Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Where we are up to now

    So I realise its been a while since a generalised update was posted, so let me bring you up to speed with where we are at.
     Since my last post we have had six meetings. Fist of which I mentioned in my previous post (18/02/2013) In this meeting we quickly outlined what each member was to say in the presentation the following day. Each member was to produce slides for their area, I felt that this was best so that people felt confident as to which bit was theirs and was familiar  with the pictures they were talking about. I tried to assign members areas that were topical to their role and comfort area, I don't think it is fair to make someone talk about something they don't know. Our next meeting was the following day (19/02/2013) after our presentation. 
    The presentation seemed to go well in my opinion there were a few moments of silence but it was mainly transitions between areas and people, our feedback seemed positive and fair and everyone played their part well. I think that the idea was presented properly and I was rather proud of everyone that day (not to sound patronising). Some of our feedback was that we needed to focus on our main theme and not get bogged down with having to many sub-themes and complications. I think perhaps this was one of the only things that didn't translate properly. Our main theme is the spiders nest. Our secondary theme is the asylum. The only reason we feel it necessary to have a secondary theme is because we believe just doing the building as it is covered in spiders and cocoons etc. is rather strange, its doesn't make much sense and it doesn't really tell a story. However an asylum which has been abandoned for years and the spiders have made their home not only gives you a foundation for a more credible story but also gives you interesting assets to build, rich textures to make, opportunities to use decals and unusual lighting effects. Not to mention as a concept it is full of symboltry and underlining metaphors. ;)
   There was one comment in our feedback that did make us rethink though. After listening to mike and heathers feeling on the two engines available I wanted the team to have a talk about which one we wanted to do again. I felt that the decision may have been rushed and that Cryengine may have been picked over UDK because of the "ooo look how shiny factor". Apart from that most of us we just excited to get started me and James Oakes had a look at a few places to possibly visit on the Internet for reference but felt perhaps it might be too dangerous for everyone. I didn't set any particular tasks at the end of the meeting as I felt that members may have stressed a lot over the presentation and thought they might have needed a day to regroup or work on any other work they might have had. However I did mention that on our next meeting (21/02/2013) I wanted to make an assets list and start dividing it up ready to start making assests.
    The next meeting was the first time we had our project manager (big cheese) Mike at the meeting. During this meeting we got Mike up to date on out progress thus far and tackled any feedback he had for us. The jist of it was that Mike didn't feel any strong feeling for our project as it was neither bad nor exciting (a little bit disappointing but I understand his reasoning, I just count ourselves lucky that he doesn't think we are de-railing at all). At this moment in time he feels our idea is slightly clich'e and wants it to run its course. Which is fair. However it also made me feel personally that maybe we should have generated more ideas than we did to find something more original; however no matter how original you think you are the idea has been done before in one way or another (as Mike mentioned).
After this meeting we were supposed to have a mini meeting followed by a night a Lukes gathering reference, watching films and looking at  walk throughs of useful levels. However I got tied up with course commitments outside of this project that meant I couldn't attend. My lacking attendance at this meeting meant that the task I wanted finished wasn't done, however the team felt they needed more time concepting so this was set over the weekend instead.  I'm glad that the team did this now as they seem to have a renewed passion for the project and a clearer idea of what they want to do.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Following the visit to the queens building last week, I did a paintover of one of the rooms. We discussed turning the long room to the left of the entrance into either a ward or a mess hall, so I looked up some references of old hospitals and asylum wards.

I used one of the photos I had taken to show what the room would look like as a ward and tried to work out what it would look like without the electrical lighting.

I also looked into some possible assets that would fit into the 50s asylum theme. Looking through Google images reminds me how much asylums creep me out if I think about it too much.
I'm wary that some of this may be more hospital-related than asylum-related, but there's some things that work for both, such as the metal-framed beds, the curtains and the wheelchairs.

Going to bring attention to the translucent hospital windows - I think these definitely need to be included, they're awesomely creepy.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Queens Building Update

On our first week I did some mood-boards from the pictures of the Queens building.
I wanted to get an understanding of little visual details of the images I took and highlight certain things that gives some interest for example on doors or windows; boarders, handles, locks, windows, keyhole, signs and the material.

and other suggestive details to take note of like power boxes, lights, pipes, signs, furniture and many more. For now these mood-boards can be of good use, for which it can give us indication of what to have in our level and thus changing it to suit our theme/ style.

Here is some paint-overs, mainly just learning, understanding different methods and techniques from using references and paint brushes.

I kept it simple for now, just focus on the webbing and dark gloominess, throwing in some spider eggs, organic forms, run down look.

Were aiming for an 50s style abandon asylum. 
I resized these down to capture the detail a lot more. Just experimenting with different ideas.

This one was much stronger piece, Luke gave the idea of a funnel spider web, that I was trying to capture it. Then I thought to add the spider eggs, organics forms around the scene.

I've done these in grey scale for now because it seems much better to get a Matte painting result but I will make colour version later on.

Here are some more Paint-overs, This is one of the locations from our walk-through, I was trying to convey and visually express in the first image, a run-down, destroyed environment, with bricks, ceiling, rubble everywhere that I only subtly show our main theme objective "spider webs",

Second image is the Hall-way, near the beginning  I changed the floor to a broken/ wooden boards, added few windows, rusty paint scabbing texture, cobwebs and others. Hopefully it does some justice and help us further our ideas.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Recent meetings and decisions made

Since my last post the group has had two meetings. The first of these (12/02/2013)  we made some rather important decisions such as picking our final concept.
   Each member of the group was given the opportunity to put forward ideas most of which did. I was impressed with everyone's ideas and the commitment they had put in. But as a group we all agreed there was one that stood out from the rest and seemed to have the most potential. Luke Evans idea was everyone's favourite as it was original, had  many possibilities and an overall theme we could reflect on the environment and assets. One of the good things about Luke's ideas was the fact it could be easily mixed with another re-occurring idea throughout the group. 

   The decision was reached quickly which meant that the rest of the meeting was spent visualising the chosen idea on location. We went back to the Queens building and began planning what we would need to do. We found a main focal point that we want to work on and started to build out from there. By the end of our meeting we had planned what rooms we wanted to do, what would be in each and the priority in which they would be completed. We had also came up for a route in which we would want the rooms to be seen in a fly through or play through. This was important for us a we believed it created suspense and some form of story telling At first we were slightly over ambitious. However I manged to reel it back in which is a shame in one way as we were all excited but I think it is very important to remember the amount of time we have been set and keep our aims realistic. 

   At the end of this meeting I asked everyone to take Luke's idea on board and come up with some of their own artwork and paint overs to help visualise the whole scene. Exempt was Nikita whom I asked to begin a white box of the scene as i knew we would have enough artwork and I wanted Nikita to get a head start in using the engine so he could later pass on his knowledge to us. I have tried to structure the project in a way that people can play to their strengths but also learn new skills or/and pass on their skills to others. I think peer to peer learning is very effective as not only does it pass on skills but it also reconfirms peoples own abilities. 

The next meeting (14/02/2013) was a bit shorter than the last as there was less important decisions to be made. Everyone attended this session and work from the previous sessions was shown. I was personally very impressed with everyone's work and enthusiasm. 

Nikita showed us the white box which was very comprehensive, he had spent a lot of tie getting things as close as possible to the real scale. It was great to see things coming together. Some of the artwork was particularly promising too.

However we did spend most of this session planning for our presentation next Tuesday (19/02/2013). We based our presentation on Luke's idea presentation on order to stay close to his vision and added the necessary details to make it relevant. Unfortunately our meeting was cut a little bit short by a presentation in the labs.  however I did begin to assign parts of the presentation to willing members. I am conscious that not all members want to speak however I am encouraging them to do at least a slide each as it will improve their presentation skills for the future. I have asked everyone to plan or have a think on what the want to say in the presentation for the next meeting (18/02/2013). During that meeting I am hoping to get together and structure what us to be said and have a few run-throughs in pratice for the next day.


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Mockups and paintovers

I've done a few concept paint overs, done over photos that I took from parts of the Queen's building.
I tried to show how I pictured the webs and cocoons to look. I wanted them to be quite thick and dense, rather than thin and spindly. I think doing them in this way will make modelling and texturing them easier.

This is a quick mockup in 3DsMax to show one of the corriders.

I then used it to do two quick paintovers.


A whitebox for the project. CryEngine in some aspects is much better than UDK, but some are making me lose my mind. It is much easier to use the actual file folder structure instead of weird packages, but the fact that it uses weird file formats that requires special plugins for 3ds Max and Photoshop pretty much spoils the advantage. Another good thing that I liked is the fact that I don't have to create lightmaps, and everything looks great directly after import. Big improvement over the pre-baked static lightmaps. However, as I already mentioned, weird file setup that is required for the meshes to be imported is a big spoonful of tar in the jar of honey. Also, a couple of issues I have so far - apparently previews in SDKs material editor don't work with Aero theme in Windows. I have to switch to classic theme whenever I work. There are some issues with updating of assets. I've spent 3 hours yesterday trying to figure out why my collision doesn't correspond to the new version. Turns out CryEngine didn't want to refresh it, so everything worked only after restart of the editor. Same issue with the scaling of the model.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Friday, 8 February 2013

Queens meeting and exploration

Well I must admit the Queens building is a lot more expansive and bizarre than I had originally anticipated. I was really pleased and was glad to hear that the team were fulled with ideas after the visit, myself included. I'm really glad this is our teams project now I really feel that we could do something impressive and rich. 

Everyone took their cameras and seemed to get lots of reference which is good. At this stage I want people to be concentrating on visuals so its not a massive problem at the moment if the pictures are consistently lit etc. (after all it is just across the road) ;at the moment I want the team focusing on producing some high impact visuals to wow people in our presentation on the 19th. I'm also hoping to spot good potential ideas early on so we can nail a strong concept asap.
I have asked everyone to start what I discussed in the last post which was to gather some mood boards, initial sketches/ideas and digi thumbnails if they wished to go all out and add colours. I would recommend this as colour is a strong communicator and I feel other members of the team may catch onto the idea faster if they could visualise the colours and lighting. 
Talking of other members they have been invited to become members and admins of the blog so I hope we will be seeing their updates shortly. 
The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 12th February as I wanted to give the team chance to capture the visuals needed and a chance to catch up on some outstanding Visual Design work. 
I am expecting certain members to be absent on Tuesday so I have arranged to meet them separately on the Monday so that their view may be represented on Tuesday. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Team Intro

Righto, this is the first official blog post from "Team 6" (might as well be called untitled group for now).

Our group consists of 

Me - Megan Rice
James Oakes 
James Farrell 
Jen Betts 
Luke Evans 
Nikita Olhovskis

During our fist meeting (today) we have came to the mutual decision that we want to do the Queens Building project. We came to this decision because of the following factors

  • The amount of first hand reference available 
  • We can get started straight away 
  • Many of us are familiar with the style which we have to work to 
  • We feel that the buiding is both interesting and challenging enough to build a rich environment from without over exerting ourselves.
 Accordng to the brief we must create a survival horror level from the Queens Building on our university campus. It is to be in the style of the very popular Resident Evil series but may contain other elements. This brief is strange to us as there is no texture or tri budget the only constraint is to have a fully textured and lit version of our level running at least 25 hertz (25 frames per second). This isn't something we have encountered as a group so it should be interesting. We have the option to use either the CryEngine or UDK. The team have decided on CryEngine for now as we all believe it will be a good experience to learn it.

Vague roles have been established at the moment they are as follows

Me - Team Leader
Nikita - Engine Expert
 and for now everyone else is "artists"

I am hoping to get the rest of the roles sorted by the end of the week. Although people will have roles they will all be expected to contribute to every stage of the production pipeline. For now I will be taking care of the blog until I have the information needed to add other admins. When this has happened everyone will be regularly updating with progress on their work.

Our next meeting is tomorrow at 12pm. We are going on location to take reference photographs and to get an idea of what levels of the building we would like to do. I am hoping we will find a possible focal point to bulid out from. I also want to take a look at the overall structure of the building as my memory of it is a bit vague. From the photographs taken I will be hoping each member will be inspired to create some mood boards and draft some initial sketches or ideas. When this is done we can come together and bonce some ideas around.