MyI@FarNiche

Building an XNA Game Studio XBox360 Indie Game.

[page 0070] ~ Wiki-yep Titan-well Game-hmm et-al :

Updates: –  : Windows Shutdown Updates, IE11 Flash Player v14.0.0.145, Java 7 Update 65 .
DownLoads: – Substance Designer Service Upgrades .

Petri dish, home of the Flagellum.

Yikes!  Plan ahead.  My Titan needs to be completed and submitted by July 18th!  That leaves me nine more days to duke it out with the best of them, good luck to me.  At least I have my wiki started up and is well on its way to being … , something, wiki-ish.  As for my game and the Doctor, who is doing something diabolical with the flagellum of his experimental petri dish hoard, will need to wait till after my Titan has been submitted, to then continue his plot to steal away the Wray Pod from the Plumber.  So be it, stay tuned.

Ok, for some odd reason I’m trying to get a blog for my Google g+ Blogger account going.  Hmm, and what I find is that I keep getting claim jumped, http://farniche.blogspot.com/, for BLOGGER, which isn’t mine, and, has nothing added to it, or so it seems, except some cryptic Copts.  That’s par for the course because when I tried to get my original Twitter account for FarNiche at https://twitter.com/FarNiche in 2011, somebody, (from Brazil?), had already taken that name, and I ended up with Far_Niche.  Who or why that should happen I don’t know, but also that twitter has had nothing written to it yet either.  So how many years of NOTHINGNESS have not been written to the name I have chosen through some very strange logical assertions, so long ago, pre 2008, as FarNiche, go figure.  So anyway I now have Blogger hooked into my FarNiche Google site.

Nope, it’s not over yet.  There is a place called www.wix.com that is a great place to build a website.  They have a most excellent What You See Is What You Get interface.  Actually it is rather amazing, I am very impressed.  I would say just check it out for the fun factor, it’s very nice.  So anyway, yes, it is true, I now have a WiX website for FarNiché.  What I’ll be doing with that site is showcasing my Integration Tests in game form, i.e. as #1GAM games that I build.  The pieces will be auditioned from my asset library and become games from the ideas that inspire me.  But those assets need to be tested somehow, so why not in a game situation.  As this process moves along, month by month, the library should fill up with game tested resources that can be reused to promote reoccurring themes within new episodes as I produce more games, and more game assets.  Eventually some storylines should emerge and build up some character narratives, where those too, can become a part of the library.  All this will be showcased from my newest addition, given herein as my most recent creation.  Thanks WiX website.

So my recent escapade has brought about a tumblr, Wikia and a WiX account, each centered on furthering an aspect of FarNiche.  Tumblr is the closest to my asset library initially as it is the pictorial reflection of “Does this work?  Well, how about this.”  It will be filled with milestone pictures and videos taken at each pieces progression through the production pipeline as each moves towards completion.  Wikia is kind of the same except that it is to be geared more toward a written venue and somewhat more of a hierarchical, node based, idea linked, back and forth, brainstormingish site.  And WiX is the hurrah send-off index, where it all comes together, just before the lights are dimmed and the game hits the stage floor.  So WiX is where the building stops and the playing starts site.  Then there is the game itself, but that is outside the scope of what I’m trying to explain about these newest three sites.

Now I can get back to my Titan, seriously.  And how do I get on with creating what I have started.  You’ve guessed it, delays, nothing but delays.  First install service upgrade Substance Designer v4.1.1 to v4.4.0, Substance Painter v0.4.0 to v0.8.2 and Substance Bitmap2Material v4.1.1 to v4.2.1, very nice.  I guess it is better to be slightly inconvenienced and get more functionality than to buy a one trick pony and then call it a day.  The only problem here, and this hints back to the actual idea for the Titan Contest, is that there are no real, in depth, exhaustive resources to explain exactly how to use this Substance Suite of tools.  Even Digital Tutors was rather scant on the video content offered and I’m not even going to check Safari Online Books, nobody will have written a book about the latest upgrades that I had just installed moments ago.  So I guess I will become the scribe, for this, here and now.  It looks like it’s time to muck it up a bit, save once save often, have a backup naming convention like you wouldn’t believe to bring the hammer down on this baby, oh yeah, right to the mat.  Because if it isn’t broken, it still works.  And that’s how that’s going to get done.

Oh no, I’m a noob, in Maya LT hold down the ALT key in perspective mode for orbit, track and pan, duh.  I must have been off and gone doing too much site building.  Hm, I forgot.  Ok, let’s start with something simple, like finding the files that I’ll be working with.  Got one, the Titan base.  Ahh the bad news, now that the SunBase is in Maya LT it can’t be exported as an .obj file unless it has a polygon count under 65,000.  Sad delay, back to the original in ZBrush.  So I open ZBrush and find … was it a .ztl tool or an .obj import?  Time dates of file modifications are a good thing.  That one looks good, the belly cage.  I think I’ll just start a new folder and run with the best assets I have from this point on, the rest are archive fodder, just like Bob Hope, “Thanks, for the memories …”

This is going to be a long trail ahead.  I have an .sbsar file which is the Contest Substance Template. I have my Titan imported into Maya LT.  I have Hypershade loaded up to accept a Substance file and now have the template .sbsar file loaded into Maya LT.  The first thing I notice, after getting the correct settings for the view port to show the Substance on the Titan, is that the texture is not covering the Titan very well because it is not a flat object.  The UV’s are not correct, that is, the UV’s don’t match up with the corresponding pattern of the texture of the given template.  Woe is me, that which I have espied with my most curious orbs.  I know what I would like to happen.  It’s just a matter of figuring out how to get where I need to be using what is requested, and that is the problem.

With the upgrade of Substance Painter I am able to import my Titan for the first time.  Previously I was only able to get the Plumbers’ Wray Pod imported and then, once the Pod was painted, I couldn’t figure out how to export the paint job nor the .obj, i.e. the Wray Pod.  One nice thing about Substance Painter is that it now has a “New” file and a “Close” file protocol to open and close the current work space and project.  Things are either open or closed and the program resets to its default parameters in between.  It sounds silly to be happy about something like that but Substance Painter is a work in progress.  I also know full well, how difficult it is to get everything “tidied up” in between as an onslaught of new projects are requested for input and processing.  My next problem here is that the model mesh needs to have some kind of UV mapping along with the .obj file, or at least that’s the way it seems, so far, so I’ll oblige.  All right, I have a different UV setup and found that I can paint in Substance Painter with symmetry on so, supposedly I only need to paint one side, but, with the UV’s I’m using that doesn’t seem to be the case right now.  My Titan is a very “odd” shape and the UV’s are from ZBrush, where they do have some different choices.  It might make sense to map them out myself, but we shall see.  So once again, file Close and Discard.  Back to ZBrush to delete the UV map and try a different setup.  2048 Packed UV Tiles?  That’s an oldie but goodie.  And I was right about the wacky world of naming conventions, it’s like looking at some old dinosaur lineage map of failed evolutionary bloodlines, no that doesn’t work, nope not quite right, well your good for extinction, hmm try again, and so on and so forth … until it works.

Or until it doesn’t.  Let’s play crash the programs!  I Win!  One might think that I’m trying to punch a little over my weight class, but naw, not me.  That’s one thing that Windows started to fix just before XP.  That is, it would, change the way the Registry was implemented when the boot registry reads and stores a new set of start up points.  So that was just before plug and play too, I think.  So anyway, this is all experimentation and I wouldn’t be happy unless I would see this as me playing demolition derby with all of these programs running at the same time.  Maya LT, once to the mat, ha!  Now back at it.  I don’t know what it is but ZBrush really seems to build these Titan’s small because in Maya LT my Titan is a pip-squeak and fits in one tile of the default grid, Mr. Big Stuff.

Ok, I think I’ve got a heart beat.  I believe I have seen something that looks like a paint job on my Titan in Maya LT using the Substance plug-in in HyperShade that gets its information from an .sbsar file, that I built in Substance Designer.  It’s getting close to “Yippee!” time.  Just a couple more tests to make sure.  Back in Substance Painter, I have my Titan mesh imported while choosing “New” and then my file.  One good thing is that I have my Titan split up into a couple of different pieces now, just so I can move them around and meet the 65,000 polygon count limit as a series of .obj files.  So now I have an .obj file loaded up that was not only an export from ZBrush but then also from Maya LT, and now it is in Substance Painter, pretty cool.  And so after a little bit of uncrashing Painter painting, I save my file and then take a look at what kind of file type it has left behind, and whoa, a whole slew of files that I don’t even know what they are, at least most of them.  So now for the big test, to close and reopen, maybe yikes in stead of yippee, … to be continued.

Well, it loads back up, but the mouse movement is a little clunky right out of the gate, and it has some “Computation in progress …” dialog box in the 3D Mesh viewport and in the UV Map viewport.  Ok, their gone now, about as long as it took for me to click around to write this down, maybe a minute.  It’s back to painting, and after another save, I’m looking around for something to export, like what do I get out of using this program.  So the best thing I can come up with is in File/Export all channels, so I guess I’ll try that and see what happens.  And it says that it will Export a 128, 256, 512, 1024 or a 2048 set of Diffuse, Height, Roughness, Metallic, Normal, Specular and another Diffuse, maps, ok, let’s try it.  The question is where will they be exported to?  So I click Export and I get a SaveAs dialog so I can choose or create another destination folder and I can name the file.  So is that one name for all of the selected files?  Hmm says I and hmm says the Substance Painter Export document progress bar but it looks like it is trying to figure something out, but what, I do not know.

I don’t think I needed all seven of those files, but its a test run, but it is also getting closer to the deadline of my Titan Contest.  Ya live, ya learn.  Wow, my Internet Explorer has stopped working.  Another beat-down.  Send information?  Sure.  So my quad core was running the CPU Usage in between 50 and 75% and it took about 13 minutes to cook out something, so let’s go see.  Well then, the above mentioned seven files each at a resolution of 2048×2048 for a total of 3.96MB, that’s a pretty small footprint for those dimensions.  But what do they do and where do they go and of course, what can I use them for or in?

All right, from what I can recall, I’ll never need all of those files at the same time because there are three different schematics that are used in Substance Designer and they are made up of those seven file types.  So some combination of those seven export types will be needed but never all.  Now I reopened Substance Designer and started a “New” substance and gave that substance four of the seven files and then built a new .sbsar file.  Let’s see what it looks like in Maya LT.  Ok, now we’re getting somewhere.  That looks pretty good on the same Titan version that I painted on, but what if I use a different version of the same Titan, like one that has been run through Decimation Master in ZBrush.  The toughest part about that is remembering which version alpha-number that would be.  That’s the one, 6,616 polys and 221KB, and yes that looks to be it because instead of having all quads the mesh has a lot of tris, oh well.  Oh no, the mesh seems to be missing a lot of painted tris, and that could be due to the UV’s that were used, nope didn’t keep track of that.  So I’ll try to reUV that decimated Titan with the same UV pattern of the Titan I painted in Substance Painter, which has 33,166 polys.  Yep, research, of a sort, kind of.

Decimated down 10%, and it is, 3,316 polys.  All right, new UV’s and following the same strange naming convention for what ever reason.  Now back into Maya LT with you.  Nope, that does not seem to work.  The UV’s don’t match up with the different patterns of the decimated character mesh.  So as it stands, with all of the pieces of my Titan thus far I should be able to get the pieces I have painted and assembled in Maya LT, because although I can’t export an .obj file over 65,000 I can export and .FBX file out and the Titan max size is 100,000 polys for the Titan and 10,000 for the optional base.  Well I know it works and have an idea of what I can do and what needs to get done, but I need some sleep.  Nighty Night.

Good morning, or I should say good afternoon.  Inspiration and “strike while the iron is hot” does not make for the perfect 9 to 5 office hour day.  And it takes a few minutes for this little box of tricks to wake up from its “sleep”-ing state and get all of the programs up and running again, up and at ’em.  So what’s my game plan, what do I need to do to get the required files finished, packaged and out the door.

Well, let’s look at the files that I have from ZBrush.  That is really bad, working till it works and then with my last drops of consciousness, I named some files, so now I have no idea of what the names mean.  Documentation is my friend, my more awake self says to my barely.  But that’s neither here nor there, right now, for once again, it’s time to glean out the best and throw the chaff to the fire. One more new folder, one more new Project Name.

So what do I need for this Titan Pipeline.  First an idea, what is my Titan, how is it envisioned, what is its purpose, how do others perceive and acknowledge its existence.  Is it built for rampage or salvation, does its very essence promote safety or destitution, is there any escape from its clutches or will there be a way to elude its powers.  That was what I started off with.  Then came the idea that was rolling around in the back of my head for some time now and is from my large prototype game and faux GDD.  I see a powerful Titan that cannot be fought, it can only be reconciled to the fact that “It Is” and that is all, for when it “Is Not” those who can only imagine its existence, when the exacted truth in believing “It is not”, will become the failure in their own existences.  Those who once thought “It is” but now believe “It is not” perish, as the Titan that protected them “Is not”.  So in a way they are all a part of the Titan although the Titan exists without them, something akin to “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make any noise.”, or the same for lightning, an exploding volcano or the crashing of the waves on the shore.  So my Titans’ story is that of Spatial Perdition where it protects us from the Universe which we can see, as we see through the invisible powers of the Titan, but we have now grown to this point as slaves to its protection and have been diluted so as to believe the Titan is everywhere and we can go everywhere as if the Titan will follow us around and protect us, everywhere.  And so this is “The Titan God of Spatial Perdition”, where it protects our home planet Earth but not the moon.  It is made of Iron, but it is its mass that holds us close and its magnetic field that protects us.  We are stuck in the belly of the beast, and yet we live on.  The backstory, the Titan.

In ZBrush I started out with some humanish monster in mind that had eaten the Earth, but then realized that I needed to show the cage that we are locked in as we live, generation after generation.  I carved out its belly, and therein went the Earth, then the cage, to surround it, that shows signs for no escape.  But the moon is also there, outside of the cage, to show another place, somewhere that can be escaped to, although it is nothing like home.  But now things start to get technical like the 100,000 polygon count and the main gist of the Contest, using Substance so the judges can see different implementations of the Allegorithmic products.

The Titan Pieces: Earth, Moon, Belly Cage, Split Body.  And then in Substance Painter, [Paint editor] Invalid scene, all meshes need to have UV coordinates, nice warning, back to ZBrush for some UV’s.  Finally, after a long smash, boom, bam fest, with a couple of program crashes, and only two reboots, I have the assets needed that were requested.  Now to package those, just the way they like them, recheck to see if they all work, recheck the naming convention that they are looking for, and then .ftp that little folder off and hope that they like my Titan.

All done, that’s it I hope my Titan is good enough, but I can’t figure out how to make it any better.  It’s a blob of iron, that, for the Mythos detailing for “believers” to engage with, it needed a humanistic attributes, so a body.  Well, I will just need to wait and see, maybe the storyline will help.  Now back to my One Game A Month game and my video game asset library.

The Allegorithmic Titan Page.

G’day.

July 19, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | Leave a comment