Thursday, 22 October 2009

Into The Darkness!

Recently Ive had a lot of fun playing with simple lighting sets in Maya and discovering all the hidden effects that can be created, and even a bit of trickery by combining lighting affects.

So my idea was to create some simple geometry, a rocking chair, a lamp, a bookcase and a dresser and create a small scene and use some different lights to create specific atmospheres. But as that is a little to easy my tutors gave me a gentle nudge into creating a scene where to atmospheres would combine creating a Dynamic Level Design. For those of you who aren't Games Designers this is really not an easy task. So Ive set myself the project out in stages.

Firstly i would quickly create some models which i can use to create a set.

Now i had some simple models to play with i began learning different lighting techniques with Lights and Volumes in Maya. The image above is using a ambient occlusion lighting rig designed to mimic sunlight (i can't take credit for that rig as i am not that far into light creation. . . just yet).

So the next task i set myself was to create an "uncomfortable" atmosphere. I used the word uncomfortable as i am repeatedly told that using the word scary is too confined.

My first test was using the daylight set up and a simple Spotlight with a Maya Fog Volume.

As my first test i thought this worked really well. But the more i looked at it i started to realise that the Lamp could make a huge difference to how the scene would "feel".

So after a bit of a shuffle and light editing my next scene started to develop a bit more feeling. The Lamp's light makes a huge difference to the scene. But i was still thinking the outdoor lighting could be having a huge effect on the scene.

Now, with the outdoor light removed and yet again another shuffle of models the scene started to feel more "uncomfortable". At first the scene was extremely dark due to the lack of light on the left hand side of the scene. So i had another play with some lighting and learnt how to create cool visual styles with OpticalFX in Maya. By using Point Lights, Light Volumes and OpticalFX i was able to create Candles to add a small amount of light to the left side.

After finding that with shifting models and manipulating lights can make a huge difference to a small set, i decided to dig deeper into the world of Maya lights and find what effects i could achieve.

So after about an hour of creating a particle system and a fire animation i created yet another render. The render does not do the particle system any justice as the smoke particles created from the fire actually have active physics which allow it to follow, collide and react with geometry within the fireplace (So the particles actually follow the shape of the chimney). I found that the ambient light created from the fire started to push the room into a "comfortable" scenario. So i had to go back to the basics of this scene and try and find that "uncomfortable" feeling yet again.

Here it is, the final light test for this part of the scene. With the addition of an external light source , which is my own custom light rig which Ive named "Moonlight Rig" (yes, i actually lied at the start of the post for the purposes of showing my idea generation).

With the use of the moonlight rig and some changes to the fire and candle lights i found the feeling i was trying to achieve. With about an hours work creating the rig and the and ridiculous render time i was made to wait to see if my final test would work. . .

"Uncomfortable" Scene render using Moonlight Rig, Ambient Fire Particle System and Candle Lighting.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

The Link Between Time and Waste!

Well, here it comes, the first angry rant of my blog!

Within the MA course the first semester is made up of two parts, the "Game Design" part and what i am now calling the "Complete B*ll***s" section. I know the name of the second part may sound harsh but i will now explain why i will not be changing my view on this section.

At the start of the semester we were all given a group project based around the design aspects of Preston city. At first i thought this was going to be a bit of a Mickey Mouse organised project, but after being given the assignment for this section i was actually seeing the point of it.

We were put into design teams, a mixture of people from other MA courses across the design school, and given a brief. Once in our groups we were given the task of forming a small hierarchy to make the groups more efficient.

So my group decided that it would be a good idea to go out and get some research together in a chosen area of the brief. This task started to grow on me after i started to become quite interested in the history of Preston.

Now this is where my choose title for this module will become clear. . .

After already being told we were given the project late so we had less time than we thought on this project, we all have to rush to get up to a point where we were comfortable about the deadline. And then after a week of doing the project at high pace we were told, by someone who didn't really seem to understand himself why the decision was made, that the project would now be worth 0%. . . .

All i can say is many people, including myself were p**sed off!

We all had questions, why? who's idea was it? and what do we do now?

Answers -

Why? - Errrr, well, ermmm, *silence*, *nervous look*, you can still do it for fun?

Who? - We decided (who the hell is we anyway!) to. . .

What now? - Well you can still do the group project as a bit of fun. . .

My reply to what now - why the hell should we? If we want to interact and have fun we should use the time on the Friday morning to go have a drink. I no its quite early in the day, but who cares?

I have to say its an absolute joke. First we were given a project late, then we had to work faster than usually to get up to the same deadlines, and then we were told the work would be worth nothing. If you can't understand my anger imagine this;

You have a worked for 5 days for a company expecting to be paid. Then on the last day, when you are about to leave for home your boss tells you they have decided not to pay you, with no reasonable explanation for it.

Anyway, we now have a project which still makes little sense and when we asked question about it the person who gave us the project didn't seem to understand it themselves. . . Personally i think its being filmed for some form of comedy sketch show where the creators sit and laugh behind blacked out windows, and as i don't seem any windows, i think its just a joke!

Needless to say i, and many others, aren't very happy with how that part of the course is being run and presented.

On a brighter note;

Games Design Section Happiness Level 100% - So nothing really to say about that section.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Mission I - Character Design!

Well it didn't take long for our first assignment to creep up on us! It was a relatively easy task, Create and design a character which carried a story and/or message.

So, being a big fan of Pixar and Dreamworks i decided to create a story which would fit well into one of their film styles.

My Project: The Recyclones!

The Recyclones are an alien race who rely on rubbish and junk to convert into an energy source. So when they come to earth in search of energy, where will their junk collection end?

The answer is they wont! They will gather anything which will fit into their vacuums!

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Voyage Begins . . .

So here it is, the first post of my Blog, and the beginning of my life on the MA Games Design course.

So let me start by saying Welcome to Captain's Log. My name is Scott Taylor and i am a returning student to UCLAN (The University of Central Lancashire for those who don't attend there) after completing my degree in Games Design. I started thinking about the Masters course towards the second half of my final degree year and by the end of the year i was certain i was going to take the course. . . As long as my tutors hadn't had enough of me!

Thankfully they hadn't!

So, what is my Blog about? Well my blog is suppose to be a kind of diary which makes up part of the MA course, and is designed to help me document my work progress and problems over the next year or so. I look forward to all comments which will help me improve my work and improve my idea process.

That's really everything i can think of for now, but i will start posting frequently soon as work is going to be flying at me for all directions!

Bye for now!