Thursday, May 24, 2012

Making of Radar demo #7: a little bit of koreander on top

Almost through. To conclude this "Making off", I'd like to cover how we made / animated the monster, finalized the rooms, and last but not least, how the sounds were done. But that's for the next post, as I still have to ask David how he did it. My audio-knowledge doesn't go much further than a FMOD implementation and MC Hammer :)

Pimp my Radar
As we arrived in December, quite a lot of the textures and assets had been done by then. Yet, some rooms still felt empty, out of place, or just not right. Placing another concrete wallpaper or toying around with decals (those are transparent overlays such as the wall-dirt, cracks, cigarette butts or signs) can help a lot, and also simple light-flare sprites added a lot of swing. But even better was to grab Julio's hand and walk through each room for final adjustments.

So you made a bunch of rooms with fancy graphical tricks and quality textures. But what is the "message" or function of each room? As mentioned before, by nature a concrete bunker isn't the most exciting place. To make the (rather long) movie-fly-through somewhat interesting, each room needed at least one eye-catcher. For example, the otherwise boring tunnels were filled with green lamps and airvent "gasses". For each room, we took a few screenshots, and then Julio Photosouped them. Mainly the light-setup was enhanced (ambient light, contrasts, fog), and objects or decals were added. A hole in the left wall, some wires on the right wall, empty bottle on the table, poop on the ceiling fan, that kind of stuff.

Those "perfected" versions of the rooms then got back in the mailbox, and were used as a master-reference model. Basically my task was to tweak shaders, lights or the scene setup until it matched as close as possible with the reference image. And in some cases, those images caused some extra modeling/texture work for Sergi and Julio. Other floors, pipes, canisters, et cetera. Maybe not the fastest method to get things done, but all in all, the quality of the rooms got a serious boost. Below a short overview of what the Nanny did in the Radar household.
You know those TV programs where a bunch of guys (+ a woman standing in their way) making over your house?
The barracks: > Added junk, rusty beds, cold wind from the outside, light flares
The dressroom:> Wires with plastic sheets, large rusty ceiling fan
The stair: > Added some pipes, a lamp, and a canister
Central room > Snow and wind. Added particle clouds, a better skybox, red lamps.
Toilets > We actually hided that useless room with lightshafts :)
ControlRoom > Terminal, alarm, red lights
Lower central > Water, waterdrips, more lamps, a bit of snowdust clouds
Tunnels > Green lampflares, airvent "clouds", large trunks, rack
Monsterroom > Ice, particles, monster, nitro-tanks
Warehouse > Ceiling pipes, floor damage, wet floor pools, filled the racks

Call me "RadarBlob"
Another last-minute secret guest was our monster -his name is "RadarBlob" by the way, nice to meet you too-. Even with better looking rooms, the whole demo trip was still a bit dull. Originally I planned to show some physics instead. Throwing barrels from the stairs and into the water. But since there were too many physics issues for a good Bob Hope show, (at that time we were upgrading to a newer version of the Newton physics engine as well) something else had to draw the attention. Since Tower22 is a horror-game, why not do something with erh… monsters?

With the limited time, we had to keep the monster simple. No AI or complex scripted stuff, and neither animations (hence we don't even have a real animator yet). The room where the monster was placed was just a meaningless space so far. Filled with water... It would have been quite an anti-climax to end the movie in that room, so I made a drawing of a turd-like thing, connected with hydraulic hoses to the ceiling. Yeah, I love the monster & mechanics combi. Reminds me of Doom, Quake, and all the hydraulic systems we deal with at my work.
Uhmmm... luckily Robert quickly made a more impressive, muscular turd variant. So, while we were pimping the rooms, Robert made a high-poly model and first-version textures. The first in-game versions still looked a bit dull though. It needed to be bigger in order to become a bit scary, and thus a new room with a higher ceiling. Also the specular lighting required a lot of tweaks to make it more nasty and icky. Unfortunately there was no time to make an advanced skin lighting technique (on the wish list, for sure), so I just uses sharp specular highlights and a bit of “RIM” (wrap-around or “backlighting”) to fix it. Furthermore, Julio upgraded the textures and added some ice chunks as well to add some sense in the scene. Icy water next and nitro-tanks… Let’s unfreeze the beast during the last demo minute.
Still sucks.
Ah, have a Snickers, and there was Julio's master reference drawing. It's nice to be creative.

Maybe using some kind of animation wouldn't be bad either. Leaking oil streams, steam particles blowing out, and a "breath" animation to make it come alive. Only problem was/is that the skeleton-animation features haven't been updated in the engine yet, and we ran out of time. Asides, using bones for an organic blob like this probably wouldn't be the most handy way to animate it anyway. So instead, we went for good old "Morphing" animations.

In the next post, that will hopefully quickly follow for a change, I'll show some more in-depth details about how we did that.

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