Friday, 17 May 2013

The Boys ... And Johnny Foreigner

We've had the Brits and now we've been modeling all the other factions. All 7 of them, with unarmoured and light armoured troops, with 4 LODs each, with 4 camouflage schemes for Stealth Armour. That's a lot of LODing ...

 Originally I had envisioned the idea of having seperate models for each class within each faction. There are 7 classes and 7 factions. My 7 times table is about the only one I could ever remember as a child ... probably because I liked the number 49 for reasons of no known certainty. 49 would have been a lot of character models ... even more with light, stealth and heavy armoured types for each one ...

Thankfully I scrubbed that idea as utterly impractical before I started, and stuck to the concept of each faction having 1 unarmoured model, 1 model with a helmet for light armour and stealth armour (with a camouflage texture depending on the tactical battle environment), and a global heavy armoured model with different texture for each faction, carrying the factions flag on it's back.

This all still requires 15 character models, 4 LODs each - so a total of 60 meshes - and 49 diffuse textures plus specular and normal mapping. All of which has been a bit of a slog ...

We've had the British Royalists for a while ... even though I scrapped the models and restarted from scratch for the third time to get mesh deformation. Being British, Royalist and Steampunk meant that they had to be The Redcoats. The Brits are actually the only team not wearing Steampunk eyewear - their goggles are hanging around their necks. Light armour is defined by the African Zulu campaign pith helmet.

And here we have the standard dresscap model on the far left, light armoured model kneeling centred, and stealth armoured model on the right in green camouflage. This texture swapping makes use of the built-in "base" skin definition and swaps it on spawn for the appropriate environmental material  - green (for both temperate and jungle), arctic, arid and urban.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was as close as I wanted to get to zi Germans without actually having zi Germans. I wanted a European faction, and the Austro-Hungary seemed the perfect choice, a regime which spans multiple countries - Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Czechs, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Poland (who cannot into space ...), Romania, Serbia, Slovakia,  Slovenia, Ukraine and of course including parts of zi Germans. As all troops are randomly named with national/ethnic forenames and cities/counties/states as surnames this also gave a wide selection for variaition.

Light armour centre, unarmoured forage caps flanking the sides, wandering through a rainforest, Steampunk monacles aplenty. I did have a bit of a um-and-ah about the uniform, wanting light blue and not entirely certain about the trousers which are those "flying pants" with the winged thighs that stick out.

I turned to the interwebz for inspiriation using You-Know-Who's-Image-Search and the phrase "austro hungarian empire 19th century uniforms", with safe search on.

Now we've had unexpected things thrown up before when a search for ideas on User Interface Buttons - "steampunk buttons" brought the wrong type of button ... and the ladies who were wearing them.

These are not the Steampunk buttons I was looking for ...

And it happened again ... well ... actually it didn't, it did give my the 19th century uniforms ... just in an unexpected genre ...

This was not the context I was looking for.

Anyhow, in the end I decided on a fairly realistic colour scheme of the Austro-Hungarian cavalry - the red jodpurs/flying pants being a nice foil to the predominant light blue, and a flattened forage cap.

The Chinese Dynasty. Dee-nasty or Die-nasty? There used to be a terrbile American TV show in the 1980s called Dynasty which was clearly trying to copy and cash-in on the success of Larry Hagman and co in Dallas. Over in the UK we tended to refer to it as Dysentery :P ...

China meant being able to break away from the usual style of uniform and colour schemes and throw in yellow - technically it's light amber, to go with my repeating amber and black colour scheme that can be seen in numerous places through out the game (especially on the boobytrap warning fences).

I ummed-and-ahhed again for some time about the overall colour, and decided on a green leather vest as a not to the jade emperor. The above picture is a good illustration of how I work - slapping the models into the engine and then changing the textures on the fly to see what looks best.

Unarmoured Chinese Dynasty troops to the left and light armoured walking to the right. You can just make out stealth camouflage armour in the background. They have these small spectacles perched on their nose which are half fashionable, half granny glasses.

The People's Collective is a sort of revolutionary soviet style idea for a faction.  Not so much Reds Under The Beds more Reds In A Dirigible ... and not really red either, the British Redcoats had already commandeered red as their dominant uniform.

I ended up basing the unform on a 1930s Security Apparatus Officer. "Security Apparatus" - I think the modern translation is Murderous Jobsworth Despot. The helmet is from the same peroid, looking remarkably similar to Great War French helmets, but in shiny brass and with goggles to steampunk it all up. Everyone has a little Lenin style beard and the names are all Soviet.

The Ungrateful Ruddy Colonials didn't quite make it in as a faction name but the US Republic did. I had wanted the USA to be "damn Yankee" dark blue but was hestitant on using yellow again for trim. In the end it ended up as two tone blue, dark coat dominant to light pants with a Rough Riders style slouch hat. The helmet is a shiny brass hybrid of US doughboy hat and early prototype brodie helmet.

The US has more modern, nearly cyberpunk style, one piece, wrap-around type goggles and everyone has an Abe Lincoln beard.

Finally, the last - at least in alphabetical order - regime which the player can choose to represent in campaigns and battles is the Zulu Nation.

I had wanted to steer well clear of anything to do with lions, leopard spot cloth and the whole Africa cliche. Oh ... and Vuvuzelas ...

In the end I opted for a more informal uniform based on gentleman's attire. Shirt, waistcoat, pants, gaiters/spats and a tophat and monacle. I had wanted to include the Zulu colours of black, white, red trim, green and yellow.

Initially I had made them a lot more green ... but then they looked like drunks from a Saint Patrick's parade. Adding a lot more yellow brought them too close to the Chinese colour scheme and made them look like they were wearing the South African Foot-to-ball strip. Eventually I decided on a much plainer, white, back, green dominant colour palette. Light armour is denoted as a helmet, which is sort of an ancient Greek facemask with the plume removed.

All names are (ethnic/national) given name - (city/area) family name, including the Chinese and Zulus who normally would have family name first.

Still to do ... are the Dastardly Pirates of Pangea. The enemy the player faces in one off single battle mode and who serve as the insurgents in the Main Campaign if the natives in your captured territories become unhappy with you rule. Also still to do is the heavy armoured character which will feature the same model for all factions but with different coloured textures using the material swapping function. And 6 more weapons to model and then the Tactical Battle part of the game is done.

For the Strategy Overview Map part of the campaigns I need to create a couple of new dirigibles, texture them all, and re-texture the environment hexes. There's still a few GUIs to finalize, some audio to sort out, port it all into a final codebase and make a few more code alterations which I want.

And an absolute shed load of documentation on how to play it to write.

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