What a difference a week makes

10 04 2016

So in the time between my last blog post and now the following has happened

  1. I moved back to Massachusetts, for a few reasons, primarily financial and also
  2. I got a job with Subatomic Studios doing QA work. Circular path? Maybe, but I’m enjoying it far more than what I’ve been doing work-wise the last three years.

In addition to that, I’ve also been messing around with Wings3D and Blender some more, trying to get back into the mindset of creating things even if they turn out garbage. A prime example of that being something I made last week. This box.

ThisCrateTookForever2

This box is dangerous(ly) ugly.

You can’t really see it from this angle but I did a really bad job of UV mapping it and really it’s not all that visually interesting.

But today, I decided to persevere and try again. Same Geometry, but now with a different approach to texturing using things like layer maps. The results are..quite satisfying to say the least.

NewCrate_BlenderCycles_Render

Enjoy this new and improved crate

NewCrate_Detail_HighRes

Closer view for Detail

This was a fun learning experience (despite it still taking several hours to do), and I also learned how to better use Blender Cycles for rendering to make things look better. Hopefully now that I’m back “home” and motivated I’ll be making more stuff both artistically and design-wise.

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Super Mario Maker, Sky Rogue, and Stipple Effects

24 09 2015

Super Mario Maker came out two weeks ago and I’ve been having an absolute blast with it. The Mario Paint influence can be felt throughout the game; from the title screen having the same “mess with the letters to see things happen”, the Rocket eraser to clear a level, and a somewhat well-hidden Gnat Attack/Coffee Break minigame that even unlocks another version of Mario for you to mess around with via the Mystery Mushroom. There’s other stuff there of course (sound effects you can add also coming from Mario Paint in some ways) but if I went on and on about that we’d be here all day.

I could try to explain this, but I don’t think you’d believe me.

 

Super Mario Maker is a very comprehensive level editor so people can make their own Mario levels in one of four styles (Super  Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U). Players can place blocks, enemies, powerups, hidden powerups, coins, etc. etc. etc. to make their own take on Mario’s adventures or just make something really unfair and vicious if they want to keep making Expert mode really impossible . After you’ve made a level you then have to beat it before it can be uploaded for the masses to stumble through.

One of the neat things Nintendo did was go back and add things to game styles that didn’t necessarily have certain enemies when the game came out (example: Thwomps and Wigglers in the original SMB, as well as Airship tilesets for SMB and SMW, stuff like that). Another neat thing is that you are not necessarily limited by what Nintendo would do. After all, Nintendo levels didn’t have things like Spiny’s riding giant Goombas, or Bullet Bill Launchers that shoot Coins at you, or The ability to jump into a Koopa Clown Car and terrorize enemies from above. It’s this sort of expanded innovation that allows the formulas of Mario to stay grounded yet with room for expansion.

There are some downsides, of course. Nintendo doesn’t really have a good grip on curating all this user-generated content so popular level makers/YouTube personalities will always be at the top of the list while the rest of us struggle for attention. In addition, the Expert Mode of the 100 Mario Challenge (beat 16 levels with 100 lives) is nearly impossible at this point, with most of the levels in there being the kind of Kaizo-level insanity that only the obsessive can beat. That said, I’d imagine over time as people get more accustomed to what makes a good level, we’ll see less and less impossible stuff and more just plain challenging stuff.

Also we still don’t quite have everything from the four Mario games listed. Inclined surfaces like in Mario 3 and World aren’t in, nor is the Angry Sun from SMB3. But there’s already rumors of (hopefully free) DLC to add this kind of stuff, and Nintendo has expressed interest in expanding the toolset. I hope the game continues to do well so that it does.

I’ve also been playing, and modding, Sky Rogue, which is an Arcade flight sim that seems to mix a bunch of styles together, like Nintendo’s Star Fox, and Sega’s Wing War, as well as adding a slight Roguelike twist on it.


In Sky Rogue you select a plane, select your weapons, and embark on an increasingly dangerous series of missions launched from a SHIELD-esque floating aircraft carrier in an effort to defeat enemies controlling an archipelago of islands. It’s tough but a lot of fun, and I’m a big fan of the retro, low-poly aesthetic, reminding me of Sega’s mid 90s arcade games like Virtua Racing, the aforementioned Wing War, and so on.Combat is pretty tense, with players having to frequently dodge missiles while firing off their own on a variety of targets both ground and air-based; and of course since this has a roguelike element, if you die not only do you start back at day 1 but you also just might lose some of the new weapons you researched, so you have to weigh the risks and the benefits of taking such weapons with you.

The game recently got released on Steam in Early Access, and along with that also got Steam Workshop support, so that players can add their own planes, skins, and emblems. I took the opportunity to make a version of the de Havilland Sea Vixen jet fighter from the 1960s for the game, and because I’m a huge nerd I made a fake ad for it that you can see below:

The game still has a ways to go before it’s really complete but it’s definetely worth the $9.99 price tag and it’s a lot of fun. Feels very much like you’re in an episode of Macross or again playing something like Star Fox (specifically more like an All-Range Mode mission, but w/e)

Lastly I’ve also been getting back into doing texture works…which didn’t actually involve a lot of Stipple Effects but shut up I needed a third S for the title. I’m working on a texture and material pack for Unity which is going to be primarly of office textures. Things like carpet, cubicle desk surfaces, cubicle walls, and of course, drop ceilings

I’m especially proud of this because this is my first attempt in a long time of doing an emissive map for a texture and it came out great. Hope to have the whole thing done in a few weeks, time permitting.





I swear I’m still around, honest

15 03 2015

Haven’t had much time to work on anything recently. My day job sent me off to Arizona for a week, which was admittedly pretty cool, but not really related to this blog. So, moving on!

Been playing Homeworld Remastered. It’s still really janky, such is the problem with porting Homeworld 1 into an updated Homeworld 2 engine, but it’s still Homeworld and it’s still fun and it’s still evoking the same feelings the original game did for me. Also nice is the ability to make custom emblems…which of course means its time to put emblems from other sci-fi properties into it…

AndrossScout CornerianInterceptor StarfoxAttackBomber

Yes, I am still a huge nerd. And while it’s still broken in a lot of respects, Gearbox and the modding community are doing a lot to fix it, so I think in time it’ll be great again. Plus the game looks gorgeous.

On the art front I’ve been doing more enemy designs, specifically making some enemy fighters that look more like modified mining craft:

EnemyMiningFighter_AnimStrip

In this case, the cannons on the front were originally drills. I’m still working on more designs but this week I’m also getting more into the actual tech of the game. More to come later.





Rinksmanship: Shuffle Breaker Dev Blog

21 08 2014

So I’ve been reworking the design of the rink in Shuffle Breaker. Right now I haven’t put it into the game again but here’s a couple quick previews in the renderer…

ShuffleBreak_Sample_Redux

ShuffleBreak_Sample_Redux2

I’ve redone the UV mapping because it was a bit dodgy beforehand, and I also reworked the design of the goals. In addition, everything is now completely UV mapped so I will be able to use actual materials instead of just solid colors if I so desire.

Hopefully I’ll have this dropped into the game in the next few days.





Wood Flooring and Paneling Texture Pack now available on the Unity Asset Store

6 08 2014

After my nearly month-long break to work on a small project, I finally finished and submitted the Wood Flooring and Paneling Texture Pack I was working on to put up on the Unity Asset Store. Today I got an email saying that they had accepted the package and now it’s up on the store for all to see and purchase. I’m rather excited about this, even if nobody buys it. It still feels so weird to realize that I’ve released something now even though that was the whole point of this little project.

The package contains six textures, all with normal and specular mapping, as well as a sample scene showing how they can all work together.

If you want to check it out, click here for the Asset Store link. It’s only $2 and I think that’s well worth it for the time I put into it. Hopefully I’ll be able to make more texture packs of other materials as well!

SampleScreen3

SampleScreen