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The Making of a Game character

By Lewis Arnold,2014-08-13 09:31
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The Making of a Game character ...

The Making of a Game character

Written by: Anna Larsson

Introduction

    My character was made for a capture the flag demo, with a free camera and only nonpayer characters. We wanted to make an innovative demo so I didn’t want to make a cliché female fighter, at the same time I wanted her to be interesting and match the surrounding elements. This document will describe roughly how I did and how it went.

Concept

    I chose to make the concept an extremely small part of my project, it is a very important stage and normally I wouldn’t rush it but we were under time pressure and I knew that I had to

    choose what I wanted to focus on. Ultimately I thought it would be better to centre my attention and effort on the modeling and texturing part, I’m really happy with my decision.

    Still, in a perfect world I would’ve liked to spend more time coming up with a more refined

    concept. There’s not much more to say about this stage of the character making, I just drew fast and it’s not very thorough.

    Modeling

    A central part of modelling is to get the topology right, I heard it’s an agonizing experience

    trying to animate a model that doesn’t have a proper edge flow, so I took some time before I

    even opened Maya to study different characters and what kind of topology that works well.

I think it’s also important to bear in mind

    before you start, what parts of your model should have more detail then others. Is the face going to be animated? Will the character ever be viewed up close? My character has no facial animation and although she can be viewed up close I have a very harsh polygon restriction and thus she will look angular if you look too close.

    I used cylinders as a starting point for the torso, legs and arms, then I used a front and a side view of a woman to get the shape and

    proportions right, which is important. I wouldn’t want to give Magnus, the animator of our project, a character that i.e. had a kneecap that was placed too high or low on the leg.

    Because of my polygon limit, the detail on my model had to suffer a little. But I was trying to make up for it by sculpting a very high poly model and then apply it as a normal map, sadly you can’t do anything about the contour, the body will still look angular if you look close.

Texturing

The texturing was the hardest part for me, I didn’t want to use photos however drawing your

    own textures and making them look believable takes a lot of skill. I’m pretty happy with the

    result but I think it could’ve been better, I guess practise makes perfect. To make it easier for

    myself I baked an ambient occlusion

    map from my high resolution mesh, I

    can really recommend that. It makes it

    easy to see where all the details are

    suppose to be and also you can apply it

    as a layer over the texture when you’re

    done, which made my textures look

    better. I used two 2048 pixels texture

    map, I though more would be a waste

    since you mostly saw the characters

    from a distance and I really felt like

    more detailed was uncalled for. I

    should add that I also made a specular

    map to make the metal look shiny and

    the cloths less so.

Conclusion

What went right:

    I delivered what was expected, and I did it on time. I learned more about the do's and dont's of making a character and experienced what it's like to work in a team, we've worked in groups before but it's a bit of a new experience every time. I’m happy with all the important decisions

    that I made in the project.

What could've been better:

I think my textures could have been much better, it’s not that I didn’t do my best, it’s just that

    it takes skill and experience to create stunning textures and I need to keep practising on that.

    I could’ve had a better dialogue with Magnus, the animator. Due to some unforeseen trouble with the Engine documentation and his animations we didn’t have time to perfect certain

    things.

    I could probably have made the model more high quality, we thought at first Nebula engine wouldn't be able to handle it so I made it as low-res as possible but later on we discovered we probably could've used more polygons.

The concept could’ve been better.

If I would do it again:

    I'd make a model with a higher resolution, I think 8000-9000 triangles would be appropriate. If I could do it all over again I’d also like to try an other engine, just to see the difference. If I

    could do it all over again, I think I would’ve made some changes in the face topology.

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