Saturday, 3 May 2014

Problems and how I didn't solve them

The worst part of this project was scripting. Or perhaps the word scripting is too strong in this case. What I was really doing was replacing the files and adding little changes to them.

Trying to get the ravens appear in Cryengine took me whole day two days ago. I found a nice tutorial on YouTube which explained in detail how to do it. Basically I needed to export the mesh with bones attached to it and then export three basic animations as three separate files. I then had my .chr file and three .i_caf files. For some reason 3Ds Max doesn't convert animation files fully anymore. Apart from exporting them from your 3D software you also have to convert them again in Cryengine. So I ended up with three .caf files which made me happy because everything finally started to make sense.

Cryengine automatically made all the additional files for animations, these files specify which mesh and bones animations should refer to. Which also made sense.

The next file I had to create was a .chrparams file. It needed to be placed right next to my mesh and it contained its list of animations. Fair enough.

A .lua file. It's meant to specify my ravens' behaviour: how high it flies or whether it runs away from the player. I copied Cryengine's pigeon .lua file and changed its content to connect it to raven's files. Alright.

Entity file which purpose I do not remember now. It was short and seemed meaningless. But I created it anyway.

Up to this point I would think the boid should work just fine. I have tried many things. Exported all files several times, tried different engine builds and RC compilers. I recreated files and changed their locations. Whatever I did the birds just wouldn't work.

They do fly and they adapted pigeon's behaviour but can't seem to find their animation. At this point I can have them flying in the distance, up above. What I really wanted though is to have them triggered. It didn't even require any other scripts. Pigeons are programmed to flock on the ground where the entity is placed and then to fly away when player gets closer. My ravens have the exact same behaviour, which is great because it means I set the .lua file correctly, but they don't move their wings or legs. They behave as regular AnimObjects.

It's Saturday and the hand-in is on Tuesday. I will have another go with them today or tomorrow but I doubt I'll have them working at all.

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Having these many problems with raven I couldn't possibly have any time for the character. The model is completely finished. I placed the girl in engine just as a regular brush. She's sat on the chair looking quite dead with blood running from her nose. 

The dress was quite impossible to rig. I assigned its lower vertices to thigh bones, baked the posture and edited the mesh with soft selection tools. I wanted the dress to look as natural as possible.

 I want to believe I am telling a story here. 

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I never thought adding sounds to Cryengine level would be such a pain. There is of course no problems with adding one shot sounds, like birds flying away or door opening. Wave format will do a good job in this case. Everything gets more complicated when you want to add looping AmbientSound. Cryengine uses Fmod Designer to generate their sounds. The software can be found inside Tools folder.

I needed to add a new folder alongside Cryengine's sound folders. I then created a project in Fmod and named it exactly as my folder. This would be my sounds package only accessible through engine. 

I got all my sounds from
Before importing all wave files into Fmod I needed to make sure the sounds are not too loud and they are fit for looping. For this purpose I used Adobe Audition which I thought was more friendly. Once this was done I imported everything into Fmod. Then I added two parameters, which specify how the sound behaves in engine, and ticked 'Loop Sound'. I saved and built the project. Cryengine needs to be restarted in order to detect new sound package. And that's it.

When I think about it now it seems ridiculously easy. Probably because I tried to figure it out for quite some time.

My level now has about five looping ambient sounds. I assigned them to different areas and they blend quite nicely (I think it's due to those two parameters I added in Fmod). 

My only problem now is the sound of footsteps which is annoyingly louder than anything else. I'll look it up tonight.

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It's time for renders, turn tables and fly through. I already rendered out PNG sequences of my level and character. It now needs to be edited in Adobe After Effects. I expect it to render for hours.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Suddenly Bush

I spent the past few days mainly on improving and placing vegetation. In short, all the things I left 'for later': fixing textures and making sure all LODs are working correctly.

 I also spent some time on editing normals using SpeedTree script. 

I wouldn't think it'd make a huge difference but it did. It looks much softer in engine and it blends really nicely with terrain. It helps to keep the atmosphere blurry and foggy.

I had no idea how to block out environment so decided to put a nice stone wall. It seems reasonable since this is how people used to establish boundaries between their lands. 

I finally made 2nd level of lods for further background. They're basically two planes intersecting but I put additional edge in the middle to turn the very bottom vertex normals upwards. Again it helps blending with environment. 

I also made cute little mushrooms.

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I'm still trying to make my level more interactive. Therefore I'm going to add so-called boids. 

What could be creepier than a bunch of big fat ravens in a spooky forest. I have never modelled a bird before but it went pretty fast. As long as I got a good reference it was a matter of two hours to have it built and textured. 

Using BoneTool was a bit dodgy because I don't know how, and if it's even possible, to snap bones to the actual mesh while you place them. 

Texture is not perfect but the bird will be barely visible anyway.

I;m trying to skin it properly at the moment.

Friday, 18 April 2014

No title

I haven't posted in a while. I've done quite a lot over that time, although there's still much to be done.

First of all, my character is now fully textured, rigged and skinned.

I think textures are quite nice although I may change the colour scheme or add more detail. If she were to wake up on a muddy lake bank she'd have dirt all over the place as well as some scratches and blood stains. I also need to take time to properly render her.

*   *   *

Apart from that I've been filling my level with smaller assets. 

Trying to go along with the plot so I made a carriage just to have it scattered on the floor.

Player will start his little journey by this wreck and then enter into the woods following the smoke he sees from the distance.

I spent most of my time on making assets for house interior. I am really happy with how it's turning out. It's not so dark anymore since I finally discovered you can use a regular light entity as an ambient light. I gave it dark blue colour and it emphasizes warmness of the fireplace.

Here is the entrance which I've been dreading to make. It meant rock sculpting.

So much sculpting. Even though it takes me little time, I have to retopologize it later and this I hate the most. And it seems I'll have to make more rocks for the forest.

Although I am really proud of this door it looks awful in engine.

Oh, and it doesn't open. Haha.

Nothing changed in this part of the room. I just used vertex paint to break up wall texture. It seems a bit too red at the moment.

The firefly idea was quite successful. I am happy it worked.

I added some furniture and food. The house needs to feel like a home.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014


I wonder how long can I work until my body breaks.


I've been working on additional vegetation. My level is full of trees and grass but there's nothing in between. Some weeds, bushes, flowers or mushrooms would be fantastic. Therefore I chose to make berries, red cloves, daisies and general unspecified weeds. These are quite common for the Eastern Europe area. I remember trying to eat them when I was a kid.

Now that I look at them, they all seem awfully bright and saturated in comparison to the rest of the vegetation.

There isn't really many daisies in the forest but putting a few won't hurt and they will break the green monotony.

I also just noticed the berries are cut short. I was wondering why they looked so weird. Another annoying thing to fix.

I actually took the trouble of editing normals this time. Obviously there's a huge difference in 3Ds Max but I can't seem to have the same effect in engine.

Setting up vegetation for touch and detail bending suddenly became extremely easy.

There isn't really much movement in my level yet so I decided to spend a day working on pests and sounds. Because who would I be if I didn't fiddle unnecessarily.

I found out I have a bit of a phobia. It pains when I look at these two. I can't believe I actually managed to make this texture. It took a lot of staring and adjusting. Also my body felt itchy for few hours.

The flying pepper caster you see on the left is actually a firefly. I want to put a bunch of those in a jar and use it as a lamp.

At first I wanted to use boids in Cryengine but this wouldn't give me much control over them. I want them to fly within a specified area and boids use more random movements. I'm probably wrong and there's probably a really simple way of doing this but I'm too tired and short on time to look for solution. And research for Cryengine takes ages. Therefore I animated each of these little bugs in 3Ds Max and I made sure they stayed withing the jar. I'll import them tomorrow and hopefully it will be as easy as the tutorial says.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

House assets2

Distiller is officially done. I like how it turned out although the metal parts need more work.

It was time to deal with the small assets. Which take little space and twice as much time to make.

I started off with more books and apothecary bottles. The reason why it's taking me so much time is because I always like to create PSD files with about hundred layers. Even though they're all correctly signed and colour labelled, it's hard to keep track of what is where.

I also like accidentally closing the document without saving it.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

House assets

What on earth have I been doing for the past few days?

First of all I finished retopologizing the character.

It's got 8,018 triangles for now. Originally I was aiming for 20 thousands but I reckon it looks quite alright as it is. I may add more detail like a small weapon, ribbons or other decorations later.
Mesh is unwrapped and ready for baking.

*   *   *

I also started filling the house with assets. 

A pile of mattresses and duvets. It's meant to refer to Princess and the Pea. I even put a little green pea between the mattresses. If the player looks closely enough he'll see it sticking out. Also the cushions have have a pea pattern on them.

This is how it looks in engine. The lighting will be adjusted. It's quite bright now but it's mostly because I want to see what I'm doing.

After following the advice of resizing the room again, I think of making it a little bit bigger afterall. The bed takes a lot of space and it feels like there's nothing there but the bed..

Next thing on the list is a distiller.

This one is quite old and I reckon it fits in with other assets. I had a hard time figuring out how to reconstruct this texture. In the end I just used made it a hammered metal.

I made high poly models in 3Ds Max and after failing to bake them in Max I used xNormal instead.

This is how it looks so far. I should finish texturing today.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


All the sculpting is officially done... for now. It was time to throw some basic colours on my character. I needed to plan that first though. I want her to look pale but not sickish. 


That's it. I am quite pleased with the effect, although I'll need to change all the values in Photoshop later.

Having that done, I could start retopologizing. Which I hate. With passion. 

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 I found these beautiful buttons on the internet. 

The one with frog is my favourite. It's simple and it fits the outfit. I cut it out, desaturated and used as Alpha image in Zbrush.