A while ago, I created a low-poly game character and used it in a game engine demo to get jobs in software development in Austin and LA (in-game, pictured just below). That helped my overall portfolio. But, I thought, “One day I’m going to spend the resources do a real product with this“. And, when that time came around to do it, I wanted to be ready. I didn’t want to license a character or the props. I decided to take the time back then to learn the discipline.
Fast forward to now… I’m not sure why I stopped doing it. I miss it. I want to get back to that work. I have great memories of that time period in LA a few years ago. I loved making models and texturing and animating them. I mean, the whole 3D rendering pipeline has always fascinated me. I build a 3D software wireframe/fill renderer for new platforms whenever I encounter them – browser, standalone, embedded display, in ActionScript, JS, and C/C++, etc. because it’s interesting. I have a sincere passion for everything about 3D software that just hasn’t died out over time. It’s persistent, and I kinda have to pay attention to it. 🙂 And now, I want to make a game of my own, all the way through to ship. So, I decided to revamp that guy as my main character and move on with my former plans.
A F U L L S A I L S T O R Y
Ever since I graduated from Full Sail (Recording Arts) for audio engineering stuff, I have had my eye on 3D animation and game design/dev. I was friends with a lot of Game Design and Game Development program students there, and on the weekends and in the evenings and they showed me the stuff they were doing. And, although I wanted to do audio stuff primarily, I really, really, looked up to the game creation discipline. We learned audio concepts, big mixing consoles, and Pro Tools. They learned game concepts, Maya, Max, Photoshop, ZBrush, etc. – all that kinda stuff. And, that’s what I have been up to too, lately. I’m learning Maya end-to-end, trying to get my polygon topology right and stuff like that.
Back in school, us audio guys were playing video games, too, between classes – it was almost a “club” between a certain group of us. “How far did you get in that game this weekend?“, “Did you get to the place where you have to…“, “What did you think about the gameplay?“, “Are you using 5.1 surround?“, etc, etc. It added to my enthusiasm for games. And, plus, we worked with the game department in the studio all the time – mixing music, making stems, doing foley, and processing voiceovers. And, I did that in Hollywood, too. I have kind of been hooked on game dev since back then – the whole, entire process is fascinating to me.
The newly revamped character (above). I’ll have a few different kinds of hats he can wear.
A H O L L Y W O O D S T O R Y
Even when I moved to Hollywood, after a few years of audio/music studio stuff, I dropped out of that career track professionally (basically. But, I continued to use the skills for my music releases and personal projects) and went back to school for Computer Engineering in LA. But, my sole purpose, or let’s say, “ulterior motive”, was to go back to engineering school to learn math down solid so that I could develop games! That’s for real. I was pumped. So, it’s been a long time coming for me to decide to build a full game and get it out. I’m deciding to now.
I went through the entire math track in school from algebra to trigonometry to calculus to physics and vector math. I’ve been enthused with it for the last 8 years since I got that education. I have used the knowledge throughout the years in my career, developing lots of 2D games and puzzles and stuff in Flash for my employers. And, now I have the chops to do a 3D game and not be scared to the enormity of it, with these pieces filled in. And, like I said, the interest in it never died for me, so… I gotta create a 3D game in 2016 and 2017. 🙂
B A C K T O T H E G A M E
So, I got back into Maya last month and got my old game demo character revamped. I’m guessing to took me about 80 hours or so to get everything right, and it’s still not done – the textures are just in a prototype state still, and it requires rigging and animating. I have a smoothed version here with a medium poly count, but it will be optimized for the game when I’m through. When I was considering my options concerning models, the way I really felt was that I didn’t want to be “robbed” of the fun of the creation of the assets. It would save me time to get them made elsewhere, but didn’t want to trade the experience. So, I didn’t license or base it off anything, I just started from the first poly and went from there – not even a reference photo. It’s similar to drawing human faces and carving wood faces like I have been doing, but virtually. It’s a great tie-in art for me and I’m having fun.
As for the programming part, I have that part under control. And, I’ve got the music and SFX part down, too. So, as soon as I get all of the assets, textures, rigging, and animation ready, created and collected, I’m ready to do some programming to tie the “game part” together.
I am really loving creating the models though – tires, rocks, trees, walls, floors, the kits, taking texture photography, and animating the different takes. My goal is to come out with a real, tested, quality game that can be truly enjoyed by people (and myself), with my own art style. I will see this project through (while I’m also doing the Hexagon Craftworks stuff and the audio applications, too). Luckily, I’m a good planner (almost to a fault), when I decide on something.. I can’t do a heavy bench press or fight fire or play basketball or manage teams that well, but I can do computer science as it relates to art pretty well. My target for this game is XBox One. Mobile versions might come through, too. PC might come through. I don’t know. I’ll get a good game going first. Mid-2017?
J U S T F U L F I L L I N G, T H O U G H
I’ll report more about the progress here in my project log and meanwhile continue iterating through my various projects. I’m motivated. I’m getting better on every front. That’s all I can ask of myself – just incremental progress every day on my key skills. Like some of my heroes : Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Edison, Gordon Moore, Bob Noyce, John Carmack, John Romero, Michael Abrash, John von Neumann, Albert Einstein, Steve Wozniak, James Maxwell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Feynman, Joseph Fourier, etc… They kept going. They had passion. I have it too. I do appreciate the position that they put themselves in – where they could use their disciplines for fulfillment as well – gotten regularly by busting through barriers, achieving milestones in the fields of study that they loved. Their time and energy spent was worth it, I’m sure of it. It’s satisfying to be engaged and actually make good progress in something – even if it’s hard and takes a long time.
Well, time to go. I’ve been making a new garden. A big one. I’ll post about that next time.