October 13, 2017

Game Character Rigging Fundamentals

It's been a while hasn't it? And here I am with three-month-old news. Things have been very busy the past several months and I tend to forget making posts to any of my social media profiles. This time I forgot about my own dang site! I'll try to make it up to you by catching you up on all the stuff that's been happening over all this time :)

First of all, the biggest thing is that I moved to Brazil! It took me a little too long to realize it was what I should have done in the first place. In the end, I just had to take the jump and trust that my family here would be there to cushion the landing. The biggest holdup before moving was a work-related one. Generally speaking, you don't work in the game industry from a distance. Companies like to have all their employees under one roof while they make things so with a big move in mind, I had to find work that I could do from any country.

I quickly found that getting work with other companies in the games industry was a stretch. I did my usual emailing of resumes and asking contacts and all that but just came out empty handed. If I wasn't turned down in an automated message, I heard back from them saying they don't take on remote workers. I know it's possible but I suppose the companies I was interested in would ultimately be the type to want an in-person relationship.

At the same I was looking for remote artist positions, I was also experimenting with tutoring. I have always loved to teach and after all this experience in the industry, I feel like I could offer a lot to someone getting started. Before sending any applications, I created a little tutorial for my YouTube channel that I could include as experience and an example of my style. Most of what I had to show from earlier was very old recordings I made in college that aren't that great and wouldn't help me find any work.

Soon after I made my tutorial for YouTube, I got an email from Pluralsight! I don't know if they saw the video or if it was just a coincidence that I had just made it but they were interested in me making a course with them and I was happy to accept the opportunity.

Working with Pluralsight was very different than my normal work so everything felt new and unexpected. The company - formally Digital-Tutors - is all about creating learning courses and their pipeline for producing a course feels very refined. Because all of it was so new to me, the preparation for my first course took quite a long time. Eventually I got to recording the rigging tutorial and very slowly continued progress on what would eventually become a five and a half hour course!

It took months to create and was a lot of challenging work as all the narration and editing were up to me but I found myself really enjoying the challenge and type of work that came with creating the course. Part way through, I ended up making the move to Brazil and had to finish the course in my new apartment. Things became much more of a frustration than a challenge at that point as neighbors from in the building and on the street below can be pretty loud.

To paint a picture: We have some dog-owners living on the street level below the apartment who's furry friends like to bark and snarl at anything walking by. There are all the "moto-boys" out delivering food who perilously streak through the streets on their very loud motorcycles. Every day is a celebration here in Jundiai as folks will set off fireworks in broad daylight at seemingly random points throughout the week. We are also neighbors to a car tuning shop who live to rev engines and cause backfires that sometimes sound a lot like hand grenades or other small explosives. On some particular nights, the dance school will have drumming events that can be heard from the apartment despite the great distance. It's also not uncommon for drivers to have large speakers tied to their cars blasting advertisements or political propaganda for all to enjoy.

I could really go on but for the sake of length and sounding too negative, I'll stop there. Because, to be honest, while much of it can be annoying at times, when I don't have a voice recording to worry about, living here is wonderful. Things that could be painted as negative are just strange and unusual aspects of living in a new country and I wouldn't trade it for anything. The atmosphere here is rich, colorful, full of music, singing and celebration. A great place to live but not so much to be recording. Not until we move out of this apartment anyway.

So that's pretty much the story of creating this course :) It was a tough one but a great experience that I should revisit when I get the chance to record in peace!

If you would like to check it out, either click on the post image or follow this link and get ready for some learning!

November 8, 2016

Sprout Landscape

The first big goal Alex and I set out to accomplish for this game was to create the open world landscape the player will be able to explore. We both wanted to make sure the environment felt just as much alive as the creatures who lived there so we didn't move on until we had a good foundation built. Much of the work was put into designing and scripting a good day cycle. There were a lot of tones and visuals I wanted to include for each phase of the day so the script was adjusted to accommodate that. Alex also made it really artist friendly so I could easily adjust color and weather values until we had something that looked right.

I'm really happy with the results! When you jump into the game, the weather patterns and day cycle create something unique each time and it makes for some great in-game photography. There is still a lot to tweak but for now it's at a good point to where we can move on. Our next step is a bit more daunting: I said before we wanted to make the environments feel alive; well now we need to bring the creatures to life!

July 18, 2016

Pocket Bite RPG

I'm a huge fan of DnD but I can never gather enough people on a consistent basis to play! That and the approach of a long flight back home got me thinking what a single-player DnD would look like. Well unfortunately I couldn't tell you... I never came up with a solution to that and I'm not sure there is. Once you remove the group element from a game like DnD, it becomes an entirely different experience. Most single player RPGs are heavily authored and aren't as open to the kind of expression and creativity you expect in a tabletop RPG. So having come to that conclusion, I still wanted to make something of the design I had started.

Introducing Pocket Bite! It's a little bite-sized RPG that is easy to learn and easy to play. It works just like your classic pen and paper RPG only there is much less preparation and calculations involved allowing more room for storytelling. At least this is my hope for the game. It's still in its alpha stages and I haven't done all that much play testing yet.

In addition to the rule set, I also made a little application that will eventually stand in for the pens and paper generally used to track characters and campaigns. Right now it simply lets you build a character and track all of their stats and items. This too is in it's early stages so it's missing a lot of functionality that would really make it essential for this game. I have a lot of plans for this RPG and the application so until I really go into production on it, everyone is free to take a look at the rules and try out the application all available on the site I made!

Since this time I was doing all the design and scripting, I decided to skip the art and use an asset pack to speed things along. I ended up getting this awesome "Roguelike" 1-bit sprite pack made by Bungie game director, Christopher Barrett! Coincidentally, my friend Dima currently works with him there. The sprites are just awesome and fit this project perfectly. If you like the style, you can check out it and other packs on their site.

March 24, 2016

#1 Dads

These are some dad knight models I made a while back that unfortunately never got finished. They were early ideas for boss characters but we found that they didn't quite fit the game. Luckily I can still show you and they won't just stay crammed in my hard drive like some forgotten pokemon. I was tasked with the concepts as well so read on for that if you like!

I had a lot of fun making them and I think they cover a good range of dad personalities. I know there are all kinds of dads but there are definitely some archetypes that I tried to use here. Imagine you were a kid in elementary school and you met your friend's dad briefly at a sleepover; your impression of him could have been a big, scary, ol' grizzly dad or maybe he was a more clean-cut, rule oriented dad. No Matter what their dad was like, it was always nice to get back to your humble, tiered, stubby dad the next day.

December 29, 2015

Time Tangle - Adventure Time OST!

I have been waiting for an opportunity to share this! I guess it's better late than never. I wasn't sure it was safe to share but Kevin posted his whole album so I guess its all fine! Also, be sure to check out Kevin's website and follow him on what ever social media outlet you use because he's got a lot more to share in the future, I can assure you!

The album art was done using a few of the game's power-ups and a slightly higher rez Finn model. Luckily the keytar and Marceline's ax bass were already part of the game because they fit right into this album cover!