After completing the racing course (you can see a video of it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_vIEi0v7h0 ) I decided to take my Patreon account down. In spite of having steady supporters from beginning to end, it wasn’t enough to stop me from worrying about bills and so I had to keep paying attention to commissions too. In effect, Patreon was straining me to complete some kind of content every month in addition to commissions and that workload wasn’t realistic nor it provided me with a large enough engaging audience, nor I could keep them interested for long. So, now I can work on the core game without worrying about dealing finished content to supporters.
About development proper: the good news is that now I have a pretty tidy spaceship class with all the core mechanics completely independent from the Controller class. This means that the Player should be able to pilot and fight in any spaceship in a level. Then I had to revamp other systems like the targeting system and docking. A complete revamp of the turret class was also made to be more clean, faster and to ensure that their convergence accounts for target distance and the currently selected camera. The navigation seen in the racing video is now called Drone mode (forward orientation controlled by mouse) it makes it easier to navigate in smaller ships without turrets.
With all that said, I wonder if in a real mission, the ship won’t be too hard to pilot, which probably begs for a tight control of a ship’s maximum speed and UI feedback of movement. So now I’ll be moving onto basic AI functions: seeking/fleeing, targeting and shooting, because shooting against drooling AI isn’t fun =)
A busy month went by (or was that two months?) and as I promised to relax my design rules for spaceships, ideas started to build up and finally I was able to overcome my art block just by doing, well, anything. I favor low and spacious profiles which in turn, will favor the ship being with its front turned to the target for most damage, which, while not entirely realistic, because in real life, turrets would probably be placed on long struts in order to have 360º freedom, but this way it will make things simpler for fun game design.
Then I wrote all the narrative for the story which, at this time, amounts to about 10k words but I’ll get back to that later in production, because I had an idea. In order to achieve small successes instead of just powering through the whole game (from here, it looks like a sisyphian task), I’ll create smaller fun games as I create the several systems of the game.
Because spaceship movement is the easiest and the first system, I’ll make a quick Newtonian racing/time-attack game. This will have many benefits: complete objectives faster, familiarization with the several skills necessary to production, delivering finished stuff quicker.
So now I’m making that prototype. Modeled the ship in Blender (although I’m going to learn Maya soon and dump Blender forever I hope), painted in Substance Painter and then adapted part of this UE4 Tutorial for the blueprint logic. It’s far from polished but I have a good working basis for now.
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.
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
I’ll be sketching some characters of all the different factions next before going back to ships
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.
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)
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.
I pondered long and hard about doing a video game based on my own scifi universe, and I could keep pondering about it, and about all the stuff that could go wrong (and will certainly go wrong), but life is short and if I’m to make my own philosophical space opera, I better do it while I’m not dead (hah, although batshit crazy is probably a requirement).
I’ll begin with pre-production, which at this point to me, means painting concepts like there is no tomorrow while I figure the details of the project. Meanwhile let’s call it Working Title. Another dimension to it is that I want to attract as much attention to my patreon and commissions as possible as a way to gain my own financial independence and so, later in the project, money will be necessary to complete work I’m not proficient in. So expect high resolution files, .psd and videos to be monetized, I will still obviously document my progress and share all I can.
What can I say about this video game? it’s mostly science fiction in a near future, it will have hard scifi elements but also really wonky stuff and the main system will be an space flight sim. Main inspirations are probably games like Freespace, Homeworld, and movies like 2001 and Interstellar.
So, this was my first piece, a station in Low Earth’s Orbit (LEO Station) where humans wander around and do all their space business. It is essentially a tale of humanity’s upbringing set in the near future. There will be conspiracies, space battles, and aliens, of course =)