Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Project Conclusion

Initially, I set out to keep this blog up to date with everything that was going on with the project. Sadly this fell apart later in the project. I'm not going to make excuses, I just got carried away with things towards the end.

So, what's changed since you last saw the project? Probably the biggest thing is the revision of the exterior, which has had extra things added to the surrounding scene, and the change of the dining hall skylight.

I added shipwrecks and jagged rocks to the exterior scene, and tweaked the colour of the fog and the lighting to try and add to the spooky atmosphere. One thing I'd initially forgotten to include was the moon, which I added through a simple 2D plane.

The deck of the ship has seen some more assets but otherwise it's just seems some tweaking.

I'm not sure if the lifeboat was in earlier, but there are a few lifeboats now. They rock, too, but I tried to keep it minimal as I didn't want it to be distracting. A niggle I had with this is that the lifeboats had to be dynamic, and this meant the light sources had to be tweaked to fit. So they lit slightly differently to when they were first put up.

The side of the ship saw similar treatment to the deck, with new assets and tweaks added to it. One particular niggle I've only just been able to identify is the lighting on the walkway. I didn't duplicate the flooring to create an underneath as the original texture didn't require it, but since it uses the same lightmaps it's causing unusual lighting. This is unfortunate, as I did not identify the problem until after the project was over :C

The lounge and interior received a lot of new assets and decor, mainly in the form of decals and clutter assets. I also tweaked the lighting and added light beams to highlight the light source. I decided to focus mostly on natural light, even though the scene was set at night, because I felt it helped the theme more. In retrospect, it would be much darker inside, but I didn't want to use man-made lights.

The transition area was perhaps my least favourite part, simply because it's so empty. The reference I had gathered dictated that these corridors are empty, and this matches the purpose of the area as they had to be easy to navigate. However, this wasn't great for the level in general, as it made the area rather uninteresting.

The revisited skylight for the dining hall was, I felt, a much better shape that both what I had previously made and the original flat roofing. I feel it helps to make the room feel taller than it actually is, and it gave me a great way to raise the lighting level in the area without feeling like it didn't make sense.


Designing and realising the ship itself took a huge amount of time, and I had to redesign elements as construction progressed. It was an ever changing process that soaked up a lot of my time, and could've been avoided with proper thorough testing beforehand. I was too eager to begin construction, and I tripped myself up it seems.

I'm disappointed that I had to cut out the top floor of the ship, which contained the captain's quarters and the bridge. This was a combination of a concern about time, and about the route which the player must take to reach these locations.

The layout was originally designed to incorporate a dining hall with a staircase, allowing access to the second floor. However, with the redesigned dining hall, this no longer fitted, and so the player instead had to walk up three sets of stairs. This turned out to be tedious and ultimately uninteresting. However, I did not have time to design and implement a new method or reaching this second area, which combined with the lack of time required to make the second floor, meant it ultimately had to be cut.

While I feel the redesign of the dining hall ultimately benefited the project, it was something that took away time that could've been spent elsewhere. Overall, though, I'm happy with how the project turned out. It's rough around the edges, and needs more polish, but I feel that I captured the spooky atmosphere I set out to create. Though I modelled all of what I planned, I wish I'd had time to properly incorporate the second floor.

Friday, 3 May 2013

In Progress #16

This past week I've been working on getting the lounge and dining hall up to scratch, and well, progress has been slow, to say the least.

As far as the lounge goes, it's nearly done. It needs some decals, some extra clutter (modelled, just not arranged yet) and final lighting. But I've made progress with it so I've moved onto the hall.

The dining hall has been where I've been spending most of my time. I've been experimenting with some ideas, like a open roof skylight and a scattered tables. I've given a lot of the textures a reworking, including the floor which has some scattered dust and debris across it now. 

I'd go into more detail but right now I'm just trying to get things done. Things seem to be progressing at a painstakingly slow pace, which is frustrating considering there's not an awful lot to show for a lot of time spent on the project.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

In Progress #15

I've been trying to bulk out the dining hall lately, adding in some assets like tables and chandeliers. They're all wip textures at the moment, and they're going to be scattered about too. I initially wanted to give the impression that this ship was still set out like nothing had happened, but feedback I've received points more towards some organised chaos. 

The textures in the room have to be swapped out, as it's still using the lounge set. That's tomorrow's job. 

For the curtains at the back of the stage, I used the cloth modifier on a plane, but now how you might think. At first, I tried to be really clever and set up a rig and an animation to simulate the curtain being drawn back, but that didn't work at all. So instead, I made a zig-zaggy plane and went through a series of simulations and whatnot to crease it and ripple it.

The tablecloth was actually made from a circle shaped plane, instead of a square one. I tried a simple square plane at first, but it left some nasty jagged corners, so I tried a circle and it worked. I used Max's cloth modifier to get the plane to fold around the table. I might revisit it and redo the cloth, as I feel it looks a little bit like a pastry right now! :P 

I first tried modelling the shiny beads of the chandelier as very simple spheres, but even at about 8 triangles a bead they still came in a little too high for my liking (each chandelier ring was about 6000 triangles, I think, I can't remember exactly). Instead I baked these spheres down onto a plane, and did it that way. So far it's looking alright, Mike came in earlier and said it was convincing so I'm happy with it for now.

Anyway, enough jibber-jabber. Tomorrow I'm going to work on the geometry textures for the Dining Hall, and finish up that bar for the lounge so it can be imported back into the scene!

Monday, 22 April 2013

In Progress #14

I've been messing around with the interior textures, adding normal maps for some materials and special properties to others, like gloss and cube maps. I've also been making some props for the lounge, though the textures for those aren't done so I'll reserve posting those until tomorrow.

Kinda wanted to show off the normals on the wallpaper, I'm quite proud of the effect even though it's fairly simple. The basic effect is a sort of rippled wallpaper, like it's soaked up some water. The second effect gives the impression of it "warping" or "bubbling" from the water, something I've seen first hand at home;

Thursday, 18 April 2013

In Progress #13

The core of the exterior is now done and in engine, with tiling textures forming the majority of the diffuse maps. While not visible in the playable area, the rear of the ship is present, so that the ship still retains a form when viewed from cinematic angles. 

I've settled on a night-time lighting setup, with man made lights illuminating the vast majority of the ship. The idea here is that, despite being abandoned, the ship still feels "lived in", which hopefully will add a weird vibe. Also, it helps bright the overall lighting level up, as a dark level isn't fun to explore.

The side of the ship is modelled and playable, you can get to the top floor using the staircase here. Strictly speaking most cruise ships don't have a side that works like this, but it was something I wanted from the start.

The interior geometry is all in now, and is unwrapped. Each area will have unique patterns and colours, but currently they all use the same as I unwrapped each section one after the other, and used the lounge set as reference for the unwrap.

The lounge area, the first interior segment.

This corridor simply connects the lounge to the dining hall.

The dining hall, minus the decorative columns (which I forgot to unwrap, dammit)! This area will soon be full of set tables and fabulous decorations.

On the top floor resides the captain's quarters and the bridge. The bridge is only half unwrapped currently, I underestimated how much there is to unwrap there.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

In Progress #12

I've been assembling the first two rooms of the interior these past few days, seen above in unlit mode because I'm having a headache trying to get my lightmaps to work correctly. It's seriously causing me some trauma, I've made sure they're unwrapped with no bleed or overlap, and that the density is good.. but still no dice. 

Getting there though. I just need to stop pissing about with stuff that ultimately doesn't get used, such as all the time I wasted today trying to fix lightmaps. I lost a lot of time last week trying out different unwrap methods for the exterior, which is time I could've been using better.

Got the dining hall all setup for unwrap tomorrow, so that's my job for the morning. I'm shattered right now so I'm going to drink some tea and relax!

Edit: Actually, I should point out that I forgot to unwrap the bar in the lounge. Hence why it looks like poop. That's something I'm gonna have to get around to tomorrow too.

Friday, 12 April 2013

In Progress #11

So yeah, it's been a while since I made a post, and there's a reason for that. Progress has been slow, almost painfully so, and it's kinda demoralising. Still, made progress finally.

It's taken me a fair few tries to get my head around how best to unwrap the ship. At first I tried to use Vertex Painting to break up the large spaces, but I felt it lacked specific detailing. Then I tried using unique textures for each segment, which not only required multiple large sheets but gave low texture resolution. Eventually I settled with a reworking of the vertex painting method using a blend of 3 textures instead of 2, which creates a better look. I might go back and compress this back into two, but for now, I like the 3. Most of the ship uses a tiling texture and vertex painting to mix, using a blend texture. The hull uses a tiling texture that tiles only horizontally, and the staircase along the side uses it's own texture.