Saturday, September 20, 2008

Post the Nineteenth

Date: Sunday 21 September, 2008
Started: 1:35 PM
Finished (version 1): 2:06 PM
Finished (version 2): 6:01 PM

Hey, I didn't even realise how long I'd taken between posts here!

Well, the proverbial road has proved to be a rather productive one, it would seem, with the group members finally starting to get their acts together and become somewhat of a coherent body once again (although that coherent nature may have been shaken up somewhat by the onset of the holidays, starting two weeks ago as of tomorrow, their Terminus - we shall have to wait and see though). Although my knowledge of their holiday-doings is rather limited, apart from the fact that I know Kodie's been on-task, and Andrew's been in exile in, as he put it in his most recent email, "the land of Queens" (which I assume means either Queensland or England), I am assuming that we may actually be able to get a fully functional game (although not one as content-intensive as we were originally aiming for) together in time for testing (or, with hope, before our final presentations, although that's pushing it). Perhaps the one issue is that I am yet to be given anything to texture for the game. Sigh, but it's just brownie-points in the end, eh?

In similar news, the concept art mill has reopened for business! I have spent the past eight days or so, in between doing stuff for other subjects and just enjoying whatever spare time I have, cranking out conceptual art using the Wacom tablet (and, in doing so, having progressively developed a new and somewhat cleaner style - one that I think pretty much kicks all of those that I have used before in the teeth). Whilst I do not have these images up (and, indeed, I still have another that I am planning to complete today), I would like to state that, this time, they are weapons instead of characters, and that they take a slightly (emphasis there) more futuristic and, in some cases, industrial approach than we were originally intended (after all, that seems to be my thing when it comes to this game - gritty and industrial). Six weapons exist at present - a selection culled from a list of FPS essentials, one might think (including the rocket launcher) - and the seventh is going to be something more blatantly futuristic, perhaps being an experimental weapon that was hastily issued to elite troops in the wake of the mutant crisis. I'm really thinking I may just come up with exactly what is is on the fly, and include information in the .zip file that I'm planning to send to Kodie.

Website design is going... well, at a slightly slower rate, due to the need for me to do other things. But a couple of new elements have been devised, with Andrew and I currently debating on how to apply my sidebar design - no pics yet, but that should change soonish.

Lately, I have been looking back over the course in its entirety, I've come to understand a fair few things, both about our actions as a group, and my actions as an individual. Originally, we set out to see if we could make an FPS game with Source over the course of a single school year. Will we manage it? I cannot be certain here, although in the sense of a complete, fully polished and marketable product (as in an FPS with a visible start and end), that's clearly not possible, with the time left anyway. And the reasons for this, above all else, are as follows: busy timetables (that includes those other subjects that we all have), and human failing (many of us got lazy, I'll admit it). And, I think we can admit that we may have raised our expectations a tad too high, but in the end, I think many people in the course did.

And have I learned anything? Most certainly! I've learned to become much better with using Adobe Photoshop, for one - my recent website work shows that, as I've taught myself how to use things such as blending modes, in various combinations with filters, transparencies and layer styles, to my advantage, whereas before I, more often than not, found myself taking the long road and wasting a lot of time on the smallest of things.

I've also further developed my drawing technique, learning to make elements such as lighting look more convincing, and familiarising myself with the shape of the human form. I've also ventured into parts unknown in discovering new techniques, such as the Wacom style that I mentioned before (with the new weapon concepts), which has, overall, vastly improved my drawing skill. I've also learned, to some degree, how to use Audacity, although, as with any sound recording, it's really a "whatever sounds best" approach there.

And there's research tools - I've learned how I can use these to my advantage, even if just to keep track of anything I find that can help me (like, for example, texture guides). And I guess there's just generic teamwork skills too - at any rate, I'd say I've come out for the best!

Well, for now, I'd best be off - until the next post!

- N.

Trembling at the thought of feeling, wide awake and keeping distance...

Now playing: Amon Amarth - Fate of Norns
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Post the Eighteenth

I let my focus shiiiiiift!
- Mikael Stanne,
from Dark Tranquillity's "Focus Shift",
Quoted because I haven't been here in so long and it seemed fitting at the time.

Date: Sunday 17 August, 2008
Started: Whenever. I forgot.
Finished: 6:47 PM

Wow, it's been so long since I've posted on here that the posting interface appears to have undergone some aesthetic changes (And have you ever noticed how the word "aesthetic" is quite similar to "atheist"? Do you think it originally referred to atheists with visually appealing characteristics, like me?). Anyway, I'm finally here, and I come with what is perhaps less news than I would have hoped for, although that's entirely our group's fault, collectively (for being lazy SoB's, and that's not "Sisters of Battle", for those versed in the ways of Warhammer 40K). I only really have one more sketch done this time, but it's an actual environment this time, and not just characters. And, without further ado, and with as little pretentious rambling as I can manage, here it is:


For this here sketch, the main focus was, like with everything I do, creating something grungy and gritty that echoed the despair of the run-down inner-city neighbourhoods that you'd see almost everywhere if you lived in my perfect (and I am using that term ironically) dystopia. I managed to slip in a few "in-jokes" too, such as the occurance of the numbers "9264" (here's a hint: if you can deal with vaguely offensive terms, or Asian words referring to a certain class of male royalty, then try decoding it by looking at those numbers on a phone keypad. If not, forget I mentioned it.), and the name of the fish and chip store (there's a fish and chip store named "Cripps" in Hobart, and I'd used the joke before in an old comic of mine, so I figured I'd reuse it to add that little "Sinnettine" touch).

In other news (but DIM-related news nonetheless), the site is up - the link is on the main page, and normally I'd tell you to go to the main page and find it yourself, and/or die in a fire, but because I'm such a nice fella, I have it here. I must congratulate Todd on his work on the layout, which I think adds a nice, professionally minimalistic quality (and I'm all about the minimalism, yoes) to it. It's really just "bare-bones" for the time being, and is on the opposite end of the scale to, say, The Lord of the Rings, when it comes to content intensity (there's not really even a group bio or a rundown of what we're doing or anything), but hopefully that'll change sometime soon. I am also dabbling in web design, having somehow managed to code my own portion of the site (although I need a fair bit more done on it yet). I'm also designing a theme for the subdomain that deals specifically with "The Project" itself (Todd's being a general Glassbiscuit portal), which includes a number of gritty details reminiscent of well-worn industrial architecture, and is thematically, in my opinion, in the vein of the old Doom and Quake games (you know, from the time before the pretentiously gorgeous graphics of Crysis). I'm yet to piece it all together as of yet, as I still need to work out proper measurements and so-forth, but I have a few samples here of some of the page elements that'll be going into it.

First, a navigation button, depicted in all three stages (yeah, we're all high-class and s***) of existence (normal, highlighted and pressed):


Then, a basic border segment (of which I do have other pieces, but who wants to see a corner when this gives a good idea already?), modelled after industrial girders and so forth:


And, finally, a rusty vent (presented on a grey background for preview purposes), which will be placed in the corner above the navigation bar to add a bit more of a neglected touch:


Now, I'd scan in the conceptual sketch for the final layout, but it's really little more than a loose scribble and a few notes that, from memory, include an expletive or two, so I didn't bother. Plus, no scanner here.

Another area that I've been focusing on recently is audio. Having had some experience with sound recording, equalising, and so forth in the past, I've started to familiarise myself with the audio editing program Audacity (which is open source, making it Rhys-friendly) so that I can get some voice clips done for the enemies in the game. As I've been practising to become a death metal vocalist on the side, I've put myself into "br00tal mode" for voice recording, putting on my best Opeth-style growl so that I can get the enemies sounding as bestial as possible. Although I haven't actually saved any audio clips yet (so no samples, sorry), I have been playing around with recording them through a cheap heaphone mic and straight into Audacity, which has generated results of surprisingly decent audio quality.

For those who have some knowledge of Audacity, or at least have an idea of what some of the tools and effects mean, here is the process I've been using:
1. Record the sound. I've just been recording regular audio tracks, as opposed to stereo tracks, since I have no intention of using any stereo panning or anything.
2. Noise removal. I just sample a segment of audio buzz (it's faint, but noticeable at regular volume), and filter the entire track slightly (about 10% on the slider) to cut it down.
2. Amplify. I only use a small amount here - not enough to cause any clipping, but just so I can hear it clearly, as the next stage knocks the volume down quite substantially. And yes, I could use the channel gain control to do this, but then I'd forget to turn it down.
3. Reverb (or, as the Audacity plugin is titled, GVerb). This is only a very faint reverb to take away some of the dry quality of the raw recording (I could use an equaliser to assist there, but I never set the EQ bands right) and to add a bit more "life" to it. The settings I use are as follows:


4. Another application of Amplify, although this time I just let it amplify to the recommended amount, which knocks it back up to normal.
5. Final step - change pitch! Since I'm still learning to balance depth and volume with my growling, I can't exactly get my voice as low as Matthew Chalk (Psycroptic's ex-vocalist) can without it being too quiet, so I pitch-shift my vocals down two whole steps, or four semitones (half-steps), which takes away from the humanoid sound and makes my voice sound more demonic and animalistic. This stage does degrade the sound quality slightly, but it's not too noticeable. And, the sound quality of some of Morrowind's sound effects is even worse (and I'd know, having browsed through the game's .wav files in the past), which probably makes me some sort of audio Jesus.

Research has been going on for some time, notably in the field of 3D texturing and graphic design. In order to increase my skills with Photoshop and prepare for the actual process of texturing, I have looked online at a number of game texturing and graphic design tutorials, which have helped me to increase my understanding of Photoshop and textures substantially (and you can see some of the results in my website design work above, which would not have been possible without the research I have conducted). I have been using to take note of a number of sites that I have been using, amongst other things, although I still have less than a dozen tags on there so far (having not exactly documented everything that I may have looked up, although I'll get to changing that). I'm yet to actually skin a 3D model, mind you, although you can blame Rhys for that, as he encountered an issue of data loss when initially building the base character model, and then put off rectifying it for some time. I should be able to get started soon, however.

As for keeping up to date with video game news, not being the most avid gamer out there, I have, as per usual, been following the newsposts of Penny Arcade, which is, essentially, one of the cornerstones in the world of game-related webcomickry, along with Ctrl+Alt+Del and PVP (neither of which I actually read at all). My casual following of gaming news has paid off, as it's allowed me to partake in a discussion related to Crysis (and its excessively fancy visuals), over on the new forums. Good stuff.

In-class… a few more presentations from Roger (one of which was quite interesting, as it related to Ancient Egypt, which is just awesome) have gone by, and have helped me in my research… even got me using, which boosted my ratings substantially. I also got my marks for Digital Interactive Media a few days ago - A, A, A, and B (the B being for accountable research), which are as good as I hoped for… or, at least, hoped I'd achieve, in that fancy netherworld where I'm an A-grade genius who has six gorgeous girls hanging off my arms at all times, and drinks with Mikael Stanne on weekends at some sort of high-society bar that reeks of mod culture. Alas, that netherworld may have relinquished some of its eau d'awesomeage, for once!

Apart from that (which is too much, considering my poor expectations for this journal entry), I don't think there's much to report on the DIM front for me, apart from the fact that I've been "tricking out" my Firefox with a bunch of plugins. Oh, and Kodie's still being uber-1337 with his modelling "skillz".

On the non-DIM front (personal life information, for once!), I turned eighteen in my absence, which means parties nearly every weekend now that I'm legally of-age. Been doing a lot of work for other subjects, and am currently planning to try and change my relationship status from "painfully single" to something less crushing… there's a funny little fact about the girl that I have my eye on now, but I'll refrain, seeing as how I most likely don't know everyone who's reading this on a very personal level.

Oh, and I also got a Gibson SG Special (that's a guitar, and a very fancy one too) for my eighteenth birthday. Suck. It. Down.

Now, this post has got ridiculously long, so I'll end it now. I still have a project submission to tackle.

Until we next meet,

- N.

Guilt keeps me alive at the bottom!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Notificatum [This is not an entry for assessment, Roger!]

Hey, me again. Yes, I haven't posted in over a month, but I must be forgiven, because this site is technically defunct now. We've got some stuff to report, but that'll be happening when we've moved everything over to the new server. For now, you can do nought but salivate over the yet-unheeded promise of my honey-sweet vowels, over my pearl-glossed consonants, and over the untold vales of knowledge that surely reside deep beneath the outer facets of their delicate silk shrouds.

Peace be with ye, until we do meet upon the mountain-cas'd walls of heavenly Clouddeep, in the transcend'nt angel-realm of Mi, far beyond the revealing reaches of known colour and thrice-damn'd geometric wizzardries.

- Charles Tenet*

Surrounds and drowns and washes me awaaaaaaaaay…

*That's a pseudonym, made up of letters harvested from my full name.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Post the Seventeenth

Date: Tuesday 13 May, 2008
Started: 7:15 PM
Finished: 7:56 PM

And so I now return, albeit a few days late, although that's really because I've been waiting for something worthy of reporting to happen in IM (and also due to the fact that I spent Friday night with friends, and breaking my usual rut of semi-nothingness in the process). We seem to have slipped into a state of malaise as far as group work is concerned, although I hope we can change that.

The workstation has, however, been the recipient of a makeover recently, with the addition of zip drives and a trio of graphiques cartes (did you know I spoke French? Neither did I). There's still been some problems with getting the group's server fully functional, although this has evidently not stopped a fairly large percentage of the group from indulging in a slew of games for what they will be defensively calling something along the lines of "research and evaluation".

Kodie and Rhys have still, however, been very active lately, with Rhys' base character model and Kodie's shiny new UZI looking top-notch - as I have said before, these will be great to texture, considering the high amount of quality that they clearly exhibit. I myself have had a tad of a setback in that I've had to contribute more time to other subjects lately, although I managed to whip out a sketch last night, to give myself an idea of the architectural designs of our first level, and to practise with drawing architecture (as it's never been a strong point for me). I haven't decided whether I wish to include it as a conceptual sketch, so it's not up here yet - I'll be making some more along similar lines though, and these should be finding their way to the Wiki directory, and to your screens, within a week.

We are still having problems with accquiring the new domain, as Rhys has discovered that all of the easily affordable routes may inevitably result in us being screwed over, given the terms and conditions of the companies that we would be dealing with. It seems that we may have to dig deeper if we want quality and no risk of abuse or loss of intellectual property, which could be a problem, seeing as how expensive some services in said field can be. Plus, I haven't had any money to spare for a while now, although I've been able to start saving up as of this week.

As soon as I can (read: as soon as I can financially manage it), I'm going to be looking into purchasing the Orange Box for mineself too, so that I can get more familar with the machinations of the Source Engine… and also since I'd like to get some new games.

Oh, and last week we engaged in a mentoring session as our weekly project, where we learned how to go about guiding and assisting those around us in their own projects. The actual task of mentoring was a tad dull, considering that, when split into groups, it turned out that Ian and Kye are very much lacking when it comes to their project (which really didn't leave much room for suggestions, apart from "Get to work!"). However, the information that was learned was still valuable, and may be able to help exand on our group dynamic.

Well, that's about all. I now leave you to savour this:

¡La muerte a la gente del mulo!

- N.

Who are you to raise your finger, you must'a been out your head…

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Post the Sixteenth

Date: Sunday 4 May, 2008
Started: 11:52 AM
Finished: 12:22 PM

Yes, yes, I know, the log entries are getting delayed, but they're getting done!

Might as well start off with the Thursday before last (considering that the "Sunn-Dae" is, by the Gregorian calendar, Day 1 of Ye Olde Weeke). As Dan had returned by that point, we were finally able to pull off our presentation, albeit with a lot of last-minute preparation that resulted in Todd's (?) laptop Blue Screen of Deathing a couple of times (or so I remember). However, we managed to pull off the presentation rather smoothly, with quite a heartening and ego-swelling response from our gracious audience (although we try to keep that second one in check). A few went as far as to actually question us, although I can't recall most of the questions (although there was some stuff about distribution of our game - which we cannot do, at least not for monetary profit - and Open Source music). Even I gained some knowledge from this - mostly, how much I have to feel sorry for the programmers (or would have to, if I had any lingering shreds of a conscience), considering all that code they have to sift through, and some extremely rudimentary knowledge of how Kodie went about constructing his Katana of Awesomeness and Doom. Come to think of it, I really should check in with Zoe (who was kind enough to film said presentation) to see what she's doing with the footage.

Tuesday saw a new level come into being, with Dan, Todd, and, to some extent, myself, mapping out what will turn into some sort of high-society, out-of-the-way clinic (think Rancho Relaxo from The Simpsons, but with celebrities getting facelifts) that's been ravaged by the mutant tide. From memory, not much else happened on that day, apart from Honni returning to photograph our nerdly exploits, and Kodie adopting the position of team maid (being sent to the shop to bring back edibles and that nice glass-bottled Coke). This (apart from Honni's photography and Kodie's manservantry) continued on into Thursday, with an extra layer (in the form of a secret underground bioengineering lab, which actually has, from what I could see, a very nice and compelling structure - not that I'd contribute this to Andrew taking Dan's place on said day) being added onto the clinic level, heralding a wave of plot progression in its wake. Rhys and I also took some time to discuss character proportions, drawing up some rough concepts (over images of a Half-Life 2 model, so that we had a human template) so that we could capture the proportions for some of the models.

Recently, I have been experimenting with using a Wacom tablet. Although I have had experience with them before, I'm trying to work with new techniques and larger scales, which resulted in this piece of Penny Arcade fan-art (which I shall be using for Graphic Design work) that I am quite fond of:


I stumbled across this sketchy and vaguely graffiti-like technique by complete accident, and I'm actually so pleased with the results that I may do some conceptual art for The Project in a somewhat similar style. I'm thinking it will probably look quite fancy with architectural concepts, although I'll be taking a cleaner approach in that case.

Anyhow, I may come back to this entry in the future if I think of anything beneficial, but, for now, keep watching the skis!

- N.

Give away the stone, let the waters kiss and transmutate these leaden grudges into gold…

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Post the Fifteenth

Date: Tuesday 22 April, 2008
Started: 9:10 AM
Finished: 9:14 AM (excluding edits)

Hello again. I apologise for the late update, offering another player character sketch - the "quick guy", I guess (excellent for sniper and scouting roles).


The past week has mostly been focused around things such as the final revisions to the submission document (which has finally been sent off to all of the gun companies - here's hoping for a yes on all fronts, or at least the vast majority), as well as the presentation that our group was meant to give to the rest of the class. With each of us assigned specific roles, we were asked to give a 15-20 minute (from recollection) presentation about our project, explaining its different aspects, as well as the less prominent stuff (behind-the-scenes work, Phase system, etc). However, this had to be dropped on short notice this morning (which is when it was supposed to be done), as Dan was trapped up in Melbourne due to some technicality with his plane flight (having been up in Byron Bay for a week to see an old friend of the group). I personally found this to be quite a disappointment, not only due to the fact that I'd put a bit of stuff together in advance for the presentation, but also as I had been looking forward to getting some informed feedback from the others in the class. Whilst I, personally, feel that the whole team structure we have is quite well-organised and efficient, it would have been great to get some opinions and suggestions from the others as to how we could improve our group dynamic, or even for things that we could add into the project itself.

There has been one small issue on the forums due to a conflict of opinions (as to whether the characters and enemies will receive names or not), although I wouldn't say it's anything monumental. In fact, it's only a minor issue until at least Phase 2 (see the Phase system page for more information), although if we can get it out of the way sooner rather than later, it'll save having the conflict merely resurrect in the future.

As far as research is concerned, I'm still looking over Warhammer Online and Penny Arcade, as far as researching the progression of others in our (approximated) field. For conceptual art inspiration, a friend of mine has suggested looking at the Fallout games, and the imagery behind them - something which I had already considered, and am now planning to do with, as they say, "gusto". Or, perhaps not that enthusiastically, but you get the spin of it. In addition, I have also been looking into the conceptual art behind other projects, such as Mark Gibbons' work on the "Primal" games, and Ian Miller's "Shrek" preliminaries. Which reminds me, some environment-related concepts, as well as the rest of the characters, are about to be started.

We also scored some more computers for our workstation today, which will be vital for playtesting, as well as for when we get well into making the first version of the game. I'm pretty sure Roger and Dirk won't mind.

On another topic - Kodie's been hard at work on the cutscene, although we have yet to see all of what he has done so far. He has not been able to complete it due to commitment to Maths and lack of time, but an even better version should be coming in the somewhat distant future. Judging by all of his other modelling I've seen, it's going to be absolutely sweet, and I'll be looking forward to when I get to texture some of his work.

- N.

Days away, I still feel you, touching me, changing me…

Monday, April 14, 2008

Post the Fourteenth

Date: Monday 14 April, 2008
Started: 10:55 AM
Finished: 11:00 AM

I am come again, this time with a new piece of "arts-work". This one is, and will continue to, remain an enigma to you all, at least until we see fit to divulge more information on the matter. Does it even have anything to do with The Project? Does it have everything to do with The Project? Should Nick shut the [EXPLETIVE DELETED BY THE INQUISITION] up and let you get on with it? You decide. Suffice to say that it's open to interpretation on the part of you, the viewer, until the meaning is released beyond the confines of the Glassbiscuit "krew". Anyways, here's the damned sketch.


Anyway, I really should be doing Graphic Design work, considering I'm in Graphic Design right now, so I shall depart with this warning - watch where you aim your gun, because whatever you point it at may come back to haunt you.

- N.

But I'd trade it all, for just a little… peace of miiind!

P.S. I just noticed that the last post (the thirteenth) was posted on the thirteenth day of the month. Excelsior!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Post the Thirteenth

Date: Sunday 13 April, 2008
Started: 2:28 AM
Finished: 2:49 AM

And, as the week died, he rose from the depths of his chitinous cocoon, standing spread-eagled against the ghost-light of that long-forgotten abode as the last vestiges of sleep fell away. Ichor pooling in the wake of two-toed feet as he marched, he approached the monolithic console, talons grating an arcane activation rune, and then he began to type…

Sorry about that… thought I'd add in a little flavour this time.

Anyway, the level has been quite productive in terms of general outcome (or so one might think, anyhow). Despite one setback in the form of Heckler and Koch's company policy (they won't let us use their guns in our game, basically), we have managed to make some progress, including work on a new level (which shall function as a hub level - essentially a base to which players can backtrack later in the game, where they can store their equipment and prepare for later in the game, and so on). Having played games that have included a system of the sort before, I can say that I am in full support of the idea. This level will also come with something extra that we've conjured up (as long as Kodie approves, as he seems to be the only group member who's not in the knowhow on the matter of this little detail), although you'll have to wait a while to see what I mean.

Another great result of the week's dabblings is that the Phase system beta is now up, replacing the rougher "Meeting Minutes" (which was, in itself, some sort of "proto-Phase"). Rhys has been hard at work on getting the layout of the Phase system out of the way, as evidenced by the obvious effort that has gone into it - the full Phase system should be up soon, by which point I shall inquire about altering the name of the tab to correspond with the content. Of course, some of the professionalism of the Phase page is undoubtedly due to my proofreading, but you get over that.

Glassbiscuit also has a letterhead now, thanks to the work of The Todd. Although he did appear to be struggling with producing it in Photoshop for a while, due to the fact that he didn't have Illustrator available, the work has paid off, resulting in a rather flashy design which shall accompany our project submission, along with anything that Rhys wants to make professional-looking. I salute you on your efforts, Todd. And, speaking of the project submission, this is now in the final stages, and is ready for, as you would expect, submission.

Oddly enough, I, like Rhys, have been looking at others in our field. For some time, I have been observing the production of Penny Arcade Adventures - On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, having been a fan of the webcomic that it is based upon (note - coarse language and occasional adult themes warning) for a few years now, as well as occasionally checking in on the progress of Warhammer Online - Age of Reckoning. The Penny Arcade site, whilst not having the most jam-packed information resource, goes somewhat hand-in-hand with its parent comic, the (b)log for which has regular updates on the progress of the game, giving fans information practically as it happens, straight from the creators of Penny Arcade themselves (who better?), as opposed to some guy down in website management. Rhys has basically covered the WAR (the generally accepted acronym for Warhammer Online - missing an "O", ain't it?) site and its somewhat interactive and highly informative nature, so I suggest you read more in his log.

For now, I am off to bed, as the hour is late.


I can't say what I want to, even when I'm not serious…

P.S. Oh, and Rhys went bald this week. Suffice to say that some of us were confused as to his motives for ridding himself of his natural wigging.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Post the Twelfth

Date: Wednesday 9 April, 2008
Started: 1:23 PM
Finished: 1:32 PM

Hey, it's me again (so soon, I know). Just thought I'd show off my latest piece - a possible design for a player character.


It seemed to be confirmed (as of yesterday) that the player characters were to be rather generic in appearance, and I took this into account, producing a rather casually dressed and genericised character that really just looks like he woke up and had to find some armour and guns in order to protect himself (which is kind of the idea). Some suggestions were made during the production of the piece, including a long-sleeved shirt (to reduce the amount of skin exposed to the enemy, apparently - this seemed pointless to me, as a shirt will offer no protection against feral mutants, regardless of sleevey goodness), and gloves (which I would have incorporated if the inks hadn't already been underway at the time of suggestion). Some more PC sketches will be underway very soon, in between other work and drawing things for friends, but, for now, this will have to do.

- N.

Shine on forever, shine on benevolent son…

[Note, added during transfer to Blogger: The fanart image from the last post didn't transfer over due to an embedding issue... I'll fix it later, if I find it important enough to care about at any stage.]

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Post the Eleventh

Date: Tuesday 8 April, 2008
Started: 9:01 AM
Finished: 9:07 AM

Howdy all, just a quick update for now - I've finally managed to get this concept done, and now I have it here to show to you all. It's another "Oxen" design (the status of that name is in question, mind you), based on some suggestions made by good ol' Rhys.


Rhys suggested to me that I make this version look like it was, whilst still truly human, a member of the military, hence the ragged remains of the flak jacket beneat his armour and the fractured ballistic helmet. The scavenged armour plates remain a consistent feature, as well as the bandages, and some more flavour has crept in in the guise of a mangled leg (probably stepped on a mine or something). Oh, and note that the ruined leg is the right length, approximately - the fact that the armour plating on the right leg starts about halfway down the knee could lead to some confusion, and has done already. This version has received consistent praise all around the group, meaning that the final product will probably be closer to it than the first one.

One thing that I dislike about this sketch (apart from the accidental over-darkening with the Levels tool in Photoshop) is the fact that the paper that I drew it on was much heavier and textured than the lighter, smoother paper I've been using for the other sketches. This led to difficulty with shading, which would explain why the sketch was already quite dark before I touched it up in Photoshop. To help conquer this issue, I have returned to using the paper that I was using before - another sketch is waiting to be uploaded, and it turned out a lot better than this one.

Also, just to show off some of my experimentation, I give you a piece of Warhammer 40,000 fanart (specifically, a Space Marine, late '80s style) that I produced prior to the Easter break, as a way of experimenting with a more cartoony style (which, if we require illustrations for anything, may end up being used again soon… the style, mind you).


The emphasis here was mainly on the use of flat colours, with shading created more manually by means of inking. Despite Photoshop's issue with me trying to get the white sections of the original scanned image to appear fully transparent (hence why some of the flat colours look a tad patchy), I would deem it to be a success. It's only with the start of my conceptual work on The Project that I've actually come to like the images I produce, most likely due to the fact that I've built up my skills with things such as proportion and muscle structure.

Just to keep safe, I now direct you to Games Workshop's legal section (located here), and state that the above image is is completely unofficial and in no way endorsed by Games Workshop Limited. No challenge to their ownership of the concept(s) contained within the image is intended or implied.

Anyway, I'll cover everything else on Friday or Saturday. For now, I'm off.

- N.

My warning meant nothing, you're dancing in quicksand…

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Post the Tenth

Date: Wednesday 26 March, 2008
Started: 2:40 PM
Finished: 2:54 PM

Argh, delayed again! Oh well.

I might as well begin with the week-gone-by. Didn't have a lot to do myself, although Roger did show us a presentation on how individuals see and analyse the world differently due to personal values, beliefs, etc, and how we should learn to "know what we don't know". Rhys also gave us a rundown on the first phase of project development (I now refuse to use the forced acronym), and there was much discussion on the matter of gameplay mechanics, in the sense of things such as weapon functionality and enemy AIs. Dan (and a couple of others, I believe) have been doing some in-game testing in this department with CounterStrike, working out just how realistic the weapon mechanics are going to be (with iron-sighting and shooting from the hip being preferred over the classic crosshair mode), and testing to see which AIs are going to be used for what. I'd do some testing myself, but I don't actually own CounterStrike yet… must save money for more than CDs and books…

On my front, I'm still working on concepts, one of which is an alternate Oxen design based on some suggestions from Rhys. I'm not going to tell what these suggestions are yet, but you'll see sooner or later. I'm also going to see about getting a concept for a player character done up, and some architectural sketches for the first level or two. I'm finding it a tad hard to get motivated due to the Easter break, but I should be able to manage.

Found some working Wacom drivers on the Asia-Pacific section of the Wacom site… I really should have looked beyond the U.S. site before. This driver version comes with a couple of extra things too, which I'll probably play around with for a bit once I can bring the tablet home.

Anyway, I am off.

- N.

Call an optimist, she's turning blue…

EDIT: Have done some research into things such as all the Orange Box and the source engine, Steam and Garry's Mod… now I have a much better idea of what's being utilised to create our game.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Post the Ninth

Date: Sunday 16 March, 2008
Started: 6:57 PM
Finished: 7:28 PM

Urgh, been putting this update off for two days. Been feeling a bit lazy recently, have to watch out for that.

Anyway, on Thursday, we finally moved into our new workstation, with many thanks to Rhys for getting it cleaned up beforehand. It's quite the ideal environment, with only two other groups in the same room, a lot of open space, and a few desks here-and-there - I can already imagine the nerdly gatherings that are bound to take place in that room, especially since we may also be getting a coffee machine in there (not a big coffee fan myself… might have to reprogram myself there, since it's a fact that all adults like coffee or tea, and I'm eighteen in less than four months). We even have a computer for group use, which we have managed to get some success with in terms of maintaining a stable internet connection (although I'm not sure exactly how much success, as I was quickly distracted by Dan's designing of the "death truck"). Other than that, there was not much in terms of advancement during that lesson, as Rhys, Nick Kerr and I ended up launching a crusade to discover the identity of one "MorbidAngel", with success (as there was nothing left to do at the time, plain and simple).

On my front, I'm about to start working on some more conceptual sketches, which, from what I can tell, are going to be some alternate designs for the mutants that I've already made sketches for, as well as some sketches for the half-mutants, and, when I'm given the heads-up, some sketches for environments. Over the past day or so, I've been learning how to make seamless textures (invaluable for site design and 3D texturing) and rust patterns (for the site texturing) in Photoshop. and I am planning to look into even more Photoshop-related knowhow, for when we begin work on the custom layout. I'm also going to get around to investigating CSS soon, and am going to look into the details of 3D models and Photoshop along with Todd, as soon as the time comes.

Oh, and I ran into an issue recently - I can't seem to get the Wacom drivers to work on this computer, and have not been able to find any functional 32bit drivers for Vista on the Wacom site. Either I'm going to have to look beyond the official site, or I just won't be able to use a tablet from home.

For now, I'm out. Going to go and get me some hamburgers.

- N.

I must keep reminding myself of this…

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Post the Eighth

Date: Wednesday 12 March, 2008
Started: 10:44 AM
Finished: [Missing from the Wikidot version, it seems... according to Wikidot's post info, it was 11:05 AM]

Hey all,

I'm back from my long weekend of long weekendingness, and I bring with me my treasured conceptual arts, for your viewing pleasure.


The first is what I think we're calling a "Weasel" (well, it hasn't been superceded by anything else, to my knowledge), which is basically a scrawny, (more) stupid, faster version of the standard Sheep. I was originally looking at making something more decrepit and hunched-over (similar in posture to either the Hungers from TES: Morrowind, or the upcoming Bloodletter models for Warhammer), but I decided to just make a more gaunt, feral version of the Sheep instead, since the pose can really be worked out in the later stages. I imagine these guys to have a "down-on-all-fours"-style hunting pose, almost like they're always ready to pounce.


Now we have the Oxen, the enormous, slow brutes. Probably standing between two and three metres tall, things such as fantasy ogres and trolls helped me to get a grasp on the proportions, whilst I once again looked at ramshackle, sci-fi improvised armour in order to get an idea of what sort of protection this guy would have. Dan originally suggested using a car door as chest armour, as well as using a sign (with concrete slab included) as a melee weapon - I think it was meant to be a stop sign originally, but I elected for it to be a disabled sign, because, if you survived an attack from this guy, it'd really just be adding insult to injury.


And, also, the Shepherd concept again… with the topknot, because Kodie liked it.

Well, that's me done for now. Peace out.

- N.

Vicariously, I live while the whole world dies…

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Post the Seventh

Date: Sunday 9 March, 2008
Started: 2:35 AM
Finished: 3:04 AM

Please forgive for the overdue update, I've been feeling exhausted, and still am…

Thursday was yet another advancement in the field of level design, with work continuing on the layout of the second level (now incorporating an industrial complex, with one factory mapped out in detail). The group's first "video diary" entry was also produced during the afternoon's IM lesson, with Kodie venturing around the room and obtaining some first-hand information from the group members, concerning what we have done, are doing and will be doing in the future. Despite being camera-shy, I gave some information into my involvement in the group, with particular emphasis on my conceptual work, as well as my inspiration and my technique. I didn't really elaborate on my involvement in level design though, as I felt that this would be satisfactorily covered by Todd and Dan.

Behind the scenes, conceptual work continues as usual, although I have been delayed slightly due to the fact that I am currently juggling work from four pre-tertiary subjects at once. However, with the long weekend, I am planning to work on some more concept art, and have already been looking into reference material in the form of urban, inner-city architectural designs, for when my artistic prowess is turned towards the aesthetics of level design. I have also gained access to Adobe Photoshop at home, which means that I will now have much more flexibility in terms of where I can work on things such as textures and site design (and perhaps even digital conceptual art, if colour is required in the future). Now, I'm all set for when the texturing process starts, as I now possess the drivers for the college's Wacom tablets, and have arranged with Roger to be able to use the tablet outside of college, both for Interactive Media and Art Production.

Turns out that we may have, after much debate, settled on a name for our project - originally suggested comically by Andrew, "The Project" has now been accepted by a number of members of our group, as well as myself. After all, I find that sometimes the simplest of things have a much more pleasing effect overall than titles constructed from elaborate jargon.

Now, before I go to bed (going into Hobart later, which may be a chance to look at some architecture for future reference), I must drag my eyes away from these gruesome conceptual sketches by John Blanche, and concentrate on my own…

- N.

Punishment is sure for those who dare to cross the line…

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Post the Sixth

Date: Tuesday 4 March - Wednesday 5 March, 2008
Started: 11:43 PM
Finished: 12:11 AM

Me again… just noticed that the date for the last entry was wrong, and fixed it. But that's not the point.

Today, in Interactive Media, we viewed a presentation on how to structure project submissions (essentially, our brief). I must say that I found the tips on structuring the submission to be quite interesting and informative, especially in the usage of serif and sans serif fonts (being the linguaphile I am), and the placement of images and text. I have already started to implement this in other areas, namely a similar piece that I have been asked to put together for Art. This has proven to me that things such as Dirk's tips can easily be carried over into other subjects.

With our group meeting today, level design was a big factor, yet again, although the sub-group set up for this field went, essentially, out the window, as just about all of us, including mineself, got heavily involved in the process, with much enthusiasm. The first two levels were mapped out, and the enemy encounters for the second were worked out by Dan and I (as well as an idea for something of a homage to the underlying, lowbrow humour in games such as Duke Nukem, in the form of a boarded-up establishment named "Stuie's Bar", nestled down an alleyway… it can't all be serious, eh?). The level plans were drawn up on the whiteboard, as well as on computer, thanks to a handy device that Dirk let us use, named the Mimio. Some of the others investigated embedding code into the website, which I don't think was too successful, given the glaring error messages in the lower half of the main page.

Also, CSS code, and website design, were briefly discussed by myself, The Todd and Andrew. Todd and I agreed that the site layout will be a collaborative effort in terms of both visual and code work - this will help overall, as this gives evidence of us having a part in art, website design and coding.

Before I head off, I must say that I have been rather awed by Kodie's log entries, as his blow-by-blow analysis of most of the meetings (aided by the fact that he's the one who compiles the "Meeting Minutes" notes) and other relevant subject matter gives a good idea of the progression of our group and the as-of-yet unchristened project (which I wish to possibly dub "Project 9264" as a working title, although the others are heavily opposed for… a reason or two), whilst also helping me to get a good idea of his views and mindset on the matter of the project.

Well, now I'm off. It's past midnight, and I have to get up at 6:30. Well, at least I have a double free line in the morning.

Stuie's Bar, for the win. "Dawg".

- N.

Learn to swim, learn to swim…

Monday, March 3, 2008

Post the Fifth

Date: Monday 3 March, 2008
Started: 9:22 AM
Finished: 9:29 AM

Hoping you'll excuse my rushed Photoshop work, here's another concept, this time of a mutant "Shepherd" with an SMG (NOT A BOLTER!).


I was going to put in an alternate head design, with bandages and some sort of night vision or UV filter headset, but didn't get around to it. This guy also had a topknot before I scanned it in, but the guys and I didn't like it, so I Photoshopped it out.

I decided to go for a kind of ramshackle, "rambo-militia" look for this guy, considering he's at the top of the pecking order, and would probably have access to all of the best wargear. The SMG he's holding is not going to be one of the in-game guns, but is based heavily on an Arsenal "Shipka" SMG, discovered in the cyberspacial realm that is the Google Image database (same with the images I used as references for the looted bulletproof vest). Some innovative ideas of mine included the creation of armoured gloves by attatching steel plates to work gloves with studs, producing makeshift chainmail by fixing rings of industrial chain to ragged leather, and the use of vehicle armour plates, beaten into shape, as pauldrons and hip-shields (inspired by the armour and imagery of Games Workshop's Orks, as seen here). Particular attention was paid to the face, as this, when exposed, is a great way to explore the ugly, twisted nature of the mutants.

Anyway, I have work to do, so I'll have to log off.

- N.

There was a time that the pieces fit, but I watched them fall away…

EDIT: Did a little more 'shopping on the image and re-uploaded it.

[Roger] Artwork looks fantastic! And great journal posts as well…

[Nick] Why, thank you. I'm just glad I'm not filling it with spam.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Post the Fourth

Date: Saturday 1 March, 2008
Started: 1:31 AM
Finished: 2:04 AM

Took me seven hours to get on here tonight, because my brother and his friend were using the computer. Well, now I'm listening to Radiohead's "Karma Police", I'm absolutely exhausted, and I'm going to sit down and write up a blog entry.

Thursday's IM lesson, despite only being a single period, was a surprisingly important one, with the group uniting to discuss the various guns that were to be used in the game (some of them anyway, in accordance with Rhys' ever-important P.H.A.S.E. system). Whilst this was originally little more than most of the guys squabbling over what guns to include, this discussion eventually evolved into writing up the list of the guns that were to be included in P.H.A.S.E. 1 of development. And, as a result of this, the most significant (I would think) movements in the plot and level design departments were eventually made, in that we actually got to actually discussing the in-game plot and level design in detail (ending up with a somewhat rough outline of the layout and progression of the first level, as well as an idea of who the player characters are supposed to be). As mentioned by Mister Ludeke in his log, another of my conceptual sketches also surfaced, although in WIP form (the finished version will most likely find its way to this page on Monday), although I think it may have to be completed before appraisal and criticism can truly be made.

However, the biggest thing to come out of this meeting was the separation of group members in terms of plot design, with Dan, Andrew, Todd and Rhys focusing on plot development (although the final decisions will be made by the group at large), and Dan and Todd focusing on level design. I have also been (unofficially, for the time being) made a script-writer (the one who makes the mutants go "Arg"), as well as possibly being a candidate for voicing characters (although this was most likely a comedic implication based on my zombie rasps the other day). Andrew, Nick Kerr and I are also going to be working on background music (although we're currently not sure if that will actually make it in there… depends on how much we get done), with me requesting to help with drumming and composition. Enthusiastic as we are, Nick Kerr and I have already been experimenting with musical compositions for the game in our guitar tab programs… I think that I might as well try and learn more musical scales to make myself less restricted. And, seeing as how I've been offered a possible drummer postion in a band sometime in the future by a friend of mine, it may help to build on my natual drum talent and look into getting lessons when I have the time for it.

Roger also complimented me on my rather expansive Twitter activity log (I think he meant Twitter? That was where he left the message…) yesterday (although I only saw the notification a little while ago). Makes me feel glad that I'm not just spamming on there like some people probably are. I'll also have to check with Todd about Photoshop and 3D models soon, so that I know what I'm in for (although I already have a fair idea). Somehow, despite the obvious threat of exhausting amounts of work looming in the distance, I have a strong feeling that this project is going to be a very rewarding process for me… and fun, too.

Anyway, I'm not sure how much of this is actually making sense, since I'm very tired. So, I'll be signing off for the night.

- N.

And, now for the obligatory Tool quote…

Why can't we not be sober, I just want to start this over…

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Post the Third

Date: Wednesday 27 February, 2008
Started: 9:48 AM
Finished: 4:50 PM (due to major revision)

Ahoy there all,

Finally, we're beginning to make some real progress on this project. Yesterday, the group met in Interactive Media, and we finally got down to discussing the background behind the game (mostly concerning mutants, who are one of the core features in the game, and are, thanks to our efforts, going to have a background devoid of pseudoscience… well, as devoid as we can manage), as well as some of the more technical issues (specifically, level design - one level is even going to involve the players driving down a drained canal in a beaten-up truck whilst trying to fend off hordes of ravenous mutants). We also discussed the game rating, coming to the conclusion that the game's moderate violence and themes would probably warrant an "R" rating once the game rating system is changed (which will be soon, apparently). We also watched a presentation put together by Roger, specifically concerning the concept of virtual worlds (such as Second Life), and the ways in which the line between such virtual worlds and the real world are blurred. Not really my thing, but interesting nonetheless, especially concerning people actually making money through such a medium.

Whilst reading over Kodie's log a few minutes ago, I started thinking about the possibility of turning these meetings into some form of podcast, ala Penny Arcade's "Downloadable Content". Perhaps this is an idea which I should suggest to the team - after all, Kodie did say that he was possibly going to find a way to upload the audio from our meetings (although the approx. 2 hours of our previous meeting isn't exactly a reasonable size).

I'm also going to have to prepare for the texturing stage, which will most likely be upon us rather soon, considering the speed and quality of Kodie's 3D modelling. The main issue here is resources, as I will most likely need to accquire a Wacom tablet (considering that a mouse is much harder to use for Photoshop work), and will need to have access to one at both home and college. Unless I can come to an agreement with Roger…

- N.

Angels on the sideline…

[Roger] Yes - we can come to an arrangement… :-) Come and see me

Monday, February 25, 2008

Post the Second

Date: Monday 25 February, 2008
Started: 10:31 AM
Finished: 10:38 AM

Howdy all,

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the long-awaited "Mummy Mutant" sketch (we really need another name for them)…


I have included a couple of possible variations (an "arm-blade" mutation/crude synthetic graft, and a different head design) as well, as you can see from the image. I drew heavy inspiration from fantasy and horror movie mummies (using a Dungeons and Dragons illustration to help get the right "look" for the bandages) and various depictions of feral tribesmen when making this sketch, whilst taking inspiration from fantasy weaponry when deciding to implement the arm-blades.

Opinions, constructive criticism, etc, will be welcomed - this should be done over in General Discussion, however, and not in this thread. In fact, I will be making a specific thread for discussing the concept art of Todd and myself, so that's where to go if you have any opinions on any of our art.

- N.

P.S. Note that I deleted the previous entry, as I did not, upon looking back, see much merit in its existence.

Let me show you another way…

Note (19th August, 2008, during move from Wikidot to Blogger): It seems I can copy images over directly into these posts. Now isn't that the best thing besides Chuck Norris? (lol intarwebz meme roflmao!!!1onesixhundred11!!!)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Post the First

Entry #1

Date: Saturday 23 February, 2008
Started: 12:27 AM
Finished: 1:36 AM

And, finally, it begins.

Ah, it's been a big week, and that's just in Interactive Media (which has exhausted me enough as it is). I've lost track of just how many sites we've signed up to for this subject - Twitter, 43 Things, Gmail, Moodle… and I could swear there were a couple of others too, but I can't be certain, given that the hour is late, and I'm feeling almost completely drained after a (surprisingly) enjoyable week-and-a-day back at college.

Within a single week, we've already managed to make a fairly substantial amount of progress (mostly in the field of organization and planning, mind you, as the project is currently, in a sense, little more than embryonic). We've got the website up and running, with Andrew and Rhys hard at work trying to find out just how malleable Wikidot sites are in terms of customization, along with ironing out all of the kinks in the system. As mentioned over in Kodie's (b)log, Todd has started to familiarize himself with 3D models in Photoshop - a direction in which I shall follow very soon, given the fact that Todd and I are the artists behind the project. The coders are currently at work figuring out everything they need to know to make the game work (not sure how else I can word that, since I'm not exactly a programming virtuoso) - one issue that I have picked up on is that HammerEditor (sic) will not be sufficient for the project, so another program will be required (I've heard some things about something named an Orange Box?). And, the modelling is going well, with Kodie's brilliant katana being testament to that - three hours of work, and it's almost photorealistic in quality - I am surely going to have to find a way to tap into his modelling greatness, possibly through some form of psychic thought-theft. But enough on that.

On my front, I cannot say that the conceptual art itself has progressed very much so far - in fact, I am mostly finding inspiration (going very well, as my moods and creativity have soared over the past few days), as well as producing a number of reference images to help me in producing my art (mostly sketches to assist me with human anatomy, such as images of human musculature, and other images to help with things such as proportion - I have ended up looking at Leonardo da Vinci's famous "The Study of Man", and even the inside cover for Tool's "Lateralus" album for inspiration here!). The current concepts that I am working on are for human characters (basically the desperados and lone wolves of the post-apocalyptic wasteland), as well as for a type of bandage-clad mutant footsoldier (the term being used very loosely, given their inherent lack of organization) known fondly among the group members as the "mummy mutants" (a term that I believe may have been coined by the Dan). I am also planning on looking into things such as Warhammer 40,000 Orks in order to gain a good idea of what futuristic improvised armour would look like, for when I move onto bigger and better (and meaner) things. Won't say much more now, suffice to say that I think I'm going to be enjoying myself greatly before long.

Anyway, I had better call it a night - it's 1:35 AM, and I'm exhausted. Haven't been sleeping for long enough either (kept awake by checking and updating all of these websites for this subject), so I'd better get to work on fixing that little issue. And, once I'm refreshed, back to work…

- N.

Watch the weather change…

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Introductionalis [This is not an entry for assessment, Roger!]

"I tried to wake for so long, for so many fruitless months. But, one day, as I clasped my skull in the throes of grief, I groped at my eyes with waxen talons, and I finally came to see that they had indeed been open the whole time. From that point onwards, I have wanted for nothing more than the chance to return to the oblivion that is sleep."

By Nick Sinnett,
Written Tuesday 13 May, 2008


Thanks for the idea, Andrew.

Note (made during move to Blogger): I have taken the utmost care in preserving the original posts in the move to Blogger, even including notes made by Roger as a method of communicating with me and responding to my entries.