9-5-12 Update

05Sep12

Hey again!  Here’s my weekly update.  Last week was craaaaaazy, but I made a lot of progress on the game, and also found out that I can do 2 weeks worth of homework in one night.  It wasn’t fun, but I got it done 😛

Here’s a summary of this week’s progress:

* Pre-order planned… probably will be in December or January.  Get the game for a discount price!  😀

* Movement script, and NPC dialogue

* New music track

* Fixed character face and body proportions

* Made a new skin material for character, and improved graphics settings

* Male character still doesn’t look as good as the female character, but he’s much better now.

As usual, I’ve been working on the business side of things a lot.  I wish this stuff could be simple, but when you’re a small developer, there are many complications to figure out.  After I finish the beta version, I’ll probably have to hire a lawyer or accountant just to be safe.

For anyone interested in getting the game, I’m going to be doing a pre-order (I’m hoping to do this in January), and you’ll be able to get the game for much less.  It’s not going to be expensive either way, but I’m sure you’d rather get the discount price. 🙂  The pre-order will be done through a Kickstarter, which is essentially a fundraiser service with “gifts” for people who donate a certain amount of money.  Getting a copy of the game will be the cheapest gift.  I’m working on a list of other gifts, and they range from 1st edition posters, to naming NPCs, to having me make you a custom poster of your favorite character, to having a side-character designed after you.

For the game itself, I finished the player movement script, and added NPCs and a dialogue system.  One of the NPCs wanders around randomly.  I hope to have the first draft of the combat system done by next week.

The main area I’m focusing on is the character graphics.  So far, I have 2 female characters, and 1 male character.  I wanted to go ahead and make some facial expressions, but after closely examining the first female’s head (she’s the one in the pictures below), I noticed that while she looked great from above, her face looked strange when viewed straight on.  Her chin was a bit too prominent, and there was too much distance between her nose and her mouth.  After much “sculpting”, I got her to look more natural.

WARNING:  If you’re not an art geek, you might want to skip ahead to the pictures.  I’m about to blab on about graphics for a bit 😛

After this, I started work on her skin material, and on the overall graphics rendering style.  I want a look that’s somewhere between anime and photorealistic.  In the end, I found that it was best to have a cartoon diffuse shader on the skin, a realistic specular shader, Subsurface Scattering (SSS for short), and a low quality Ambient Occlusion (AO).  The pictures in my first post used high quality AO, but I found that the low quality settings made it more pronounced, and added contrast to the outlines.  So for artistic purposes, I chose to switch to that.  If you think about it, when you take a picture of yourself, and then photoshop it so that it looks like it’s “sketched” or “posterized”, you’re making the picture look cool, but you’re drastically lowering the quality.

I’m sooooo happy that Blender has SSS.  SSS is imperative for any photorealistic model, but I think it’s also vital to any sort of high quality character art.  If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s basically what makes characters not look like dolls.  It’s what you see when you hold a flashlight behind your ear.  It’s not always something you’ll notice, but it adds a soft look to the characters, and makes them so much more likeable.

Here are some pictures to show the process I go thru to make the characters.  The eyes look a little strange because I took off the eyeliner.  I’ll add it again, but in a different, more realistic way.

(picture)

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