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Week 11

Over the weekend I found the time to complete my final proper task which was making High Poly for and texturing the assets from our stolen (repurposed) designer, as they were need for on Monday.

The rest of time that week was appearing where I needed to, to help the designer make artistic decisions as they implemented assets, while also making sure they were no art issues. I gave some general opinions and helped, mostly it came down to just offering moral support most of time, as we were all tired and needing sleep.

This is how my church scene turned out.

And the asset I textured.

For my final thing I also helped with the video creation, but only for the section filming the church, as first we needed to sort some lighting issues, then I gave some general ideas for how I think the church could best be displayed.

From this point all engine stuff is done and next week is the final week, and all I could really write next is to say I finished writing this and uploading my work, so to save time I will do this here, as if you are reading this then I have done as I have said.

 

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Week 10

Back from the easter break, the first things to happen was a series of meetings to get everyone on the same page again, this started with a lead meeting where we caught up each other up on what each discipline was doing, the report for art was dire but hopefully, we will be able to persevere through the artist situation, as it continues raged on.

I then held a meeting for the artist, where we reaffirmed the task, we previously agreed on, planning to have certain elements done by the end of the week, for him it was finishing the first level. For me it was taking certain asset from, our stolen (repurposed) designer, who I haven’t really mentioned up until this point, as until this moment I haven’t’ had time to touch his assets and finish them off, as he was tasked with preparing some Low Polys models, which I would then make high polys of the texture. On top of that I needed to get the church finished and ready for engine, because it was more important, I decided to get the church finished first, because of this decision I was able to get the church in Substance Painter, a software for texturing, and by Thursday morning I had finished texturing it.

Overall, I think the texturing turned out great, for it – I had to create some unique textures, like the stained glass and the floor, this gave me time to play around in Substance Designer, software for creating textures.

On Thursday itself I spent some time with a designer, to get a rough version of the final into engine so we could show our Team tutor it in game.

This week I also had to do the presentation of the art section, which overall went terrible, mostly due to constant strife and turmoil we have been under, and a two-minute talking slot isn’t the best at conveying 12 weeks of issues.

We also had the usual Friday leads meeting, with its mains talking point about next weeks macro goals and getting everything done and ready by then, which is an important milestone, as it is our last real week to add anything.

From here it is very clear to see the finish line, but I must not get complacent, or I am sure to trip on the last hurdle.

 

 

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Easter Break

Overall, this time period was spent taking a break before I refocused for the final sprint, however I did continue adding to the church level. Getting it to this stage.

Additionally, one of the missing art team members made contact trying to see what they could do, it was in this time frame and I sat down with them in a meeting and discuss with them that they would need to first finish their assigned assets, as the bare minimum, this communication shortly dithered away as their personal situation worsened again, it was also partly because my focus was not fully on them, as amongst my worries they are currently a very low one.

 

 

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Week 9

This week was another tough blow for the art team, on weekend I had a conversation with one of the active members of the art team, they were embroiled in some personal issues, which led to them having to reprioritize for the sake of their health, which has translated into the art team being down two active members and a stolen (reprioritized) designer with limited modelling experience, if we were not struggling before we definitively are now, from here I held an emergency meeting for the art team where I quickly reprioritised everything, I tasked the other artist to finish the first two half-finished levels, while I focused on start and finish the still untouched final level.

Before I could start the final level, I had to quickly finish up the High Polys for my remaining assets, as the other artist needed them for the other levels.

The final level is the boss room, where you fight the boss, the dead priest, for this reason I decided to set it in a church, as time was an issue I quickly mocked a block out, then quickly transitioned into creating the environment, and finished this first pass in a single night. I am overall impressed how I was able to pull this together so quickly.

Moving forward my focus will to be solely on this project, otherwise it will not be finished, by the end of this project I think I am going to feel very taxed, I just hope the final project will be worth it.

 

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Week 8

This week was big week for the project, with it being ironically about making it smaller, as after we had  our journeyman lecture it was heavily implied that we must cull a majority of the scope of the project, trading in scale for polish, the usually quality over quantity routine, overall this process makes sense, as from art perspective we were drowning, as those missing artists seriously hampered any amount of effective art we could do just because we had collectively less manhours to do it all in. I, at this point was relieved that we could refocus our efforts.

For the art team the cull focused on first cutting down the asset list, which in part reflected the cut levels the designer decided on. As you can see below all asset with the black bar were culled, personally I lost two assets to the cull: the Witch Burn Stake and the ladder, out of the all asset I had done, these were the one I did the least on, so it wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened to me.

Following on from this I held an art team meeting where we refocused and got to work on our new goals, additionally this meeting soon transitioned into a more shared lab session where we shared our work and received very good feedback on each other’s work.

As I did last time, I gave the art section of the presentation, with the main focus this week being on the cull that had just occurred.

I also this week sat with one of the art team and gave some help with their work, as there were certain things that were not working properly, I gave some input on the matter and helped things to start heading in right direction.

With another member of the art team, I had a discussion on asset optimisation, a topic he enjoys, from this discussion I was able to pick up a few things to improve my craft, which I am always grateful to receive.

Overall, I think this week was an important week for the health of the project, as without it I think it would have finished a bloated mess.

 

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Week 7

As discussed last week in the Tuesday tech session this week I asked to speak with the module leader, and after discussing it with him and explaining that we down members, he explained to me what could be officially offered for the missing students, being 1 and half assets of the internet to replace the missing work, while I understand this and I thought at least it was something, while I had reservations with the limited help available and the certain rules that govern it, I resolved to move forward as best I could.

Around this time another issue raised it head, while discussing the texturing of asset it came to light there had been a series of miscommunications, as it stand, our character will not be textured, from finding out the leads took emergency action to rectify the situation, which involved contacting the character artist to see if he would reconsider texturing the character, then when he said no we went to the character art team lead, and when he said there was nothing he could do we then went to the Character Art Team Tutor, which we are waiting on a reply from. On a personal level I feel responsible for this issue, as while it was not me who did the miscommunication directly, I was aware of it and did effectively sign off on it as lead, and as lead I think the mistake of my team are my mistakes and they reflect on me not them, which is I why I repeatedly offer to the texturing myself, while the other leads decided against this, I am at least happy I offered.

In the week also held meet ups with my artist to check on their progress, from the active members I was impressed with their progress and can see things coming together nicely, as I expected I was struggling to keep communication with the other members, as they were constantly off grid, meaning I have not got a good idea at what stage they are at.

I also sat in on the design meeting with the programmer lead, this was in an effort to reduced future miscommunication incidents, as attending these meetings are helpful in seeing where everyone is at, leading to better overview of the project, which is useful when trying to plan the schedule for the artist.

As we were closely approaching a point where the artist would soon be submitting assets in a complete form, it occurred to me it would be prudent to set up an Online Asset Storage solution, separate from the Microsoft Teams folder that we already had set up, I decided this as there was a good chance we would be dealing in big files sizes, and it was unclear on the capacity of the teams folder, so I made a separate storage folder, so there wouldn’t be any issue for storage.

Other than the weekly Lead meeting, nothing other of note happened, but overall while this was a fraught week, I think all things consider I would rather it happen now, rather than on week 11 when there would be no time to sort such things.

 

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Week 6

This week, as my art team was getting on with their own work for the project, I was able to put a lot of this week’s focus on my own work, being able to complete the block outs for all my assets. Overall, I am happy with them, next I plan to clean them up into proper Low poly models, which I will then convert into High Polys for baking, which I am going to use as a great learning opportunity, as I have always had a problem getting my head around High Poly baking, these assets will act as a good catalyst to finally earn.

This week I helped deliver the group presentations, specifically talking about the art section, giving an update to the rest of the year group about the progress of our game, overall, it makes me a bit anxious, but it will always be good to get public speaking practice in. From this week onwards I will be giving the art section of the presentation.

Friday was again host to our weekly Lead meeting, these are becoming more progressively smooth, as I think everyone is paying more attention to what the other discipline teams are doing, which has led to less issues, but they are still cropping up, which I think is natural, I think what will be better show of our skills is how we deal with them moving forward, and if we are able to overcome them.

While slow in terms of teamwork this week, I am glad for it as I was able to surge forward in terms of my personal work, next week I plan to contact the module leader on the Tuesday tech session, as the previously discussed art team issues are still ongoing, and I think it is time to see what the module leader can do to help.

 

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Week 5

This week looking back, a lot of it was spent interacting with the outsource teams, again, as it was important that they received the follows ups they needed based of the information we gave them.

The first instance of this interaction was me having a meeting with the character artist who would be making the boss of the game, with it mostly about going through what we are wanting my from the character and answering any specific questions they had, as while useful my photo bash is not the be all and end all, so giving them the information they need will just help us in the end, as we will have a better character because of it.

I also had a meeting with the character artist who is making our protagonist, Lisa, this meeting was a follow up meeting following an initial meeting with my co-lead, with it mostly me getting caught up on the progress of the model and giving feedback on the work so far.

Moving onto the initial meetings, I also hosted individual follow up meetings with artist to review their research and give a green light to move forward with their assets and start creating them.

A large swathe of my week was taken up following up some advice I received from our Team tutor, who suggested that we should remove any specific imagery relating to religion, as it was best to steer clear of it, so not to not offend anyone unnecessarily. For me, this process was going through my asset list and mentally highlighting any problem assets and either sanitise them or straight up get rid of them, this soon translated into having further follow up meeting with certain artist, who were working on said asset, giving them clear instruction in to how to fix the asset in regard to the issue raised.

For my own work I had to revamp the priest design into a more non-descript religious holy man, with no clear links to any specific religion, taking extra effort to remove any sensitive imagery closely related to religions.

For my personal work I started the research for my assets. Going into this project, from some initial discussion I had about the module I knew being lead meant I wouldn’t have much time to actually create assets, as most of my time  was being spent on admin, making sure everyone else has what they need to do their work, this can be clearly be seen how most of my time this week was taken up with this higher level stuff that needing completing or the project would stall, because of this I decided to focus on smaller asset that I knew I can complete easily and quickly, knowing my skill level I selected handful: Ladder, Witch Burning Stake, Painting, Bookshelves, Lectern and Books (opened and Closed), personally I knew these assets wouldn’t take me long to complete.

On Friday I had the next Lead meeting where the main theme became clearing up some things between the individual discipline teams, as at this point it is becoming clear that remote communication like this between a fresh team is difficult and a lot of information is going to be lost, and will be only really learned at specific intervals, which is most likely happening when we least want it to.

As I near the midpoint of this project I am now starting to get a feel for the full dynamic of the team, and what will be required moving forward, mostly I want to try and be pragmatic about my expectations, as I am already starting to feel the strain of my limited art team, which compared to the other teams has me definitely worried about what will be produced by the end of the project. But overall, I still think it will be something decent enough that I can be proud of it.

 

 

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Week 4

This was a busy week for me, as things were now properly starting to get moving, and you can see the progress starting to slowly tick upwards.

Like always we had our Monday meeting, with it’s roles starting to more clearly fall into place, a platform to reiterate what has been done so far on the project and what will be done next. Moving forward I will not mention these meetings unless something dramatic happens in them, as from what I can see they are shaping up to be very similar each week, with it not offering much value for me to talk about them further.

On personal task level I started and finished the mock-ups for both the game logo and the team logo. With the game logo it was a one hit wonder as I decided to imitate the exiting style of Castlevania logo, so it could better look like an official game, meaning I was done with it very quickly

For the team logo I picked up a few options, playing around with the team’s name, High Tempo, trying a few different combinations of elements, till I made a few I liked.

From here we decided to go for the logo below, which blended the music element of our name, represented with a vinyl disc, which took the place of a coin, which is to represent the nature of the project brief, Coin-Op.

A lot of my attention this week was focused on dealing with supplying the outsource teams with the information they needed to make our characters, and subsequently animate them. The main chunk of this was preparing the documents that the animation team had requested, detailing information like which animations we needed, and what the animated character would be like.

For the Character Art team, it was mainly about supplying them with a reference for our boss, the priest who killed our main character Lisa, this would take the form of a photobashed concept art, where I toyed with mixing him with grim reaper imagery, into giving him a very creepy design, that is cohesive and will make sense contextually for the game.

In this process I started to collate and curate a technical art guide for the art team, so we would be working all from the same start point, with the main goal of the guide to ensure a consistent art style throughout the project.

I also convened an art team meeting, where I did the first assignment of asset for artist, as we had received the initial block outs from designers, giving us the clear picture, I wanted, so I could properly evaluate what we would require. I asked the artist to start some individual research for their assets, I was able to hand out assets efficiently using a chart I created to track all project assets.

From an art lead perspective, I am starting to encounter certain difficulties contacting certain members of the art team, from the little communications we have had, I can ascertain there are personal circumstances that are causing the communication and attendance droughts, moving forward, while harsh I must run this art team as if there are only 3 members, rather than 5, and set the goals accordingly,  if I don’t there is no way that this project can be finished in any form. On the other hand, I will still try and support them as much I can and give them work which will not cripple the project if not completed.

Moving forward I will need to be more critical with the allocations of the resources and artist I have, as from what I have seen from the initial block outs there is a lot to be done.

 

 

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Week 3

Being the first proper week of the project, you would expect me to be very busy this week, however it was mostly a week of spinning wheels, as individual art research was underway and we as an art team were waiting for a clearer design picture from the design team, while there was an overall concept of what the game will be, there are not many specifics about what they want in terms of specifics asset or environment levels. We would have a better understanding of what we would have to make when we receive the design blockout.

However, over the course of the week there were two meetings; on Monday 8th February we had a Team meeting, working like it had last week as an open forum for any questions to be asked, with it mostly focusing on verbally reiterating the idea of the game so everyone was on the same page, it was in this meeting I started noticing that certain art team members weren’t present, overall I decided to keep the thought in the back of mind for now, and give the benefit of the doubt, while keeping an eye on the situation.

On Friday 12th February, we had the next Lead meeting, which consisted of the usual progress updates and such, the most interesting thing to come of this meeting though was the discussion and confirmation of both Game Name and Team Name, while on first inspection these two things are quite innocuous, but personally I believe them to be very important things, as Game name is a very important audience facing component of the project, and will be one of first things they would see and think about in regards to our game, with a good name being able to convey the tone of our game to our audience in a quick and effective manner. With the team’s name it is a useful team morale tool, as it gives a common banner that we can all gather under.  From this discussion we decided to call our Game: Castlevania: Sonata of the Maiden, and for our team name: High Tempo.

From a personal task perspective, it was decided that I would design the game logo and team logo, as I was the artist with the most experience with photoshop, a software good in digital media creation.

While progress has been slow this week, I have confidence that it will turn out ok in the end.