of what they did well for call of Duty and made it fairer and more balanced, with the slight enhancement of the Titans, huge robots that drop in to battle once you earned them. This is what really sells the game. You go from a generic shooter to a Mecha warfare game in an instance. The way in which you play as a pilot reflects generic shooters but with all the enhancements of the futuristic settings, you have the ability to fee run and evade oncoming attacks, quite different from most shooters to date.

The environment are quite limited yet offer a wide area to explore during the battle they have to be able to accommodate a full squad of 6 titans per team, but the thing that I love about the game and what most people playing will miss, is the attention to detail.

As an artist I spent a good while not shooting but exploring I made sure that looked at what exactly the next gen capabilities were. When you’re running round firing and hunting other player you fail to notice the subtle detail such as labels on the wall fire alarms and the ammo crates etc. Each prop is a work of art in itself and due to the nature of the sci-fi futuristic setting every console and metal panel is exquisite.

Granted the game is just another large shooter but the additions on the Titans and the gameplay mechanics itself ensure that it not another wait round camping game. There is an element of skill, and the way in which you level up or in this case regenerate requires certain goals are achieved, rather than just shooting a tonne of people. The challenge to explores the weapons on offer and ensure that you have to try and experiment with weapons to progress to a higher level.

As the game itself is so fresh there is going to be a series of extra content that will come in future months. I can’t honestly see this being the only game to ever be made by this company plus the variety of directions in the way they can take this game is endless.

I love to be able to work on the next series of Mechs or even the vehicle that you can’t use but are dotted around the maps. The game is beautiful for as beautiful as a warfare game can be I’d love to be able to work on something that could help contribute towards it in some way or even design the next playable Titan.

Let the Titans Hit the Floor, Let the Titans hit the  FLOOOOOR !!!!!!

Business Research: Bethesda Game Studios/ Bethesda Softworks

Bethesda Game Studios is an American in-house development team at Bethesda Softworks established in 2001. Previously synonymous with parent publisher Bethesda Softworks, the studio's name and logo were established with the release of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind in 2002. The studio is currently led by executive producer Todd Howard. Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks and ZeniMax Media all work in the same building.

Anyone who classes themselves as a “gamer” knows about The Elder Scrolls franchise, and these were produced by none other than Bethesda. The company have and amazing and incredible backlog of games, that at the time and still are mind blowing and most of all engaging. The style of Bethesda focusses mainly around ultra-dynamic RPG. Though early on they did have a faction that worked upon IHRA drag racing. The style of the RPGs differs between the franchises as Fallout as the name suggests is a more futuristic post-apocalyptic based game, whereas the Elders Scrolls are a classical Fantasy based game. From Rage, to Dishonoured the company keeps nailing high end immerser gaming experiences and all within their distinct style.

I haven’t played every game of the Fallout series but from the game I have played (Fallout 3 The one Bethesda worked on) I loved, and I know Bethesda the game takes a bit of getting use to and the now they seem dated, however the story and what you can achieve during the games are solely down to the player and how you decide you want to play the game. There isn't a correct way to play the game but there are main missions and your decisions as a player effect the game play.

The game is set late in the franchise, and the world is post-apocalyptic with mutants, and various other forms of estranged survivors, and raiders.

I loved the game play and how it was tactical and quite different to normal generic shooters and you can develop skills through trial and error.

I loved the settings it was kind of a ww2 American suburbs and I loved the different group and the way they looked as though made the best of what minerals they could find to make armour and other various other weapons.

I don’t know too much about the Fallout Franchise as despite enjoying the game it wasn't really my thing, but I do however know my stuff about The Elders Scrolls specifically V:Skyrim. I hadn't played the previous games prior to Skyrim, but after playing and losing my soul for about a good 6 months I went back and purchased previous versions of the game. The game a very different tone to that of Fallout and as I do love a bit of fantasy ( Massive LOTR and StarWars Fan) I become enthralled within the game, I didn't sleep for a good week, I barley ate and I became obsessed with it. I never get like that with a game. Somehow it captivated me and not only with the wide open world, the hundreds playable sub missions and thousands of possible ways to play ensure despite there being a main mission no one person will have the same playable experience to someone else playing the game.

I don’t think I have ever been a RPG fan but this game got me into the narrative it made me okay and most of all maintained my interest. If I were to class myself as a game I do love action/ adventure puzzle games but I am a competitive shooter guy myself. This game managed to make me consider my choice of actions and really explore the game.

The main reason for working at Bethesda would be to work on an Elder Scrolls game as an assets/ environment modeller, the diversity and complexity of the game ensure that every object and setting can be accessed at some stage. The environments alone are beautiful and it would take you a couple of hours to just explore the entirety of the map that’s with a horse. Every weapon, villain and Dragon is just incredible and I’d love to be able to contribute towards such an amazing franchise with in an incredible company.

Business Research: Ninja Theory

Ninja Theory, Ltd. is an independent video game developer based in Cambridge, England. Originally founded as Just Add Monsters in March 2000, the company was purchased by former Argonaut Games CEO Jez San in November 2004.

Their first game was an X-box based title called Kung Fu Chaos in 2003, though they do not have a massive backlog of games they have created two amazing titles Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West under their own IP and most recently worked on their version of Devil May Cry. The also recently produced an IOS based title Fightback. Though I haven’t played it yet I would like to give a try.

The company focusses on combat based games that incorporate an element of adventure and narrative. The games are quite dated by today's next gen standards but if you take that Heavenly Sword was released in 2007 it still hold ups rather well, and if you look at similar game released at the same time its graphics were quite advanced.

What ultimately sold Heavenly Sword to me was the combat physics and the story plot. The took a combat game and made it thoroughly engaging and though eventually it became a little repetitive with combats scenarios but the boss battles at stages were really engaging, it offered some visually stunning environments and some really sweet character designs. I particularly liked the enemies and weapons and due to the setting in a sort of medieval/ fictitious but really draws you into the environment and game world.

I can see myself being able to model the assets, weapons, a siege weapons featured in this game, I loved the style and yet they had credibility about them. They use a variety settings and certain characters have distinct weaponry and I love the way the boss fights incorporate boss specific weapons and settings.

Though I don’t feel as confident as a character modeller, I loved the armour and variety of costumes during this game and feel that with more practice within Z-brush I can produce characters of this quality.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West was the second game released by the company and you can see the improvement in graphics from Heavenly Sword, Enslaved was released 3 years later and even in that short time you can see the improvements.
  The game has a very engaging story plot and a fantastic set of characters that develop throughout the game. The style of the game changes dramatically from that of heavenly sword it’s more of an action/ adventure game than a combat driven plot.

 The setting in more futuristic fantasy based and there a lot of mechanical elements throughout the game. I loved the enemies and the vivid landscape and the once again the combat physic were quite the improvement from the previous title.

I loved the environments they looked sort of abandoned and quite industrial, to fit the post-apocalyptic theme. There are elements of the game where you’re able to vertically ascend maps and you get to see a lot of the existing environment. Though it’s not quite the Assassin’s Creed quality its own little feature that works well. I really loved the Mech enemies and as I stated the character are really well developed and progress throughout the game.

Though I haven’t played Ninja Theory’s version of Devil may Cry I can expect only the best. They have an amazing combat system and produce rather engaging fight sequences and incorporating this into the DMC series can only work well.

Though the company are not as large as other AAAcompanies, they have a solid work ethic and have some fantastic games under their belt. They are an English based company and I would to be able to work for them. They keep their website updated regularly and do offer internship quite regularly. If and artist position comes up I will jump at the chance.