Hey Guys! Time for the latest in Dracon Interactive news, and the (curiously) continued animation blog!
So, i'll address the poorly animated elephant in the room. Last blog, i forgot about the post assessment one animation blogs, so I MAY have stated that the anim blogs had ended. My bad. Total my bad. These ones are more progress based, less factual, so...enjoy?
News first though.
I have been posting fairly regularly on Twitter (@DraconInt) about Project Dragon Lands MK - III. Yes, this is a thing. MK - II is sooooo 6 months ago. But seriously, this iteration of the Dragon Lands workflow has been the most successful so far, aesthetically and functionally.
Examples? I now actually have a target aesthetic! It's kind of a Diablo-ish dark medieval awesomeness. Not descriptive, I know but I am not the man to talk to about graphical terms. I have it in my head however, and heres a screenshot of my progress on the first level 'The Docks'!.
So, that's coming along well :) Aside from the aesthetics of this, I am also working hard on making every mechanic in this game perfect, from the camera, to the animations, to the chests.
For the current time I am focussing on a central mechanic that I am keeping secret (because it's awesome and I want to show you guys a working version to totally shock you into awesomeness). However, work continues on narrative as well, as it underpins this game in a big way.
Other than this?
Work on Hero Rising has been halted for the moment. Not abandoned, we are simply reaching the crux of my trimester where I can't juggle as much. Even Dragon Lands progress will slow. If you wish to see what I am working on at university, visit @PlayFatalCore on Twitter! It's pretty cool :)
That's all for basic news!
Now, for animation.
Progress has gone awesomely. The mesh looks awesome, the UV FINALLY figured itself out and the textures have too! My main stumbling blocks here were simple barricades of ignorance. Things like, not knowing how to set up controllers, not knowing the correct viewport settings, all that kind of stuff. All, in all, however, progress has been good!
I'm going to upload the finished render to YouTube when I'm done, then put the result on a blog here, so keep an eye out. I still want to add some stuff like lighting, and scene components, as well as altering an area of the animation. I had to shrink the roof of the chest to start the "empty chest" animation, and it looks janky AF, so I will be remedying that, either by changing or deleting that part of the animation.
Okay, thats it! thanks for listening guys, have a good one!
Founder - Dracon Interactive
Hello again everyone! Apologies on the delayed log, its been a hectic couple of weeks.
This is the last of the animation logs, but not the last of this Blog series. I handed in my animation logs for assessment not 5 minutes ago, and that is a relief!
For Dracon Interactive news;
As I'm sure you've noticed, the website is now sporting a massive makeover. This is due to the fantastic work of the Fiverr artist "WillowCookie". Using the source material that she provided for the DI Social Media headers, this site now has a more unified aesthetic, more Dracon, less template.
Fatal Core work proceeds! We have added 3 more members to our group for this project, members of Voxious Studios. Talented all, and I cant wait to see how they do. For my own work, I have completed the Golem, or Elite AI, integrated shields, changed the physics so bullets are more optimised, redid the cockpit's lighting, got told the cockpit will be replaced, and spent 2 entire days fixing a merge error (that one had me angry). Overall, work is proceeding on, and, dare I say it, ahead of schedule. At this rate, we might even find time to include some surprises at the end!
Dragon Lands MK-III is going ahead, if slowly. Using Unity's Mecanim Blend Tree technology, I am piecing together a simplistic series of character animations, but this is painstakingly slow. Because of all the various responsibilitys DI is facing at the moment, and because of the inferior quality of the animations we are using. Thus, late December, Dracon will be purchasing a marker-less motion tracking system, to see if we can make our own humanoid animations. It should be exciting!
That's all for news for now. Be sure to check out our twitter @DraconInt for more frequent, smaller updates!
So: Animation stuff (more than usual!)
Rigging is the process of assigning a rig to a mesh, to facilitate in the animation process. The animator can use ‘controls’ assigned to various areas of the mesh such as an arm of a humanoid, the page of a book, or the lid of a chest. I will be probably using this process soon in the animation process of my treasure chest, for the lid and the loot.
Animation (verb) is the process of moving the components of a mesh over time. This can be through translation, rotation or scaling. The purpose of this is varied, from telling stories to creating individual game assets. Animation uses the previously mentioned “rigging” to facilitate this process. An example of an animation I will be attempting, is to move the chest lid away from its base, and raise the loot from the chest, while slowly rotating.
Lighting is an essential stage in the production of an animation that involves creating a singular or multiple light source to create differing areas of lighting. These lights can be coloured, and of varying intensity, and can also be animated. Various types of lighting include Spot, Point, Direction and Area
lighting. These are used to simulate different circumstances. For example, a spot light is good for simulating a torch, while a directional light is good for simulating a sun.
Rendering is the addition of all effects such as lighting, particle effects, normal maps and occlusion maps to a mesh, whilst creating a finished product. This is generally done during the later stages of the development process. Once this is completed, all that remains is Compositing and post rendering effects, colloquially termed “touch ups”.
Compositing is the collation of all rendered elements in a scene into a single unified animation. From here, the animator may perform actions such as color, contrast and brightness adjustments, and add additional visual effects such as particle effects or motion blur. This is the final step in the animation process
3D Animation and Modelling History Highlight
Sinbad: Beyond The Veil Of Mists was the first movie made primarily with motion-capture. While it used tradition animation in places, it used a now-common ‘mo-cap’ technique: covering an actor in dozens of references ‘markers’ that are tracked and triangulated by a computer in real time. While the movie sold badly (under $30,000 domestic), it paved the way for movies like ‘The Mummy’, and later, the Iron Man series.
This technique has also evolved beyond the movie industry, into gaming. Many games, especially those of AAA quality use motion-capture technology, such as Tomb Raider and Uncharted. This helps increase immersion, and overall game animation quality.
Inspiring 3D Modeller
Konrad Kaca is a 3D modeller working for the team that created the hit game SUPERHOT. The entire game is created in a vibrant low-poly artstyle, with coloring of whites and grey’s offset by splashes of red. This style is very appealing to me, and I particularly admire the way that Konrad modelled the humanoid meshes so that they were “destructible”. E.g. by creating each mesh with a series of submeshes that could have force applied to them upon impact. This means that every mesh became more complex, yet the optimisation of this did not visibly conflict or lessen the overall quality of the aesthetic.
Okay, so that's enough of that!
Founder / CEO
Hello again everyone!
As promised, another element of 'The Blog' series :) This will be similar to the previous, with a couple elements of animation design processes mixed in with Dracon Interactive news!
What topics are we discussing today?
UV Mapping, and Texturing of 3D models. (That's the animation bit if you hadn't guessed.)
Dragon Lands, Hero Rising and Fatal Core progress.
So, UV Mapping / Unwrapping.
From what I understand, this is the process of rendering a 3D model in a 2D plane, for the purposes of texturing and other graphical awesomeness. An example of this can be seen in everyones year 4(ish) classes. Remember when you made those boxes, using things called "nets"?. Nets are essentially a UV unwrap. They represent all that the person can see on the cube, on a sheet of flat paper.
I have done some UV Mapping before, on simple stuff, and it is without fail, ridiculously annoying. You try and get all these surfaces to play by the same rules, but they don't want to. You can do it perfectly, by assigning each and every face its own bit of 2D space, or you can use things like Box and Sphere unwraps, where you just overlay whole areas and hope for miracles.
By rendering a UV Map, I can import the result into Photoshop, Quixel or any other image software so that I can begin texturing. With the knowledge of what faces take up what area, I can assign colours/textures/patterns to areas that I want to look certain ways. The aforementioned Quixel is awesome for this as it does a lot of it for you, but the knowledge of how to do it in Photoshop is really useful.
Last week we talked about the Treasure Chest that I am making. I have settled on a Medieval Scifi kind of art style (trying to make the rest of the scene work now), but as my teacher correctly predicted, its a ***** to UV Unwrap. Heres an example of my progress so far...
While I have modified these pictures to make certain elements easier to view, these represent the UV Mapping process. The top picture shows the chest on the right, wholly selected. I have then done a rough UV Map, resulting in the window to the right. The lower picture shows the same, except I have selected a bunch of faces on the top of the chest. You can see that the corresponding faces in the UV Unwrap have been highlighted red. This is however, a terrifically bad job, as the UVW is not even on the object, which results in stretched textures, which look absolutely beautiful (horrific).
Now, as previously mentioned, this is essential when texturing. The simple explanation of this step is that I would export the above UVW. Probably to Photoshop. Once their, I put the UVW on the bottom layer. Now I can begin to overlay the UVW with what I want to be present on each face. I can do flat colours, saying "this face will be grey, this black and the blue, with a bit of red over here", or I can go for a more detailed outlook such as "this area will be metal, so a slight gradient from black to grey, with scratches and a bit of shine". The more detailed, the more realistic. Later, I can combine my albedo (fancy name for colour), texturing with my Specularity (fancy name for shininess, or how light reflects off the object), and my Normal Maps (bumpiness). This will result in somewhat awesomeness, depending on how good I get :P. This project is almost coming to fruition, so I am going to be unwrapping and texturing the chest soon. The screenshots above were a quick example I whipped up, but I have a little more topology control, etc, to resolve before I move to that stage.
Enough of that. Well done if you read all of it, I hope you feel educated.
Onto the Dracon Interactive News.
Little work has progressed on Hero Rising. With the advent of university, this game has suffered a bit. I have done a bit more efficiency work, and aesthetic work on the explore levels, but overall this is nothing major, and nothing that has been uploaded. I am excited to graduate so that I can get to working on this again!
We have moved onto Dragon Lands MKIII. This has involved some drastic changes, like moving to 3rd Person and redesigning the inventory system. For those familiar with my work on Dragon Lands, this will not come as a surprise. Movement systems are working better than expected with the new change however, and work on UI, Equipment and Loot will be coming soon.
My main project at the moment, working with Fatal Team. This has proceeded vigorously, with new Swarm AI, the beginnings of a new Elite AI and integration into the 2nd Greybox level done in the last week alone. This goes along with some new logo work, and tweaking of gun behaviours. I have also implemented weapon mods! As the player arrives at the settlements, they will be offered a choice of 3 mods. They may choose 1. This will help supplement their skills as they progress through the game, and will add to replayability. I am considering adding ranked mods from simple/common all the way to rare, to further this effect.
Finally, a piece of awesomeness I forgot to mention when I was talking about things I was going to talk about. Think of it as an easter egg :P Dracon Interactive is currently designing a social media / webpage header to suit its logo. We are consulting the same artist, so high hopes on quality. It will also help us dispose of this fairly generic blurry thing we have going on at the moment.
Thanks all for reading! About a 1000 words, but you soldiered on :)
Thanks for all your support guys,
CEO / Founder Dracon Interactive
Hello again everyone!
Welcome back to The Blog :)
First off, I'm just going to expand on how these blogs work a bit. So, I have a set of tasks I have been set in my animation unit that I have to talk about, and I chose to do these in this blog! You guys get an insight into how I work, and I ... pass!
So, each week will have a different anim/3d modelling topic of discussion. This week? We might have two. (I'm behind...)
Topic(s): Pre-production and Modelling.
Pre-production is a term used to refer to the planning process involved in the creation of an animation. This includes sketches, sourcing reference images, and essentially everything that comes before production, hence the name. In reference to the current "Treasure Chest Animation" project, pre-production has included sourcing a number of reference chests, in the art styles I am using, and collating these into a central area for reference. Example below!
This step is essential as it directs all production forward. Similar to a Game Design Document, pre-production ensures that the artist stick to a singular vision, and does not sidetrack.
Modelling: This term refers to the construction of the 3D model(s) to be used in the animation in question. While doing this, allowances need to be made for target platform, art style, pre-production planning, and UV Mapping/Texturing (next week!). In reference to the current project, modelling has also included several test models to get a hang of modelling, and to explore different art-styles. Currently, I have achieved a 3D model which I believe I will press forward with. This was constructed in 3DS Max. (Work shown below:)
For this project, I have diverted (with permission) from the brief to pursue an interesting art-style (medieval sci-fi). I chose this as I hope to be pursuing this in some of my future projects. For those who don't know, by the way, this project is to animate a chest to drop into the middle of a scene, open, then have coins spew out. I have modified this, with the chest opening sequence modified to open similar to a pneumatic seal (futuristic awesomeness). I also have modified the 'coin spew' section so that instead of coins, an isosphere rises out and rotates.
Well, that's the animation stuff! Look for more next update :)
For the other Dracon Interactive stuff, what do we have...
Hero Rising is proceeding along, with some major aesthetic work done on the explore minigame. You can see that if you play on this website!
Fatal Core is proceeding ridiculously fast. I am hopefully going to be able to host a WebGL version on this website in a few weeks. Until then, make sure to follow us on twitter @PlayFatalCore.
Thanks for reading, and I will see you soon!
CEO / Founder Dracon Interactive
Lots of news, lots to cover!
Points I'm going to cover;
So, item #1.
Dracon Interactive has accepted a job teaching teachers and children at Kambalda West District High School. This involves curating useful iPad apps, teaching the basic concepts of coding to the younger kids, and some more advanced , and practical, stuff to the older ones.
This may seem strange to many of you, as it deviates from the standard order of things at Dracon Interactive. There’s multiple reasons I decided to do this.
This was also in part a favour to my sister, who works at Kambalda West. She used initiative to bring a (dare I say), professional into her workplace, and Dracon Interactive got the opportunity to teach a bunch of kids who will, maybe, one day enter into our industry. We want to make sure they’re good at their jobs.
The Australian Curriculum Standards Authority has just introduced this thing into the curriculum called STEM. Now, STEM asks/demands/orders teachers in schools to begin teaching their children the basics of coding, from kindergarten to the end of high-school. Thus, there is currently a plethora of jobs available for people with the skills to teach this. By taking advantage of this now, this allows Dracon Interactive to form a sustainable source of income outside of interactive entertainment that will play a large part in sustaining the company, and helping it to create higher quality work.
So, yep. This happened, and it went terrifically. All the kids were brighter than expected, and caught on fairly quickly, and Dracon Interactive has been invited back for a following year.
Hero Rising. There was a lot of talk about it a few months back, and we have slacked up about it on social media. This is mainly due to the fact that university has started up again, so the company is busy trying to pass their units. However! We can report that Hero Rising is now entirely bug free, and ready for content creation. Please remember that Hero Rising is still in early-beta / late-alpha so the content that is there is rudimentary. We will be working on this continuously in our spare time.
As part of this trimesters university course, we will be undergoing an animation (3D modelling + basic movement) unit. This will be bringing semi-regular blog posts with updates on how things are going and how we are progressing in it. It’s fairly basic stuff, but we hope to have some fun and learn some stuff.
Item 4 XD
You are all seriously awesome. Like, so awesome. In 6 months, Dracon Interactive has picked up almost 150 followers, on Twitter, Facebook and that weird thing called real-life. This is ridiculously cool, and has helped tremendously with all areas of DI work. As we enter the last trimester of the university course, we would like to give a giant shout out to you guys, who are essentially the Dracon Interactive OG. Keep it up guys!
Hello! Welcome to Dracon Interactive. My name is Peter Carey. I will be making 90% of the posts on this site.
Well, where do I start? Dracon Interactive is now official! All the fun stuff like ABN's, Business Name Registration and Domain Registration is done :) The twitter account is up (www.twitter.com/DraconInt/), the facebook page is up (https://www.facebook.com/Dracon-Interactive-600529926785381/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel) and everything seems good!
I'll be posting further as time goes on, and a couple posts to catch you guys up to the current situation, but for now, enjoy the new website :)
Founder, Dracon Interactive