Planning and Generating Ideas For 3D Modelling And Animation

In these units I have been proposed to design and create 3D models and environments which will later be animated for a game’s cutscene. As such, this document includes my plans and thought process.  (Due: 12th Oct.)

Proposal

– A summary of my game’s story and the content in my environment –
Synopsis

My game will be set around a crime scene of a murder the player will have to solve with a set cast of characters who aid in the investigation, one of which the player will be able to control. The victim at first glance is a young woman who seems to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time however right away the lead investigator has suspicions that it may have been a racially motivated attack, soon after discovering she wasn’t as human as she first appeared.

In a militarised future where a war has ravaged their natural resources and destroyed entire countries, our setting is in a city that has been left a destitute shell with inhabitance of both sides of the conflict being forced to live together. Humans who are the minority with the alien invaders constituting over half the population when they were left unable to leave with the destruction of their ships, and were then forced to settle on Earth.

The horrendous conditions leads to crime running rampant and racism dividing the city (“Haven”). At the centre of the city, they have used parts of alien technology that had survived in order to renovate to try and preserve as much as they can. However, the further from the centre you travel the worse the surroundings become until it turns into the slums.

Working in the homicide division, the player is often in the worst parts of the city despite living in its centre. Navigating through rubble and the homeless, it is the dowels of what the war has left behind and very dangerous to the player and their party. The people in this area our desperate and it is not beyond them to attack if they feel threatened enough or they are in need of food or money. depending on who the player is unfortunate enough to stumble across.

Process

At the beginning I wasn’t too sure what I would be working on when I was first handed the brief. Creating a concept for a game is one thing, attempting to model it is another and add on to that I would expected to animate it I wasn’t sure what would be variable. Especially with how much time we had and how clumsy I am when it comes to modelling in general.

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I thought about it. First its visual identity, so genre: I pondered on a few like fantasy which I am comfortable with and have experience with working with but ruled it out as I wanted to do something different and challenge myself. Eventually I settled on a crime sci-fi narrative. Crime because it will help me in writing the story and Sci-Fi to allow the same free rain with character creation that fantasy has avoided me.

From there I thought on characters and that brought up the thought of alien races. But how had they gotten there? An invasion however I didn’t want to alienate every non-human character so I introduced the mind control. From there I decided on a mixed main cast for different aspects and to have foot on both sides of the fence.

After that it was easy for me to think out what setting I would base the narrative in. It couldn’t be a forest or the ocean. For one it would be impossible for me to do it in time and for another the render time would be terrible. Space was an option but I wanted a truly “human” feel for story. I wanted it to be grimly familiar while being different so I decided on a city that was still suffering the aforementioned war.

All that was left was concept art (deciding what I wanted the characters and the environment to look like) and to figure out a rough storyboard.

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Sharpening my ideas, I went over what I wanted and worked over the details for the characters which helped me in figuring out story points and also in having a better idea on what I wanted narrative wise, I was able to think on possible scenes I could use in my cutscene.

Budget

Next I looked at the various hardware, software and equipment I would need throughout the process of this project and how much it would cost me if I had to buy it all (like I might if I were working independently).

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Luckily with the sum total of the amount I either own the equipment necessarily or the college supplies what I need so this is not applicable for me though this has given me a good over view for what I might need to consider in the future.

Schedule

With that out of the way I make a rough schedule that I should try and stick to if I want to get everything finished in time.

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Above is gant chart which covers the time span the unit have given me and everything I need to accomplish in that time. I have filled in when I think I should have things done by and set deadlines although I have tried to account for editing or problems that could occur over the course of production.

Objective

-The purpose of my design and how it will meet the client brief-

The design of my environment and characters is purposefully created in order to successfully present the world and it’s inhabitance that an audience will be able identify with my chosen genres. As well as empathise with what is being conveyed to them through the models in the cutscene.

I will have followed the client’s brief by designing both my environment and characters, modelling and texturing both and then rigging and animating them into a cutscene of a game. This will have some typical conventions for its genres but also be original enough to stand on its own.

Endeavouring to fully animate a cutscene for a game to be introduced on the app market I will be following the client brief by producing it as this is what Zenna Games has asked for.

Target Audience

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With some of the topics I plan to touch on or cover I have decided on having quite a high age rating and will advertise it to teens to adults and have done research to confirm that this is a good course of action and make it more specific.

Planning a game for the phones (which holds 21% of the games market) and tablet (16%) market like the client Zenna Games has instructed means that I am working with 37% ofpeople who play games.

Inside of that, I also found that teenagers to adults is one of the biggest age ranges for me to work with with 29% of 18-35 year olds. This allows me to keep my original idea of having darker content of a more mature market.

Trying to discover the gender ratio to who plays games is quite difficult as nearly every site has a different percentage and it can differ between age groups. I have discovered that it is almost ca 50-50 split. However, who is playing what is what I am interested in.

The female  market as taken the lead in the percentage of who is playing apps and has “taken the lead on tablets” according to eMarketer. So I will try and sell it to the female audience (though I will try to avoid alienating the male audience. Both is better than one, after all.)


Structure and Constraints

-How assets will be constructed and constraints I will have to manage-
Structure

To create both my environment and my 3D models I will need to use a 3D modelling software; either CINEMA 4D or Blender (which I am considering due to some research where I found some good model examples).

For a character model, in creation I would need to input a “background” image with a character reference both front and back in the “T” pose before getting started. Then I would – basically – start with a primitive that would need to have some sort of mirror effect placed onto it, so I would only need to work on one side (giving my accuracy and saving time). From there I would extrude while modifying the positions of the shade to fit the reference.

A similar technique would be used for the entire character model until I reach the texturing/ materials phase. To reduce the polygons, using high textures will make up of the meshes lack of detail and aid rendering. I will try to stick with the software’s library or take my own with my camera if it came with that. However, due to this being an educational, non-profit project I could find textures on a free-to-use website.

In creating the environment, to keep it as low poly as possible I will use as many primitives as I can since it is a city and only edit where necessary. Effects such as lighting (like ambient inclusion and global illumination) will be key in making my environments and it’s character realistic as the cel-shaded art style will allow and setting the mood.

Constraints

Due to the topic of these units there are many constraints I will have to be aware about and try and work around if I do not want them to impact my project. For example: having to use 3D modelling software. I plan on experimenting with Blender since I’ve seen some rendered character models that have caught my eye however this means having to pick up another software when I don’t have that much time. I will have to be careful that I don’t spend too long trying to learn if it is too complicated for me.

If I end up working with CINEMA 4D again, instead, I would still have to be  weary of time since I will be modelling characters and rigging them, working with cameras (that I struggled with  when animating my environment) and framing scenes.

Another is to stick to schedule so that I am to properly render the entire animation. If I am too slow I may have to cut out scenes or rearrange them in order to render the animation. Working out a style of render (such as Sketch and Toon) that will best suit my vision of the finished product but also be available will be hard and I may have to settle for something that isn’t exactly what I want in order to render in time.

Legal and Ethical

The backstory of this game involving the war will make me very conscious of legal and ethical issues. Since the fleet held a number of different races from a number of other plants that the captain had invaded for slaves and profit, it might cut a bit close to real world history if I am not careful with how I word the narrative and design the aliens.  With any person that was not sold  kept on for soldiers that were forced to do his bidding it deals with very sensitive topics that I would have to handle carefully. After the captain was killed and the highly advanced technology destroyed, the slaves were able to regain independent thought and surrendered in dismay of what they had been made to do.

Again, with recent issues highlighting the still prominent racism in todays society I know that this could be quite a sensitive topics for a lot of minorities. However, highlighting these sort of issues can actually be helpful in making people more thoughtful and conscious of these types of problems.

That it is not based around humans – or people that look like races that usually suffer this type of prejudice will hopefully stop the subject matter from hitting too close to the bone. Though I do realise some people will find fault in everything.

The Visual Design & The Look And Feel

– The overall style of my models and animation from mock-up to how it will animate –

With my narrative in mind I have intend to make the visuals look quite dark and gritty. I have looked at a number of sources to aid in getting this theme correct in my head by creating a moodboard and  finding sources to refer back to.

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For anime sources (the art style I have chosen) I take inspiration from Ghost In The Shell, Psycho-Pass and the Nura Clan because of tone, story elements and character design  respectably.

In terms of games I’ve looked at Virtues Last Reward a puzzle, escape-the-room game that has the added features of a flowchart which allows the player to go back in the story to choose a different option that they hadn’t originally picked.

The idea helps me chose a point and click mechanic (the best sort of game for an app) and identify my genres as strongly as I have envisioned them.

Environments
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Rough Sketch of the City: Haven

With a film noir feel the environment – a city -will be quite dark even in the daytime.  The city has been divided into divisions, each one with a somewhat unique identity. Zone-0 is where most the the damage and the homeless, and also the centre of the narrative and where the player will see most of.

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Rough Sketch of City Slums (Zone-0)

It is meant to have quite a foreboding, dangerous feel to it. Like a criminal could be larking into any shadowed corner. The place being in ruin should not bring any comfort.

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Rough Sketch of Police Uniform

I went onto design the police uniform by looking at references by looking at the other real life countries’ uniforms like England’s and Japan’s. I wanted the uniform to stand out against the impoverished state of its surroundings. With the government’s militarisation from the war, it also need to have that official air as well as practical purpose.

Characters

The main and secondary characters are made to deliberately stand out from the environment and the other background characters. I wanted them to be easily identifiable and add a splash of colour to catch the eye and make the game feel less dreary.

zelimir-character-sheet

alek-character-sheet

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Technical Specifications

-Techniques for models and animation-

I have mentioned  a lot of techniques I will use in “Structure and Constraints” so I won’t be repetitive, however I would use another another art style for actual game play to save render time and to try and stop lag even if it should be saved from that with it being a point and click. Choosing a “chibi” style will, one: save on the polygon count (something I will have to be very conscious of) and two: it is very typical in apps and popular with females who are my main audience. I will save the maturer art style for short cutscenes.

Also, I will save with  the file type: .fbx instead of using a software specific file type  that won’t be cross-compatible with other 3D modelling websites. This way, I’ll be enabled to use multiple software’s as some are better at some things than others. For example I would model in Blender and import the assets into CINEMA 4D to  animate.

Other Relevant Game Design Documentation

To understand the stylisation for an app game I have looked at a few mystery/ crime games that would fall under a similar purview of what I am making.

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The first was Disney’s Zootopia “Crime Files: Hidden Object” which keeps the style and tone  from its movie.

It is a puzzle game adventure however it has the complete wrong theme and target market for what I am planning.

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Mystery Society is another puzzled based game only this one obviously has a slightly older target market and a larger case of people.

I like how this app has arranged their backgrounds and HUD.

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Criminal Case is properly the closest app I came to with what I am envisioning in terms of gameplay for the app I am designing though art style and the sub-genre differs.

Gameplay

With my research and a clear idea of what my game would look like I have designed some assets of what aspects of gameplay could look like.

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This is what the chapter and “mission” (or quest) cards will look like with the  environment that the characters are located in, in the background. Zelimir – the guide of the game – appears in these title cards unless someone else taken control of the narrative and then they would be used.

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This is how unofficial cut-scenes would appear for character text. It is simple and easy to see who would be talking. If a suspect or unknown character was speaking than the name box would disappear.

And, again, the background environments changes according to where the actual characters are in the game.

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There is a set playable character there are text options and some choice in the game though it would have to be extremely simple since it is an app

Storyboard

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Delivery

I will need to model 3D characters and environments. Rig the characters, light the environments and set up cameras to animate. This must me done by March 2017 to present to the client.


Reference

Games Market research/ 2/ 3

Game Image Links/ 2/ 3

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