Monthly Update – August

August 1st, 2015

August already, which means it’s almost a year since I quit my job to return to England and start working on my own project, how time flies!

July was a pretty mixed bag really, but most of the work revolved around getting the first character up and running (literally!) in the game. I decided to start with the guy in the black suit first. So I modeled him and set to work rigging and then importing him into Unity and setting him up to be animated. I’m using the mecanim system in Unity which allows for animations made for other models to be re-targeted to different ones. It’s a really useful system that works particularly well for humanoid characters and allows me to use existing animations, at least for the time being, without having to make new ones myself. I’m not very experienced at animating characters so using the mecanim system has enabled me to get him walking, running and jumping in the test level quite quickly. I was very nervous about the whole process of getting a character animated, so I’m glad it all worked out.

Having said that I did do things in somewhat the wrong order in my eagerness to see the animations working, and so shortly after successfully getting the model and animations linked up I had to go back and work more on the model which of course broke the skinning! Not the ideal workflow, but the rig and animator settings in Unity remain intact so once I export the skinned model again it should work just fine.

So why am I working on the model again? After unwrapping and starting to texture the face I realised the eyes were much too large. It seems really obvious now but before I put the details in the texture it all seemed fine. Then the domino effect kicked in and with the re-scaled eyes I had to fix the eyebrows, which I modeled a bit better than the previous version… which looked so much better that it made the mustache and hair look too simplistic. So in the end I have remodeled all the hair parts and in the end I’m really glad I did because I think they look a lot better now. Although you won’t get too close to the character for most of the time during the game, it’s possible I might want to do some special camera moves or something else with the character model in the future so better to have it work close up now rather than have to re-do it later.

Here are a couple of work in progress shots – first of the character before the remodeling, and then the partly textured head with the smaller eyes and new hair.

Male character model - work in progress

Male character model – work in progress

Male character head -  work in progress

Male character head – work in progress

I also took a little break from all the character work to do some level design, which resulted in the final level of the game coming together quite nicely. I have the main tasks and story for the level mapped out now which I’m really pleased with. So that’s 3 of the 4 currently planned levels done on paper so far. I can’t wait to start building them!

Plans for this month – first off get the final fixes done to the character model, finish the texture and get it back and working in Unity again. Once that is done I’d really like to have all the player interaction stuff scripted and functional so I can play with it in the levels I’ll be building soon. So all his abilities and object interaction including carrying, pushing/pulling things, the fail/re-set mechanic and all that essential gameplay related stuff. Some of that is already done, or partly done so hopefully it won’t take too long to get that working. I’d really like to be able to post a video of all that in action by the end of this month. Then if there is time I’ll finish off the level design documents for all the levels. Plus I’ll be fitting in some freelance work because I have to pay the rent and eat food AGAIN this month!

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