MyI@FarNiche

Building an XNA Game Studio XBox360 Indie Game.

[page 0062] ~ It Is All In The Doing. :

Updates: – .
DownLoads: – .

Money, the May OGAM Theme.

To aid in the quest of this months theme, “The Doing” will be added as diversification.  Why would that be?  What would that entail?  How do I diversify to be able to “Go Pro”.

As an Indie Game Creator, this #1GAM Money Theme might be better served if I were to explain to myself by asking, what does it take to begin to Go Pro?  What am I doing now, so I can figure out what I need to do next, as I go forward, as I go pro.  What needs to be realized so I can timeshare my efforts and resources more effectively.  And again, what is my end game?  What would I like to accomplish, seeing that I have set myself on this path that, once again, I can only envision in part.  So, as an Indie Game Dev, how do I figure out were this next step is going?

Instead of reiterating everything I have been blogging about thus far, I’ll just look at my next branch of diversification as something that has naturally come about as a result of my most recent investments.  There is a challenge I have become aware of, a competition that will be judged on the usage of a product called Substance Designer.  This product can be used to construct materials that are used to map color and texture through the UV’s of a 3D models mesh surface polygons, programmatically.  This procedure paints the low resolution model with high resolution detail.  It is a process that allows Avatars, level Bosses, game characters, set pieces, environments, etc. to exude more expression from the given CPU and GPU cycles through the use of maps in lieu of thicker mesh geometry.  This allows more game or film props to be added to a scene without overburdening the entire process.

But as it goes here, in this competition, I am to come up with my version of a “Titan” that I will model as a 3D figure.  I will then texture it using the assets that I create using Substance Designer.  This little venture will put to use many aspects of “Character Creation” and “Characterization“.  It will use a backstory, concept art, low and high poly count 3D model meshes, painting and texturing of the model, putting it all together in a program to use shaders with lighting to finally showcase the completed “Titan”.  They, Allegorithmic, have also made space available on their site, during this competition, where we, the competitors, have been given the opportunity to update our progress.  This gives all competitors, and willing spectators, the ability to watch how everyone else in this challenge is progressing through their interpretations of the theme.  In the end, there are rules for submitting the requested assets so the judges can come to their conclusions and reveal their results.

So this diversification plan, that I am implementing for this month’s One Game a Month theme and the Substance Designer Contest, should fulfill my needs of, Going Pro, where the proverbial, “getting two birds with one stone” adage still holds true.  The rewards are in “The Trying” and the effort is in “The Building” of something that is requested, not by contract, but by a competition to be judged.  The result is having the Titan build selected as one of the Top 10 Prize Winners, and therein the “Going Pro” because of The Doing.  But while this is going on, I need to get one more game finished this month.  So far it has just been one game, one blog, some website maintenance work, and some research and study.  This month I will be adding asset creation in the form of this first competitive challenge, this next branch, the Titan Contest.  This also is a continuance of how I pay me, by working to win, and learning by doing, as I stated in the title where it is “All In The Doing”.

My next concept that will help me diversify comes from the school of LBD, Learning By Doing.  I have a subscription to Safari Online Books and now Digital Tutors.  These two resources have become an excellent source of help since, back in the day, the only place to get “books” were at Radio Shack or possibly a Video Game store that had an oddments book shelf somewhere in the back of the store, with some obscure kind of computer related material.  The three “flavors” that I could find that had anything to do with what I was trying to do, back then, were; CP/M, Assembly Language and BASIC, that was it.  But that was then.  The information now pertains to every platform from Windows to Linux operating systems, from desktop to mobile programing, from console to web game creation with all of the inter-related materials for nearly any construction pipeline someone could put together.  It is just a matter of having a desire to build and, of course, be willing to work to win within the school of LBD.  So, a lot of effort and love are the driving factors here, for me at least.

Back to focusing on this Substance Designer contest.  I have started my Titan backstory by restarting an old idea from my game prototype of long before 2012.  This overall game concept is also my inspiration of how I founded my website and company name, FarNiche.  So, to make good use of my LBD, I am working through another Digital Tutors lesson set, Retopology Techniques in Maya LT.  I’ll need to implement what I’ve learned here because the rules state that the polygon mesh must adhere to a certain maximum of, tris (see: Items/Poly Count),

•Titan: 100 000 tris.
•Pedestal (optional): 10 000 tris.

which are to be the limits of the Models Asset Constraints within the competition.  This means that it will not be optimized for video game animation but it still must be brought down in graphics load size, from ZBrush, while keeping enough detail.  The idea here, for me, is to create the high res mesh in ZBrush, retopologize that mesh in Maya LT, add materials to its surface in Substance Designer, try to use Bitmap2Material, possibly Substance Painter and if time allows see how it looks in Unity.  But for it to be accepted in this competition it needs to initially meet these afore mentioned criterion of tris.

Now then, what I will be doing for this month, is building one more game or more than likely refining last months game, working on my Titan for this upcoming competition, continuing these blog posts, tweaking my web site, and learning how to improve my game creation skills with Safari Online Books and Digital Tutors.  I still haven’t gotten to the sound FX, music, nor any concerted efforts of audio within my games.  So that may be my next branch of diversification, unless something else jumps ahead in line.

For the time being, more study and practical application is my research, then one more game and one competition ready Titan.

Until then, Going Pro, “It Is All In The Doing.”
My Titan Concept.

G’day.

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May 18, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , , | Leave a comment

[page 0057] ~ Water Water Everywhere:

Updates: – Windows ShutDown Update, Xbox 360 Update.
DownLoads: – Maya 30 day trial and one month of paid Digital Tutors.

The theme is, yes, you guessed it, Water.

I hate it and I love it all at the same time.  SoftImage is going out of print and AutoDesk will have the 2015 version as the last model year out from their product line.  This makes me happy and sad as I was saving up for that and it was the package that I was looking to use for my mesh asset creation and animation production pipeline.  But now I’m happy because I won’t be getting a product that will no longer be supported after 2016, small consolation.  Earlier, I picked up their 30 day version of SoftImage and never hooked it up to my copy of ZBrush and that made me angry and sad, mostly sad because of not realizing that I could hook those two up until about a day or so after that 30 day trial had ended.  But now I’m happy and glad because I have downloaded the Maya 2014 30 day free trial and have hooked, yes that’s right, ZBrush up so both apps, Maya and ZBrush, are connected and can seamlessly transfer model meshes.

What started this all off was a question of @McFunkypants which caught my attention as I had just installed Unity as my game engine and had downloaded some free 3D models that were used in the tutorials of the Unity web site to get last months game moving along.  But from that question and after doing a little inquisitive searching, I found there would no longer be the app, SoftImage, that I was looking to build my assets with, so therefore the glad to sadness, :) to :(.  Then as I continued my search I also found a ZBrush 4 – GoZ Tutorial that explains how to connect Maya with ZBrush using the ZBrush “GoZ” asset transfer utility, so sad to glad, :( to :).  Wow how emoticons have grown.

All of this has made for an, um, very interesting and informative month of April.  Then along with the searching and researching, I’ve been working on various applications that compliment the Digital Tutors tutorial videos, or I should say, the tutorial videos that compliment the applications.  One of the tutorials was going on about how to get a texture mapped to a mesh so the uv’s of the interior environment would have the desired ambiance portrayed within that portion of the game.  That tutorial mentioned a product from Allegorithmic, which sounded familiar from my previous work with XNA for the XBox, MaPZone 2.6 circa 2007, also by Allegorithmic.  But it had been a while since I had opened that old application.  That old app had a clumsy interface.  But after going through another tutorial for Substance Designer, I found their updated replacement of their product to be more intuitive.  And after visiting their site, it just so happened that they had a sale going on.  So, as luck would have it and to my chagrin, with their enticement along with my need to have a more expressive environment in my games, I became another happy owner of their product and walked out the proverbial door to put their texture creation application into my toolbox and into my games.  I can now work with this new application, building textures for my games, within any software package that supports Substance Designer, which for me would be Unity, my game engine, and also Maya, which is my pick for asset creation because Softimage will become unsupported and then nonsupported in the near future.

While building these textures in Substance and thinking about how to use these textures efficiently in Unity I found Scripting Shaders in Unity, again on Digital Tutors.  These two ideas of building textures and then having the appropriate shader provided in Unity for the proper lighting, that, and the fact that Maya has a built in plug-in for Substance, has made the idea of utilizing Maya as my game asset creation software a much easier choice than I had first thought.  All of these affordances to easily transfer assets across applications has also brought some resolve to the choices of which applications I will be studying and using for my own game production pipeline.

So it looks like April will be a Digital Tutors kind of month.  Because of my one month subscription I’ll be digging into Maya, Unity and ZBrush tutorials, for the most part, while I try to build this months game about water.  Seeing that I’m just starting off with Unity, my games will be very basic, and probably boarder line almost not games, as they are hallmarks of study rather than production models of games to hit the showroom floor.  Some would further debate that, but these games are built to follow the One Game A Month theme and incorporate the new technologies that perpetually become apparent as a continuous onslaught that make themselves obvious as my game building journey progresses.

To be Continued …

G’day.

April 15, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , , , , | Leave a comment