Experiences with Environments: Part 3 Unity

Result from Previous Article

Result from Previous Article

Creating the scene in Epic’s Unreal Development Kit was fun and interesting. The next step was to create the same scene, shown at the beginning of the article, in Unity.

Welcome to the final part of the Experiences with Environments series. This article will go through importing assets into Unity, creation of Shaders in Acegikmo’s Shader Forge, lighting using Lightmapping Extended, and post-processing using Image Effects.

Like with UDK, I wanted to begin with creating the same composition as the previous two scenes. Before I started importing assets, however, I needed to first create an organizational menu to place all of my new assets in. You can create a menu any way you would like, but this is how I created it:

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3D Pipeline Process: Tips & Tricks

Often-times students ask me what the process is of creating art and getting it in-game. The plethora of tools available for artists to use these days means that there is really no one true answer to that question. Through research of my own and working closely with others, I’ve continually iterated and built on my own workflow and pipeline process to a point at which I’m happy with the results. Below I’ll be sharing with you a quick overview of the process that I use in creating art.

Concept Creation:

Whether you work in Zbrush or in Maya, the early block out stage is extremely important. At this stage in the game art-creation is all about working fast and agile to suss out the overall theme and tone of the character or art-piece.

Iteration:

Through time and continually building up your model you will eventually have a high resolution mesh you are happy with. This process can be time consuming and consists of continually adding-to and taking away from the design and concept of your project. Having good reference separates good art from great art at this stage.

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Experiences with Environments: Part 1 Creation

Concept Used for Creation. Arted by Jeremy Love

At the beginning of Term 3, I decided to start on a journey and I never would have expected to have learned so much. I wanted to create a whole environment from scratch, while keeping up with my schoolwork. At first, I believed that the mixture of the two would be easy, but I soon figured out that my skills and drive would be tested.

Welcome to the three part series of Experiences with Environments. These articles explain my process, problems and successes that I found during my progress of creating a full scene. The series will cover my ideology from concept, creation in Autodesk Maya and Pixologic Zbrush, creation of textures, then finally, transferring to and creating materials in Epic’s Unreal Development Kit and Unity 3D. This part covers concept, creation of Maya and Zbrush elements, and textures.

The first step to my quest was finding a good piece of concept art. I wanted to find a piece that would challenge my skills, but keep within my skill level. Therefore, I picked the picture featured at the beginning of the article. What caught my eye the most was the reflections and the emissive lights within the environment. I did not previously know how to create these effects, so I sought out to make this picture a virtual reality. Thank you to Jeremy Love from JeremyLove.com for inspiring me with this picture.

The next step was creating the environment in Maya. After three attempts, I finally modelled everything:

Everything Modelled

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Level Design, Game Programming, or Game Art?

It’s about time to choose streams now.

The time flies so fast. 4 months passed, since I have studied here.
Term 2 is going end. Term 3 with more specialized courses is coming.
To become more specialized in each game development’s field, VFS let us choose 2 major streams in term 3.
We still have other Game Design courses, but these ones allow us to go deeper in areas we are interested in.

We have to choose 2 from the following available 3 streams

1. Level Design: More level design on UDK and also game environment design in Unity. We are going to get our hands on these tools and level design tips!

   

 2. Game Programming: Advance programming in c# with more complex topics such as AI, network, etc. And a course for HTML5.

       

3. Game Art: More on 3D modelling and lighting techniques. The most artistic courses!

 

In Team management class, teacher Rick Davidson (GD02) reminded everyone about “specializing”. This course really clicks everyone’s passion and also motivates us.

He told us to think about and write down what we really want to do, and what we want to be, and MAKE THIS STICK! DO IT! GO FOR IT!

For me, I choose level design and Game Art, because they are the top two things I love to do. I have found out that I enjoy doing the assignments of both Level Design and Game Art courses.

In conclusion,

“Choose what you are passionate about”

You have to work hard on the assignments in your chosen stream. You are going to make your portfolio and go to work in these fields.

May the passion be with you! :D


Nicha Jaijadesuk is Game Design student at VFS, and a winner of the Women in Games Scholarship

The Game Design Summer Intensive Experience 2013

During the week of July 8 to 12, 2013, the Game Design program at Vancouver Film School, located in Vancouver’s Chinatown district, welcomed 15 brave explorers to its Game Design Summer Intensive experience. These explorers may have come from different lands and backgrounds, but they had one thing in common – a passion for creating video games. It is thanks to this passion that they found themselves enrolled in a week-long intensive experience of All Things Video Game Design.

DAY I

The students’ initiation began with a welcome from the Head of the Game Design program Dave Warfield, after which they were off to their first class of Game Theory taught by Instructor Chris Mitchell and Senior Instructor Andrew Laing. During the course of the day students became immersed in the roles of the game designer and analyzed the basic rules and mechanics of gaming.

One of the hardest things to do is to come up with an idea… and by idea, I mean a ‘good’ idea.  There is a fine art to making a game challenging yet entertaining – the motto: if a segment of the game or level is not fun to play, then it needs to be cut, no matter how much you love it. Chris and Andrew shared useful advice, suggestions, techniques and approaches on how to keep the creative process fresh and flourishing, as well where to find inspiration.

Right off the bat, students were divided into teams and asked to brainstorm unique game ideas, keeping in mind 5 essential questions:
1. What is the game?
2. What is the core mechanic?
3. What is the core challenge?
4. Why make the game?
5. Why would you enjoy making the game?

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Image Based Lighting

One of the cool things about creating art using a computer is that you have unlimited choice to alter, adapt and update a composition of an image that you are working on. When I’m working on art for a game, I often like to render the scene out to get a better view on my progress. Maya is very good at rendering scenes using its default lighting. But what if that’s not enough? Well we could create some lights of our own, maybe the 3 point light setup. That could be time consuming, and I just want to have a decent render for checking purposes.

Maya allows us to take advantage of a technique called image based lighting

Image based lighting is a rendering technique that takes advantage of High Dynamic Range images or HDRi for short. Most modern cameras and Smart Phones can now take these, which presents some interesting options for us. You can use your own panoramic HDR images taken with your smartphone, to create a dynamic background and lighting tool. Here is an example of how you can make a simple model look spectacular using HDR images for lighting.

A model of my dream car that I made, a Ford GTO.

Ford GTO in wire frame screenshot. Not a very interesting scene. Default lighting.

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An Interview with Game Design Instructor Chris Mitchell

Instructor Christopher Mitchell trains his body and his mind

Winning the Best Instructor and Best Course award in his first year of teaching at Vancouver Film School’s Game Design program, Chris Mitchell became an idol amongst students very quickly. Currently, he teaches Game Theory, Pre-Production Techniques and Project Design. I interviewed him him recently for my Game Journalism class assignment. All in all, it was a very nice interview. I got to know him better, and also got some good advice, which I would now like to share with all of you.

Hi Chris! First of all, I really appreciate your time, so thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Hopefully, this will be an opportunity for everyone to get to know you better, and we can steal some of your super powers to become very good game designers in the future.

So, why don’t you start by introducing yourself to our readers, ignoring the fact that you are well known in our school?

Chris Mitchell: Okay. Alright. I am Chris Mitchell. I am the guy who did quite a lot of design work in the game industry, and then also quite a lot of writing and voice direction as well. I suppose my first big success was Simpsons Hit and Run, where I got to do quite a lot of writing and worked with just tons of really cool people. I worked on things like Crash Bandicoot games after that. I also was lucky to be part of the group who made the DeathSpank franchise — I worked on all three of those games.

There is a quote I really like, which is, “the only thing that doesn’t change, is change itself.” Going from that, I would like to ask you: As the industry evolves, does the background of the Game Design students at VFS change as well? And if so, in what way?

Chris: Oh, that’s an interesting question. One thing I have noticed is that the students are much more technically savvy. I remember when I entered the industry, it was quite unusual to find people who already knew all the skills and tools that were required. Quite a lot of “on the job” learning happened back then. I am sure that’s still true to an extent today, but I keep meeting 18/19 year old students here who already know Maya, who are already programming, and what not. That was essentially unheard of when I first joined the game industry.

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VFS Game Design Summer Intensive : Level, Story, Art

UDK First-Person Shooter

The VFS Game Design Summer Intensive covered a lot of ground over days two and three, delving into Level DesignStorytelling/Interactive Narrative and Game Art.

Day 2 introduced the students to the core of game design: constructing the environment and scripting the events of the play. Game Design Instructor and 3D Environment Artist, Victor Kam, introduced students to the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), which uses the Unreal Engine (a game engine developed by Epic Games, first used in the 1998 first-person shooter game Unreal). UDK is a free download available to the general public (for non-commercial games, although, games built using the free kit can be sold according to certain relatively minor stipulations outlined in Unreal Technology’s Licensing Terms).


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