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Update by Rob Nesler, Art Director and Brandon Adler, Producer We showed you this concept that Polina Hristova had developed, back in Update #55: And here is the in-game level--about to get violent--as developed by environment artist Sean Dunny: We think it looks pretty good. Thoughts? -R Arcanum Playthrough This week, we have the second part of Avellone's two hour playthrough. Chris explores the Shrouded Hills Mines and dies to bandits along the road... multiple times. Obsidian Jobs Obsidian is putting the call out to enthusiastic game developers who are interested in working on Project Eternity. To be eligible, you must be in the Southern California area willing to make the daily trek to Irvine, California. If you or anyone you know fits the description and would be interested in joining the Project Eternity team, follow the links below. QA Lead The Lead QA Tester position requires managing a team of testers, delegating testing tasks, tracking tester performance, providing guidance as well as coordinating with department leads and owners to ensure all aspects of the project are bug free. The Lead QA Tester position requires a strong knowledge of QA methodologies and practices, as well as an ability to handle and act upon high volumes of information and responsibilities. Contract VFX Artist Obsidian Entertainment is looking for a talented self-motivated VFX Artist to create a range of 3D effects and animations for a 3D world. This artist will be responsible for creating both ambient effects (such as smoke, fire, and lightning) and more detailed prop animation (a tree limb breaking, a glass shattering, etc.). These effects will be created using Maya, but experience with comparable programs is acceptable. Stop by our forums and let us know what you think. See you in a couple of weeks.
Above is a UI mockup that Kaz has put over the original Kickstarter image. What do you think? I know what you are thinking. What the hell have the artists been doing?? The art in this game should be half done by now! Right? That's what I want to know! Why isn't the game half-done already? Well, as I've said before we're "professionals." We proceed in a highly-complex collaboration/iteration loop of blending design wants and dos, programming cans, think-they-cans and dos and artist wants, cans, can-but-don't-know-how-longs and dos. As you can see - and please don't get angry - this is all very technical. Know that: work is progressing. Yeeeargh! Enough with your silly stupid words, Rob!! What the hell does that mean?? Uhh... not sure, but I'll tell you what I think it means: You've read about Prototype 1 and then Prototype 2. Those were efforts to implement features that represent the functional and playable standard of our goal: an Infinity Engine style of game. Those efforts were focused collaborations of designing, programming and art-ing things, trying them out, addressing problems as they came up (visual, functional or otherwise failing to live up to our standard) and repeating. The art goals were held to an 80-90% complete (aka: unpolished). The remaining 10-20% of work will be left toward the end of the "next phase," as always there will be edits and modifications after initial implementation of art. The basic truth of this interactive artistic endeavor that we are involved in is that you can't know it's a worthwhile experience, until you make it, people play it, and then provide feedback. We adjust our work to that feedback - a feedback loop. Boom! Consider yourself educated. The "next phase" is a Vertical Slice. This is a goal in which we focus on one part of the game within a shell of what is essentially the fully-featured game - relying on the things developed in the prototypes, as well as implementing a fully-functional UI, attempting to finalize all art and gameplay to a more polished standard, and accommodate design changes that are required to make the player experience more complete - as if this part were a finalized, short game in itself. Environment Artists Hector - Wilderness Areas Our Lead Environment Artist has been developing a couple of our larger external landscapes. He's doing this on the basis of a designer's block-out: a crude-but-playable space. This includes the sculpting of terrain geometry in ZBrush, application of grass and dirt via mesh painting and masking in Maya, placement of objects such as structures, trees, and rocks, etc., lighting and rendering the scene, which generates our super-cool depth info. He imports all those results into the game, and then Design says: "Hey, something has come up and we need a temple in the village." So, Hector moves and massages the scene around to accommodate the change and steps through the process again. In the prototype, iteration of the village, a temple wasn't required. For the Vertical Slice, having a place where one can get quests and learn some spiritual-magicky stuff, is an important feature to include. So, we find a way to happily put it in. Sean - Dungeon/Crypt and village interiors Our other Environment Artist has been working on interiors of village structures and dungeons! He uses ZBrush less for his environments as a whole, and more as a means of creating smaller natural-looking rocky things and dungeon walls. Beyond that the techniques for implementing his work are the same. The feedback and iteration with design usually yields similar tweaks and modifications. Changes like: "Uhh...we can't have a door here, anymore. Can we make it a pile of collapsed rocks, instead?" Of course the answer is "Yes!" The answer has to be "yes," because the game is worthless if the gameplay isn't worthwhile. It could be that an important critical path encounter needs to occur, maybe because the story evolved or it’s just too good an experience to allow an alternate route to exist. Ultimately, we trust our designers to wrestle with these issues and come to us with changes that matter. So if they come to us with a change, and the adjustment is reasonable and the time exists to make it, we will do it. Animators Mark - Principle Animation of All Things with Arms and Legs Our Lead Animator has been handling much of the animation requirements for the playable races. This process is also an iterative one. Design has ideas about how they want playable characters to interact with the world and enemies, and Mark then creates a set of individual animations that then blend into each other as needed, in Unity. In addition, he has created essential animations for the Skuldr and the Ogre. Essential animations are typically basic locomotion (including: walk, run and at least one idle) attacks (melee and ranged, if applicable) getting hit and dying. There are others. He blocks them in (a term for making things functional fast), puts them in the game, then he refines them. As team members playtest the game, they provide feedback. Mark continues refining until everybody is happy or the game ships - whichever comes first. No, no, no, just kidding! Mark will work tirelessly through endless nights to make certain everybody is happy with the animation. Antonio - Technical Problem Solving of Physical Things and Process Improvement I told you all you needed to know about Antonio in my last update. I showed you the rigs and rigs in rigs. These things take a while to refine, as he makes them and then people (Dimitri and Mark) have to use them. As they use the tools, they discover issues and then Antonio has to fix the issues and the process repeats itself until there are fewer and fewer issues to fix. Lately he has been working on a means of batch processing all the animations that Mark creates and efficiently exports them into the game. Mark says it's "awesome." (This is making Dimitri mad. I'll tell you why in a bit.) In addition, he has been developing some cool experiments with cloth and hair. Hopefully, in some near-future update we can show you how great it looks. Character Artists Dimitri - Skaen and Visual Differences Between Playable Characters (Races, Males and Females) Dimitri has been modeling and texturing the dirty, bloody and villainous Skaen Cultists. In-between that he has been re-exporting our characters, as new attachments, bones, weapon attachments, etc. are added to the skeletons. This is a manual process hell that eats at his soul and to see Mark enjoying the fruits of batch process heaven that Antonio has provided him, makes him think of terrible things. One of two things will happen: Dimitri will get over it, or Antonio will help him out soon. He has also been working with our graphics programmer in developing the masking system for how we can increase variety in our characters via color changes on various elements of each. We intend this ability to be passed on to the player, so that they can customize their party's colors. James - Creatures And Colors James has been focusing on modeling and texturing a ton of critters, including wurms! - not: worms, nor wyrms, or wirms, but WURMs! That is what we call our baby dragons! He's also been tasked with making certain, that via the tinting and masking that Dimitri worked on, we can generate an infinite variety of People and Monsters, and nobody will know better. Shhhhhh...Wink Wink! Concept Artists Polina's concept of lizard-creature-to-be-named-later. Polina - Drawerings And More Drawerings Polina has been all over the place since the presentation of the God-like Concept. She's done a bunch of interior concepts, some really cool malevolent spirit-like concepts, the lizard-like creature (below) and more! Polina takes concept development and collaboration very seriously. If I'm not paying attention, or give her a specific number, she will draw variants upon variants of thumbnails and roughs until...I think...forever. So we've restricted her to a certain number of thumbnails before a review. Otherwise we'll have to buy her a new tablet, and that is NOT in the budget! Kaz - Drawerings And User Experience As you've seen in recent updates Kaz has been tasked with coming up with cultural differences in in terms of skin color and style of clothing for the various cultural groups that we find in Project Eternity. With this and other concept-y things, he also has been tasked with developing and implementing the look of the UI and the presentation for "scripted events." Note: Regarding the image with the menubar at the start of the update, as well as the image below. You will notice that they state: "Work In Progress." In fact, the images are screen caps of the source art file for the UI that is being developed for P.E. It represents stylistic choices meant to feel very Infinity Engine-ish. We're a little curious what you might think about it. Let us know. Scripted event image by Kaz. Me??? - What have I been doing? I don't know. I just run around and say some stuff, point to something and say "eww," or "nice," or grab a bunch of people to say stuff like "Yay!" or "boo" at something, draw some stuff, and try to direct stuff, repeat. I am hopeful that these efforts keep people motivated, aware and engaged. That's it. Update Over. Now talk amongst yourselves...or use ALL CAPS, if you are feeling particularly passionate. - Rob Nesler, Art Director, Obsidian Entertainment. PS - Let’s Play Arcanum with Mr. Avellone is coming back soon to an update near you! Kickin' It Forward: HEX MMO Trading Card Game Article by Darren Monahan, operations guy In this update's Kickin' it Forward segment, we're featuring the HEX MMO Trading Card Game from friends and neighbors over at Cryptozoic Entertainment. If you're a fan of trading card games and MMO's, HEX looks like a great game to bring these two types of games together in a unique and original fantasy world. They've got nine days left, and plenty of really cool rewards. Check it out!
Rob Nesler, Project Eternity's Art Director Hello everybody it's me again, Rob Nesler, Art Director on Project Eternity. I had intended on presenting our Art Style document to the world by this update, but it still needs work. So, you have to wait a bit longer for it. So that’s sad. However, with the last art update, I glossed over our Technical Animator Antonio's work 'cause it was 3 o'clock in the morning and I couldn't think about how to describe intelligently what Antonio does for us. Some of you professed extensive knowledge of rigging and skinning, as well as profound disappointment in my patronizing tone, and demanded to be better informed of this horribly complex facet of game development. So...okay! Before that we have some eye candy. A Godlike concept by Polina (click to see full size image): And noooooo...you can’t have a larger version. Google "estoc" if you want a sense of the weapon she's holding. The godlike are the children of humanoids (most often humans) who have been "blessed" (or cursed, depending on personal or social view) with the physical manifestation of a divine spark granted by the gods. Godlike manifest their divine heritage in a variety of ways: wings, horns, strange birthmarks, talons, odd eyes - but they always manifest it somehow. BTW, in case you missed it, this is a playable "race". Below are some further examples of the possible deviations/conditions they inherit: Okay back to technical animating. If you recall, in the last update, I wrote this little nugget: Some of you wanted more... so... here’s more. His primary responsibility is rigging and weighting characters for skinned forward kinematic and inverse kinematic animation. Daily, he also uses his expert technical knowledge of animation techniques and the underlying idiosyncrasies of 3D animation software to assist our animation team as a problem solver, a mentor, and a scripter to improve animator workflow and overcome deficiencies in the applications we use. So that sounded intelligent; vague and awkward, but intelligent. So, specifically ROB, what does Antonio do that will make Project Trenton/Eternity awesome? Generally, technical animators program scripts using languages like MEL or Python to extend or enhance the functionality of existing off-the-shelf apps like Maya, Max, or Softimage. These scripts are often programs running within the larger app, but sometimes they are utilities that exist outside the application to assist in conversion or batching operations. These often can be purchased, but sometimes they themselves don’t have all the features our animators want so... NO! Specifically ROB! What the hell does he do??? Okay, okay, for Project Trenton/Eternity Antonio has written, a few, and re-written a couple times the following, and it's all called DNA (Design New Actor). Firstly, there is the Export Rig, and this is not so unique to 3D character animation. This is a highly optimized skeleton that represents only the bones that the actual actor mesh is weighted to. For a humanoid character these bones would be named: Pelvis, Femur_Rt and Femur_Lt., etc. Vertices of the visible textured geometry, that the player sees, are all attached to these bones with various amounts of strength, so the character will appear to bend and flex more naturally. Sometimes these bones will have physics applied to them, like pony tails. This is less a rig and more of: simply the skeleton that the other rigs interact with, but these are the only bones that go into the game, and we call it the "export rig". Antonio builds this skeletal hierarchy to fit the expected proportions of the character, and character modelers build character meshes to match visible body parts to the locations of bones, so that -- for example -- the bendy part between the upper_arm_rt and lower_arm_rt ends up being where a humanoid creature, as designed, would expect an elbow to be. Then there is this nifty rig that was discussed a little bit, a couple updates ago — fricken’ Adam (PE's Executive Producer) always stealing my thunder! I think we call it the “stretch rig”. As he mentioned, it allows Dimitri, our dutiful Character Lead, to scale, even non-proportionally (with volume adjustments) meshes with the export rig already weighted. This way we can make a human character mesh, rig him to a human-proportioned skeleton, animate him, then take that same character and deform him to a new size and proportion, export him and use the same animations that were created for the human on this newly scaled/deformed mesh. This is a very useful asset multiplier, which allows us to leverage costly armor set and animation development across the spectrum of our races. ...And last, but most certainly not least, we rely on Antonio for creating rigs that provide controllers that allow the animators the maximum amount of flexibility when creating animations. These 'control rigs' are specialized for each character/creature type, after they've been stretched. They provide controls for jumping, crouching, twisting, grabbing, etc. They provide inverse kinematic and forward kinematic transformations, physics blending, following, squeezing, etc.-- whatever is required, actually. These controllers and extra bones are for animator manipulation only; they do not get exported. That's why when I said, "he rigs the rigs" I wasn't actually joking. These are rigs of rigs. These are the animator’s most essential bread and butter. Using these tools is how they actually create character animation. And that's it. The update is over. I know, not so fun, but this is serious stuff. We’ll show some animated examples sometime in the not-too-distant future. Rob Out!
Hello everyone. My name is Rob Nesler, and I am the Art Director on Project Eternity. I've been told I'm a potty-mouth, but since this is a public and safe (PG-ish) space, I will do what I can to control my bad words in this: FIRST ART UPDATE. There will be many more, hopefully with some visual candy for you guys, if I f’n feel like it, or if Fearg’ f’n makes me. Right now, my intent is to bring you up to speed on what we’ve been doing for the last several weeks. It’s called: laying the groundwork; building the foundation, or doing the nitty-gritty. Often, when starting a project, the artists and I just want to start drawing sh-ssstuff. Especially with contracted 3D games, we have a basic idea of the world we’re making, an initial list of some of the things in it, the basic parameters for making assets, and so we just get started. With Project Eternity, we are starting the development of a rich storied RPG from scratch, zilch, nada. Oh, and we rendered that really cool image for you all at update #20, and so we felt we could take a step back--Waayyy back. We are stepping back some years in visual “perspective”: to a fixed isometric view--so, NO “perspective”--of an essentially two-dimensional world. The traversable environment is pre-rendered to a high degree of realism, but we’re using a modern 3D game engine: Unity, for 3D characters, creatures, effects and animated props to be rendered in real-time and to assemble it all together, seamlessly. With this decision we’ve opened up a whole kit and caboodle of possibilities in terms of visual fidelity, occlusion, lighting, effects, and physics. At the same time, we’ve created some immediate technical problems that needed to be solved, before we could all go out and start making sh...‘er...stuff. If you’ve been reading/watching Josh’s updates, you must understand that we are creating a brand new yet substantially familiar RPG experience essentially out of thin air, complete with a fully realized fantasy world, including new rules, new races, new places, new nations, new lore, new creatures, new story, new characters, a whole new combat system, with specific armor and weapon types, new this, new that, and a whole bunch of other new stuff--really we’re creating everything from nothing but what spews forth from Josh’s blazing fingers and angelic vocal cords. “How does that work?” you ask. Well, I’ll tell you: what happens is we all sit around a fire, in a far off and desolate wilderness, as he chants: what things were, and are, and what will be and sometimes why. We listen, we ask questions, and we discuss. We in turn, propose thoughts and ideas that are considered, further discussed, sometimes dismissed, but also sometimes gathered up and swirled into the glowing embers of this primordial glowing emergent world that is floating--NO!...LEAPING!!--out of the creative fuel, breath of air, and heat of our collaborative works. As well, we’ve decided to abandon the application we would normally use to create everything, for a supposedly-more-popular-more-capable app, and nobody really knows how to use it... ...BOOM! Yep, I just wrote and you just read THAT!... ...So, with our new software: Maya (the old software was Softimage) we’ve been making test worlds--we call them gray boxes. We’ve been making test characters--we call them gray characters. We’ve been giving them gray animation, we’ve been giving them gray (actually sometimes white, we’ll make some black ones too, we’re not racist) weapons, and we’ve been inserting them into our prototype worlds to prove to ourselves and you, that we know what we’re doing, and to lay the groundwork for expanding these vacant golems into player and non-player characters, that can interact with the world and other characters in a more meaningful and varied way--you know: picking up stuff, and hitting others with it, and taking their stuff and putting it on, or selling it--oh yes, and with color! Just kidding! Haven’t you been reading what I’m writing: this game is going to be DEEEEP! So what the hell have art people been doing?? Character Team: We have a very talented lead character artist, named Dimitri, and yep, he’s Russian, but he doesn’t speak it so well anymore--his mother is not happy about it, more on that later. In addition to a tremendous amount of early help getting basic traversable geometry, with a rendered scene that occludes 3D characters when they walk behind things (in essentially a 2D world--remember!) he’s been establishing the basis for weapon, armor and equipment attachment on our player characters, with Adam. As part of that he has to write documents. Booo!!! Documents Buh-LOWW! Our other Character Artist; James is from China, but says he's from Fresno. He is essentially Dimitri's slave and willingly does whatever he’s told to do, because he doesn’t have to write documents. I sometimes give James direction, but I’m pretty certain that Dimitri tells him to ignore me immediately after I’ve left their office. Remember Dimitri is Russian, so he’s a little controlling, very direct and has high expectations. This isn’t a problem, however, because a) it’s his job and b) it just so happens that James is pretty good and making characters. He made our first character Edair, who can be seen running around with a morning star flail the size of a medicine ball--not his fault. He seems to know Maya better than Dimitri, but let’s his boss learn the hard way--keeping his ear buds in, pumping up the volume, and modeling and texturing his cares away. He’s making gray weapons now. For some reason Dimitri speaks Russian expletives perfectly. Mark is our Lead Animator, and he knows his sh-tuff, but he made the Medicine ball. Needless to say, he will not be asked to make any more weapons. No no, it just so happens, that he was making it so he could test physics on weapons. So, it’s all good--we don’t care what things look like right now, we care about making things that matter, and making them right. Lately Mark has been testing cloth physics on our characters, as well as physics on weapons, and attachments. Prior to that he was building a basic set of traversal animations and getting them into the game. Crucial. Antonio is our Technical Animator. He makes rigs, writes scripts that make rigs, and rigs the rigs. It’s all very technical. You wouldn’t understand. He’s a professional. Polina is our concept artist, and is the only one really making pretty pictures, and you've seen a lot of her work, already. Kien is currently on loan to Project New York, aka. The Stick of Truth. Don't worry, they are paying for him. We use code names for our projects, because we’re professionals. Project Eternity (also a code name) is Project Trenton. BOOM! Yep, you got it! And nope! I’m not gonna tell you any more about that.Environment Artists:Sean is making a dungeon! He’s been working with our programmers to come up with the correct way to build a massive and awesome level so that we can do all we need to do, as big as we need to do it, and in as little time as we can do it in. Again, crucial. Minecraft is his best friend. Hector, our Lead Environment Artist is on a sabbatical. Yes! we get those here, again, because we’re professionals and only sometimes. Nobody knows why or how, but we're certain it's painful. And boy! is he in for a surprise when he gets back; he loves Softimage. People on sabbatical don't get images of their work posted. Okay, so that’s it. Oh, what about me? What the hell have I been doing all this time? That’s a really good question. Aside from running around and keeping everybody busy and doing meetings and stuff, and writing this update, I've been developing a style guide which involves a bunch of meetings and discussions, and I've been drawing a few things, which I will show, if I'm allowed, in the next art update. Rob Out! Update by Rob Nesler