I have a bad feeling about this #4

Work In Progress / 19 April 2020

blog four

Hello there. Sorry, it's been a while since my last update, progress on this project really depends on how busy I am and how interested I am in working on it, which lately have both been the reason for my silence. I drop in now and again and build a spaceship or update some assets I have issues with but it's not as frequent as I'd like. I've been preoccupied with other personal work too outside of work on this project and I sometimes felt like my personal portfolio was more important than this "hobby project" but this does showcase a side of my abilities that my portfolio sometimes lack i.e my process. Obviously this process is slow but as I've said before, this project is for fun and I am making it for myself and not to prove something to someone. 

Anywho, here are some updates.

Research

I've gathered quite a collection of books related to the project in search of as much information on the design of the Trade Federation ship. It's not easy to get good images outside of screenshots from the film itself but it is cool (very cool) to learn that a majority of the interior shots were miniatures with actors composited in. As well as these books I've been using other games interpretations of that moment in the film such as Lego Star Wars, Star Wars Obi-Wan and Jedi Power Battles.

Researching a project is easily my favorite bit and I just love gathering the necessary materials needed. I can google most of the images I need these days but I still prefer to get a book because there's usually some material that isn't seen elsewhere expect in these books. Also, they look good on the shelf with all my other reference and art books. It's far more relaxing to stop and look threw a book than scroll endlessly down a webpage. 

  • "Research"

Consular-Class Cruiser 

I loved building this ship, dreading texturing it. I don't think this gets said enough but the ship design in the prequels are great and I always associate them with Star Wars more than the X-Wing or the Star Destroyer. The Trade Federation ship and the Naboo starfighter are just wonderful designs (Doug Chang is a genius). I took inspirations from the ship in the original '99 film and also from the stylized ones used in the clone wars series. The hardest part was the bit between the engines and the rear satellites, couldn't find an image clear enough but luckily I stumbled upon some Cosmos Models model recreation. It had more detail than I needed but it was a great and detailed reference.

"If this is a consular ship, where is the ambassador?"

In the original game the section of the map where the cruiser is destroyed left a lot to be desired. the area was more impressionistic than realistic so I've taken a look at the hangar interior shots from the film and have recreated it the best I can. 

  • A work in progress but anything is an improvement by comparison.

I've made a good enough start of texturing the upper level. It still has a way to go but it adds the much need life that has been lacking in the level. It was daunting to look at all those grey assets and think about how long it was gonna take me to texture everything but I've figured out a process that doesn't take too long. 

  • Federation Ship interior (WIP)

All the assets in the game are pretty low poly and the majority of the detail is in the texturing. I want to see how good it can look in this stage before I tamper with adding more detail or normal maps. So far I like how things are coming together but without the correct lighting, it's hard to tell at the moment. There's a game I have been playing lately that I really wanna take inspiration from, it's called Creature in the Well, I really like it's aesthetic and the placement of the camera and the way it moves. I hope to incorporate some of those ideas into this level later down the line.

  • Also, it's a fun game.
  • Some more WIP screenshots

I think I'll end it at that for today. I'll hopefully be back in a few weeks with another tantalizing update on this project.

Bye for now,

Matt

Rapid Prototyping Week Five: Star Gazing

General / 19 July 2019

Week fours theme was Patterns so we created a game based on Amy's idea of a pattern constellation game. A pattern appears onscreen and you must repeat the pattern, once you do that you unlock the constellation in your "starbook" and you can read up on the history and the stars that make up the constellations. It's a casual game for aimed at an older audience and something you can play on your commute to and from work. 

I've wanted to try some pixel art out for a while now and I felt like that aesthetic suited this game and thankfully Amy agreed. We took a lot of inspiration from more modern pixel games like Celeste and Hyper Light Drifter, the colors and level of detail is gorgeous in those games.

I worked mostly on backgrounds on UI and background this week and Amy did some great work on the constellations and converted the logo beautifully into pixel form.

Amy did this great little gif to show how the game intro would play out. The logo and foreground art was done by Amy

I have a bad feeling about this #3

Work In Progress / 12 July 2019

blog three

Hello there! So, in all honesty, I have been super duper busy as of late and haven't been able to work on this as much as I would have liked so this blog is a little out of sync with where I am actually at in this project. Just a brief update tho as you can see from the video below I have the entire level mapped out and to scale which is a great feeling. The environment itself is in various stages of texturing and I haven't started the actual game side of it yet but let's just take this one step at a time, shall we. 

On th
  • The level layout

In this post, I'd like to focus on some of the visuals.

So like I've said before I wanted to recreate the vision of the game that I have in my head from my childhood. The game in my head was much more stylized and cooler than it actually looks. The game is actually striving for more realism than stylized but it was severely limited by the technology at the time. Look I still like the look of the game but you only have to look at some of the character models to see why it's less than perfect.

OMG IT'S UWAN MACGRAGOR

  • Example of environment detail

For the overall environment, I've gone for less detailed assets with higher detailed textures. This cuts down the modeling time and allows me to see the level come together much quicker and have a basic character run around the environment to get the correct scale. The downside to this is that it takes longer to texturing the environment. While it still has a way to go I am overall pretty happy with how the environmental visuals are coming together. I am really looking forward to sharing more renders in the future. 

I am staying pretty true to the original environment of the game while also taking inspiration from the Clone Wars and Rebels when it comes to the textures and character design. 

  • Texturing WIP

So I may have underestimated the amount of character work would need to be done on this level and was really surprised when I actually counted how many unique characters there would be. In total there are 10 unique character models and 4 variations of battle droids that inhabit the level, an infantry class (default), pilot (blue), security (red) and commander droid (yellow).

  • The Players

I've made a decent dent in the character creation having mostly all the droid bar the vulture droid built and moving to texture. I am leaving the humanoid characters to later for two reasons, one, I don't have the confidence to achieve the style I want to achieve with those characters and two, I haven't decided on the style yet (probably should've started with this one). The droids are easier because they have more defined shapes and are genuinely more fun to recreate in that Clone Warsy style. The only droid that has been a little tricky is the maintenance droid because it doesn't exist in canon outside of this game so I may take some liberties with this design and push it closer to the clone wars era of design. 

The GNK droid above is an example of the art direction and texture detail I am going for with this project. This is the level of detail I am aiming for with all the robots in the game. Below you can see two WIPs, the battle droid is closest to being complete as I am just about done with texturing. The Droideka is still a little rough but I am pretty happy with where it is at but I need to get the scaling right so that it can fold into the rolling state without any issues. 

Okay, I think that's enough for today, I'll be back at some point with more updates. If you have any comments please place them below and I'll get back to you asap. 

Bye for now,

Matt

Rapid Prototyping Week Four: Adrift (Tug Life)

General / 05 July 2019

Week fours theme was Lost (at Sea) and we decided to make a tugboat game but instead of setting it in space we decide to set in space. The basic set up for the game is that you play as a space garbage person who flies around picking up contracts from a variety of weird characters. You get rewarded for doing these contracts and experience. Along the way, you have to avoid pirates and meteors that can damage or destroy your ship. The game is pitched as an entry point for more hardcore simulations games like Elite Dangerous.

We wanted a friendly game aesthetic with a nice balance in colors and design. The idea of a tug boat floating in space did most of the leg work. That visual sold the game idea to everyone and helped inform the tone and gameplay. 

  • The towing mechanic. Gather clumps of trash and deliver them to your contractor.
  • The Pirate ship chase. Once seen the pirate ship chases you down and attempts to swallow up your ship
  • Character island. Meet colorful characters on trash islands and they will give you jobs to complete.
  • 3D tugboat Model

They're loads other stuff that I'll share at a late date so for now just enjoy this lot. 

  • Character based on Amy's original concept


Rapid Prototyping Week Three: Unwanted Ghosts

General / 29 June 2019

Week three's theme was Gaslighting, so to avoid the obviously shitty meaning of the word we decided to go with a cuter approach to the word. Our game idea is you play as a cute ghost that is too cute to be scary on their own so they must possess objects around the house to scare the new owner out of the house. 

Aesthetically we liked the idea of 3D backgrounds with 2d sprites. We took inspiration from games like Fallout Shelter and DuckTales Remastered. The house design was closely inspired by toy houses. I think we'd need to spend some more time to develop a style that evoked the cute design of Amy's original ghost sketch. Overall I think we did alright with the time we had to create this.

  • Ghost by Amy

I worked primarily on the 3D background of the house. I built the house, textured and animated the objects. Kept the detail to a minimum because of the time and we thought it would be less distracting to the player. 

  • House overview
  • Example of haunted room
  • Images on tv and in frames by Amy

Back next week with the next theme Lost (at Sea)


  • Credit to Amy for this gem 

Rapid Prototyping Week Two: Climate Clean-Up

General / 21 June 2019

So at work, we are currently taken part in a 6-week rapid prototyping program at the Pixelmill. The idea of the program is to develop new game ideas based on the themes given, this week's theme was climate disruption. Our game idea is a 

An idle/incremental web & mobile game.

Premise: Save the world by receiving contracts from Big Bad Corporations who need to dispose of their toxic waste.

Create neutralisers to make the toxic barrels safe again!

I worked closely with our new art intern Amy to create a visual design that best suited the game we were creating. My goal for the 6 weeks is to try and create a unique visual design for each project so with this game I felt like a comic book aesthetic best suited the game. Initially, we wanted to create something more modern in the line work but after picking up my copy of Watchmen again I felt the artwork of Dave Gibbons added to the game design and theme. The color pallet for the game was heavily inspired by the work done in classic Marvel comics from the 1960s.

  • Initial Concepts based on discussions with Adam and Amy
  • Background I illustrated
  • Game sprites I illustrated based on Amy and I's concepts 
  • Final game layout made up from elements illustrated by Amy and I

Overall I really enjoyed working on this little game prototype, the work done by the whole team was really impressive and I wouldn't mind returning to it at a later date. 


Back next week.

Matt


I have a bad feeling about this #2

Work In Progress / 28 April 2019

blog two

Hello there! I’ve been working on this project and I’ve only really started to make any real progress in the last few months. My main blocker was my stupid method for mapping out the level itself and life. So back when I started I researched to see if I could access the game files through old software from that era, software like Blitz3D but unfortunately, that wasn’t gonna happen. I couldn’t find any software that could successfully open .B3D files so I was beginning to think it wasn’t worth all this trouble (it wasn’t) but by chance, I stumbled across a thread on assemblergames.com from October 2016. A user named ‘hef0p’  had a copy of the original level editor for the game and just shared it online with everyone. My prayers had been answered and I was pumped.

follow the link on this video to get a copy

Again I spent ages trying to find a bridge software to export the files into a more accessible file type but nope. I don’t know much about how the software works tbh because I draw, I don’t math. I assume with this software it had something to do with it being tile image based and not actually "3D" in the traditional sense. The characters are 3D from what I can gather but I have no access to those files as they are not editable in the level editor. Knowing my luck tho they probably are and I’ve just missed crucial info to convert them……but oh well.

So after a few failed attempts I am now officially getting somewhere. What I did was pretty simple but also incredibly slow. In the level editor, you can see the measurements for the tiles, some are an easier read than others, The reoccurring size was 64x64 so I made that my base tile size and made the map from there. This required me to go through each are and count the number of tiles in those areas. I wrote them down in my notebook, went back to Maya and build the map tile by tile. Look I know what you are thinking and I’ve been thinking it many times myself over the last week. I am a fucking genius. Though this process made the overall building of the level much much easier because I had a grid template.

After all this, I divided the level up into 4 stages to help simplify the work and reduce the file size from future trouble. The 4 stages are shown below.

organisation is key peeps

You can see that there is quite a lot of ground to cover but tbh the only stage that will probably give me the most grief is the Hangar Escape. The original game had a very lazy/ugly hangar that makes my eyes bleed now so I plan to do a huge redesign on that stage, you know make it look like a hangar and not a carpet warehouse. Obviously, I’ll take as much inspiration as possible from the source material but I’ll add my own flair here and then. (Depressed looking white guy white beard and gut will be the centerpiece.)

Gonna so a wee break down of each stage below before I go. I’m very thorough.

stage 1

This area has the most detail and assets. It’ll be a pain but it’s already coming together faster than I expected. I have ideas for this area that I already think is a bad idea but we’ll have to wait and see.

stage 2

I like this area quite a bit but I feel like it could use with some improvements. Make it more maze-like and add to the cruiser destruction area. 

stage 3

Some weird choices in this area that I am not sure how to tackle yet but that’s part of the fun I suppose. Most of the assets from stage one can be reused here so it shouldn’t take as long to assemble.

stage 4

Not much to add here that I haven’t already said up above. I do think that the layout is pretty boring so that may change once I get the assets built.

So there’s the map in full, geographically it makes no sense at all to how the ship would actually look like but I’m not gonna go mad with rearranging the level to suit that crazy part of me. I hope that I can add and subtract areas because I do think there’s room for improvement, especially in the vents and hangar. 

Bye for now,

Matt

I have a bad feeling about this #1

Work In Progress / 28 April 2019

blog one

Hello there. My name is Matt McDyre and I am an artist/animator who is currently working at a Belfast indie games company called Whitepot studios (you should totally check em out) So I started this blog because why not? and I thought it would be a good way to track my progress on this hobby project I am working on.

What is that project I hear you all ask? It’s a remaster of the first mission of the 1999 Big Ape Production/Lucasarts game, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Now I hear you ask why? (Seriously?!) Well, I want to and I think that’s a good enough reason to do anything. I want to learn how to make a basic game, nothing too complicated and nothing too big. So rather than design something from scratch I thought it’d be a fun little experiment to rebuild a level from one of my favorite childhood games. It’s not the best game ever made, in fact, some would say it’s bad but it was my only real escape into the world of Star Wars when I was 7ish years old. Yea I could watch the films but to be in that world was far more exciting. I mean what other Star Wars game allows you dialog options that have no bearing on the overall narrative and gives Obi-Wan Kenobi a bazooka? Probably none.


What my plans for the ‘remaster’ are simple.

1. Update the visuals to be more in line with how I remember it as a kid. So the game doesn’t quite hold up, visually it’s nasty. In my head, I remember it being much cooler so that’s what I am gonna do, make it cooler, develop a visual style closer to my own but inspired heavily by other Star Wars projects like Clone Wars. 

2. The original gameplay is clunky and frustrating, a movement was slow, the action was dull, the camera was just in the wrong place. So much like visuals, I want to make it cooler. Create better flow and player engagement. Create new and interesting animations. Branch out the dialog options a tad bit more so they have some consequences. The gameplay is a whole new ballpark for me and will be something I need to learn from scratch so don’t hold this against me if all this stuff doesn’t end up in the final build.

Bye for now,

Matt