Middle of Week 14

I tend to write these posts when I get some spare time. That seems to be happening less and less these days. Things are going to get worse. Cutting into sleep, kind of worse soon. But busy is always better than not busy.

The art team has been doing much better. I know we've spent three months on concepts, but it's really important we get this down so tight that players will instantly be able to recognize a Neg Wath building from a Sherite one. I want that sense of dread when a Kaynish player is exploring the forest and they round a corner, and see a Neg Wath building close by and know they might be in trouble.

The character concept artists still have a lot of clothing styles to design, but I think it makes more sense for them to move around faction wise. They work on pretty much what ever they want. What I like about that is they're able to build contrast. After all, it's hard to establish what something is without establishing what it isn't.

As for character models, we're still working that out. Our options are to take a low poly model, map it, smooth it into a high poly mesh and use that to get a normal map for the low poly, game friendly version, or start with a high poly model and retopologize it down to low poly. In either case, I'm hoping to get done with that in a month. I'd like to be able to start recruiting animators and replace the default characters the HeroEngine comes with.

Also in art news, I've been tinkering around a lot with the flora in the game. I went on a field trip a couple days ago to a nature reserve and took a lot of pictures of stones, sand, grasses, and flowers. Since a "green screen" wouldn't have made sense, I took a pink sheet of paper with me. For flowers and blades of grass, I'd put the sheet behind it, then take the picture. Once I got home, it was easy to go into Photoshop, select for the color pink and delete it. That's essentially how a green screen works. Now I have 2d pictures of plants cut out from a background. That makes it much easier to put in the engine to give a photo realistic look to the terrain. I'm still playing with compression types for .dds files and bump maps, but it's coming along.

Not much to report on the programming front. There's some things brewing on the business side of things, though it's hard to predict how it will all pan out. Lot's going on with Loki's Planet, but again, hard to see how that's all going to go.

I'm still looking to expand the writer team for Loki's Planet. I think it's a little frustrating. The game industry is incredibly difficult for writers to break into. I'm offering a way for writers to get some publishing credits and a journalism portfolio, plus have the opportunity to make contacts--what better way to get game companies to know who you are than to give them free publicity by reviewing their games--and it's still a struggle recruiting people. Game journalism is one of the best ways into the industry for writers.

Ah, speaking of writing, I got a little side job. No big deal. It's only about a day and a half of work, but it pays well. A new start up company is making an RPG in the Unity engine and they hired me to write the lore and back story for the world. Anthropologist / game writers are pretty rare. Most people don't care about writing lore that's the least bit realistic. So I was inspired by the fact here's a group of professional game developers with AAA titles under their belts that don't really know me, but wanted to hire me to write up a lore design document for their game to get the story off to a proper start. Is this part of a trend of game companies starting to care more about having stories that aren't stupid? I hope so.

I'm still uncomfortable with the "So, what do you charge?" question. The more you ask for, the better they think you are and more they want to hire you. I don't care about that though. I just like creating worlds. I'm happy to charge whatever the bare minimum I need to be able to scrape by as long as I can keep tinkering on game lore and story.

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