Thursday, February 25, 2016

UI Elements & Art Refinement

The concept art process is almost reaching its end! Now it's becoming a matter of refining the art and designs we have now so we can place them into our final art style guide. Fortunately, we have already begun working on a draft for that. It stands at almost 20 pages at the moment, with the sheer amount of art, influences, visual effects, and other animations that would be helpful to include.  That guide will be shown next week, along with our final motion graphic. 

This week, we managed to almost finalize half of our character concept art. Our means of applying three-toned shading has become far more unified than it was before and enabled our characters to look as though they're from the same world, at the least. Tighter unification between our hatching styles could stand to be made, along with other edits. We'll be using the last week before Vertical Slice to nitpick and refine those details.

Last week, our lighting left something to be desired.  Since then, Ashley has worked on some potential lighting setups based on the themes we had last week!

There's definitely more of a crystal-laden fantasy vibe in each of these set-ups! And far more dynamic.

Here is another iteration of the corrupted ley line effect as well as a first pass for the gravity well.

For the last few weeks, we've been posting our progress in creating proxys for Ley Lines early on. This week, Lauren was working on the proxy model for Vala!

She's looking pretty great so far and is definitely catching those Moebius-esque proportions. 


More environment concepts! A variety of sources have been used to play around with different architectural styles that could be incorporated into Ley Lines. One such reference came from Sudano-Sahelian architecture, as seen with the more natural concepts above created by none other than Steffen. With this type of architecture, Mirians are much more attuned with nature, using man made structures with the earth instead of against it. Light shines through, not only by the crystals themselves, but through "spouts" that serve as a sort of spot light into the rooms. 

Bellow the geomancy style comes something much more man made. Roselyn and Lauren worked on the idea of reusable man-made structures to various degrees. Roselyn decided to work with something much more structured and symmetrical (while keeping in mind the "holy" aspect of the room. A way to counter the asymmetry flooding the rooms by the Shellek. Only thing earthy about this design would be the material the pieces were made out of, and the carved walls. Lauren, on the other hand, worked on a separate room design, working with placements and tiles to have a more "holy" appearance as well as indicating variety and different levels of destruction.

Lauren also did some work on figuring out some of the decor items for the rooms to make them feel more "lived in".

Onward to everything to do with the user interface! We have plenty of designs for that going on too.

One of the most important things for branding our game are our logos! Because one of the concentrations for this week rests on logos, we developed a few to go along with the one Lauren developed a little while back.


Every member on the team did some concepts for the Heads Up Display. We had to indicate a number of things to go along with our game mechanics: stamina, a sprint meter, and the two Ley Line energies being harnessed at a given time. After a meeting with our design team, Roselyn worked on developing a second pass at the HUD to incorporate the design elements we thought were the most successful. 

We had a number of icons to develop this week! Some important ones for in game, were the bridge creation icons (which indicates the start and end point of bridges the player can make), and warp points (indicating where the player is able to warp/has warped in the past). We also mocked up some designs that could go on the torn banners present in the temple - those designs would be something of an insignia for the temple guards as well. And lastly, we included some designs for our game start-up icons, which the player will see right on their desktop. 

One of the persistent problems in our design process is that there wasn't a clear visualization of what Ley Lines will look like when someone is actually playing the game. This week, we've worked on that! We mocked up some images of how it may look in-game (though, take the lighting with a grain of salt) and menus for the interface. This is something of a gist for what everything will look like! Clearly, HUD, colors, and the logo are subject to change when we decide on the finalized versions.

Now for fonts! The two main fonts we'll be using are the Mirian Temple Script we developed last week and "Sansation Regular". The latter font is easy on the eyes to read, has a slight sci-fi feel (without being overtly so), and is 100% free (one of the best perks). 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Effects, Lighting & Animation, oh my!

Hello again! This week around, our concentration was on visual effects, lighting, and animation. Though, we've been focusing time on refining some of our concept art from last week and creating more proxy models to shove in-engine. So! Let's get to some of the good stuff.

After some feedback last week, Lauren went back to fix up the line weight on her concept art so it was more thin, uniform, and Moebius-esque. Each of these images has a different type & combination of shading so we can see what type works best and how it can be improved.

The same could be said for the Temple Guard's design. The line weight was shifted to become more uniform and thin, and the crosshatching redone to fit more with the Moebius art. Some changes in color were also made.

This is how the ley line color currently in use could effect the crystals on both Vala's bow and her crystal adornments.

Steffen's been working on furthering environmental design concepts, specifically for the boss antechamber, the exterior environment setting, and the temple's cave setting. The initial mood pass for the Main Boss Chamber scene (top image) was leaning toward the dark side. So the new approach for lighting concept and color palette had to be addressed. Furthermore modularity is being kept strongly in mind so the level design process can be as efficient as possible for the rest of the team. As you can see above, we're already taking that efficiency in mind! The rock structures derived from Moebius' landscape drawings work in a power of 2 grid system. This way the LD's can quickly snap pieces together once the kit is assembled in 3D.  Along with considering potential layouts for the chamber, where the climax will take place. We're taking these details into mind so we can design and build to an impressive - but realistic - scale.

Roselyn has also been working on more environmental layouts and design, keeping that same efficiency in mind.

On that topic of modularity, Andy has been working on some pretty impressive tools that will make the level designing process far more efficient for the designers and fully optimize the use of every 3D asset that'll be made.

With design concepts solidifying, Roselyn has made proxy models of every Shellek intended for the game. This way, we will be able to get a better idea of scale and how the models would look in engine. We'll be moving on to the next stage of proxy very soon and transition to creating game-res meshes after that to ensure that we have enough time for iteration. 

Proxys are also being made for our human characters as well!

With VFX being one of our main focuses for this week, Ashley made some first passes at the visual effects she concepted and researched last week. There's a pass for the corrupted Ley Lines, the benevolent Ley Lines, atmospherics (which are chipped off crystal pieces that float in the air), and what Vala's arrows will look like.

The animation design document was finalized this week! We have a full list of anticipated animations for the game so we can truly have an idea of scope and how much time we may need to fully integrate each and every one intended. Having this all laid out in front of us will also give us a better idea of what actors we may need to motion capture Vala/The Temple Guard and what references to pull for when the Shellek animations begin.

One of our other tasks this week was posing characters according to the style of animation we have chosen and getting those poses into engine. As mentioned before, Vala is going to be motion captured. Because of that, these poses were pulled from photo sources. The poses you see above are:
(top image)
1. Airborne arrow attack   2. Praying   3. A simple standing pose  
4. Harnessing Ley Line energy  5. Kickboxing battle stance

And for more experimental poses ... 
5. Tai Chi pose   6. Secondary Tai Chi pose   7. Landing (taken from Mayan warrior dance)

These poses highlight some avenues we could take for Vala, as they're not set in stone. Given her personality, Vala's own movements will likely be less exaggerated, more understated, and fluid. Though, there's some keepers among here!

Lighting has also been a focus for this week! For some, we took some inspiration from Moebius art to create the lighting set-ups. For others, we aimed for a central mood to convey and experimented with that. Lighting will be very important in selling the mood for Ley Lines! We still have some more exploration to undergo to the moods we want to convey perfectly. Nonetheless, we'll be keeping lighting in mind every step of the way!

For smaller details ... 

We discussed the possibility of a unique language being conveyed in the Ley Lines world, similar to how Atlantians in Atlantis: The Lost Empire had their own unique language. Because we're using the Sami people as an influence, we took some Nordic runes (found in Sweden and Norway) and used them as a jumping point to create our own alphabet! There's plenty of crystals involved in it. Yep.

We'll be beginning work on the motion graphic very soon! So we worked on a storyboard for the opening sequence idea our Project Lead, Matt, had for the beginning of the game. We'll be exploring different camera angles and pacing to greater detail in the oncoming future. This video was to map out the general sequence of events.