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Error 404

Error 404 – 3D Models

I created my main character model in Daz3D. Daz3D is a great software for indie developers and designers that are not very comfortable with 3D modelling from scratch. Character Modelling, especially in this style of semi-realism can take a big chunk of development, especially if the development is done solo. One good example of using middleware like this is the game Bright Memory. Developed by a single person using Character Creator 3 and Unreal Engine, the developer could finish the development cycle in a timely manner and with high quality due to using software that streamlines otherwise difficult elements of the work. Focusing back on Daz3D, the software features built-in support for Unreal Engine’s default mannequin skeleton which allows Plug’n’Play support for additional store-bought animations. I have drawn concepts for my main character determining how I wanted her to look. My vision was to have two long blue ponytails as well as a black catsuit with high heels. I installed the aforementioned “Daz to Unreal” plugin which helped me move the 3D model and skeleton straight to Unreal.

In Daz, I also changed the texture and colour of the skin according to my initial sketch. The original texture looked too human, and I wanted my character to appear more like a robot. In Unreal Engine, I altered the base texture by desaturating the texture, giving it more of an inorganic look, and with a touch of metallicness added to it, it looked very much like an imitation of human skin on a robot.

The inspiration for my character’s design was heavily inspired by the cyberpunk aesthetic. Her clothing was also inspired by 2B’s clothing, the main character in NieR: Automata. I love strong female characters that fight in heeled shoes.

I want to include health pickups in my game so that the player can heal up before and after combat. To keep this model in harmony with the lore of my game I decided to create a tube of green “blood”. This is the blood of the android race. My first health pick-up idea was to make it a circuit board, however that would not be able to stand out as well to the player that the item is a health pickup. In addition, the model needed to be simple to be easily readable during combat and in contrast with the cluttered background.

To make the tube I simply used a cylinder shape and placed an edge loop at the top and another at the bottom; these will be the two lids of the tube. I extruded each edge loop slightly until it was clear enough that they were extruding from the middle. I wanted the two ends of the tube to be different colours so for this I selected the top and bottom faces and assigned a new material. From here I made a slightly metallic texture to assign to these parts. The middle part of the tube is what I wanted to be most apparent to the player, so I decided to make it stand out. Adding a new material to this part, I added a Constant3Vector node to the emissive input. To make the emissive stronger, I also included a multiply node and multiplied it by 10; this increased the strength of the colour, so it appeared that it was glowing. The colour as well as the glow will make it a lot more interesting to the player and will indicate that it can be picked up. The model will also be rotating slowly in-game giving it a bigger impression of a collectable object.

My inspiration for this was Detroit: Become Human. This inspired me because the blue blood of the androids was a big factor of the game as one of the playable characters, Connor, used the blood to identify androids and how they were hurt. I really liked the idea of my androids being able to bleed, however, I did not want it to appear like human blood, hence why I chose the colour green. Green is also a colour associated with healing and health in many games as opposed to the colour red which would indicate danger or player damage.

As visible in the image of my model below, somehow when I selected the faces to assign separate materials, a couple of edges did not get selected, resulting in a line of separate colour. Although this was an accident, I liked how it looked, it gave me an impression of wires and circuits.

For the blade that the character will use in combat, I began by sketching some concept art. I wanted to have a twin blade weapon. Once I had settled on the design I wanted, I used it as a plane in Maya. I used a knife tool to cut around the blade so I can get the curves. I then deleted the faces I would not be needing. Using the extrude tool, I extruded it to be the thickness I would be needing and smoothed it. I then duplicated the one blade I had made and flipped and rotated it to create the second blade. Finally, I included a long cylinder between the two for the handle. Like the health pick up I had made previously, I wanted to have a glow effect on the blades, so I made separate materials for both the blades and the handle. From here I parameterised the colour and strength of the emissive material I had made previously with the health pick-up item so that I could create instances of it to use in different models. For this specific model, I changed the emissive strength to 5 as I did not want the glow to be as strong. I also changed the colour to pink to work with the cyberpunk aesthetic.

I decided for my character to be using a twin-blade weapon as I feel like it would work best with the hack and slash combat style. This weapon looks smoother combined with the animations and it enhances the play style in the way that the player will achieve more range in combat all while keeping the style. I also wanted the character to be holding the weapon in one hand while out of combat and standing idle, this eliminated the idea of having two separate swords as the character stance would be different out of combat. During combat the character will grasp the weapon with both hands, this brings more attention to the weapon as well as giving the weapon a glowing material since combat will be a big part of my game. I wanted the main character to look elegant and strong while holding the weapon, so I chose to have her holding the weapon in one hand behind her when she is both idle and running.

Evaluation

This is my evaluation of the 3D modelling pipeline for my game Error 404. Throughout this evaluation I will be going over the process of modelling, texturing and implementing these models into my game and the problems I have faced as well as the solutions I tried.

While modelling for my game I encountered many issues that have slowed me down. My skills as a 3D modeller are still not very strong however, I have been able to find ways of working around my problems and learning new things using tutorials.

As the game required several pick-ups for things like Health, I researched the design principles of readability in modelling. This helped me decide that the shape of the health pick-up should be pretty simple and for the materials to stand out. The player should be able to read the environment quickly and easily in-combat so that they can make quick decisions. A simple design and glowing green material made the health pick-up very visible even in densely packed environments.

Going more in-depth with the health pickup item, An issue that I had encountered while I was making the health pick up was that I did not fully select all the edges and faces I wanted to separate from the others so that I was able to create different materials. Eventually, I ended up liking how it looked anyway and decided to keep it.

Practising and learning new shortcuts in Maya could improve my overall modelling skill and performance. While my current model does not capture what I had envisioned I am planning to replace the placeholder model in the near future all while hoping to improve my overall knowledge of Maya.

While modelling the weapon, I found it very difficult as I was unable to get the curves on the blades how I wanted them. After some research, I found another way to accomplish this. I used the knife tool to cut out the outline of the blade section from my concept art out of the plane. While browsing YouTube for tutorials, I found out that the best way is to extrude from the 2D plane. Upon further research, the smoothing action helped me to achieve the look I was looking for.

Personally, I am happy with the models that I have been able to make, however, I want to create more complex models as my skills improve.

To make my character model, I chose to use Daz3D to streamline the process of character modelling. Character modelling is still one of the more daunting jobs in the gaming industry and many tools such as Daz3D help smaller indie developers to create their character quicker and achieve the high quality that the gaming industry demands.

Daz3D also has a vast library of available tutorials so this helped me to pick things up quickly and achieve the style of character to fit the style of game I have chosen to make. In addition, the densely packed repository of available hair, clothing, body and facial models allowed me to create the character I wanted quickly. I am happy with the overall outcome of using Daz to create my character model, especially as it had native support for Unreal Engine.

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Error 404

Error 404 – Animations

To create my character, I used Daz3D and I used the Animation set “Twinblades Animset Base” in Unreal Engine 4 (https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/en-US/product/twinblades-animset-base). I used a Daz to Unreal plug-in to import my character mesh and skeleton to UE4 so I could begin retargeting.

Since my character is built differently to the default model used in the animation set, I had to retarget the animation to my character in Unreal. Since she is wearing high heels, I had to retarget the animation on the heels of her feet. I also had a lot of issue with trying to animate the hair. I had originally planned to include bones in the pigtails, but it did not look smooth and it was not moving in a flowy fashion when she was moving. Instead, I used cloth simulation on her hair, and it worked a lot better.

Below is the light attack animation that I retargeted to my character and I am happy with the fluid motion.

Here is the running animation. I have kept her hand behind her as it would be holding the weapon. This will make it easier for the player since they have quick access to their weapon to fight enemies.

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This is what the character looks like moving around in a scene. She has a quick jumping animation for more nimble movement. I wanted the character to feel quite fast and light to play, hence her quick running and slimmer build.

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I made a Blend Space 1D that will blend between a run and a sprint animation, using the characters velocity to drive the Blend Space.

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This Blend Space is then placed inside the state machine as a “state”. The Blend Space is quite comprehensive and includes start/stop animations for both run and jump.

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This state machine’s output is then cached to be used in a secondary state machine.

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This state machine then uses an Enumeration to toggle between movement, light and heavy attacks.

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The Enumeration is driven using the character Blueprint that takes the custom attack input and sets it to light or heavy attack accordingly.

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