Friday, 18 April 2014

Easter Update

     We think it's about time we updated you guys with some news and pictures of the project as it stands at the moment. Over the recent weeks we've focused on getting the environment and the assets created while trying to set the correct mood. Most of the environment is as we want it however we have been finding that setting the correct mood has proved an interesting challenge which has involved a lot of time and experimentation on our part. On the 31st March we had a presentation at Uni where we showed where we were with the project to our tutors and received some important critique which we'll delve into in this post. Below is a preliminary flythrough of our level which we showed during the presentation.

Our current plans moving forward:

Push the Gothic Mood
Populate the vistas
Sort out the sound - so far we have only used sounds to get the idea across
Work on foliage bending and wind effects
Populate the Abbey and Crypt more
Sort out the Cloister Population

     Much of the crit up to this point had been primarily regarding the atmosphere touching areas such as our lighting being off  and a colour palette being fairly loose especially regarding the foliage. At this point felt that the "Gothic" was missing. After some discussions and many paintovers and experiments we've made some big changes to the lighting and have  a much tighter colour palette in the level and it's definitely looking a great deal better and the mood is much stronger as you can see in the bottom image below. As we mentioned above the atmosphere has taken a great deal of time and discussion to resolve. Below you can see some screen shots to show the progression of these changes and adjustments. After our presentation you can see the drastic change we've made to the atmosphere to really push the Gothic feel. These are all in-game screenshots and are dated to show you the progression.




      These were taken at approximately the same place, this was our initial spawning position before we decided to add in a path along the cliff. Ben's post explains our process of developing a selection of compositions for our environment. This shift in atmosphere was primarily down to the application of colour graphing (which we'll delve into more detail with later) to really push the blues to create a colder environment than before. We decided to really tighten the colour palette using contrasting colours, primarily the cold blues and warm oranges and red to drive the player through the level and give the player a sense of progression leading to the conclusion in the abbey interior as you'll see in the renders below.

     After the atmosphere optimization has been a growing importance during the last few weeks however at this stage we're not allowing it to compromise or artistic decisions. As it stands our frame rate isn't awful, it definitely requires improvement but it can be hit and miss in different areas. It is this erraticness that is perhaps most worrying to us as a team. We've been going over our models and textures making sure that we have suitable LODs and texture sizes which will become much more important as the level nears completion.

     Following these two points it's mostly tweaking and exporting what remains into the engine. The foliage is perhaps the biggest out of these as we're planning on re-landscaping the cloister area to create a more unified colour palette as well as making more navigable for the player. We'll also need to adjust the bend effects to match the wind effects of the environment. Sound so far has been something that we haven't focused too much on but now with the majority of production done we can begin to really start populating the level with the correct sound bites to really make areas such as the Cliffside and crypt pop.

     Below you'll see a selection of renders of the level and as of this Friday our Whitby is looking much spookier and we hope you'll agree that we're achieving a much stronger Gothic vibe than before. Of course we still have a lot of work to do but we're getting there. We'll be uploading more blog posts with in depth looks into our tilesets and foliage among other topics over the coming weeks. Moving forward with our environment we'll be primarily focusing on optimizing, getting the remaining assets sounds into engine and maybe one or two surprises.

Thanks for reading, have a great Easter.

The Flying Buttress

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