Thursday, 8 January 2009

Dark Night Soul Hammy Melodrama

The ever decreasing list of things to do is .... ever decreasing. In fact we (that's the royal we or the Gollum we, whichever we prefer) are not only down to a single yellow, sticky, Post-It note (which is what passes for design docs around here), but are now just down to the tiny scrawled print at the bottom corner. And after that, we'll have a full, big-old environment completed. At last.

Low Poly FTW!

It's mostly a matter of detailing those little things which would look amiss if they were not there. Sign posts to give the locale a place in a world beyond it's own existence, a public street map saying "you are here" and then no arrow to go with it, a closed down Post Office because of government funding cuts. And a walkway bridge which I forgot to do in the beginning and have just realised that there's an electrified railway track with no way to get from one side to the other. And a few other bits.

"Bits" are allowed to have humour

And it's bits which have preoccupied the last 2 or 3 or so months. Warning signs just to make sure that people know that the bit of railway track which does not have a barrier blocking it is electrified - and thus is blocked (until I stick the footbridge over it anyway). Benches, tables, timetables, waiting lists, telephone kiosks, a baker's dozen worth of signage, parked vehicles, and all the base, texture, normal, specular mapping and multi-level_of_detail modelling which goes with it all. It's all bits, and not the most fun bits. It's not the intellectual stimulation of writing AI scripts or scripting gameplay sequences which is my real forte. It's all a bit like donkey work.

And as a creative, we hit "The Dark Night of The Soul" (cue stabby-shower-scene-from-Psycho-music!). It's when fatigue sets in, morale plummets and rum intake goes through the roof. It's probably what pro's call burn-out. I've been blogging/in full dev mode since March, and I don't do holidays.

Of course there's an easy solution to this - keep going. Don't stop and do something else because it's more interesting/fulfilling/entertaining, putting off the enivatable and the neccessary is the worst thing to do. Get the horror over with now and look forward to the fun stuff later - infinitely better than having the horror constantly lurking on the horizon, brooding at you. Just slog through. As an obese, chain-smoking, alcoholic, former opium-user once said; "If you're going through hell, keep going".


The slog continues, but is nearing the end. A new year has dawned, rum consumption has dropped off, morale leveled out, fatigue is ... well, pretty much where it always is, so no great shock to the system there. The one good thing about donkey-work is that it doesn't take up all your creativity, thus allowing the mind to quietly handle future ideas and plots on it's own, allowing them to ferment and evolve with no actual help from oneself, 'cos oneself is busy doing something frustrating and long-winded. And my hard-drive blowing up in the middle of all this wasn't exactly helpful.

It might not look much but it imparts plot - and helps cover a bare wall

So 89 textures currently finished (multiply that by 3 for normals and specular mapping), 49 completed models (multiply that by 3 to 5 for level_of_detail), and one huge .map/bsp with 9752 surfaces (which still needs a bit of tweaking here and there), and one considerably smaller low poly church and chapel. A bit more work (mostly texturing) and this environment will be completed, along with most of my core models, and just as importantly, a methodology for working efficiently and effectively designed from our trials-and-errors.

DRL for shininess, Normal for performance (or to combat migrane)

261 individual models in use, an extra 300 in replicated trees, the enormous bsp of the town itself and excellent fps with visibility set to draw all, and it's still good with a load of AI running through their raycasting routines for targets in a little shoot-through test I conducted.

And Torque Game Engine Advanced was voted best engine of '08. Linkage


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