Last week’s announcement took me by surprise – or rather, the overwhelming response to that post took me by surprise. I knew the Redwall community was big…really big. What I hadn’t accounted for is how active you are, how connected, how ENGAGED! And of course many of you are asking questions that I can start to answer here, though for many of you this post wont tell you all the things you’re really looking for. Still – it’s a start. Continue Reading…
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.
We have wanted to talk about this subject for a while. In this special Flurry Friday Episode Nat and Chris discuss the Smithsonian exhibit being featured through September 2012 called The Art of Video Games. Have a great weekend!
Today Flurry Friday is about a great group of young men who came to our shop for a job shadow. Eight guys from four local high schools spent the morning with us and we showed them basically every aspect of our work around here, from art and code to making a video. We laughed, we cried, we consumed a LOT of sugar. One of the really neat things was a hash tag we started, #somajobshadow (see below for all the messages that came through), where our tribe was asked to share whatever single piece of wisdom they thought was important for a young man ready to jump into the world – the results were awesome. Honestly, we expected a half dozen quick lines but instead folks came all out of the woodwork and laid some serious pearls out there. Thank you to everybody who participated in that and thanks to the gentlemen who spent your morning with us – we hope we’ll see each of you again with crazy-mad game skillz.
So I set out to shoot a video on game icon development and then tried the trial, tribulations and glory of game level design and balancing but when the team saw me coming they either ducked or just glared at me with that look of a bridezilla before the wedding day. Ok, I am overstating it a bit. The truth is we love this part of development. Everyone is functioning at their highest. Yes, it is a little tense at times but really we would not have it any other way. The game is almost ready to submit. The polish we have done in the last three weeks really shows.
This week we unveiled the game icon after taking your feedback on the poll both on Touch Arcade, FB and Google Plus. The results were a landslide for Laser. I guess you could call him the Ronald Reagan of wind up robots.
WUR has 28 levels that are now shiny, fun, exciting and balanced (at least as far as we can tell). Cross platform work has begun. We plan for you to be able to play it initially on iOS and then on all PC’s (tablets, desktops, netbooks such), general Android systems including the Amazon Fire.
So by next week we will have submitted the game to Apple and enjoying some turkey day festivities. Thanks again for joining us on the journey. We appreciated you help so much in choosing the icon. So with that we wish you a very good Thanksgiving. May your time with your friends and family be magical and enduring.
Part 2: Friday by Chris Skaggs
So JB asked me to look this over and publish it when I thought it was ready… I thought I would add a bit. Today we’re all feeling a lot better, a lot more confident. Energy is high…aw heck, lets just shoot a second video…
As I was driving to work this morning I looked out and saw a wetland. The rising sun was reflecting off the surface and little islands and peninsulas of reeds broke the water up into seas, rivers and tributaries. As I watched, a massive flock of birds took to the air, leaving the earth in a harmonious dissonance of motion, their bearings set for South. I turned and saw the sky was already dotted with several snaking V formations and clouds of their kin, and could only assume they were intent on joining them. It was beautiful. In that moment, something resonated within me, welled up like music filling up forgotten empty places, echoing off the walls.
We’re all searching for beauty, aren’t we? Everyday, in the clothes we wear, the movies we watch, the cars we drive and homes we live in, we go out of our way in search of it. On my morning commute, I will often take back roads, adding time to my already hour long trip, just to experience the beauty that I’ve discovered there. I trade time for the chance to see old oak trees standing in plowed fields, century old farmhouses and sheep out to pasture in the morning fog. There’s a nostalgia, a longing that takes place when we experience beauty, and not only are we constantly in search of it, we are also constantly trying to create it.
Every animal on the planet produces something. Worms produce clean soil, birds build nests, beavers build dams, but only humans, being made in the imago dei can create something from nothing. A spark in the darkness. I’m not speaking literally of course, not in a physical sense, but we have been given the gift of abstract thought, the ability to form ideas, conceptualize and then materialize those creations with the resources of our world. Our creativity is a reflection of the creator, and we do love to create.
We’ve taken the world we live on and covered it in a layer, a shell, of our own making. Cities, and roads, sprawling suburbs, manicured parks and monuments sit overtop the natural beauty they replace. And it’s not solely functional by any stretch. This is evident in walking through downtown Portland and seeing the meticulous design that has gone into some of the buildings. Ornate stone carvings, pillars and brickwork aren’t necessary for a building’s structure, but for its beauty. But this beauty is ever changing across time and cultures.
Our perception of what is beautiful, as defined by what we create, is always evolving, devolving, growing more complex and then embracing simplicity. Yet, our perception of the natural world, a rushing river, snow peaked mountain, or ancient forest, remains constant. It’s as if in our attempt to create beauty of our own, we always fall short of doing what a simple walk through the woods can do, perhaps most effectively when unspoiled by our adding to it. It’s a return to beauty we’re after. The greatest achievement our own art can have, is when it speaks across time, culture and generations, the very thing the natural world does simply by existing.
The work of our hands is created, then decays. Great pains are taken at museums to preserve those works of art that ring most true for us, but time is always working against them. But when we look out over a valley, we’re not seeing decay, we’re seeing life, growth, a reflection of something greater and more lasting than ourselves. Perhaps our unending search for beauty is really a return.
I was playing Minecraft with my son the other day and we were exploring a cave. As always there is the anxious advance-n-light process of posting torches around vacant spaces while you try to be prepared for a lurking creeper or skely. But at one point we turned a corner and found our first abandoned mineshaft…and I froze.
As a game designer I’m really interested in the craft of generating an emotional response in a game and it isn’t easy, especially if you want to do so in a non-manipulative way. So in this moment I was struck by a powerful sense of unspecified fear…an incredibly difficult emotion to generate. Way to go Notch!
One of the most visceral lizard-brain things I can think of is the “I thought I was alone” response. It’s what happens when you’re at home late and hear something go bump in the next room. Or when you’re just settling down to sleep on a camping trip and hear something that for all the world sounds like a twig breaking under someone’s foot. It’s exactly the same feeling I had watching Blair Witch Project at various moments like the discovery of the weird stick figures in the woods. It’s like a primordial survival response and finding torches I didn’t light really brought that gut response up like so much acid reflux.
This is game design at it’s best – way to go Mojang…though I’m sure you get that all the time.