Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Cliche versus unCliche! Also Less Squinting and Forget How to Draw

I decided to take advantage of the New Year Sales - also getting in before VAT was going to go back up to 17.5% - to rid myself of the constantly malfunctioning Dell RAID setup which I've spent 3 years complaining about ... but not done anything decisive to stop complaining about it. Well I have now, getting a single Western Digital with more cache than the RAID, and also the new working copy of Vista ... I think it's called Windows7 ... but basically it's Vista without the bugs.

Also, whilst my folks had spent a month in the States jamming with 1950s rock stars, I'd swiped their digital TV to use as a monitor. I had quite liked this on the grounds that previously, on my old 20inch monitor I couldn't read text on the internet at full resolution and modeling in Blender was a pain. So I invested in some screen real estate and bought a 1080p TV to replace my monitor, and I can now see what I'm doing in full resolution without squinting. Or drop a resolution and everything is HUGE.

After a bit of "faffing", I got the brightness, contrast, colour to be the same as my monitor.

I feel a sudden need to explain that I don't really have the illustrated desktop background ...

Right, that's my budget for the next decade blown - back to deving.

I'd needed to come up with some sort of bad guys of a scary humanoid nature. So, I started on the Cliche. Scary Humanoid Monsters come in a variety of cliched forms ... they're cliches because they're humanoid and thus familiar, they look a bit like "us" because that's basically what they're based on (not to mention often in film they actually are a guy in a sweaty rubber suit), they are familiar and yet alien.

They are most often slow moving hunters, stalking their prey, creeping out of the background to eat/maul/shag the stupid human who is centre screen, waving a flashlight around to draw attention to themselves (apparently it all adds tension). They do come in sub-sections, zombie, Nosferatu (as opposed to sparkling vampires ... bawwwww!), and the humanoid alien monster aka guy sweating in a rubber suit.

Mostly I just plan the visual stuff in my head and then model/texture it stream-of-consciousness style. However I decided to do a bit of pre-planning.

Which is when I forgot how to draw ...

The problem with the humanoid alien is that there is no way of avoiding the cliche of a certain HR Giger designed humanoid alien. It's either that or Blue Space Furries --- or a guy with pointy ears and blue blood.

At first I wanted a fairly smooth mix of grey bone and pink skin - and tried to swipe the mouth shape from the "pink thing" in Pan's Labyrinth. I didn't quite manage to get the same "choked look", but never mind (probably should have bloated the tongue out more).

Anyhow, this all caused plenty of frustration and I just couldn't get something that I liked --- so instead I decided to do something that was bearable, ditched the smooth bone/skin idea (the whole "grey" thing stank too much of cliche for this particular cliche) in favour of a rough, almost oxidized look with a hefty metal shine. Animations seemed okayish, I wanted a it to sort of strut or "mince" -- yes, "mince" -- as it lopes slowly(<--cliche) torwards at it's prey.

It's got big hands ... all the better for flailing around and battering the player ... like a zombie ... Giger's alien ... the rest of the slow moving humanoid monster cliches. So I decided to throw in an unCliche ... which might actually be a cliche in itself ... or ... something ...

Anyhow, the slightly glowing bits are the hint, and they wash around the model's body. Fade isn't currently functioning, so it's a bit on/off when it happens.

The initial tests were just based on collision events, and then redone so that it attacks via a raycast based on range from target (only about 4 metres). Purple Swirlyness, some damage via a smartbomb effect (doesn't hit teammates) that goes out to an area of around 8 metres rather than just hitting it's target, lots of impulse, no clawing. And as an added cliche - ondeath, it goes out with a bang! Energy Explosion Audio provided by my GPU fan running Torque - and then flanged in Audacity (if it sounded like that normally I think that there would be something very wrong!).

All-in-all, not as bad as it could have turned out, and the colourful explosion effect is quite nice, distracting and I think can generally cause some confusion in-game. Guess I need a variation on the theme, players love variety, and some sort of fast-moving-but-easier-to-kill-hunter-cliche is probably on the cards, some more humanoid aliens that can use guns, and then the really awkward task of making some scary starfish aliens which really look alien (pulls out the Lovecraft books) --- hope I remember how to draw by then ... I'm really out of practise.

And what they look like in action against a conventional army.