Devlog #10 – Unreal Engine

I dropped the b in Devblog, that’s what I have to say this time… no, just kidding. Just did that promised video with spaceship movement and firing, it’s probably very boring, no sound, but it’s my first serious incursion into the unreal blueprint black magic. The video shows in detail what is done, except pawn possession

This was fun to do, because difficulty was just around the curve. It got a bit frustrating when dealing with the multiple turret aiming, but I finally managed to get it right after learning that I had to convert the direction coordinates to local space with the InverseTransformDirection node.

Anyway, this little incursion happened because I feel a bit stuck in the main ship design and story design. The story is complete, but it doesn’t pack the punch I want. It doesn’t convey the wisdom, or the themes of humans as one organism and human cooperation I want to pass to the player. At the moment, things happen, there’s certainly wonder and incredible events never seen before, but they would translate best to a linear game, and not a game where the player feels he’s in control of his own story. In short, I want the player to feel that stuff happens to him, and that he influences the events, completely immerse him in the game.

In concept art I need to go back to ship design, maybe if I start with every other ship and then go back to the player’s ship, I’ll have some ideas then. But first of all, I have an idea for another character, Zeus to be precise, and I intend to do that first.

Commander Yerxan

Just completed my painting of the reptilian commander, and sent out the hi res and process images to patrons. Stay tuned, because I’ll deal with unreal engine prototyping this month and I’ll share later what I learned in a video

Support The Hologram at http://www.patreon.com/xeoncat

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Devblog #9 – Haggard

Designing iconic characters is difficult. Especially in a world soaked with visual arts. Besides that is not the only concern in design, the character has to appear functional, for the same reason you don’t draw ice picks on a desert dweller. In my case, designing a robot as a main character removes a lot of problems that goes in designing humans, but adds other problems. I could very well design a cubic block with reaction wheels for moving and wireless computer connection, that would be how a real space agency designs a robotic pilot, and if he has to move mass around, just stick a pair (or more) of arms in it and it’s good to go.

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(Dextre from the Canadian Space Agency) How it’s done IRL

The thing is, empathy is necessary for a proper connection with the player, I’m sure my robot can bend all his limbs backwards but he will have the basic proportions of a human being. The juri is still out on the head screen with emoticons, but it’s a nice idea I got from Chappie. It could very well be just a computer screen like TARS on Interstellar. Or maybe I’m being too picky with this because my actual main characters during gameplay will be space ships and not people

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I’ll be sketching some characters of all the different factions next before going back to ships

Europa

a Pleadean scientist responsible for engineering the humans living in the solar system

Subscribe to my Patreon to receive progress images and more

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Devblog #8 – The Hologram

It doesn’t make much sense to hold back the identity of my IP, especially by obscuring it with a title as generic and bland as Working Title. So, the actual name for this project is The Hologram. Most of its universe was written almost a decade ago as novels, so no lack of lore here. The plot is being ret-conned and characters restructured because I wrote a convoluted plot while trying to figure out everything. That rarely produces good stories.

At the moment I have the basics of the story up to the end of the game which is usually the most difficult part in any kind of fictional creation. Now it’s time to let the stuff breathe, characters will soon bring themselves to life as soon as they are put in certain situations.

At the moment I’m designing the main character, but will only show when finished. Patrons on Patreon are getting progress images. I have another painting from another main character, but that is for later 😉

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file is 2560*1440px

 

 

Devblog #7

 

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I have painted the other sketch for the human flight commander, Esther King. A Canadian war veteran, she’s now in charge of the Rapid Response Force, a WSO Unit in charge of Peacekeeping.

I haven’t been recording my paintings because I’ve been watching Space Battleship Yamato 2199 while I paint. It gets me a lot of inspiration and great ideas and totally recommend to scifi fans.

I’ve been thinking about the spaceship window dilemma and I noticed some interesting things about ships with windows. They allow the pilot to be seen from the outside, potentially showing his face. That in the case of this game wouldn’t make sense, because pilots will have a full helmet without glass parts, and that’s not up for debate. Another thing is that sunlight is allowed to enter the cockpit and can cast shadows. I noticed this in Elite Dangerous, rotating a ship and see the light shine on the cockpit is really an interesting and immersive feeling.

Other things about the nature of the main character are up for decision, but it’s something that will impact heavily about everything. Anyway, I want to star prototyping the game, Unreal 4.9 is looking really bloody solid and I can’t wait to put my hands on it again, but I also have tons of ideas for characters that I’d love to paint, so much fun to be had, so little time.

I’m also looking for work, commissions included.

Devblog #6

Kyrios_1440

Sent out hi-res pics to patrons. Kyrios is a mysterious figure and belongs to a very advanced civilization of aliens whose history was ancient long before humans came into existence.

Some humans who were unfortunate to meet him asked “Which god are you?” and his repressed twisted laughter was the last thing they heard

Devblog #5

Last week my websites got hacked so I had to restore my backups and ended up with more website management work than I wanted, but anyway, I was in the middle of transferring my thehologram.net to a new host and is now tidied up, everything in one place, this devblog, commission information and all of my links.

Also I haven’t been drawing because I’ve been taking care of documentation a writing my ideas for the game, but I should get back to drawing soon.

muchwriting

I can’t really show much of this at the moment, and it’s probably the one thing that will stay mostly hidden from the public at large. But it can be said that this game is going to stay away from a large exploration/mining/trading types. I’ll go with mission>base>mission formula. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a big open ended universe, but the old Freespace 2 type of game is a lot easier to make. The only problem is that games like that are not common anymore for being too limited, but I think that with enough graphics, immersive mechanics and a mature story, those limitations can be overcome and deliver a solid experience. Games nowadays are easier to make, but it is more difficult to attract the attention of the public because of the sheer number of games being made.

Finances is also a thing that worries me deeply and is what’s keeping me up at night, but I believe I’ll find more paid stuff to do (as always). The good news is that I feel my paintings have improved a lot on the last month (more than in the last year). This tutorial essentially talks about how to think in RGB instead of HSV, and this made it easier to apply much better all I know about color theory. Colors and values shift much more naturally now and it’s easier to focus on the creative side of the piece. I still feel I’m going with too much saturation, it makes everything look cartoonish, but all in all, I’m pretty happy with these techniques at the moment.

[Working Title] Devblog #4

In the world of the [Working Title], World War 3 ended last decade and now is a time of recovering and rebuilding. Because I cannot see into the future, I’ll leave this history and the details of what happened out of sight. Post-WW2 culture is well documented, so I’ll try to take hints and cues from that and transpose it into my world (but not necessarily on the visual development side of things)

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[Working Title] Devblog #3

Corvettes #3

Corvettes #1

Corvettes #1

Corvettes #2

Studies in human military craft while I tried to find the defining lines of human’s way of building and using military spacecraft. Time and time again I see concepts on the internet with absolutely no respect for the function of a spacecraft. I’ve seen everything stuck in there, wings, rotating fans, aerodynamic hull, windows, you name it. And I facepalm a bit every time, because it doesn’t take much to know that these elements obviously do not belong in a craft built for combat in space. These things are the “cool factor”

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with adding some “cool factor” and a bit of magic here and there, it gives the viewers the comfort of showing them stuff they already recognize. “Oh strut with big windows, there’s the cockpit”, right, but to me, it is wrong to base a whole design on the “cool factor” when all the environment around is supposed to be realistic. It not only breaks my immersion, but it denies the developers the possibility of creating something completely new, something that is actually conceptual. It means that the in-world engineers solved their problem (the enemy shooting their poor cockpit windows, debris breaking windows, etc) in a certain way (no more windows, lets see through other means), and that is important. People ridicule this stuff at first, but they will come to accept it if the solution works as intended.

I suppose the threshold of immersion is different for everyone, but one thing I know, too much of the cool factor or too much of realism can eventually break the immersion for everyone, So this equilibrium is always a fine line.

Civilians #2

Civilians

Service Tug

Service Tug