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 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.
Here we are in week 4 of the Ultimate Coder: Ultrabook Challenge (see our week 4 video at the bottom of this post). As I write down the things I wanted to share for our development so far in the contest I have decided to go back to the beginning and remind our team here in the shop of the criteria Intel lined out for us for an award winning app on the Ultrabook to win. Some of the judges have poked at the developers to add things like a battery optimization and other features that just don’t fit into Wind Up Football (WUR). Here again is the criteria for the contest:
“An app will be considered a good Ultrabook app if it
- Fits the use case for using an Ultrabook – a work, create, play & consume device that has the mobile convenience of mobile and the power of a workstation
- Takes advantage of one or more of the following technology vectors for Ultrabook
o CPU Performance |Graphics | Security |Touch & Sensor technology |AppUp APIs (In-App Purchase etc)”
So with these back in mind, we are well on our way to making a game that shines on the new Ultrabook.
This week we are looking at interface. We really liked Steve “Chippy” Paines’s Ultrabook video where he dives into how developers can optimize the navigation methods and interface on a touch device like the new Ultrabook. One thing that stood out to us was the use of thumb navigation on the sides of the screen. ( a side note: I have found it frustrating when I have to use buttons or such on the bottom of the Ultrabook screen. It really gets bad when you are stuck with an upright screen on while on a commercial economy flight. This is just another reason to make specific changes to navigation strategy and arrangement on the touch Ultrabook.)
So after seeing those comments we are investigating switching our controls in the main menu of WUR to be optimized for side screen/thumb navigation.
While discussing how to take advantage of new ways of interacting with the game, Gavin came up with a cool way of displaying helpful information anytime during the game. The plan basically replaces the hover tool all of us are familiar with as mouse users. We are planning to implement a simple question mark that when touched and held down will pause the game and darken the entire screen except for the item it is over. For example, during game play you will hold down the question mark icon and drag it to a robot. While it is over the robot all other parts of the game will remain darkened except that robot. A callout area will appear showing details about the robot as well as other tutorial text and instructions.
We plan to deploy with at least the reorganized navigation but the question mark tool will probably come out in the first update after we launch.
Oh an before I sign off, we are now working on Unity3D 4.0 (beta) which is Windows 8 ready. The game deployed to Windows 8 using 3.0 but we now have direct contact with Unity as well as the full features that will help us get the most out of publishing on Windows 8 and Metro. We will continue to post how that process is going.
Next week Chris Skaggs and I will be at IDF where we will be showing off WUF as well as a few other games. If you are at the conference, make sure you get in contact with us. We would love to connect.
Here we are in week 3 of the Ultimate Coder: Ultrabook Challenge and things are heating up. (To catch up you can see the other updates for week 1 and week 2.) Game development is challenging on its own. This time we are throwing in brand new technology into the mix. It has given us some big decisions to make, not only in how we develop but also how we publish.
In this episode, Gavin and I unpack some more technical details in the Ultrabook development process as well as how we plan to publish Wind Up Football (WUF). And as a spoiler we plan to publish on Metro for Windows 8 using soon to be available tools in Unity 3D 4.0. Oh and since monetization is key to our business model for WUR, we will be using our partnership with GREE and some exclusive tools they are offering us to monetize using an html api. We will talk more about that in coming posts.
While we were at it we recorded a discussion about technology changes, what really interests the consumer and how we can best use a device like the new touch Ultrabook for a game like WUR.
As usual we have some pretty strong opinions. Check it out and join the discussion.
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 Friday JB gives a glimpse at the sound creation and process at Soma for game development. We use a lot of fancy equipment but often find some interesting everyday solutions for game sound assets. This is just a taste of the world of soma game sound engineering. 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.
We have been using an Asus ZenBook Ultrabook thanks to our friends at Intel like Bob Duffy for about a month now and wanted to share what we think of this new category of mobile computers. Intel has categorized these as ultrasleek, ultralight and ultrapowerful. They really stand up to that in our workflow test and gaming demands. See what Chris and John have to say in this weeks development vlog. You can find out all about Ultrabooks at www.intel.com/ultrabook and see what others are saying using the #ultrabook tag on Twitter.
We will continue to post on our experience as well as our development efforts specifically for Ultrabooks.
So we did it. Wind Up Robots is submitted first to Apple and as of yesterday The Barnes and Nobles Store for the Nook and the Amazon Store for the Kindle Fire and the Intel AppUp store for PC’s. It will also be available for the the Android Marketplace soon. The game should be available very soon.
On another note our sister company Code-Monkeys has launched a new game that will be coming out Christmas week. The whole shop loves what Limbic Studios did with Zombie Gunship. In a tribute to them we are publishing our ode to thier mighty craft in a game called Santa’s Gift Ship. Now let your imagination go wild there for a minute and you will basically fall on what our team has come up with. We know you are going to love it.