Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Update #3: Lots of Background Art!

Hey guys, it's been a busy two weeks! I've been hard at work on the game, and I've got quite a bit of new artwork to share with you. But first thing's first, you may notice a slight difference in the banner. After much deliberation, I've decided to change the title of the game. I was never fully satisfied with "Dyll's Quest For Funk." Having an apostrophe in the title seemed like it could eventually be problematic, and the name Dyll wasn't exactly interesting enough that it felt necessary to be in there. I thought about just calling it 'Quest For Funk' but a name that simple seems like it could eventually be a legal headache (especially with all of this candy nonsense going on right now). And so I finally settled on the title DJ Dyllusion: Quest For Funk. Let me know what you think about the new title in the comments section! I also went ahead and bought QuestForFunk.com so you can now access this blog from that address.

Anyways, without further ado... let's get to the new art!

This is the first building that you enter in the game. A lot of platformers have that flat look where you're standing on boxes directly in front of the camera, with a 100% straight view (original Mario or Sonic games for example). I wanted to go with a visual style with a bit more depth, like something that you'd see in a fighting game or beat 'em up. While the character is still limited to two-dimensional movement, the background gives the illusion that it takes place in a world with three dimensions.

When you're up on the streets, it's a wide open area with scrolling backgrounds and expansive landscapes. But once you go down into the sewers, the area becomes much more confined. The backgrounds down there become static and give you a sense that the character is in a tighter place.I really want to convey a sense of depth with my environments.

These backgrounds are actually composed of many small, individual pieces that are designed to be modular. Placing them in Unity has turned out to be a bit more time consuming than I originally figured it would, but by creating them in such a way it gives me a lot more freedom in my game design. I've toyed with the idea of creating more of a grid-based tile system to make placement easier. But again, I think the sense of scale that I'm currently using provides greater creative freedom than if I was working with tiles. So I'll stick with my current methods, at least for the prototype.

Here's a view of the skyline background. This is actually 4 images on top of one another, each able to scroll at its own speed. I went ahead and completely re-wrote my parallax script to not only be more efficient, but also to give me a bit more control over it from within Unity. I still have a slight issue with some of the layers fighting for Z-space, but I'm sure I'll figure that bug out before the next update. I also plan to add some clouds and stars up in the sky to break up that big dark area.


As you may have noticed up above, I finished Dyll's jogging animation! I've included the two sketched versions for comparison. I think I may need to adjust his head a bit in this animation to prevent it from looking so stiff, but I'm certainly happy enough with it for the prototype. This actually took me quite a bit of time, so I feel a slight sense of dread when I look at my list of animations that still need to be done. Hopefully the experience I gained from this one can help to speed up my process a bit. 

Lastly we have my favorite bit that I worked on recently - a city bus! This is simply there as an "invisible wall" on the left to prevent the character from going off the map, but I got a bit carried away and had too much fun with it. Eventually I'd like to start the game off with an animation of Dyll getting off the bus and walking into the level. And then maybe looping an animation of the bus driver opening and closing the door. To me, little things like that really push sprite based games over the edge, so I'd like to include as many subtle animations as I can in the backgrounds.

And that's pretty much it for now! I feel happy with what I've accomplished since the last update, but of course there's still tons of stuff to do! I'm hoping to have a somewhat polished and playable first level when I head off to GDC in a few weeks, so look forward to at least one more update before then. Until next time... Adios!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Update #2: Technical Progress!

It's been a little while since the last post. I think it's time to talk about the progress I've made on Dyll's Quest the past few weeks. To all of you who just like looking at pretty pictures, sorry to disappoint! You might want to skip this post since almost all of the recent progress has been on the coding side of things.

So here's what the prototype looks like in it's current state. None of those assets are finished, but it should give a pretty good representation of the direction for this game. I've recently added a lot of functionality into gameplay scripts. I added a HUD script that keeps track of various statistics. I coded a parallax background script that allows multiple background planes to scroll at different speeds when the player walks. I added functionality for Dyll's 'Get Down' move, which allows him to use his Funk powers on NPCs.

Speaking of NPCs, I've spent a lot of time coding enemy AI since the last update. The default Hobo enemy can patrol an area, idle, jump, die, chase the player and return to a home position. He's not all that intelligent yet, but as an artist first and a coder second, I'm pretty proud of what I've accomplished on him so far.

I've also implemented a basic pause menu, and fixed a subsequent bug that allowed the player to rocket jump while pressing the jump key on the pause screen. (It's a feature, not a bug!) A countdown timer is now also in place, and you'll be taken to a game over screen when time runs out. I've also created a ladder script so that climbable objects are now fully functional. Things are moving along pretty well.

On a side note, I also got the game listed on IndieDB, so go check that out. Marketing games isn't exactly my area of expertise, so hopefully that will lead to a bit of exposure:

Dyll's Quest For Funk

I'm getting to a point where most of the basic gameplay elements are in place (at least for the prototype), so I can finally start concentrating on the art assets! That said, expect the next update to be a bit more visually appealing. Until next time... Adios!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

3D Art - Fall 2013 / Winter 2014

Well I've been putting this off for a while, but I think it's time I made my post on the recent 3D work I've been doing. In addition to the various freelance jobs I've recently been involved in, I've been busy improving my 3D skills for my portfolio. Some of these projects are more finished than others, but here's the result of the past few months of work.

I actually just finished this one last night. I've always had an interest in motion art and experimental typography. You know, the kind of stuff you see in commercials with dramatic text scrolling and words flying all over the screen. And I've noticed a lot of VFX companies use a program called Cinema4D, so I decided to give it a try and make a short intro sequence of sorts. I found some really helpful tutorials and managed to make something kind of cool. I think it will fit nicely as the intro to the next demo reel I put together. (Apparently HD isn't supported in the embedded link, so watch it on Vimeo to see it in better quality.)

Another spontaneous project that I completed last weekend was this render of a soup can. Most of my texture creation lately has been digitally painted and slightly more light-hearted. So I figured I'd put together something a bit more realistic. Not sure I quite captured the dark visuals that I was intending, but I like the results nonetheless.

Speaking of light-hearted texturing, here is a cartoony lighthouse I finished a few weeks ago. I based it on a real place in Alaska called the Salty Dawg. 

I finished this one a long time ago, so I had to double check to make sure I hadn't already posted it. This was originally a texture that I created for a pop machine in our senior studio game, Aliens in Eden. The original model was kind of bland but I liked the texture, so I decided to re-purpose it as a mockup marketing ad. This was back when I was studying a lot of rendering tutorials so I learned quite a bit about MentalRay while working on this one.

This is a tribute to my old car that I ended up leaving behind in Chicago (RIP ;_;) The previous car models that I had in my portfolio were way outdated (like 2nd semester of 3D classes outdated), so it was time for a replacement. I figured what better car to model than the first one I ever owned, so here is my now deceased Chevy Prizm.

And now to the less finished stuff. This is a character named Montez for an animation short I planned a while back. Here is some of the concept work I did for him nearly a year ago alongside a preliminary face render.


Still have some work to do to better capture his likeness. I had used ZBrush quite a bit before this, but this project was where I really got hands-on with the workflow and a bunch of the more advanced tools. I learned a lot about sub-tools and ZAppLink from this. I still haven't quite finished texturing his body and adding in all of the fine details, but hopefully I'll find some time to get back to this project soon.

Another ambitious project that I started this past Fall was re-creating my bedroom in Maya. So far I've managed to model all of the big pieces, but it still has a long way to go before it's at the level I'm looking for. I absolutely love UVing and texturing, but with the amount of small objects in my room... it's a liiittle bit time consuming. I'd very much like to have a finished, realistically-populated environment in my portfolio though, so I definitely plan to get back to this one when I've got some time.


And that pretty much concludes this update. I do have a bunch of really nice renders from the freelance job I'm currently working on, but I'm going to hold off on posting any of that until the job is complete. Anyways, thanks for checking out my update. I love getting feedback on my work, so don't be shy! Until next time... Adios!