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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsReturn of the Obra Dinn [Releasing Oct 18]
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ucupumar
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« Reply #220 on: August 06, 2014, 10:23:35 AM »

Thanks dukope! This devlog is so detailed it gives me a lot of inspirations. Gentleman
One question, will this game has some kind of replayibility?
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Obreht
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« Reply #221 on: August 06, 2014, 01:02:07 PM »

So where is the ship gonna be located? Will it be in a harbour (meaning you would have to model a backdrop-city-thing) or out on the ocean?
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dukope
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« Reply #222 on: August 07, 2014, 07:42:24 AM »

Maybe a different dither for each material..?


I really love characterful dithers like this. I was originally planning to vary the dither on materials but changed my mind after realizing that the ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of dithering altogether. Any texture imparted by a different dither would only be visible in a narrow band of the lighting gradient. IOW, not worth the trouble.

One question, will this game has some kind of replayibility?

I'm not sure yet. I'm leaning towards no, but there may be a way to get a little bit of replayability in there.

So where is the ship gonna be located? Will it be in a harbour (meaning you would have to model a backdrop-city-thing) or out on the ocean?

It's "just outside port" for the specific reason that I don't want to have to worry about showing any kind of harbor/city/whatever backdrop.
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What is Valis
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« Reply #223 on: August 13, 2014, 03:57:08 AM »

This is a great detailed post and it's wonderful to see a Dev so invested in good audio.

I will add that you get what you pay for, and sites like pond5 are just a race to the bottom for quality and price.

If you want great audio help support the creative folk recording out in the field. Here's a great list of independant, high quality sound libraries

http://designingsound.org/resources/sfx-independence/

Even better hire a sound designer (there's always a budget) who already has an extensive library / access to field gear that can give you what you need and save you time implementing if that's not a passion.

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dukope
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« Reply #224 on: August 13, 2014, 05:52:24 AM »


This is a great resource, thanks! I just went through the entire list and found a few good sources. I wish more of them sold individual sounds instead of entire libraries though. I don't necessarily need 6GB of chain sounds - just one or two choice ones.

This is why sites like Pond5 or SoundDogs are useful. They're just distributors for different audio vendors so the quality can span a pretty wide range. But they let you search/preview/purchase individual sounds, which is ideal for my case. They're not exactly cheap either - but you can save a lot of $$ by just buying the files you need.

The biggest problem I've found with the big distributors is not the poor quality but the loss of uniqueness, since whatever you find has often been used (and reused) many times before in other stuff. I guess that's also the advantage of hiring a sound designer with his own collection.

I enjoy putting this stuff together though. Learning new things and making mistakes is all part of the fun. Not saying I do the best job, but I wouldn't even bother with making games if it was a "hire other people to do all the work" deal.
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dukope
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« Reply #225 on: August 13, 2014, 07:45:39 AM »


Character Modeling

I've finally started to prototype the gameplay for this. Part of that requires getting some characters in the game, so actually creating those has been my current task.

I need relatively low-poly realistic characters to represent the crew on the ship. The last time I modeled human characters was ~15 years ago in 3dsmax so I've been pretty worried about keeping up with current expectations. I watched a bunch of instructional videos on character modeling, started with a reference, and spent a few days modeling.



Reference (including sack) and after two day's work, 2684 triangles (sans sack)


The game is pretty low res at 640x360, so low poly models seem reasonable. I wanted something even lower than what's here but I noticed that the silhouette is still critical at low res and getting that right requires more triangles. Hopefully I won't need LODs or anything complicated when there are ~80 crew members on board. The model still needs a lot of polishing (and clothes) but it's enough to start prototyping.


Head/Face

Following tutorials and researching construction methods, it was interesting to see the wide range of techniques that artists use. For the face in particular there are two main factions. Some use box-modeling to start with a basic structure and fill it out with more and more detail. Others use straight-up poly modeling to lay down quads from the start and build out around the entire head. In each case, the main goal is to generate clean geometry with nice edge loops around the flexible parts of the face.



Eye & ear details will be in the texture.


I used the box modeling technique here since it felt a little more natural to me. Took forever but was relatively straightforward. I just kept tweaking verts until it looked ok. Something interesting I found is that it's much easier to see what's going on in flat-shaded mode. With so few polys, smooth shading looks terrible and makes tweaking the details really hard.



With fire we kill it.


Maybe this is actually a problem with my modeled shapes and using flat-shading is just a crutch to hide that. Probably!


Shoulders

One particular area that I had trouble with is the shoulders. It's easy to make them look good in a static T-pose but to support the wide range of natural movement is a lot harder. On my first try I just modeled the shoulders as usual and matched the poly density of the rest of the body. Unfortunately, I found it impossible to get it looking good for all the different twists.



Initial shoulder


I think it'd be possible to add some helper bones and maybe driven keys to get different areas of the shoulder/clavicle to compensate for the distortion. That didn't seem very sporting (and too hard anyways) so instead I:

  • Added a bunch of geometry on the shoulder to smooth things out
  • Manually transfered some of the movement to the clavicle
  • Tweaked the shit out of the skin weighting



Updated shoulder


And even so there's still some unnatural pinching and stretching. I think I'll wait until I've put some clothes on before worrying about it more.


Full Body Rig

For the player's hand I made a custom rig of joints and controllers. For the full body stuff here, I've decided to use Maya's builtin HumanIK system. Seems to be working well enough. The support for non-modal FK and IK in the same rig is really nice. It's still a pain in the ass to make changes or edit the skin mesh, but not so much that I'm getting too frustrated yet.



HumanIK rig.
(His dome looks a little coney here. Gotta fix that.)
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castor
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« Reply #226 on: August 13, 2014, 11:43:48 AM »

(3D character artist here)

Fortunately the old Polycount wiki is still alive, great topology examples there:
http://oldwiki.polycount.com/CategoryTopology

and the shoulder topology page with probably the best examples you can find:
http://oldwiki.polycount.com/ShoulderTopology?highlight=%28%5CbCategoryTopology%5Cb%29
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dougvfx
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« Reply #227 on: August 13, 2014, 05:35:34 PM »

I love the in depth posts you keep putting up. All very inspiring. Really excited for this game.
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Twario
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« Reply #228 on: August 13, 2014, 06:02:37 PM »

I don't think I'm a fan of the color changes, personally I preferred the plain white and black color scheme over the more bluish and brown variation. I know there are people that do like that though so I'm hoping that it's an option.
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dukope
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« Reply #229 on: August 14, 2014, 07:08:56 AM »

Fortunately the old Polycount wiki is still alive, great topology examples there:
http://oldwiki.polycount.com/CategoryTopology

Oh man, score! The shoulder stuff is basically what I ended up with already, but the face topology examples are really useful. I went through and made a few tweaks and edge loop changes based on that. Actually I had to force myself to stop - I could happily tweak face verts forever.


I don't think I'm a fan of the color changes, personally I preferred the plain white and black color scheme over the more bluish and brown variation. I know there are people that do like that though so I'm hoping that it's an option.

I haven't quite decided how to handle the palette yet. The blue/brown is some experimentation for slightly less contrast. It'll probably change again.




Maya LT vs. Maya

Maya LT is missing a bunch of features from the full version but it's been pretty good at including what I need so far. There are a handful of little missing things that you are naturally meant to want, once you start using the app more. The biggest is probably python scripting. Not having that precludes using a lot of popular scripts. I've managed around this limitation by sticking to MEL scripts and writing anything I can't find online.

Today, I hit another little thing that turned into a huge pain in the ass. The HumanIK biped character rigging system is thankfully included, but the Maya LT version doesn't allow the transfer of animation from one rig to another and HumanIK keyframes can't be copied/pasted like normal keyframes. Normally this wouldn't even come up, except that editing a skeleton after it's rigged (tweaking joint positions) requires regenerating the rig and losing all your animation.

Another one of those shitty destructive workflow things where you can't go back and make changes past a certain point.



The "Bake to Control Rig" option is missing from Maya LT. Have fun re-animating everything.


I was able to work around this by writing another custom script to go through each rig control to copy/paste the keyframes with the right parameters. Since it's a straight copy, there's no rig retargeting that the "Bake To Control Rig" would do. But it's enough to let me at least shift the joints around a bit without losing everything.

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ucupumar
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« Reply #230 on: August 14, 2014, 09:36:28 AM »

I don't want to be that kind of guy, but I hope you will consider using Blender on maybe, your next project. Having feature that 'should be there but isn't there' isn't that much fun.

Blender game asset support has been improved a lot in recent release. Actually, after following this devlog so far, I think Maya provide no better value that prevent you using Blender from the start. You just started using Maya anyway. All you do on Maya, you can do that on Blender too, the complex geometry using lattice, HumanIK rig, transfer animation, scripting, and so on.

I know it's not simple to switch a tool and there are many other consideration.
I'm just ranting myself. Durr...?
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dukope
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« Reply #231 on: August 14, 2014, 07:37:23 PM »

I don't want to be that kind of guy, but I hope you will consider using Blender on maybe, your next project. Having feature that 'should be there but isn't there' isn't that much fun.

I'm pretty sure Blender (or any tool really) isn't immune to small feature gaps. Switching to another package would just be trading one set of quirks and workarounds for another. The important thing for me is how hard it is to get around these limitations. So far Maya LT hasn't been that bad. But I will definitely go back and resample Blender and others after this project.

Blender scares me a little bit personally because it's open source and there are no limits to what you can fix yourself. At least with Maya LT I can say "this is unfixable and I need to work around it and move on." With Blender I could spend days editing the actual source or writing elaborate plugins. Fun but counterproductive.

My real problem with all these tools is the destructive nature of the editing. When I have some more material for it, I'll probably make a post about exactly how this negatively affects the entire project and how it could be so much better.
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dez
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« Reply #232 on: August 14, 2014, 08:08:31 PM »

Really exciting project.
I'll be watching this thread!
Best of luck!  :D
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« Reply #233 on: August 14, 2014, 10:45:55 PM »

Very cool progress on this game so far ! I like the concept and details you're going in to.

My real problem with all these tools is the destructive nature of the editing. When I have some more material for it, I'll probably make a post about exactly how this negatively affects the entire project and how it could be so much better.

For your next project you could take a look at Houdini for procedural/nodal/non-destructive 3d modelling. They recently came out with a decent indie subscription-- but even without it you can do a free non-commercial trial.

As someone who only has experience with Blender, Houdini seems to have the procedural aspects I've always wanted in Blender. There are plenty of nodes to start with and if you want you can extend with a scripting node (and there is even a C++ sdk, however I haven't looked into that). The scripting node is 'first class', it works on the node graph where you want it (as opposed to Blender, where you can't have a scripting node in the modifier stack, for example).

The python scripting API seems quite capable and simple to use (as opposed to Blenders programmers api which has you jumping through hoops to ensure you have the right object data/context, etc).
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Ege
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« Reply #234 on: August 14, 2014, 10:53:09 PM »

what do you mean by "destructive 3d modelling" ?
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Lim-Dul
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« Reply #235 on: August 14, 2014, 11:35:04 PM »

what do you mean by "destructive 3d modelling" ?

He explained it in his post:

Quote
[...] editing a skeleton after it's rigged (tweaking joint positions) requires regenerating the rig and losing all your animation.
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« Reply #236 on: August 15, 2014, 02:00:55 AM »

It was a few years since I rigged a proper character in Maya so I don't remember the exact steps, but you can export the skin weights, then tweak the rig, and import the weights back to the model. For this I recommend this free plugin suite: http://www.comet-cartoons.com/melscript.php

Secondly, one way of improving shoulder deformations is to not use the standard T-pose, but instead give the model a more relaxed pose. I've even seen FPS models which were modelled with (almost) 90-degrees bent elbows, which makes sense if all they will be doing is running around with guns.
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dukope
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« Reply #237 on: August 15, 2014, 03:12:30 AM »

For your next project you could take a look at Houdini [...]

I'll definitely include Houdini on the list, thanks!


what do you mean by "destructive 3d modelling" ?

Every 3d app I've seen follows an old school "do it right the first time" philosophy. Editing a model, adjusting a rig, painting skin weights, etc. All of these things make step by step changes that can't be undone except sequentially. And if there are non-destrutive/non-sequential ways to do things (Maya's construction history or Max's modifier stack), many operations require you to collapse those edits in order to work properly.

Destructive editing like this is by far the easiest thing to program so it's no surprise that's how all these old apps work. But I'd really like to see a modern app using a more forgiving design philosophy to put the burden on the tool and not the artist. Node-based editors like Houdini go some of the way there, but nodes have a tendency to focus on minutiae that matter to programmers' logical minds, not artists' workflows.

Imagine something more like Photoshop layers - not just to show and hide objects, but to group edits. So if you're going to work on the face, you can create a new edit layer and make all your changes there. Or make a new layer when you start rigging. If you want to try again, just hide that layer and you're back to the original mesh. Just like in a layered PSD. You could also:

- Duplicate and group edit layers to get a really nice non-destructive workflow.
- Pull parts of edits from one layer and put them in a different one to try different iterations of one particular area.
- Collapse edit layers together once you're totally happy with them.

Max's modifier stack is the closest I've seen to this but the UI is really poor and it's mostly focused on per-object edits. The ideal non-destructive editor wouldn't be easy to implement but the usability would be through the roof. A guy can dream.


It was a few years since I rigged a proper character in Maya so I don't remember the exact steps, but you can export the skin weights, then tweak the rig, and import the weights back to the model.

The in-app way to modify a rigged mesh is to copy your skin, edit the copy, reskin it to the skeleton, copy the weights from the original, then delete the original. A huge pain. I recently just got a skin weight export/import script that makes it much easier. The only catch is that Maya LT doesn't allow file writing from MEL Grin. Had to edit the script to print out the file contents to the script console, then manually copy/paste it into the file. Still faster than the in-app method!

Quote
Secondly, one way of improving shoulder deformations is to not use the standard T-pose, but instead give the model a more relaxed pose. I've even seen FPS models which were modelled with (almost) 90-degrees bent elbows, which makes sense if all they will be doing is running around with guns.

Yeah I really wanted to use an A-pose instead. IIRC, all the Uncharted characters are rigged in A-pose. But Unity-friendly rigs should always be in T-pose, and I actually need the full shoulder range for what I'm planning with these characters.
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dez
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« Reply #238 on: August 15, 2014, 12:01:01 PM »

Quote
Max's modifier stack is the closest I've seen to this but the UI is really poor and it's mostly focused on per-object edits. The ideal non-destructive editor wouldn't be easy to implement but the usability would be through the roof. A guy can dream.
Have you ever heard of Softimage GATOR system? I had an XSI guy demo it to us at work once, it was really impressive... I think it's pretty much it's what you are talking about... however I have never used it myself in production.


On a side note... for some reason I kept thinking about this project last night,  and I couldn't keep my mind from coming back to the case of The Queen vs Dudley and Stephens.
Here is a great

about the events in a philosophy class by Michael Sandel.  Based on your previous work I know you are a fan of exploring moral ambiguity and ethical decision making (and hence became one of the few people moving the medium forward),  I thought I would share in case you had never heard of the events and maybe find some seed of inspiration or motivation in them.
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« Reply #239 on: August 16, 2014, 02:28:54 AM »

On a side note... for some reason I kept thinking about this project last night,  and I couldn't keep my mind from coming back to the case of The Queen vs Dudley and Stephens.
Here is a great

about the events in a philosophy class by Michael Sandel.  Based on your previous work I know you are a fan of exploring moral ambiguity and ethical decision making (and hence became one of the few people moving the medium forward),  I thought I would share in case you had never heard of the events and maybe find some seed of inspiration or motivation in them.

I'm working on a project about this moral issues (how far you can go to survive) and this is exactly what I need.  Corny Laugh Thanks
Besides I was arguing with my artist if you can survive with no water and drinking human blood. I guess you can. I'm gonna include a bunch of "vampire" survivors.
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