Identity Crisis

This week was really busy for the Parallax team, or rather the Game Formerly Known As Parallax team. Yep, that’s right. Parallax is no more. A game completely unaffiliated with us was recently released under the title Parallax. Since we don’t want to give our game the same name as an existing title, we have decided to choose a new name. That new name is…

It's a shame, too. This was a good logo.
It’s a shame, too. This was a good logo.

…still being decided upon! My apologies for the bait-and-switch, but as it turns out finding a name that is simple enough to be memorable, complex enough to be interesting, and related to our game’s story and tone in the right ways is no easy task. We’ve been pondering the question all week and although some great ideas have floated around, there is nothing definitive just yet.

But it won’t stay that way for long. We are planning on submitting this project to Imagine RIT, an innovation and creativity festival hosted by RIT. Submissions for the event are due by the end of this week, so we have decided that we simply cannot afford to end our weekly Monday meeting without deciding upon a title. So by the next time I post an update, I promise to have an actual name for this game that I can reveal to you.

All naming issues aside, this has still been a fairly productive week for me. I spent a decent amount of time on technical things — prepping models for the texturing process, playing with character poses for upcoming promo art, and other important-but-not-interesting-to-look-at-yet things. One thing that I CAN show you, however, is the model that I’ve been working on all week. Well, not the model, but rather the concept art.

So far I’ve created one character and a bunch of guns. But if you recall, there is also one more asset I’m in charge of: a vehicle. And I’m here to reveal that vehicle to you. If you follow my teammate Aaron’s blog you might have already seen this asset as some sketches. If not, you should start doing that.

This vehicle, tentatively called the Mountain Goat (or Jet Bike or something — we haven’t settled on a name yet but I like Mountain Goat) is a small, nimble all-terrain vehicle. It seats two players and is the fastest method of transportation on the map, besides maybe being blasted around by explosions. The vehicle is designed to hover and thus will have a smooth, frictionless feel when being driven. Players will even be able to drift around as well as hop into the air while piloting the Mountain Goat. As a trade-off for its incredible speed and agility, this vehicle features no weaponry. Players will not be able to deal damage while acting as pilot, except by colliding with other players. However, there is a single jump seat that allows a second player to ride the vehicle. This player can use their own weapons, allowing players to team up in order to increase the versatility and destructive power of the Mountain Goat. However, players must also be warned that the jump seat on this vehicle is much more exposed than on most making it a dangerous spot to be in, especially with an inadequate pilot.

The triforce is just a placeholder, sadly.

Although the modeling process is still ongoing, this is set to be one of my favorite assets in the game. Besides the interesting form and detailing, it is also one of the few assets we have that wasn’t conceived of by the person who created it. Rather, after discussing the details of it at one of our weekly meetings Aaron went and drew up the initial sketches (which he has included in his blog post, linked to above). Then he handed them off to me so I could work on bringing it to life. I re-created the design in Illustrator, making changes in order to both better accommodate the requirements of the game and to inject my own style. The result is a sort of hybrid design that isn’t completely his style or mine.

Now I’m on to the arduous process of modeling this asset. Because it’s a vehicle I’m adding a lot more detail than is found on the weapons. The idea behind this goes back to one of my core principles for inorganic asset design: you must consider how the object was made. In the case of this game, every gun and vehicle is retrieved from a sort of on-demand manufacturing machine. The guns, being small and rigid, are mostly machined out of solid blocks of material, using as few separate parts as possible. Vehicles, on the other hand, are larger and cannot simply be build from a single piece. In addition, they must have panels and seams in order to allow access to their internal components. This greater level of detail is not only more time-consuming to create but also a huge challenge to me as a modeler. I love it.

Speaking of time-consuming, let’s look at how much time was consumed this week working on this project. I worked a grand total of 27.5 hours this week. This includes our 6-hour “start working on promo art only to discover we need to fix a ton of errors” meeting and our 3-hour “oh god choosing a name is so difficult” meeting. Fun times. Anyway, here’s the breakdown:

6 project meeting

4 mountain goat blocking/sketches

.5 mountain goat blocking
.5 larpoon map baking

2.5 mountain goat model
3 project meeting
5 mountain goat model

4 mountain goat model
2 mountain goat model

Identity Crisis

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