S.A.M. Project – Change of plan

At the start of week 9 we were informed that the deadline for this project was going to be a lot sooner than we had anticipated, that we should aim to have the majority of it finished in 2 weeks time. After our individual tutorials, we all agreed that we needed a change of plan. I discussed with Brian that I had concerns that we were making a fairly big medium-high poly PC environment that we hadn’t made much progress on. I was thinking of going back to the original low poly mobile platform, as this would be more achievable. I was concerned that making assets for a low poly environment wouldn’t show our full potential of modeling skills, but he pointed out that making something within technical restrictions is a skill in itself, and shows that you can still make something that looks great within those limits. I discussed this with Aaron who had been thinking the same thing, that this was the best way forward. Coming back to the phone set up was also best for the story, because that is what it was designed for. I don’t think the story would have been as effective as a PC game.

We had a long group meeting that afternoon and made a new plan. Instead of making 5 areas in one environment, we cut it down to 1 environment that we would all make assets for. We decided it would be like a game demo/area you can look around, rather than the full game. Travis had taken a step back from the group at this point, so we weren’t sure what we would be able to do in terms of the coding needed to operate the scene on a phone. We would include all the animals and some assets that were key to the story, such as the picture frame and the submarine.

54799564_576323729514016_417225836236636160_n.png
New environment layout (camera in the middle)

The plan was to get the models done for the following week, and then assemble the scene in Unity the week after. We split up the work like so:

Modelling plan

Ninth meeting with Deepa – 26/03/19

Deepa supported our change of plan, and if we decide to do a trailer as our end product, we should think about what mood we want to set and what we want to leave the viewer thinking/feeling. She also said that if we need any extra Unity support that she could get someone she knows to help us.

I spent the rest of the week modeling and texturing a variety of rocks and bits of plastic pollution.

Even though the models were low-medium poly, I wanted to get the most out of the shape so I designed them to have interesting silhouettes. The rocks in the second image are like the centre pieces of the nice side and polluted sides of the area, so I wanted them to be more eye catching.

Rock formations 1
Rock formation concepts
Rock formations 2
Rock formation concepts. Left formation based on Patrick’s concept art

Topology:

I tried to keep my topology neater with these rocks, and I think the improvement can be seen on the circular rock compared to the others. I extruded the faces properly instead of just moving vertices around with soft select like I did on the other rocks.

Texturing:

I thought using 512×512 resolution for texture maps would be too low, but compared to to 1000×1000 (on the right), I was surprised that they look pretty much the same in Unity.

512 (left) v 1k textures
Texture resolution comparison

For texturing in Substance, I started with a rock texture I had downloaded, and then built up the rest of the smart materials myself. Looking back, I wasted sometime texturing a lot of the rocks individually when I should have textured them as a group from the start to reduce the number of materials used. I was texturing after the rocks had been placed in the scene so they had already been imported as individual assets. However I did texture other assets in groups after this.

The rocks on the nice side of the environment are a nice sandy golden colour, whereas the ones on the polluted side are a lot darker and have more green grunges on them. Many of the rocks have a golden and a grunge texture so they could be duplicated wherever they are needed. The rock below was in between the two sides so I wanted to show how the grunge on the right side is slowly spreading across the golden side on the left. If I were to texture the rocks again, I would make them less ‘busy’ and detailed. I admit I hadn’t really considered how they would look among all the other assets, which resulted in them being a little overpowering in the scene.

Rock substance
Transition rock texture
golden
Golden rock texture
grunge
Grunge rock texture

Textured renders (Arnold):

Base_rocks_big - texturedBase_rocks_small - texturedRocks_small_ textured

Straw_and_plastic

 

During week 10 I finished some corals that I had started previously. These were based on the coral reef research I had done.

Topology:

Texturing:

I used height maps to imitate the bubbly texture of the staghorn and table corals. I had learned about coral bleaching from my research and incorporated this into the textures: the nice area has normal textures and the polluted area has bleached/dead versions.

Dying coral
Coral bleaching reference

Texture

Screenshot_3

Textured renders (Arnold):

Red_whip
Red whip coral (normal and bleached textures)
Staghorn
Staghorn coral (normal and dead textures)
Table
Table coral (normal and bleached textures)

Puffer fish 02

We all lowered the polycount of our animals down to around 1,000 polys each. This proved to be more challenging than I expected, as it was hard to maintain the shape and I had to compromise on the number of spikes.

Puffer_01_topology
Original topology – 3,000 polys
Screenshot_4
Reduced topology – 1,000 polys

I had already rigged it before reducing the mesh, which wasn’t ideal because I lost a blendshape that I had made. Thankfully the rest of the rig still functioned normally but I will definitely make sure I am finished with the mesh in the future before starting to rig.

rig.jpg
Rig

I animated the puffer struggling to swim up and sinking back down again, then I exported it and looped it in Unity. I exported the texture maps again after reducing the mesh. I reduced the resolution from 2k to 1k and made some of the blue spots bigger so they are more varied.

ezgif.com-optimize

Unity

During the week I laid out the outline shape and arranged the rocks I had made. We gradually imported assets as they were being completed. I also did research into ways to optimise a scene in Unity, so it could run on a phone, and made notes on this.

Screenshot 2019-04-17 at 15.12.55
Layout using the map as a guide

Last meeting with Deepa – 05/04/19

Before our last meeting with Deepa, we ran into problems with the game view where the camera was rendering a blue screen. This was frustrating because we couldn’t show Deepa what it looked like with the camera effects. We explained the issue and showed her these screenshots instead. We explained that not everything had been imported yet and there was still more to do such as particle effects etc. She was pleased with our progress and said she would love to see the final product when it is finished.

Reflection

I enjoyed the stage a lot more than the previous few weeks and felt excited about the project again. I think the change in deadline made me work harder and I was able to make assets more quickly. I expanded my knowledge of the modeling to texturing process, got to practice rigging more and watched tutorials to learn more about substance painter.

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