Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Holidays!

What better way to celebrate the season than with oversized pixels?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A (Growing) List of Recent FPEs

FPE = first-person explorer = A 3d game with a first-person perspective and emphasis on exploration. Mechanics and goals are either downplayed or absent, and special attention is given to aesthetic and mood. Sometimes also called "walking simulators."

Dead Esther - The Chinese Room - Dan Pinchbeck -
Korsakovia - The Chinese Room - Dan Pinchbeck -
Elevator: Source - Pixeltail Games -
Stanley Parable HD - Galactic Cafe - Davey Wreden -
Radiator Series -Radiator - Robert Yang -
Trip -Team Cosmonaut -Axel Shokk -
Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving - Blendo Games - Brandon Cheung -
Antichamber (previously Hazard: The Journey of Life) - Alexander Bruce -
Fract OSC - Phosfiend Systems -Richard E Flanagan -
Kairo - Locked Door Puzzle - Richard Perrin -
Miasmata - IonFx - Joe and Bob Johnson -
Amnesia: The Dark Descent - Frictional Games -
Slender: The Eight Pages and Slender: The Arrival - Parsec Productions/Blue Isle -  Mark Hadley  -
Gone Home - The Fullbright Company -
Animal Memory - Gausswerks - Jack Monahan -
Dinner Date - Stout Games -Jeroen D. Stout -
Hubris and Four Keys - Andrew Yoder -
Proteus - Ed Key -
The Witness - Jonathan Blow -
Judith - Steven Lavelle and Terry Cavanaugh -
Radio Silence - Terry Cavanaugh -
Cradle - Flying Cafe for Semianimals -
Sunset - Tale of Tales -
TRAUMA -  Krystian Majewski -
NaissancE - Limasse Five -
Eidlon - Ice Water Games -
The Old City: Leviathan - PostMod Softworks -
The Rapture is Here and You Will be Forcibly Removed From Your Home - Connor Sherlock -
Marginalia - Connor Sherlock -
Myst - Cyan -
Mirrormoon EP - Santa Ragione -
Return of the Obra Dinn - Lucas Pope -
Wooden Floor - Fabien Zech (pheenix93) -
The Moon Silver - jefequeso1 -
Bad Day on the Midway - The Residents -

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On UDK and Reveal

Mike did a nice post on his blog on why custom engines are always better (in theory) than pre-built ones, using our game Reveal as an example. 

He alludes one of my bigger frustrations with UDK, that straying at all from a tool's intended purpose usually results in as much or more work than not using the tool altogether. When  I wrote Reveal, I thought I was being clever by designing it's features around the things UDK was supposedly good at: cloth physics (for wallpaper and magazines), rigid body physics (destructible boards), and dynamic lights (the swinging light bulb). In the end, all of these things required a good deal of custom scripting from Mike, and even then plenty of compromises were still necessary (I had forgotten the wallpaper was originally supposed to be seamless. The strips turned out to be a fine substitute, but their rubbery movement and the way they pop off the wall is still weird). I had designed a game I thought I could make 95% of on my own, using the tools UDK already had, but in the end I was totally reliant on Mike to get my game up and running. Consider it a warning, I guess, before jumping into UDK as a non-programmer thinking you can make anything beyond a deathmatch-style FPS. It's possible, certainly, but working against the grain of the engine isn't a pleasant experience, and not how I as an artist/designer want to spend my time. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blizzternship '12 and Reveal

I'm long overdue for a post, but not without good reason. I've been working furiously over the last few months on my game for my online class for SCAD. There's been plenty to post about but, ironically, the more stuff happens the less I have time to write about it. Time spent blogging is, regrettably, time not spent making art, and I am slowly weeding out of my life all the things that are not making art.

I won Blizzard's student art contest! My entry (the crypt from a few posts ago) must have impressed the right people, because me and the other two winners were invited to tour Blizzard's campus and subsequently offered art internships!!!

...holy cow. I was not expecting that. Truthfully, I had long since given up on getting any sort of AAA internship. Blizzard has always been my goal, but a long-term one. I was happy to pour over their artists' work and try to reverse-engineer their techniques. Now I actually get to meet them? Like, in person? Pinch me.

I start tomorrow, working with the environment art team of World of Warcraft. I get to paint rocks and trees for WoW (maybe), and I couldn't be happier!

Now that that news is out, I can move on to what I've been working on since then. I've been building an artgame in UDK I wrote back during my senior year of undergrad. It's called Reveal, and it's one of the most personal games I've ever made.  It's also the very first game where I directed a team on a concept that was 100% my own. I don't want to say too much about what inspired it or what it means, because I want people to react to it on its own merits and I'm still hoping to do some user testing. I'm waiting on the composer to finish the soundtrack, but I'll release a link as soon as I'm happy with the game.
Here are a few screenshots for now:

As a final note, I'd like to give a shout out to Jon Moore for finally graduating from MSU, and to Dan Sosnowski who will be taking his place as president of Spartasoft. I'd also like to congratulate VP Jordan Ajlouni on graduating, and he and the rest of the guys at Adventure Club Games for just generally being awesome and making games. I have a huge amount of respect for all of these guys. They and the rest of Spartasoft are made my time at MSU worthwhile.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

ZBrush tiling textures

There's been a definite lack of finished works to post to the blog lately. It's not that I've been lazy, but the last few months have really been about hunkering down and learn the technical nitty gritty of both Max and UDK. It's led to lots of fun and interesting experiments, but not a lot of beautiful results.

This weekend I was struck by the urge to jump back into ZBrush (after far, far too long) and finally learn how to sculpt seamless textures from scratch.

Rendered in UDK

Success! Today I think I finally nailed the process. This isn't a gorgeous material in it's own right (especially compared to Uncharted's materials, which I was what I was aiming for), but it's proof the process works and produces technically clean results without the need to touch up maps after the fact. It should be noted that absolutely no hand-painting went into this one- the diffuse is made up of masks and a photo, and the sculpt was made using a procedural rock I got from a maxscript. The whole thing could probably be reproduced in 30 minutes.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Kingdom - lighting test

Trying to create a foggy streetlight effect in UDK. This is part of my ongoing project, The Kingdom.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Librarian's Crypt

Well, that took forever. My entry for Blizzard's environment art contest, as well as the thing I've spent he better part of the last two months working on. It turned out quite well, all things considered. 

A few things to keep in mind next time I do a mini-environment (which I certainly shall):

-More contrast in value/ less contrast in color.
-Use saturated colors more sparingly.
-Keep a strong focal point. It's hard when you spend hours detailing everything in your scene, but ultimately some things have to take a backstage to others.
-This isn't spectacularly World-of-Warcraft-like, which usually means two dominant colors per scene. The color gradient comes slightly closer to Allods, which was no accident. I look at Allods art a lot for reference, personally I kinda prefer it to WoW.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dust Lighthouse in UDK

So, I couldn't resist bringing my lighthouse into UDK, given how much I've learned about lightmass and postprocessing in the last few months. This is what it looks like in the default scene, no frills. I think I'm going to go in and play around a bit as soon as I finish some of my more pressing obligations...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bone Axe

Been doing some small weapon studies any time I need a break from my current project. Here's one I did off a concept I painted in approx. 15 minutes.

I tried to make improvements to the design as I modeled. There's no excusing the scratches on the blade, though. Those things make no sense at all.