Last week we released an update on Steam and GOG, which contained some very sneaky crashes. With your help we were able to locate them and fix them and we are happy to say that a hotfix has been pushed out today!
Because of those crashes we decided to hold off on releasing the Xbox One update, and we will instead push it next week.
In other news, this week we learned that we made it to the top 20 finalists of the Future of StoryTelling Festival in NYC! If you enjoy We Happy Few and would like to support us, you can give us a vote here!
This week, other than coming back from France and the superstar lifestyle, I had the time to start blocking a new story location! I added at the same time some new modular offices set pieces like fancy stairs and huge ceiling lights.
Hello darlings, I won't bore you with all the little things I made this week for marketing purposes, instead I would like to take you on a thrilling journey through wallpaper land. I made some new wallpapers for the Village homes, ranging from geometric shapes to floral explosions. Making these tilable babies as seamless as possible was tricky, especially the floral ones, but overall I'm very pleased with the how they turned out.
The geometric pattern below was sent to Marc-Andre as an alpha with a little menu, so that the environment artists can easily toggle between colour palettes, depending on a Wellie or Wellette's decorative taste. They'll take up less space in the engine this way, so that's pretty sweet (credit to Marc-Andre for finding ways to manage my pixel hoarding habits). Other than that, I've been looking over the inventory screen in the menu, and I'm looking forward to sharing that with you guys soon!
This week, I am following up on my article from last week on our production pipeline for art assets at Compulsion. I hope it serves as inspiration for fellow digital artists and for the rest of you, as an interesting piece of knowledge. It’s always fun to discover how things are made. Since this is a follow up, you should definitely check out the first part right over here. It goes over roughly half of the production steps, including concept, planning, modeling and UV mapping.
After you’ve done the UV mapping, you are now ready to proceed to the texture baking stage. No, our 3D models aren’t cooked in ovens (although I’d pay a lot to see it happen). They are cooked inside Autodesk Maya LT 2016, one of our most used piece of software. Emmanuel, my fellow environment artist, and I bake textures using the Turtle Renderer plugin (integrated - but not activated by default in Maya). Baking textures means transferring details from a high poly mesh to a low poly mesh. In our case, we want to transfer normals (relief) detail as well as occlusion detail (spots where the model should appear darker, such as crevices and near the ground). Since We Happy Few uses almost no dynamic shadows (too expensive in a procedural game), we heavily rely on occlusion to unflatten lighting on objects.
After we’ve got the normal and occlusion textures, we head over to Substance Painter in order to create dirt maps. Dirt maps basically tell the computer where dirt should be added on the models. Common areas for dirt are often similar to occlusion: you want dirt in the crevices and where the model hits the ground.
After we’ve got all three textures created, we import everything inside Unreal Engine 4. We have material presets and textures we can then use to create the final result that you guys see. There are four main properties to consider: base color, roughness, metalness and normal details. Base color is the diffuse color of an object. Roughness is the reflectivity, metalness is how much ambient light bleeds onto your model and normals, as talked about earlier, define the relief of the model beyond its geometric detail.
The material editor in Unreal Engine is node based and therefore consists of linking a plethora of nodes together to create materials with different properties and parameters. I could spend weeks writing on this but my article is already getting pretty long, so let’s move on.
WEEKLY PRODUCTION LOG:
After I finished working on the kitchen assets, I’ve received a lot of feedback from Whitney regarding the overhaul of the Village houses. Since these date from the very early stages of the game’s development, their visual quality is very lacking when compared to all of the new stuff that’s been making its way into the game. Between remaking entirely new assets to replacing old furniture to rethinking the color palettes and lighting, there is a huge amount of work to be done. I even had to make a spreadsheet to keep track of every deliverable. These changes are very important and will make a strong impact. You might think the Village houses look fine as they are, but I can promise you that the before-after shots will convince everyone.
I don’t have a ton of screenshots to show regarding this complete overhaul since I’ve been running left and right making a lot of minor changes here and there. What I can show you, though, is a few of the variants I have created for the kitchens (still works in progress). By using various color palettes and material types, it is easy to create areas that are distinctively different yet harmonious in nature.
I’ve also been working on creating other assets we’ve been missing, such as a new wardrobe, a couch and outdoor table and chair. These last two have texture variants. The painted one is intended to be used in the Village whereas the rusted steel is to be used in the Garden District.
In the following weeks, I will take a look at my current workflow. Because of the amount of work I’ve been doing, I haven’t had much chance to test new plugins and update my Maya and Unreal shortcuts list and tips. I will take action and bring it up to date as well as add new tools or automations to make my work process even faster so I can produce better stuff in a lesser amount of time. Expect an update on this in the following weeks. I’ll try to not get too technical so everyone can follow, but that’s always difficult to do because of the specialized nature of our work
Hey everyone! This week I worked on wildlife! It’s been awhile since we wanted to add some critters in the game, but couldn’t find the time to make them. Finally, I was able to start working on a rat. We thought it would make sense to have them wander in the streets since we showed one in the piñata scene. So I completed the rigging and started a few animations. We decided to go with the basics first. I made two idles and a run cycle. With only three animations, we are able to create a very simple AI behavior. He will stop at random places playing the idle animations until a character comes close enough to scare him running out using the run cycle. We will soon be adding more animations to make him more believable and react to different types of environments.
Until then, here are the first animations:
Apart from paperwork to get my visa in order (I am a FRENCHMAN) and storyboarding secret scenes, I got a bit of time to start working on the turning animation for NPCs. For now most of the time they are just rotating on the vertical axis, which breaks my heart everytime I see it, even though no-one seems to care! I tried to make it work a bit better, but it’s not as simple as it seems… yet you might start to see characters turning to face you in a bit more natural manner one of these days !
Oh, and someone asked me to draw funny dudes for job offers.
This week I worked on “porting” the script from existing levels into our new “StateQuest” system. This should fix a lot of issues with the encounters, namely all the save game issues!
Thanks to this new system, scripts became smaller and easier to work with. For instance, this is the before and after of “Where’s the Power?”:
...and it has far fewer bugs than before!
See you next week!
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