This post was originally created by Nat Iwata for another site but never got posted. Today we’re sharing some “master’s secrets.” The examples shown are all from Wind Up Robots.
1: Use a good UV grid texture
A good UV texture can easily be found online. Using a texture with multiple colors and numbers, as opposed to a simple checker pattern, will help make it easier to keep track of where each UV shell is located on the UV space as it relates to the model.
2: Keep scale consistent
All of the individual UV shells should be scaled so that they show the same sized pixel density on the model. When using a UV grid texture, this will mean that the grid is the same size across the model.
The exception to this rule would come when certain parts of a model were never going to be close to the camera, in which case these UV’s could be scaled accordingly.
3: Minimize seams and stretching
It’s often a balancing act trying to minimize both the seams and stretching/distortion when laying out UV’s. Seams can be hidden by placing them at less visible parts of the model (e. g. under the arm of the character), or by placing them on hard edges.
While distortion can often be solved by splitting the shell up with more seams, this can make it very difficult for the texture artist to paint.
Something to always keep in mind is “What is the texture going to be?” Are there linear lines or patterns, or is it a more organic shape? A texture with straight lines, or geometric shapes will be much more obviously affected by distortion, as opposed to a more organic looking texture. Especially in low poly modeling, different methods of stacking and folding UV’s can help with seams. Choose wisely and be creative.
4: Consistent Orientation
Although it can sometimes interfere with laying out your UV’s with the least amount of wasted space, orienting UV shells in a consistent manner will make it easier for the texture artist to visualize how things are going to look on the model.
Especially when painting any lighting or highlights, orienting UV’s so that up is positive Y on the model is a good idea. Again, this practice needs to be balanced with good tight UV layout. Making things a little easier on the texture artist is not worth losing a lot of pixel resolution because of wasted space on the sheet.
5: Don’t Waste Space!
Less wasted space on your UV sheet directly translates into greater pixel density for the texture on your model. Not to completely conflict with the previous practices, things can be rotated or seams added if it means being able to utilize more space. Again, you may have a lot more creative freedom with this if you are working on low poly game models. Multiple parts with the same texture, or even very similar texture, can often be stacked and share the same UV space. Sometimes splitting a mesh down the center so that it’s texture can be mirrored is worth more in gained UV space than it is to have unique textures on each side.
73 That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. In me thou seest the twilight of such day As after sunset fadeth in the west, Which by and by black night doth take away, Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest. In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, As the death-bed whereon it must expire, Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by. This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Alas – our Ultrabook Challenge is coming to a close and too soon it seems the lights dim to reveal what is left…and what is lost.
When we got Intel’s invitation we frankly had to first get our heads around it. We’ve been steeped in mobile technology since 2008 and the idea of an Ultrabook first had to work its way past all of our expectations on handsets and tablets. But in a fairly short time – especially once the hardware arrived (!) – we saw that there was a LOT to work with here…
What we came up with is a game called Wind Up Football or WUF – a multiplayer, multi-touch, pick-up-and-play robot melee. In the scope doc under ‘what makes this game fun?’ I wrote “S&!^ goes flying.” and that’s pretty much been the guiding principle.
Now while the challenge was specifically to build something that made use of the Ultrabook’s strengths we also took the challenge a step further by cleaving to other high-value targets Intel has set for us in the past, specifically ‘multi-platform’ deployment. In other words, while we optimized for Ultrabook we built WUF with a much wider distribution target in mind and we’ll launch the app on iPad, iPhone and Android devices all at roughly the same time. This kind of thing is made possible by the magic of Unity 3D and the sweet tools they provide.
Of course the hardware drives a lot of what’s possible in an app. Things like GPUs, processor power and built in sensors all effect what we can do so WUF will change depending on the platform its being deployed on. For this case, the Ultrabook has the most horsepower of all the target platforms so it gets a slew of extra eye-candy and special effects that simply won’t fly on weaker machines. Explosions, environmental cues, dynamic lighting, dancing Bok Choy Boys…it’s all possible because the Ultrabook gives us headroom that the iPad frankly never has.
In the end, we’re pretty proud of what we produced in a rather tight development cycle. Not only were we able to come up with a playable and marketable game but it is something that has a lot of room to grow and we expect we’ll see WUF evolve into a bigger, better and funnier game as we get feedback from players and time to reflect.
Now there is an obligatory part of this wrap-up post where I’m supposed to convince the judges why we should win so I’ll take a stab at this.
I’m always aware that the other folks in this competition are better programmers than our team – it’s a demonstrable fact and I’m always wowed by the things these people can do with a keyboard. But in the end, despite the ‘ultimate coder‘ name of this competition, it really isn’t about code…it’s about user experience. If the iPhone explosion proved one thing it’s that we all want the experience of an app to be smooth and slick and lovely. The sterile utilitarianism of Windows productivity software has given way to the charming but often pointless elegance of iEverything. And in the realm of art, UX and fun – I think we can hold our own. Soma Games has a history of celebrated visuals, above-par sound and unique gameplay. Wind Up Football has already been picked up by GREE as part of their iOS launch and we’re off to a great start with showing the world a fun game that risks a world where multi-touch is not a possibility – but a requirement. Windup Football is a great example of how the Ultrabook is a string entry to an increasingly mobile ecosystem and yet stands head and shoulders above its nearest competitors.
Long Live the Ultrabook!
Long Live Wind Up Football!
We spent most of last week hanging out with the Intel tribe at IDF in San Francisco. Part of that was connected to the Ultimate Coder contest where we are hoping to win the top prize for developing Wind Up Football (WUF) on the next generation Ultrabook. At IDF we enjoyed connecting with the other contestants and judges. And yes Lee brought candy form England (why did we not think of WUF candy?). We were also at IDF as Intel Black Belts. IDF is Intel’s main event and it is always an honor to be included. I (John) asked our CTO Chris Skaggs to write this update mainly because along with Gavin he has been resistant to add multiple Ultrabook features to WUF. IDF seems to have changed his mind. Here is how that happened. Take note of where we will be changing a few things befoe we ship the build to the judges:
At a dinner shindig we had a chance to hear from Greg Welch, the cat who coined the term ‘Ultrabook’ and also defined the specification. Listening to him gave me some additional insight into just what the Ultrabook is meant to be and it’s got me rethinking some of the assumptions I had realized we were working with during this project.
Greg talked about the launch of the Centrino Chip in 2003 and how it was this big watershed event. Arguably it was the first time that a computer was realistically and truly “mobile” in that it was fully functional without any wires. WiFi, low power chips, and sufficient battery life made a big splash. But then he tells of standing in Best Buy in 2011 and looking at all the laptops…and nothing had changed.
In 8 full years of light speed hardware development nothing meaningful had changed – and he was sad.
His point was that while OEMs had made the laptops faster, cheeper and more powerful they were really the exact same experience and arguably it was that complacency that left a door open for Apple’s “post PC world” idea to be at all plausible. I don’t think Welch agrees with that phrase but he recognizes the stagnant state of PC hardware made such an audacious statement credible. Then he went on to define the Ultrabook specification.
As he went on to describe his goals it made me think of things in a different way and while, to be candid, I still think the iPad represents a more significant jump, the Ultrabook starts to look like more than a better laptop with the ideas of “contextual awareness” and “adaptive response.” I’ll take some time to dig into those thoughts more later ,but for the moment let me focus on how I’d like these ideas to change Wind Up Football.
First, I want WUF to be more aware of what’s going on around the user and adapt to their situation. A simple example of this would be to use the Ultrabook’s light sensor, clock and GPS to track things like ambient light, and what weather.com reports as the local weather -then alter the game’s environment to match. It’s dark outside? Crank up the field lights and add the fireflies. Daytime? Turn the stadium light off and add sharp daytime shadows. Rain? Snow? Heat Wave? Any or all of those things could be reflected in the game’s environemnt.
Contextual computing became a buzz word during the week (I blame Robert Scoble) and while the concept isn’t new, the realistic ability to deliver on this concept IS new…and the Ultrabook is a big step toward making that vision reachable. I’m proud to be part of that effort.
John here again: So with that we head back into a week of crunch to get as many of these changes made as well as final polish before shipping the game off to the judges.
In our race to win the challenge we have been working hard to find ways to make the game dazzle on the new hardware Intel has supplied the participants in the contest. First I wanted to share a general Ultrabook experience. For nearly 5 months we have been using a first generation Ultrabook, the Asus Zenbook UX31E, to blog, play games on and even do a little Unity 3D work. Right before the contest started I (John) traveled throughout Asia and took the opportunity to leave my MacBook Pro behind and try out the Zenbook as my only tool for all communications as well as video editing. While I was looking forward to the lightweight and long-life battery, I was a bit skeptical as to it’s video editing capabilities. I had a good system going on the MacBook. Why would I mess it up? The truth though after the trip is that the Ultrabook did better than I could have imagined. Traveling with it reminded me of the first months I had my iPad. In every airport terminal all eyes were on the it’s sleek profile. I was with a group and we easily passed it around for people to check Facebook statuses and send emails. Many in the group had brought laptops but they all ran out of battery before they could watch a film or get the chance to work. They also loved how light and quick it fired up since we were often only around wifi for brief periods of time. And in regards to the video work, it satisfied every need from rendering time to editing the timeline.
Ok, Back to the contest. We are excited to announce we have our first build on the new Ultrabook! It plays really well and the touch interaction is excellent. Find out more on the video update below. We plan to have a surprise next week so make sure to check back.
Soma Games along with five other developers have been chosen to participate in the Ultimate Coder: Ultrabook Challenge being held by Intel. For the contest, we are building Wind Up Football for the new Ultrabook with Ivy Bridge technology, touch screen, and accelerometer.
We have been enjoying the first generation Ultrabook coolness through an Asus Zenbook since MArch this year. In fact I just returned from a 3 week trip throughout Asia where I purposefully replaced my 15″ Macbook Pro with the Zenbook. I was no worse for wear at all. The Zenbook’s feather lightness, super long battery life and instant on capabilities made it the perfect media travel companion.
Now back to Wind Up Football (WUF). We decided to use WUF for the contest because it just made sense. We took the original gameplay of our successful game Wind Up Robots and designed a smashem, bashem, tackle casual game where the robots kill some time in Zach’s back yard in-between defending his dreams against the onslaught of monsters. Even warriors need a break, right?
So as we develop a touch sensor, graphics and gameplay intensive game for the iPad, we will also be pushing the new Ultrabook and Windows 8 to the limits.
Here is Gavin, our programming lead and I unboxing the unit and talking about our plans. Be sure to vote for us on the Challenge website and follow along here every Monday.
(This was originally written as an email to the above mentioned addressee. But then I thought, “I wonder if that busy guy would ever have the chance to actually read mail from a stranger?”
Then I thought that except for a few details, it’s really a letter I should write to a bunch of leaders, teachers, and encouragers we’ve been lucky enough to brush shoulders* with over the last couple of years. Folks like Ralph Bagley, Gary Barkalow, Georgian Banov, David Cook, John Eldredge, Michael Hyatt, Rick Joyner, Morgan Snyder, Rick Warren, and many others. (yeah, that list is alphabetical) I’ll still send a genuine letter to all these folks but maybe a Google alert on their name will be more likely to catch their attention.)
Roughly a year and a half ago I briefly met you in McMinville, Oregon. You were speaking at a local church and we had a few minutes to talk between sessions. I own a company making video games with a Christian worldview. Not educational bible games for kids but rather mainstream games for adults with Jesus in the mix. More Lord of The Rings than Thomas the Tank Engine.
At the time you shared some great ideas and some good advice. I have no illusion that you’d remember that 5 minutes but I did say I’d let you know how we were progressing and I reckon I owe you a quick update.
Soma Games launched its second mobile title called Wind Up Robots (http://thatwinduprobotgame.com/) just before Christmas. It’s on iPhone, Android, and AppUp but we all know that the iPhone is the only platform that really matters.
Dad opened some awesome doors and the game has received some really great pickups and reviews including a Kotaku feature, an Amazon feature and Apple even had it listed in their “hot” category over the Christmas holiday – we really couldn’t have asked for a better launch.
The game is an allegorical tale of a young boy with a big destiny who is haunted by bad dreams. But really it’s a story about Calling and the spiritual warfare surrounding that. The game also touches on themes like spirit vs. flesh, our position ‘in the heavenlies’ and divine healing.
Our next project is a take on the Noah’s ark story but set in a Sci-Fi, Steampunk space world. Rather than a flannel graph story featuring a bearded old man with lots of pets, we’re tapping into the very grown up features of the story…chapter one, G Prime, should be out later this year.**
On top of the games we’ve also been fired up by a wide range of speaking engagements to address increasingly large groups on topics like Gaming for Good, Games with a Moral Compass and similar topics. IDF, Elements, Casual Connect, NRB, and Serious Play are just a few of the conferences we’ve spoken to – and the invitations creep coming. Our dad keeps on making things come together that we could never do for ourselves and that’s been pretty darn exciting. In “seven mountains” terminology we seem to making many great contacts on that entertainment mountain as well as folks from many other sprees of influence. On top of exciting…its darn humbling.
I’ll wrap this up as I’m certain you’re busy. But I wanted to keep my word to let you know how we’re doing and also to say thank you. The advice, encouragement and prophecy we’ve received from people like yourself has been immensely formative and words like those are what keep us pushing when things may look dim. Thank you again and may the Lord bless you an keep you.
* Just to be perfectly clear, except in a few cases I don’t “know” these people in any deep sense of the word. But I have been lucky enough to trade a few lines of conversation with each of them, and all have been influential in one way or another. So no, I can’t get any autographs for you.
** Technically, G Prime is a reboot of the first chapter that we published in 2009 but that’s the kind of detail I probably shouldn’t expect a (mostly) stranger to really have to worry about.
No video today. A few weeks have gone by since our last update. We took some much needed time away over Christmas and New Years. Wind Up Robots and Santa’s Giftship was featured for the third week in a row on iTunes as New and Noteworthy. Today we were pleased to see that Wind Up Robots has been chosen as Gaming App of the Day alongside picks like Temple Run and Bejeweled on the front page of Kotaku! Go read the article, share it out and have a great weekend.
Today was just a great day to set us off on a long needed period of rest.
Wind Up Robots launched last week and today it was featured on Apple’s New and Noteworthy section of iTunes. On Tuesday we launched Santa’s Giftship (under our Code-Monkeys label) and it too was featured. That’s two featured apps in the store as we move into the busiest season of the store – what a fantastic opportunity…what a great blessing.
Look, we worked hard on these games, especially Wind Up Robots, but once they go out the door, the reality is that we have a pretty limited ability to effect what happens next. It’s hard to get a break with so much great stuff out there.
But Proverbs has this great line: The horses are prepared for battle..but the victory belongs to the Lord.
So we do a little Tebow, say thank you to our papa, and now we all settle down for time with family and hopefully stop wearing out the F5 keys and obsessing over ranks.
What a week! Wind Up Robots (WUR) went live on the iTunes yesterday and positive reviews are streaming in. Right now it is being featured in the New and Noteworthy section.
On the Code-Monkeys side we finished a crazy two week development of Santa’s Giftship. And that is from the initial concept idea to finish. For the video update today we decided to take the game to George Fox University and see what the first reactions were from student. On a side note Chris will be giving the Mid-Year Commencement address this Saturday at Fox. You can watch live by following the link on the commencement page. If you have bought WUR we would love your reviews on iTunes. Have a great weekend!