ANI210: Showcase

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Some how with rapidly tweaking the game’s code we had a playable game. The general feedback we got throughout showcase was that they liked the story but wished they they had the option to jump on platforms, perhaps we didn’t success in creating something atmospheric or having a platforming puzzle confused the players.

I got some positive reactions towards the companion character, especially during it’s somersault animation, but unfortunately the companion does drag on the ground a bit because of how uneven the main area’s floor is. This issue isn’t seen in the third room as the ground is flat.

Overall I really enjoyed my first showcase experience and will continue to work on polishing my animation skills. It was definitely a challenge giving a character with no face emotions but I think with the audiences’ feedback, I did an alright job.

I found a couple of ways to speed up production during this trimester. Using Substance Painter I was able to quickly produce high quality textures and low ploy modeling was a lot of fun and made me think of how I can push the silhouette of an object with limited details to help readability.

 

 

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ANI210: Week 10 – 12 Final Stretch

Several issues have come to light. The previously accepted environment design has been proven to be too small after the game programmers had place in the player scripts. It is week 12 and near impossible to rescale everything as all assets had been modeled to the environment and the Gollum character. It is too late to fix these issues so that means the player character will be able to run around the environment in a very short time. Hopefully, with having the journals to read, it’ll slow down the pacing.

There is also the issue of the journal entries as well. The game designer was supposed to write out the remaining two but has not completed them. The lead game programmer did them the night before they had to submit the game which means I had to rush to add the text onto the paper background while also editing text a bit as they were rushed. Overall the notes do not look great and I haven’t got to see them in game but there really was no other choice but to finish them as quick as possible.

For the Unity classes we’ve been taking we were tasked with creating a trigger based code. Unfortunately, I seemed to have misplaced the file I did mine on. I was able to redo most of it with the help of the game’s instructor and have even added a particle VFX system that made it into the game. It’s a very simple effect made to resemble fireflies but is effective in adding some much needed movement in the game. Also, even though I’ve tested the companion character’s animation in Unity, I haven’t seem how it looks like in the game environment yet, but I’m hopeful it looks alright.

Finally for marketing, I’ve sent over all my concept art to the animation lead, Nandi to put up on the game’s Facebook page. I have also helped print of the game’s poster with the animation lead and I have designed and printed out sticker to hand out to people who play our game during showcase. The sticker design has become our game’s logo. Since I have access to Sourcetree I was able to take some screenshots of the environment so far. One of the programmers have added in a fog effect which help with the mysterious atmosphere.

ANI210: Week 8-9 – Rigging and Animation

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This week I ran into the first issue that halted progress on my part. So far we have only rigged a humanoid character so rigging the companion proved to be a challenge. The issue was that I was trying to translate a human rig to something that required only rotation constraints and with the help of an instructor I was back on track.

There have been some issued with the cave environment that another team member is modelling. Each animator took charge of modelling a room and then our lead animator would join the parts together but one room has took many loops to be attached to the rest of ours. Another animator took a stab at fixing the issue suggesting changing the already unwrapped environment in a rather convoluted way. My suggestion was to take the high poly room and have it be separated from the rest of the environment. The player character would then materialized into that room after completed a puzzle, which adds to the otherworldly aspect of the cave anyway.

Details of the puzzles have finally been explained and I will need to create a simple doorway and some colour specific images that correlate to a hint in one of the puzzles. Daniel, one of the other animators is doing the rest of the panels,bridges required for the game play.

It is the middle of week 9, and I am still ahead of schedule having handed over the fbx. files for all the animation as well as all the models which are textured and game ready after showing it to our instructor and personally testing the animation in Unity. I have also written and given the first two journal entries that explore the game’s story, the rest will be written by the game designer.

ANI210: Week 6-7 -Texturing

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Again, we are a little early on schedule and I have begun teaching myself substance painter for texturing some of the assets. Algorithmic’s substance painter provides a comprehensive playlist of tutorial on their Youtube channel which I uses to teach myself the program. So far I’m familiar with normal maps, the projection tool to ‘paint’ on images onto your model and using masks to easily paint in features while excluding others. I’ve been using Substance to give assets metallic, rocky and smooth surfaces and the process seems to be going smoothly. I do require some help export the files in order to place them in 3DS Max for our turn tables, but it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.

It is the beginning of week seven and we still have not received explanations for the two of the puzzles planed in the game. We’re a little worried as with new puzzles comes new puzzles items, thus more models which could push us off schedule.

It is week seven and the puzzles have been sent to us in a couple of incoherent sketches without an explanation. Naturally these puzzles require new assets to be made making the previous ones I’ve modeled become obsolete. However, like any artist in my position I have looked through the assets for something that can be salvaged and used outside its original purpose, such as the teal panel above that can be used to place notes on.

ANI210: Week 4-5 – Modeling

Modelling work continues. As well as some opacity maps for leaves and grass. It’s my first time using opacity maps and when developing games I’ve learnt the importance of not using up the polycount budget. Low poly modeling actually seems a lot of fun so far and it really pushes you to think about the silhouette of the object you’re modelling because of the overall lower level of detail.

Right now the tiny companion character has been modeled with two wings and a tail. I’ve never modeled a non humanoid character before so this will be a bit off a challenge but it shouldn’t be anything I can’t handle.

Still no update on the details of the puzzles from the game designer, we’ve asked for the game design document, so hopefully we can get right into modelling the additional assets this week.

ANI210: Week 3

Above are some sketches of concept art I. I was trying to explore how the story would unfold and using a journal in the game that players can pick up and read proves to be most effective.

I’m a a little ahead of schedule, having finish the concept art so I’ve started modelling. I’m in charge of the majority of the environment assets from the plants, such as mushrooms and flowers as well as props such as the journal and a notes. I’m also modelling the floating orb, which will serve as the companion character, that the game programmers will give AI attributes.

Another AI character, as well as the game’s environment will be modeled by our animation lead Nandi and the player character along with some rocks, crystals and props by Daniel.

We are still waiting for the game designer to flesh out the puzzles so we know what additional assets will be needed.

Studio 1 ANI210: Week 1-2

The first two weeks of Sudio 1 consisted of forming the story for our game, a moodboard and some rough concept art. Three story ideas were pitched and mine was heavily inspired by ‘walking simulators’, which are games that prioritize storytelling and exploreable environments over gameplay. The games student needed ass AI features into the game so a companion character that would help player solve puzzles to move on was created. The story so far is that two sibling go on a spelunking trip, ill prepared and get separated. One of them must then traverse this otherworldly environment to find out what happened to the other sibling. With feedback to contain the game from our instructors I suggested setting the game is a closed cave environment.

Looking into different cave structures and ecosystems to form a moodboard I found the tern ‘cenote’. The team was struggling to find a name that was both unique and short that would stand out and ‘cenote’ fit the bill just right. It soon became apart of the narrative where the sibling have entered through the hole in the cave’s ceiling and it would provide some nice natural light which we would do in unity.

Additionally, we have formed our GANT chart, where we have mapped when and what should be completed in reference to a standard industry pipeline for creating animation and assets for games.

● Mood board – WEEK 2
●Concept Art (characters & environment) – WEEK 3
● Final Model Sheets – WEEK 4
● Modeling – WEEK 5-6
● Texturing – WEEK 7
● Rigging & Skinning – WEEK 8
● Showcase Poster & Logo – WEEK 8
● Animation & Environments – WEEK 9-10
● Play Testing – WEEK 10-11

Science of persuasion and Crowdfunding

In high school I took a course in psychology and a short chapter was about compliance techniques you may not realize people use such as a friendly owner offering patrons a warm cup of tea on a snowy day or perhaps hotel stall going out of their way to carry bags even for short distances. To me at the time this seemed very obvious but the topic came up in class and some experienced these techniques unnoticed. During the break of a class discussion a friend admitted that her family wound up buying dozens of carpets and lamps after a Turkish store owner offered her family some tea, another noticed how overly familiar clerks were to people who appeared to be foreigners.

Now persuasion techniques don’t have to appear so sinister there are several ways to positively introduce them for crowd funding projects for example-

Building trust by opting to give back all the money earned from a project if it is not successfully funded in time. This is known as the ‘All or Nothing’ (AON) module and keeps patrons assured that their money will was not wasted else if the project fails to be fully funded. Cumming, Leboeuf, and Swienbacher did a study where they found-

“AON is a clear signal to the crowd that the entrepreneur commits not to undertake the project if not enough is raised, [which] reduces the risk to the crowd…KIA projects tend to be less successful, since the crowd bears the risk that an entrepreneurial firm undertakes a project that is underfunded and hence more likely to eventually fail.” (2014)

Below is a chart showing 47,138 projects on Indigogo (another crowdfunding platform) and number of successful projects that chose the ‘All or None’ module instead of the ‘Keep it all’ one.

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I feel that if you truly believe in your project and do the right amount of social media campaigning it is possible to fully fund your project and choosing to give back the money if you cannot, may actually help build a community that will later trust you with future projects.

References:

 

AON [Digital image]. (2017, August 17). Retrieved December 10, 2017, from https://conversionxl.com/blog/crowdfunding-campaigns/

Kolenda, N. (2017, August 17). Crowdfunding : Strategies & tactics. Retrieved December 14, 2017, from http://nuvopreneur.com/crowdfunding-top-strategies-tactics/

 

Crowdfunding for Indie artists and taking care of your fans – Part 2

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The whole discussion on Star Citizen got me thinking about how this semester my fellow animators created assets for games produced by students. It’s easy to only think about the animation side of work but creating indie projects means playing several parts in a team and one of them is social media agent, making press kits or posters or even the visual aid for rewards on crowdfunding projects, below you can see the image used to explain to funders what extra kickstarter exclusive rewards they can get for helping to fund the project.

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Star citizen’s success despite the fancy features of the game really comes with treating the fans like the respectable investor they are and that’s the takeaway – whatever line of work you wind up in as an animator, you have to treat the fans right, after all they’re the ones that will stick with you even when the project meet the original goals.

This is evident from the statements of fans from all around the world who opted to pay more for access to the game much earlier than the release date (which still has not been defined). The New York Times interviewed an 18 year old from Australia who stated “the idea of being able to play the game while it was still in development was a big draw” and even an older male from Huston who “Pledged more than $ 15,000 to Star Citizen.” (Parker, 2017)

What I can conclude is that Chris Roberts has essentially created a community so strong that they will shield him and his company from any media backlash. Despite not being released “the game has a community of over 1.6 million players,” (Huffington Post, 2016) and these are the fans that seem to like what they see and will continue to support the developers despite setbacks.

 

References:

Crowd Funding Logo [Digital image]. (2016, November 24). Retrieved December 6, 2017, from https://crowdio.com/crowdsourcing-model-business/star-citizen-logo/

 

Lauzon, M. (2016, July 12). Jeu Star Citizen: Plus d’un million d’utilisateurs participent au financement et au développement. Retrieved December 14, 2017, from http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/07/12/jeu-video-star-citizen_n_10941920.html

 

Parker, L. (2017, May 10). Video Game Raised $148 Million From Fans. Now It’s Raising Concerns. Retrieved December 3, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/technology/personaltech/video-game-raised-148-million-from-fans-now-its-raising-issues.html

 

Star Citizen Rewards [Digital image]. (2013, November 12). Retrieved December 8, 2017, from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cig/star-citizen

Crowdfunding for Indie artists and taking care of your fans – Part 1

Often, there are projects either too experimental or risky that investors might find difficult to fund, however there may be a niche community or a general population interest in said project so indie artists opt to fund it through ‘crowdfunding’. Kickstarter states there are “35,111 full funded game projects” (2017 ) and this is on a single crowdfunding platform, making it a viable venture for indie artists to fund their projects with. Such is the case for the game development of ‘Star Citizen’, who’s creator, Chris Roberts stated that crowdfunding is for “Something with a large demand but a small supply of.” (2013) As of now Star Citizen has been in development for over 5 years, the developers have managed to fund yet other kickstarter for the same game and the fans or investors are not upset. How did the developers manage to keep interest in the game even though fans have only played tiny snippets of the game, or nothing at all? Here’s how-

  • Communication is key- Fan receive updates and responses to their concerns promptly.
  • Creating good content- The playable demos despite fully realized cities with is much more than what was promised in the original kickstarter, among other features such as a personalized spaceship. Their website also has weekly update posts.
  • Give your audience what they want even if it’s just a little bit as a time- demo versions have been released for higher tiered funders of the game to play and footage of it has been posted online with over an hour of content with limited glitches.

Below is that recent one hour update of gameplay. What the creators did to take the unveiling of the update to the next level was the make it into an event where fans could be in the same room and later ask questions directly to the developers.

 

References:

Roberts C. (2013, November 19). GDC NEXT 2013: Chris Roberts – “Star Citizen: Going Beyond Crowdfunding” : Free Download & Streaming. Retrieved December 4, 2017, from https://archive.org/details/NEXT2013Roberts

Kickstarter. (2017). Most Funded Games. Retrieved December 14, 2017, from http://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/games?sort=most_funded