Sunday, September 16, 2012

In search of an enemy

Having run into a couple code hiccups in a row with some of my final missing pieces of graphics rendering (I'll get you sooner or later, skybox!) I took a little break from left-brain land to try and nail down the visual style of my "bugs".

The player is going to control a character on a future distant planet in a sort of techno-gold-rush after the discovery of some very useful elements.  Almost immediately (as the central conflict of gameplay will rely on it) player(s) will discover that certain properties of this element make it very attractive to the insect-like species that already lives on this new frontier, especially when put through the stressful mining process that converts it into portable material.

Short version: mining this stuff will bring bugs down on the player.  The more precious the resource, the stronger the draw on local bug swarms.

At any rate, I want the species to have some cohesive style elements that help sell the fact they're all from the same origin species and can be controlled by a singular hive "overmind" (lets just step in as many sci-fi tropes and starcraft references as we can, I haven't come up with fun IP-unique names for this stuff yet).

I also want them to be fun to hate.  Hence, bugs.  Barring collections of entomologists and the odd monk, I think almost everyone can agree bugs are better off squished.  At least when they're human-sized and packing ranged chemical weaponry.

Finally hit on something I'm happy with (yay for lunch breaks): this is the first pass at the standard "soldier" bug.  (The head in my logo is an older concept for the same critter).  More specialized variants will round out the swarms, but there needed to be a grunt that could serve as a mirror unit to players: someone standing behind alien cover on the other side of a battle line aiming alien weapons back at the human element.

This'll definitely require normals maps, I'm not fielding dozens of 250k-poly grunts...
I'll have to clean him up and draw the full front/side/detail orthographic view before I model 'im.  Drawing concept art for yourself is kind of odd: there's still a few rounds of "nah, I like this part, but the rest needs to be better" but all 'parties' are already working from the same singular vision.  Jury's out on whether or not that's a good thing.

Just remember: if it has 6 eyes, you should probably shoot it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

New and Improved Editor

I've banged my XNA-based level editor into shape with the new SharpDX-based graphics engine, and now have prop manipulation implemented!

click to enlarge
On the bottom there are two differently scaled copies of the same rock prop, and the (incredibly low-detail) rock bridge is another stand-in prop.  (It will still be in later, I just exported it from Blender as soon as it had a basic shape and texture coordinates.  I'm continuing to refiine it and create a proper texture for the mesh)  You can see the debug views of the deferred rendering targets across the top.  A rough cut of my ink-style outline shader is in use as well, though it could use some blur passes and tweaks to really be more what I was intending.

I've wanted to get this functionality in place ever since I first watched someone demoing the Hero Engine level editor a few years ago and realized how varied you can make a scene just by rotating and scaling a handful of props.

Someday soon I'll get the rest of my editor buttons in place :)