Friday, October 25, 2013

GSI Simulation Part 2.5 - More Blocking

Short update this week! The last batch of images showed how the blocking of the GSI had started to take shape. Over the past week or so, I've been expanding on the original design for each of the rooms, and have added in some extra hallways and explore points (because otherwise it's basically one long hallway from start to finish). By adding these hallways, it also gives me options for expanding each of the main areas later on to flesh them out (such as adding a surgical bay or patient rooms to the medical bay).

Here's a quick screenshot of how everything looks now (wireframe, top view). Eventually, once these levels are streaming properly, they'll all be placed on top of one another with the elevators working as loading zones.

In addition to working on the brush work, the past few weeks have also been filled with the first steps towards getting the code to play nice. The GSI Simulation will involve both Kismeet and custom code, and getting the two to work together has been a challenge (for someone who hasn't touched unreal code in 5 years!). But so far, everything is working as planned. Still a long way to go, but it's a start.

So what's next? Well, you're probably asking yourself "where's the gameplay in all of this?" Because even though the focus of the project is a layout piece, I still want to give you something to DO. I don't want to give away all the fun stuff, but I'll give you some hints about what's to come. What you see in the image above is only HALF of the brush work that will be in the final version. That second half is next up on the docket.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

GSI Simulation: Part 2 - Blocking

Well, here we are about a week later, and progress is coming along. Thought I'd post up some images to show you how my previous 2D maps are progressing in 3D space.

For right now, I'm focusing on gray-blocking the main locations of the GSI, which includes the Great Hall, the HQ, the Medical Bay, the Research Lab, and the Security HUB. Eventually, I'll add in a lot of extra hallways and elevators to connect all these areas together, but for now, the rooms themselves will work. I've kept the construction as simple as possible, blocking out all the main architectural elements of each room.

First up is the Great Hall. This is the elaborate entry way to the GSI, and is the first thing that visitors see. A big feature of this room is it's curved walls and sloped ceiling. Right now I've kept it cylindrical, but eventually this room will stretch out lengthwise for a more gradual curve.

Next we have the HQ. This is arguably the most important room in the GSI, and it's the one I'm most looking forward to working on as this project moves forward. Originally this room was only one floor with a very high ceiling, but the space required to create this made the room feel way too big. Shrinking the room and adding the second floor helped tremendously.

As the main command post, there are many important elements to this room that I wanted to show in the blocking. On the lower level, four entrances are connected via sloped ramps to the center of the room, where a large holographic table is located. I've thrown in some static characters to show some height for that table. Three ramps lead up to a second floor, which is supported with large columns as well as metal beams on the ceiling. On the fourth wall is the GSI's main computer screen.

The Medical Bay is a unique room in that it features a sealed quarantine area. To help show off the effect, I've created beveled windows and changed the texture to be able to see the whole room at a glance, similar to how it will look when all the art is in. Besides the quarantine, the room also has a section blocked off for an office space, as well as a medical fridge. The remainder of the space has been left open.

The Research Lab features another quarantine space near the entrance, but the rest of the room is rather simple. Three offices line one wall, while a larger walk-in laboratory finishes off the space. Of all the GSI rooms, the Research Lab is one of the smallest.

Finally we have the Security HUB. This room was originally designed to be a large open space with several computer terminals, the star of which is the large central pillar with a rotating chair. Since this is more of an art piece, I've simplified this by using a cylinder for now. Another piece of this room is the cell block (not pictured), which is a series of rooms down an adjacent hallway.

And that's where we are so far! For the next update, I'll probably do a video walkthrough to show off more of each of these areas. Alas, I don't have a mic, so you won't have to listen to me drone on and on, but look for some text with the video to help explain things.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

GSI Simulation: Part 1 - The Concept

So, looks like a brand new level design project is up on the docket. For now, I'm calling this the "GSI Simulation," so you can track this project using that title.

For a number of years, I've been involved in playing and teaching a table-top RPG called Shadowrun. This involved creating campaigns for my players to make their way through. One of the central concepts that I developed was the GSI - a fictional agency in the Shadowrun universe that works to protect the world from dangerous "hidden" threats. During the third campaign, the GSI came into the spotlight as a key location visited by the players. One of the missions even centered itself around moving through the various spaces of the building.

Of course, during a table-top game, it's all about describing locations and their features to the players, but for a while now, I've wanted to take this to the next step. Since I've already developed most of the layout of the building (and drawn maps to go along with it), translating this to a full 3D world "should" be a fairly painless task. But, for those who know me, there's no way I'm going to be leaving it there.

This new version of the GSI is going to be developed like a simulation for a new recruit in that players will be given a VR (virtual reality) guided tour through the facility. Along the way, various things could happen - maybe some bad code has gotten into the simulation and corrupted it, maybe it's being re-written while the player is inside, who knows - something to make the level into more of a "game" rather than just a 3D google map.

The first stage of the project is to get all the plans down on paper. I know that I'm going to be using UDK for the project, but this is also going to be a learning experience for me with 3DS Max - I want to make sure that the visuals come out the way they look in my head, and the best way to do that is to do it myself (instead of using pre-existing static mesh and textures). For the most part, this will be a challenge - it's been a long time since I've worked in actual UDK as opposed to custom editors, but once I get going I expect things will come back pretty easily.

Once the paper plans are done, the next step is to block out the level. Look for another post in the future when that starts up!

Link: Learn more about Shadowrun

Link: Learn about my course at VFS

Link: Browse the GSI database (User Name: Guest, Password: GSI)


Hello and welcome!

I appear to have journeyed into the realm of a blogger. I have no idea whether anyone will read this, but in case you are, feel free to look around, leave comments, and come along for the ride.

I have a lot of projects on the go in my spare time, and people I know are sometimes asking how I do what I do. I thought I would use this space to take you through some of those projects, and give some insight into my processes. You can look forward to reading about how I design quests and levels, how I make music, and what goes into my writing - hopefully in an entertaining and fun manner!

Also, since this blog is somewhat new, look for a facelift in the future - I don't know about you, but this black isn't cutting it.