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Subway level progress report

I have the subway level map made. Still need to widen the rampway a bit, I decided that if it is seen in first person mode the map is too tight there, but elsewhere the model seems to be working nice. I have it to where as of the last time I checked it in Unity there were no errors in its loading into Unity, so now I just need to build the displacement map and I can start populating the subway with assets and hopefully have it finalized in Unity by the end of the weekend. (That may fail, given stuff happening in my life at the moment, but that is my goal for staying on the time-frame to finish this in time for the challenge deadline.)

There are still more assets to build, but they are not specific to the subway and will be useful throughout the rest of the level, so many will be built when I work on either the hall area or the markets section. For now, I am considering the map section for the subway to be completed.

Signs research

I have been looking around the internet at various signs that would possibly be used on a space station. I browsed through everything I could think to look up, from signs found on the International Space Station to movie props to signs used in science labs and industrial areas to designate everything from what kind of liquids are in exposed pipes to warnings about restricted areas.

This resulted in a small collection of signs saved into a research folder, a full page of roughly drawn signs and notes about placements in my work art tablet, and a GIMP image filled with various sign bits I custom built for possible use. (Things like warning stripes in a variety of colors.)

I will be working on the UV map for the subway level over the next few days and should have the Displacement map (the thing that give the models their realistic look) done by the end of this weekend.

Made a model ledger for the game level I am building

I have the basic shape of the subway finished and a good number of the larger parts that will go into it made. I am now at a stage where I need to make sure that I have enough organization to my files that I do not lose anything between what I am building in Blender and the finished game over in Unity. Not something I have had to do before now, so it is a lesson in file management for me.

I have got out an old 3 column ledger book, one of those massive old fashioned things (10″x12.5″ in size and currently 1/3rd of an inch thick (it’s lost a bunch of pages over the years)). It will likely lose a few more as I refine my asset logging skills, but for now it is working nicely to let me list the map with sub entries for all of the assets that go into it and then mark off checks in the cash columns for indicators on if the parts have been UV mapped, had their normals checked, got all the parts properly parented and been centered in the mesh.. etc, etc, etc. I even have a small column where I am able to indicate if the piece is a map part or an asset, which helps. One column is being used for Unity test phases so I can mark if the item loaded properly into Unity. So far only one item has got a red x in that column’s first test line. The chairs I made had an issue when I loaded them into Unity where they came out massive compared to the rest of the things I had made.

Once I have the time I plan to recreate the asset ledger in Open Office Calc so I can have easier control over what goes where than I have with pen and paper. Move things and add stuff in. I might make it over in Google’s spreadsheet instead, just so I can make use of that Chromebook and bring up the assets list on that while working on the computer – save brain matter in the poor PC.

So far I have the map for the subway level made, a ticketing area, the subway cars, a bunch of signs, the tracks and the end-caps on the train tunnels, lights, and even a secret project that I am working on that seems to be coming along nicely, but I am not ready to say more about it.

Ghost in the machine?

So, I loaded a model I have been working on into Unity and moved the game camera over to take a look at it and… it did not look the same as it had in Blender. O.o I… think I might have accidentally given it a transparency layer. o.O

Yeah… that is not how that was supposed to look, but… I like it. I am thinking I will use this as some kind of artwork on the finished level if I can. We’ll see. For now, it is back to Blender to look over the thing there and probably strip all of the textures off so I can start again from scratch and fix this weird ghosting thing happening here.

Subway area blocked out

I have blocked out the subway area on the game model I have been working on for the Beyond Human level design challenge over at ArtStation.

The first image shows the area in Blender, rendered using the Blender Render engine, the second image shows the same scene in Unity. It is all very bland and uninteresting so far, but it is still in the early stages of working out how it will look.

I made the steam control thing seen on the left side today, but most of the day, and my weekend, was spent in trying to figure out how to light scenes in Unity.

I might end up needing to trim the design a little, and if so then the trimming will be coming out of the markets area, making them a bit less grandiose than they should be and just hinting at how much more there is to them in some way. I have a few ideas, but we’ll see how things are going in 3 more weeks.

Eclipse over America… so fitting to my life

So, it seems that the universe has decided to cast a shadow across America. I have not looked a lot into this, it has been a high stress low enthusiasm few weeks for me, but from what I hear this eclipse covered from Alaska to Florida. Pretty impressive and I am sad that I missed getting to enjoy this rare spectacle.  I recall when I was a little kid there was an eclipse that was visible from where we lived. I don’t recall a lot about it, other than all of the warnings about not staring at the sun during the eclipse and all that.

This has given me pause to think about just how… lacking of anything my life has gotten. I love space phenomena, but this eclipse barely registered on my mind. Definitely too much stress going on for me right now, with absolutely no way to reduce it. I seriously need to figure out getting a new TV or maybe getting a new computer that can keep me buried in my work without my having long pauses of stress-inducing “come on computer, just do that already!” The problem is… I can barely keep myself from going under at the moment. There is no way I can save up to get even a decent balanced dinner (I’m living on ramen noodles and rice), getting a new computer that can do the things I need to do is entirely out of the question for now…. maybe next year. (Of course, I said that last year, and the year before… and have realized that I have been saying it yearly for 7 years now.) I need another job so that I can start earning enough to not just struggle to stay alive month to month, but plan for the future and maybe have some fresh vegetables and semi-healthy food at least once a week.

The Defenders

Netflix and Marvel have made me so happy. It is a brief happiness, but I am so grateful for the escape from my troubles. They have brought Daredevil back, and he has friends. I have been waiting for so long to get to watch the Defenders and now that it’s here I have totally binged on it. I started hitting play on the show as soon as the countdown timer hit an end and the Play link activated. Took me three tries, first two efforts ended in error, but on the third try I got the first episode playing and settled in for a bliss-filled escape with the super hero that has always been my favorite.

Daredevil strikes a certain level of something for me in he is not like Superman or Batman or Green Arrow… Mathew Murdock is a poor man from a poor part of the city who found himself given enhanced senses when he lost his sight as a young boy. He is not bullet proof, he has no super strength, he lacks the wealth to equip himself with any gadget he desires. He is just a normal man with extraordinary senses trying to do the right thing.

It was Daredevil that gave me an interest in disabilities, an interest that that resulted in my learning the basics of sign language when I was young, and taking notice of how well (or poorly) public restrooms were designed for those with disabilities. I even tried, off and on, to learn braille.

In both the Daredevil series and The Defenders, Charlie Cox does an outstanding job in bringing life to the character I have loved since I was a little girl. My only hope at the moment is that Netflix and Marvel have plans to keep making Daredevil and Defenders episodes for many years to come, as watching and re-watching this is most definitely one of my sanity anchors now.

Finalized the entry area for game level

I spent last night and today doing some catch up work on the game and sorting out the finalized look and feel of the entry area. This lead me to creating a cutaway image to help me visualize just how this section would work on the station. This also lead to a lot of research into just how stations might be designed and how gravity could work on a space station. I have to admit that I got more than a little lost in the research her, since I love this kind of stuff. I eventually pulled myself back from the research, however, and have been making decent progress on the visualization for how this area can make scientifically sound sense.

I am going with the classic doughnut shaped spinning station design, creating gravity through scale of the object and rotation. This has lead me to realize that the station is of much grander scale than I had first thought it would be, which actually fits in nicely with the station’s reason for existing in the story I am writing.

Most of my time, however, was spent with Unity. It has been years since I tried to use that program, so I have been working on how to use it. Basic things like how to apply textures to models and how to load and position models in the program.

I have set myself the goal of getting the area fully fleshed out before I go to bed, so that tomorrow I can focus on the design and blocking out for the subway section.

3D Game Level Design Challenge Updates

I have placed my other projects all on the back burner for the moment while I dive into a challenge to design humanity’s future.

The challenge, hosted by ArtStation, is  to design a game environment that depicts the theme of “Beyond Human”; defined in the rules as the next step for humanity – either as our life in a utopian setting or humanity’s evolution taken to the next phases. The finished entry will be presented in a real-time game engine, I am using Unity 4 because I downloaded it years ago and it works on my old computer.

It is possible that a case could be made for insanity, given that the challenge is already well underway, near the middle stage in fact, but I still have a month to work on my submission, so … nothing was ever achieved by not trying, right?

There was a contest before this one for concept art, from which there were many great options to pick, however, I decided that I will work on my own project which is part of something else I have been working on for a while now.

My game level will be part of a scene from a story I have in the works, showing the hall just outside of a market area on a space station where two of the main characters encounter one another. My game level will be based on the hallway area and part of the station’s market district and will include the lower level “subway platform”.

I will be sharing daily work updates on my progress, but I am under no delusion I will be able to make it into any recognized tier. Firstly I am going up against people who have done this stuff professionally for many years, and secondly – yeah, this is the first time I have ever designed a game level. This is going to be a murderous learning curve for me to not only make all the assets and maps needed for a game level, but to also learn how to make a game level in Unity and how to do proper lighting and… I have a LOT to learn. My success will be in the knowledge that one month from now I will have a solid foundation on which to continue building the settings for my story and how to create game levels that work to industry standards.

It’s going to be one hell of a ride… and I’m going to need more coffee.

Entry Area for the Research Hospital Model

I got a start on the doors of the research hospital today. This is based on older styles such as old sanatoriums and the like, so the entry area is not particularly wheelchair friendly, but it is based on an image of an actual hospital entry from an abandoned hospital in Beelitz, Germany, that I found on Shutterstock.

Here you can see the basic model I have been working on, no textures have yet been applied to this base mesh and the windows that surround the door are still solid panes. I might decide to widen the door a little more, since I am thinking this will most likely find its way into a video game one day, but for now the door is set at 4’wide by 8′ tall, which seemed to be the rough scale of the door from the picture I had found. I will adjust the door size once I am happy with how the model looks overall.

The ceiling tiles are most likely going to end up being my basis for measuring the rest of the model, since they are going to be rather uniform and detailed with the molding of the inset wood panels.

For now my goal is just to block the entry hall and the main entrance doors in so I can create a complete environment area suitable for use in a game or animated film, then after testing that in the Blender Game Engine I will focus on adding in higher levels of details before I add textures.

This is the first actual full scale level area I have tried to design as a completed level piece, so it is a learn-as-I-go process to determine what works and what does not.