The push before Easter
The last several weeks have been challenging, progress hasn't exactly been moving at the speed that we would have liked and several issues have prevented us from meeting ideal milestones and testing dates. Over the last several weeks I've been working on 3D assets, animation, visual styling and team management. Although I enjoy all of these tasks, not of them have been overly easy to execute and the slow progress hasn't helped, after the modelling of the character, (I was quite happy how it turned out) I began development of the inverse kinematic Rig, this is a more advanced rig than I'd traditionally use and has several procedural techniques that I've been wanting to try. I has to learn a lot about how to create this rig and how people move, after conversations with the team and research into the character I watched a great deal of ballet and dancing in general as the character has quite a floaty aesthetic that I wanted to incorporate into the rig structure. This rig willl allow the character to move in a certain way that is more characterful that a standard moment. I looked into using CAT rig (Character animated toolkit) This allows me to create and modify animations with values and numbers rather that keyframes. This is a very powerful piece of animation software and allows me to save clips and hopefully port animations to new meshes, this could speed up the animation process significantly. However this required a great deal of research. As I am not an animator I find it difficult to create animations I am happy with especially when they are an integral element of the game's feeling and flow so this is why I wanted to dedicate so much time into finding a solution.
After the rigging and weighting, (taking several days/weeks) I Moved over to art styling, I had earlier programmed a cell shading light shader but the team was generally mixed as to if this gave the desired style, some arguing that flat lighting was more true to concept. I spend several days working with colour and lighting to create different styles even using resolution to simulate a retro art style. I moved over to testing flat lighting but found that although the colours are nice, so more detail in the model is lost that the objects are sometimes hard to tell what they are at certain angles, I wasn't a massive fan of the style but understood the reasons, I set out to find a compromise. After several says I did some research into flat lighting artists and how they conveyed detail and I realised that texture detail can be used to either highlight elements or simulate shadows or shades. I worked with this on a basic tree object and was relatively pleased with the results. After showing the team we decided this worked well and was something to pursue. I will continue testing with this style to try and ge it exactly right however it will take some time.
After the riggin and art styling, I began working on creating an animation for the player character using animation values, this was quite successful and after learning the system and spending some time on it, I created a loop I'm happy to begin testing with, the actual animation can come later. I then moved over to working on the flute environment with Bernie, creating treehouses and rope bridges. Although this starting very poorly and I was not happy with the short term outcomes, I took a days break and came back to it and creating a treehouse environment that I'm genuinly happy with. I'm glad I took the to think it through rather than simply powering through the process. I created a 3 layer tree-house and created fully modular element for both platforms and the treehouses as to allow me to create several variations. I then spent some time discussing it with Ella. who made some suggestions and made some useful additions through concept art that I incorporated into the environment. Over the course of several weeks. I've been looking at handling marketing, the website and the team in general. Ella and I created a rough site through WordPress but I don't think either of us are impressed at the WordPress customizable options so this has taken a back seat for now. Now we push towards testing our first mechanic and our treehouse level as this is almost finished.