Studio Work – Billy Goat

For our studio project I was given the chance to work with Billy Goat Entertainment. A Northern Irish Games Company who worked on Her Majesty’s Spiffing. It was a great opportunity working alongside William Barr and his game Supermarket Shriek. Our task was to create interesting characters for the game as well as come up with a level for the game.

Initially we started off with just character design, we were told to focus on creating characters that would fit into the supermarket setting, after that we would be able to have a more free roam. So when creating the characters we would try and cover as many variations as possible ranging from normal everyday characters, to more colourful characters like knights and pirates.

Initially I worked on the environment rather than the character, I built a pretty rough outline of a possible level heavily based of off the original level Billy Goat had already done, however the level was designed so it was split up into 3 parts of a grocery store. The butchers (the obstacle being the large knives), another being the fresh foods, possible exploding fruit or something? (I didn’t think that one through) and the other being the freezer area,  the obstacle would be a slippery floor. Here is the concept for the level:

There were issues with this like the ramp, it would be too steep for the cart in game. and that the slippery ice might be a problem with the game engine. After this we were told to develop some characters for the game. We were told to keep the characters modular, by this they meant create a base design for the character that has no gender and is just a blank slate, then add modular items of clothing to it. We each decided to have a go at creating some (roughly 3 each) here are a couple of renders of our characters :

The 3 characters I developed were a pirate, a knight and an army man. The outfits were modular so you could mix and match with the original base staying the same. I textured the pirate character and the ship in substance painter, we were told to only use diffuse/ albedo maps so the renders you see above are just albedo/colour maps. The renders are done in marmoset, I render in marmoset as it allows for an easy transfer to unity or other physically based renderers. After a while developing characters we wanted to move the supermarket shriek into an interesting direction by adding an interesting new environment. We looked at the game overcooked as a reference pointed and noticed that the levels weren’t just a kitchen but brought in new interesting environments that influenced the gameplay. We opted to go with the pirate environment as well as the pirate character. For the pirate environment I looked at pirates of the Caribbean for inspiration, specifically the Disneyland ride and the Tortuga environment from the movies.

I stole some different ideas from each like the style of the buildings from Tortuga, the tower from the ride and the mast from the ride as a way to make the scene more interesting. I also thought about ways that gameplay could come into it, so I added an archway that the character could enter through, a long set of stairs that barrels could be pushed down to be obstacles, a barrel leaking rum to make that area slippery,  a cannon on top of the tower and I thought that off screen that ships could shoot at you. I also placed a well in the middle to split up the track into a simple circle. The actual goal could be to collect rum bottles or pirate treasure around the map. I also tried to keep the map modular so you can pick up and move the models around to create a track, for example the rails around the border are all modular, there are 4 or 5 types but you can just click and drag them around. as our the houses which are just 1 2k texture map. I also wanted to add in some coconut trees but I wasn’t sure how to capture the style correctly with the leaves. Here are some renders of the map going through development.

A few things to note, the environment is rendered in marmoset, so it is easy to move to unity, it is textured in substance painter and the pieces are all modular. The sea is reused from another scene that I have been working on (the kraken scene), it was created in Cinema4D but would be replaced by the game engines water.

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Discipline of Choice

So for my discipline of choice I wanted to try something new with the environments I create, usually I stick to hard surface modelling creating interior environments and stone structures. This time however I wanted to create something with fluid in it as well an organic creature. Recently the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean came out and it got me thinking about 2nd movie with the Kraken attack. This lead me to planning a dynamic kraken scene based on Dead Man’s Chest.

My main concern was the water, at first I thought of creating the water in maya using bifrost but I found that that lead to complications with importing it to marmoset which is the program I use for rendering my models. So I ruled that out, instead my cousin Michael told me about a program called Cinema4D. I used a plugin called Hot4D for Cinema4D that allows you to create realistic water and texture it. It wasn’t a difficult process as there are tonnes of online tutorials for it. The hard part was bringing it into marmoset and getting a luminance shader for marmoset. It was a challenge getting it to work but it worked really well. It was a little trouble finding the balance between blue and the green hue that the sea emits.

For the tentacles of the Kraken I originally used some curve tools in maya and then extruded a cylinder along the curve. After that I exported them in zbrush, after sculpting the suckers and such in zbrush I then zremeshed it so it was a low poly mesh and baked it. After that I brought it into substance painter and exported it into marmoset.

Here you can see some renders of the final product as well as some earlier versions. I will also include a link to my artstation so you can see the marmoset viewer. It is lower quality since I don’t have a pro subscription but it still shows it off quite well.

This project was a challenge, it brought me out of my comfort zone in terms of creating an interesting scene but it’s nice to do something different. Up until now I have been creating environments and assets with not real story to them, they are just environments. However with this piece of work there is so much going on and I think I did well achieving a dynamic scene which is what I was aiming for. I wanted to make it seem like the scene was in motion.

I can still however pick flaws with, the most notably being the water and the lack of foam. With the water breaking on the ship and the tentacles there should be water lapping up against them rather than the objects just sitting in the middle of the water. Sadly I haven’t figured out how to do this in Hot4D, I know you use a vertex map to create the foam but I haven’t learned how to put it into practice but I will eventually. However I have been working on this for a month on and off and there comes a point where you have to say it’s done.