The End is Near

This week is going to be the most exciting, stressful, and overall hectic week of this project thusfar. Why, you ask? Because this is the last week of my thesis. Well, sort of. Technically we still have the rest of the year to work on touch-ups and stretch goals, but at the end of this week we are holding our final presentations. So for all intents and purposes any work I do on Dichotomy after Friday will be as an independent game developer. Exciting, huh?

This is the only frame of my breakdown video that I will be releasing prior to my presentation on Friday.
This is the only frame of my breakdown video that I will be releasing prior to my presentation on Friday.

Due to the looming presentation deadline I won’t be working on creating any new Dichotomy assets this week. Instead, I’ll be devoting all of my time to working on my presentation video. I’ve already spent all week preparing my render environments and finishing up textures, and I’ve got some cool stuff to show off.

Finally, after way too much delay, I have finished the Radarts textures. Not “first draft” or “test materials” — this baby is totally done. Somehow, despite being the last asset textured so far, it was the first asset to have its icon included in its textures. All of the guns will have one, though. Check out a render, straight from Unreal — that’s right, no more 3Do previews — below.

radarts1
Featuring an awesome icon designed by Tess.

This wasn’t just the first render of the completed Radarts asset, it’s also the first render I created using the backdrop system I created for this project. See, in order to create my presentation video I need to make a lot of renders. Like, way too many. And unfortunately Maya doesn’t support PBR materials natively (I tried a 3rd-party plugin but the results were pretty terrible). So I sat down and learned some basic UE4 blueprint stuff and built myself a nifty little display environment.

display_BP

The scene includes a specially-chosen environment map that matches our level, a tuned directional with some basic post-process effects, and a carefully positioned camera. But the main feature of this setup is the backdrop. The blueprint has built-in properties for swapping out meshes, material overrides, and even a turntable. There’s also an option to swap between lit and unlit backgrounds in any color, allowing for a variety of effects. Combined with Matinee’s movie feature I am able to render out all of my assets, with a variety of different materials applied, in an efficient manner that allows for a smoother workflow. This is crucial because, let’s be honest, I’m probably going to be tearing my hair out by the end of this anyway and anything that can soften the workload is a blessing.

turntable_panel

This week I also worked on some extra material FX for the character which I will show off next week (they’re really cool, I promise).

I also worked a ton on the beginnings of my video. I won’t be sharing any images or clips from that until after I present on Friday, but you can see the title card above. I’m styling it to match the game’s interface to some degree, which is nice because even though I rather enjoy graphic/interface design I don’t have any roles in those areas for this project. So I get to use this video as a chance to stretch my legs a bit and do more than what I’ve been doing all year.

Thanks to all of the work I’ve been doing lately on lighting/rendering in Unreal, I’m also starting to work on promotional material for the game. I don’t have anything to show for quite yet, but expect to see some fancy renders soon. For now, here’s the breakdown of the 21 hours I worked this week:

4/13
1 project meeting

4/14
1 radarts textures

4/15
1 radarts textures

4/17
4 UE4 blueprint exploration/render environment setup

4/18
2 project meeting
2 UE4 render environment setup

4/19
4 UE4 render environment setup/FX implementation
2 UE4 rendering
4 thesis video production

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The End is Near

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