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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsNo More Nights - Relaxed island exploration plus depression
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Fenreliania
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« on: October 05, 2017, 11:51:53 PM »

No More Nights is something of a theraputic project for me. You explore a lonely island, and that's about it for the basic scope. Depending on how long it takes and how I hold up while making it, I may then add some "events" and story on top of the island - all of which will be a very metaphorical discussion about my experience with depression.
I'm not an artist, but I'm sketching out some areas I want to include on the island to make it easier to piece it together and model. I'm also not a level designer so this makes things easier.

I want the mood to be very alone, but in a positive way. There's nobody else here, everything is still and pretty, and you have plenty of time to take it in. Reminiscent of early Minecraft, where all you did was look at the landscape, but also inspired by my memories of walking through suburban Australian neighbourhoods and the tranquillity of the trees in the pale summer sun.

I don't have a specific timespan for this game, but it's relatively simple under the basic scope - The only action is to walk, so most of the work is in modelling the environment, and if I add the story then most of the extra work is animation. It's not the most impressive project but I'm looking forward to it. I want to provide some calm and comfort to people, especially these days. I also just want to improve my artistic skills in general, and give myself a bit of a break from the programming side of things.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2017, 04:04:02 PM by Fenreliania » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2017, 09:49:22 AM »

I want to provide some calm and comfort to people, especially these days.

That's a rather sweet motivation for the project, if I may say. ^_^

Good luck with development!

...  also inspired by my memories of walking through suburban Australian neighbourhoods and the tranquillity of the trees in the pale summer sun.

I'm reminded of doing similar myself (albeit in other places than Australia!), wandering and exploring quiet neighbourhoods and the like. ^_^
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Fenreliania
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2017, 04:55:05 PM »

Quote
That's a rather sweet motivation for the project, if I may say. ^_^

Good luck with development!

Thank you! It originally started as (and still largely is) theraputic game development for myself, just something easy and calming I can work on without dragging myself through it, and I started to want to include some depression subtext, but seeing everything going on if I do include that subtext, it'll be a toggle.

Quote
I'm reminded of doing similar myself (albeit in other places than Australia!), wandering and exploring quiet neighbourhoods and the like. ^_^

It's a nice feeling, especially since most of my memories involve maybe a few cars on the road but almost no humans walking around with me or being outside. I don't really like loneliness but I'm reminding myself of the times where it is totally nice. The wind in the dry trees, the trodden dirt in the tiny patch of vegetation, the one bush on the roundabout that someone wrecked. And the heat.
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2017, 06:55:55 AM »

Ahoy! You're in my Habitica party and I didn't know you were on here too!  Coffee

This project sounds lovely for everyone involved.
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Fenreliania
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2017, 07:06:53 AM »

Oh hi! Nice to see you here Nathy! This is my first post here so I'm on here now ^^;

and thanks! I hope it turns out nice, I'm not that experienced with 3D modelling so it will be a learning experience, but I think I can make it good.
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2017, 03:19:30 AM »

Made slow progress on the drawing this last week as I'm still kind of trying to take care of myself emotionally, but I have another 3 sketches of places I want to include so I'm gonna show them off!

This is a circle of standing stones, in a pit with a small pond. I imagine this being about large enough that an average adult is a little shorter than the unbroken one of these stones. Who knows what purpose these stones had once, but now they're just pretty.

An old greenhouse, unused but sturdy. I might actually put plants in there in the game, but I was not in a "draw plants inside the greenhouse" kind of mood when walking today. Actually in reality there probably will be a lot of plants in this greenhouse, probably overrunning it and growing all around the outside, because that's more the mood I want to invoke with it. Maybe a few broken glass panels and a lot more dirt on the glass. Also the little bush will have flowers and it will be about that neat and trimmed, even though the island is empty.

Lastly, I decided to draw up a vague map of the island, now that I know a lot of the features I want. This is straight top-down, and the grey/blue areas down the bottom are all way down the bottom of a cliff so they're never gonna really be seen in-game.
The layout began to solidify in my head after the greenhouse so I think I'm about done with the environments. I still want to sketch out a couple more so that I can put up this concept art when you get to the spots but there's pretty much just a pond with reeds, a bridge over a ravine, and a rapids left.

Once I've sketched out the last of these areas I think I'll start modelling the island, then I'll start making the models for each area, then a few generic ones like benches and fences and flora. I think I'm making good pace when I consider how small this scope is, and how relaxed I want to be while making this game. This would be considered pretty slow if I was working hard on this, but it's something I'm doing in between my relaxation, so I'm happy with it for now.
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« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2017, 01:20:52 PM »

By creating a game designed to help those with depression (or to just unwind from this broken world), then you're already doing it right. I'm a huge mental health awareness advocate, and I couldn't be more thrilled that a "therapeutic" experience is what's stemming this development.

Keep it up. I'm eager to see more.

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« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2017, 03:08:23 PM »

@Fenreliania @amanfr01 Not to detail anything, but I think you'd both be interested in the project I'm working on! Link in my signature if you wanna peek.

I'm honestly digging the loose watercolor vibe of your drawings. I've had moments where writing and programming became so unappealing, but I could regenerate my energy and focus on my games by sketching things out without worrying if it was programmer art.
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« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2017, 09:59:15 PM »

By creating a game designed to help those with depression (or to just unwind from this broken world), then you're already doing it right. I'm a huge mental health awareness advocate, and I couldn't be more thrilled that a "therapeutic" experience is what's stemming this development.

I'm glad people are appreciating it! I'm under no illusions that it's gonna cure anybody's problems and I know it won't do much for most people, but we really do need more games that just make you feel better.

Not to detail anything, but I think you'd both be interested in the project I'm working on! Link in my signature if you wanna peek.

Already following it Wink

I'm honestly digging the loose watercolor vibe of your drawings. I've had moments where writing and programming became so unappealing, but I could regenerate my energy and focus on my games by sketching things out without worrying if it was programmer art.

It is definitely making it way easier to get into the development for it, being able to just pick up my ipad and sketch out a random location and just decide yeah, I'll throw that in somewhere. Plus I can feel myself improving as I draw and that's really nice since I'm very inexperienced with art.
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2017, 03:50:34 AM »

Tomorrow, I'm going down to Melbourne for PAX, so this seems like the perfect time for the final post of the Concept Art phase to this devlog! I've sketched out 3 more locations, as always - I'm not sure how I feel about these compared to the others.
My stylus broke during the first one, so I mostly used my finger to draw them. Despite this, I think they might be my most perspective-correct ones so far? But I am not as convinced by the composition. Well, I'll let you make up your own minds anyway.

A little pond, a little bit swampy and murky. I'm a little iffy on this one, it's meant to be looking towards a cliff but it kind of just looks like I cut off the drawing half way up. Or like there's a poorly drawn shoreline at the top. Still, I really like the pond itself and the reeds and the lily pads.

Rope bridge over a canyon - probably gonna give the bridge a little more detail in the game (like connections between the upper and lower ropes) but overall I'm pretty happy with the perspective here. Not so much the lazy way I drew the boards, or the unclear topology in the background, or the blending colours between different areas but look,

River rapids between the southern east coast of the island and a large rock/sub island next to it. I'm actually mostly happy with how I conveyed the rapids, I was afraid I would struggle to draw the water flowing but that seemed fine. Seeing some unclear perspective stuff with the rock on the right though - both ledges are meant to be above the camera with the water rapidly getting lower.


And so with that, concept art is done and the next update will involve actual 3D modelling! Don't know if I'll try modelling some of the common objects on the island first or if I'll try and get the island's topology sorted out before that, but there will be real assets either way Smiley
This is still nice and calming, but I think the drawing has definitely hit the point where it's just starting to get a bit taxing. I am not good at it and I get impatient with it (probably related), but thankfully not worrying about the actual quality or level of detail has helped - the mood is all that really matters!
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2017, 05:24:22 AM »

I'm not an artist but I think for the first one, using the opposite perspective would help make the cliff readable. So the bottom third of the frame would be cliff, middle third pond, etc.
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« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2017, 10:50:13 PM »

So now I'm back from Melbourne and it was wonderful. Meeting people in real life solidified a lot of friendships into something really tangible and that's been super helpful. I also met a bunch more people which was nice, and overall it was surprisingly relaxing and comforting.

Anyway, all that aside, I'm back now and I've put in a bit of work to move this game along! I decided to try streaming my modelling progress and even when nobody was watching, it was strangely helpful. If you're interested in catching one of these streams, my channel is https://go.twitch.tv/fenreliania. With these streams, I modelled a few random things that will be on the island:


In order, we have a reed, a bench, a lighthouse, some standing stones, and a pagoda. I haven't yet UV mapped or textured them, mainly because I'm not sure how I'm going to do that yet - I am probably going to use a special kind of custom shader that makes it easy to switch out palettes, for a few reasons including accommodating colourblind accessibility.

A few days after this first stream, I decided I was ready to figure out how you're supposed to model 3D terrain with a modelling program rather than a heightmap. A heightmap just wouldn't cut it for the kind of terrain I wanted to present and the sharpness I wanted from it, you see.
I started with the rough map I drew from a few weeks ago, and tried to trace the outline. This went okay, but I think I got a bit too detailed, and I wasn't sure what to do with the multiple levels. Ultimately this ended up a bit of a mess:


When you find your process has been unfitting, the best thing to do is scrap your work and start again, keeping in mind the lessons you learned and the problems you recognised, so I did exactly that. Instead of tracing the lower edges of cliffs and drops separately, I instead outlined the sections separately and then extruded higher edges down to connect to lower edges. I also put much less detail in, to make it easier to adjust until I'm totally happy with the overall shape and ready to detail it out. The result:


It turns out the proportions of the island aren't quite what I wanted from it, so I'll be doing some tweaking of those. For a few examples:

This is meant to be a relatively thin little section where the beach turns back into the grassy ground, instead it's just a big undefined slope.

This should be an intimate little path that leads up to a somewhat cozy area with a greenhouse and some potted plants... instead it's another hill up to a huge field.

This is a chasm/canyon. It's... a bit small.

This should be the small section of land jutting out next to the waterfall with a pagoda on it, but uh... the angle is totally wrong and so is the sizing of all of it.

Anyway, this was a surprisingly long update for how minimal and general the content was, but I'm happy with it. I will update again when I either bring the map out of "alpha" (so I'm happy with the sizing and form, and want to start adding details) or when I have some more general models to show off (textured or not). If you made it this far, thanks for reading!
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« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2017, 07:34:05 AM »

Yes, yes, yes! We need games that generally make you feel better.

Super Mario Odyssey was one of the few games in recent times that generally made me feel better as a whole. Not frustrating. Not anxiety-provoking. Just...fun!

I know you're having a different approach, but I'd look to other relaxing games for inspiration. Even if they're not in the genre of your own work!
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« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2017, 04:03:42 PM »

Been a while! I haven't made significant progress, but the progress I have made has been pretty visible, so here's a look at it.
Firstly, I made a few updates to the island model - there were a few specific areas that I didn't like and my technique was a bit limiting the first time round. First, I cut off the excess and was left with this:

Then, I took that and made a few changes:
  • I cleaned up the beach and gave it a smoother slope, and a better defined "ramp" to the grassy area.
  • I put more definition into the chasm and widened it a bit.
  • I cleaned up the path up to the greenhouse area.
  • I fixed up and flattened the second beach a little.
  • I straightened out the pagoda point so it was better defined.


I ended up making more changes later, but I tried this out and really liked the King's Field/Dark Souls vibe I got from the badly mapped + repeating textures.


There were some shadow leaking issues, but a friend who has more experience gave me tips about generating a lightmap and now I've got a much better understanding of that, which is nice.
With the map looking closer to how I wanted it, I added more detail to the areas that needed it, smoothing out some harsh blockout lines, and after a couple more tweaks to proportions (and adding a pond) I ended up with this:


I'm pretty happy with that, to be honest. Next, I put in some work making a shader that would take in a map and a gradient, so I could do palette swapping. This was a task filled with frustration but here is the short of it: Turn off sRGB and use linear colour for your maps Lips Sealed
Anyway the result of these several hours of effort was this:


I'm pretty happy with this, overall. The only thing I'm not happy with is how I've chosen my palettes. I'm not an artist and I kind of just picked a range of colours I thought I'd need, but when I tried to use those colours...


Suffice to say I will be redoing my palettes Tongue

I may be putting this project on hold, as I'm getting a bit antsy to work on my next project which is more actiony. Probably won't be on full hold, more just that it won't be the one I usually go to when I want to make game.
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