2019/04/30

Animated Game Boy!

Howdy! Geril here.

This month we've made some assets for a scene that will feature our previously re-introduced female character. She'll be playing Donkey Kong on a classic Nintendo Game Boy system, and the console is even animated  so you can check out the gameplay.

For the Game Boy asset, I made a high-res Game Boy in Blender, baked it to low-res and Lussy finished its textures in Substance Painter.

The hard part was the animation.
I recorded a bit of gameplay from the classic Game Boy Donkey Kong game, and then exported its frames as images. Then Lussy put them together into one big texture.
In Blender, I made a plane for every frame and then made them move separately by shape keys.
So every frame is a shape key that moves the appropriate plane up a bit inside the Game Boy, to bring it just under the screen's surface.

And the animation is just that. As time passes, every frame goes up a bit, becomes visible, then goes down. I synced it to the sound of the gameplay, so it matches up.
After testing it on Sketchfab, I even gave it some bones, so now it looks like Mr. Invisible is playing the game.

We liked it, so we ended up publishing it even without the character.

You can check it out here:


We'll put together the full scene later. I even made a low-res N64 with a Hori controller for it, and Lussy's in the process of modeling her old childhood CRT TV.

2019/03/31

Continuing a past project!

This month, we went back to one of our older projects that we were stuck on. It was this one, originally intended to be a character that utilizes mesh swapping for expressions. We decided to go ahead and make her into a more regular character so we can use her on any platform. She still has a video game associated with her, but it's only at the concept phase and so we're just concentrating on the character for now.


We plan to publish a scene with her on Sketchfab, because it's been *checks Sketchfab* almost two years since we've published anything (but we're still getting new followers).
We probably won't let it be an actual 2 years of hiatus.

For now, it's still a work in progress of course, but we'll share some images anyways.


 



We decided to continue this character because we've been having a rough time with work and we're a little burnt out. I (Lussy) am tired of working with Blueprints all the time, and it's been about a year since I properly textured anything, and Geril's happy to be working with only a few bones and a basic rig. So I got to texturing and Geril made the mesh, rig and animations as usual.

For now, we only concentrated on the face and mimicry, so the body is a work in progress in every aspect.

In other news, we finished a prototype of the Oregon Trail project in the first week of the month. Because we worked with a history teacher, we took his advice and made the game more quiz-like. Now the baked project is in full Hungarian, and we haven't really made any new assets for it, just used some from the previous historical projects.
It's not that impressive or anything – it was done quite quickly – but it has a lot of modules and possibilities.
Here's a video.

2019/02/28

Work-work and Rocksmith!

Hey, Lussy here.

This month has been much of the same, so we don't really have a lot to say about work-related stuff. We're still working on the Oregon Trail project, although it has changed considerably and the gameplay is somewhat different now. We'll talk more about it as soon as there is something new to show.

In other news, we've wanted to talk about Rocksmith.

I've been "playing", or rather using this software for half a year now. For more than a decade I've tried to learn bass – I've had the guitar but never had enough motivation to just sit down and do it. By disguising learning as a rhythm game, Rocksmith succeeded in getting me to spend at least one hour every day practicing songs.

The software itself, aside from the brilliant concept, is nothing special – in fact, it's rather cumbersome to use. We suspect that this is because of the engine it was built in (Gamebryo why?), but we're not sure. In any case, there are times when the UI is unresponsive and there are times when the sound glitches out. Sound is pretty important in a software like this, and the most annoying thing is the slight bit of latency that throws off my accuracy no matter how hard I try to stay in sync with the backing track. It also frequently misregisters notes. And that's not even mentioning the time when it froze the whole operating system, forcing us to cut the power to the computer, which then refused to recognize the hard drive until we reset it a few more times.

However, I am a big fan of the way the charts are made. Coming in after playing just about every rhythm game imaginable, the charts read intuitively, and after a few months, I could find the notes on the fretboard without having to look down at all.

As a learning tool, it reached its primary goal – I learned from it. The cable it comes bundled with (that we bought separately) is high quality and works well, so after I got tired of the latency issue and the somewhat weird sound mixing of the software, I could plug the guitar directly into my Macbook (which has no line in port, so I've had no way of doing this before) and use it with GarageBand's virtual amps. It has no latency (or at least very minimal, compared to Rocksmith) that way, and also sounds way better.

And since the game had created a habit of sitting down after work and at least playing a few songs, if not even learning anything new or working on new techniques, I continued this habit and paired it with looking up information manually and learning songs either by ear or from tabs.

I've read a lot of negative opinions about Rocksmith, because it's 'not really playing guitar' or 'not teaching enough' or 'not teaching things in the proper order', but while I agree with some of these – it really doesn't give enough information or proper feedback –, for some people (e.g., me), beginning something with proper lessons ruins the fun of playing around and figuring things out.

The same thing happened to me with drawing: as soon as I went to school, I was bombarded with rules on how to properly draw and what not to ever do if I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist. And most of these rules are there for a reason, but if a student is forbidden from ever making these mistakes, they won't really learn why they shouldn't do them, they will only have a mental checklist of things to avoid, just because.

I could have been told in the beginning, for example, that deathgripping the neck was bad, but then I would never have stressed my hands out so much that they hurt for 3 days straight. I'm not saying it was good that they hurt, but now I can differentiate between good and bad pain instead of just taking someone's word for it, and I definitely won't make a habit of it since I know exactly what it leads to. But I guess the learning process just works differently for different kinds of people.

Wow, this turned into a really long ramble.
I guess the bottom line is, Rocksmith is a perfect example of a good idea with less-than-polished execution. It's far from being a good rhythm game, but it's a good way of starting to learn guitar or bass.

2019/01/31

New historical project and also some OLP!

Whew, this has been a tough month.

We've been working on a new project based on The Oregon Trail video game. We're trying to recreate the game mechanics and most if it is already done in fact, and it has only been a week or so. It feels a little like practicing, really. We made it so that it will run on very low-spec devices, something we've never had to worry about in the past, so we're also learning new things.


The shaders are entirely unlit, and the graphical representation so far is very minimal. There is already a working menu system however, and the game can be started up and finished – something else that we've only got to once or twice. It's a bite sized project and it's satisfying to see how fast we are progressing with it.

The project is half Hungarian, half English at the moment, and the subject will most likely be related to Hungarian history, the historical accuracy assured by the same team that we worked with for our past historical projects. Here's a test playthrough of it. There is no UI design yet whatsoever, so it's very cluttered and basic, but gets the job done.




In other news, you can now throw weapons against the wall in Project OLP, and they will stick. So there's also that. Here's a strangely wide video: