Author Topic: Flagship Designer (How will the process of art creation work?)  (Read 552 times)

Offline Fox Soul

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Flagship Designer (How will the process of art creation work?)
« on: January 05, 2017, 04:03:15 AM »
I had put down the money for Flagship Designer, so I went to look at the Rewards section to see what exactly I would be designing.
It says that we would be working with "Blue" to pick out a general design for Flagships. I had a few questions that I hope would be answered;

  • Is "Blue" looking for the "Backers" to answer vague questions or something like concept art?
  • Is there a story or biography we are attaching to the ships?
  • Do we get to pick the type of weaponry/buffs or will they be similar to Flagships in the first AI War game?

Thank you for your time.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 10:26:33 AM by x4000 »
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Offline x4000

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Re: Flagship Designer
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2017, 10:20:18 AM »
Cheers!

Blue -- Daniette Mann -- is our art director, and the artist handling these items. 

Step 1: Before Any Art
She has a variety of ways of working, but the best result is going to happen if you give her some existing visual references to look at, as well as statements of anything you particularly want, like color themes or whatnot.  If you want it to evoke some sort of emotion ("I want it to feel like an evil Borg mass" vs "I want it to feel like a really heroic and fragile work of mastery"), then that's also useful.

Basically it's not any particular set process for the start of this., but more a matter of what you want to say to get things started, and she may have some followup questions if things are not clear.

Step 2: Thumbnail Sketches
This isn't something that we always do internally, because a lot of times my attitude with Blue is "give me this overall feel, but surprise me with the details," and that lets her creativity come out the best.  But when we have something specific that we're aiming for, typically having a set (or two) of half a dozen thumbnail sketches for concepts is a good idea.

These are super quick for her to do, and are just little doodles to get at some aspect of the design.  Maybe it's focused on color palette, maybe shape, maybe both.  These are extremely fast, so going a couple of rounds with these to get the idea down with the backer is probably the best idea if the backer has really specific things in mind.

Step 3: Modeling
Blue can chime in here about what might work best in terms of giving the most opportunities for (reasonable) feedback from the backer during the modeling process while at the same time not making the modeling itself overly arduous.  But hopefully the thumbnail sketches were specific enough that this comes out pretty close to what is desired on step 1.

Step 4: Coloring/Texturing
At this point she'll paint it, and give you some screenshots from Maya.  Note that it will look very flat and unlit in this fashion, and won't have any of the fancy things like emissive glows or normal/bump maps, or the rim shaders that are actually in the game.  So it will look cool, but you'll likely think "wow that doesn't look like the ones in the game, though."  Once you're happy with how things look here, then it gets turned over to me.

Step 5: Shaders
She'll hand off the fbx file for the model, and the textures for use in the material to me.  I'll then create normal maps for it, and set it up with my shaders in the game itself.  As part of that, I'll be setting the emissive and rim colors and sizes, and the severity of the normal maps.  This is very much a "massage it until it looks right" sort of process for me, and it's kind of subjective.  If there's an overall color theme you have in mind, then it's good if I know about it going into that.  One overall color will wind up being most noticeable on the ship from a distance thanks to the rim lighting, especially when the ship is in shadow.

At that point you can take a look at it and see what you think.  If you're wanting to fiddle with it yourself, then probably you'll be able to download our public package off of a git repository and load it up in the unity editor and play around with the values in my shader itself.  That's a lot more work on your part and is in no way required, but there's only so many rounds I'm willing to go with tweaking colors on the shader directly, so if you have super specific feelings on it this would be the way to go.

Step 6: Game Integration
At this point you have a ship visual that you're happy with, and I'll turn it over to Keith.  I'm not sure 100% what his plans are with this and would rather not speak for him, so I'll let him respond to your remaining questions as part of this.  Blue will also come along with some more thoughts on step 3 here, when she gets a shot.

Thanks!
Chris
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Flagship Designer
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2017, 10:23:49 AM »
The flagships will basically be like mini-Arks. You can't build them, but you can find derelict ones and repair them. If they get "killed" they stick around in a dead form that you can again repair to get it back.

Mechanically, other than having some of the Ark functions, each flagship type is the Mk5 of one of the starship lines (discussed here: https://forums.arcengames.com/ai-war-ii/starships-in-the-sequel/ ), and there are six lines: Assault, Siege, Sniper, Shield, Stealth, Carrier.

The reward is "Work with art director Blue to create an alternate visual design for flagship units"; in general we'd pick which line best fit the alternate design but if you want it to be a skin for a particular line we can work with that.

When Blue's ready for info on what specific backers want for this, we'll let you know. Right now we're still working out the art workflow, general visual scale of ships, etc.

The reward doesn't mention story/lore or picking weapons/buffs, so we can't guarantee anything, but if you have something specific in mind we can consider it. We're certainly grateful for the support :)
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Offline Blue

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Re: Flagship Designer (How will the process of art creation work?)
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2017, 12:44:53 PM »
Blue -- Daniette Mann -- is our art director, and the artist handling these items. 

Yes, hello!

Colored my stuff teal so you can differentiate my responses from Chris.


Step 1: Before Any Art
She has a variety of ways of working, but the best result is going to happen if you give her some existing visual references to look at, as well as statements of anything you particularly want, like color themes or whatnot.  If you want it to evoke some sort of emotion ("I want it to feel like an evil Borg mass" vs "I want it to feel like a really heroic and fragile work of mastery"), then that's also useful.

Yep. Generally speaking, the more visual the better. Lots of pictures, detailing what you're after helps.


Basically it's not any particular set process for the start of this., but more a matter of what you want to say to get things started, and she may have some followup questions if things are not clear.

Step 2: Thumbnail Sketches
This isn't something that we always do internally, because a lot of times my attitude with Blue is "give me this overall feel, but surprise me with the details," and that lets her creativity come out the best.  But when we have something specific that we're aiming for, typically having a set (or two) of half a dozen thumbnail sketches for concepts is a good idea.

These are super quick for her to do, and are just little doodles to get at some aspect of the design.  Maybe it's focused on color palette, maybe shape, maybe both.  These are extremely fast, so going a couple of rounds with these to get the idea down with the backer is probably the best idea if the backer has really specific things in mind.

Yes, I think when it comes to backer tier stuff, I'll sit down with the backer and work out a general set of sketches. It will start with thumbs then work its way into something a little more final feeling.

Step 3: Modeling
Blue can chime in here about what might work best in terms of giving the most opportunities for (reasonable) feedback from the backer during the modeling process while at the same time not making the modeling itself overly arduous.  But hopefully the thumbnail sketches were specific enough that this comes out pretty close to what is desired on step 1.

Right, to be honest if the sketching is done right, there should not need to be any revisions or criticisms from the model.

Step 4: Coloring/Texturing
At this point she'll paint it, and give you some screenshots from Maya.  Note that it will look very flat and unlit in this fashion, and won't have any of the fancy things like emissive glows or normal/bump maps, or the rim shaders that are actually in the game.  So it will look cool, but you'll likely think "wow that doesn't look like the ones in the game, though."  Once you're happy with how things look here, then it gets turned over to me.

I make these ships, and even I find myself going: "HOLY CRAP, THAT LOOKS WAY BETTER THAN I THOUGHT!" ;)

Offline x4000

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Re: Flagship Designer (How will the process of art creation work?)
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2017, 12:46:50 PM »
That's why I love working in 3D so much these days.... :)
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Offline Fox Soul

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Re: Flagship Designer (How will the process of art creation work?)
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2017, 01:38:58 AM »
Thanks for the input everyone! While waiting I'll try to see if I can my brother to do an initial sketch, since he is a graphic designer.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Flagship Designer (How will the process of art creation work?)
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2017, 09:29:48 AM »
Nice!

And I will go ahead and say this as a caveat: Blue and I are experimenting with a few different approaches now, and I may be more involved in the modeling side (yay!!) than represented above, we shall see.  But since we're talking about this, I figured I would mention that we are experimenting with a few different approaches to our ship creation pipeline to make it more efficient and flexible, and give more time for detail work at all levels.

That may or may not yield anything, but that's something we're experimenting with today and next week, at least.  Seems promising at the moment. :)
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Offline Fox Soul

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Re: Flagship Designer (How will the process of art creation work?)
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2017, 11:15:51 PM »
Have there been a date when the backers will be contacted for designs?
Just so I know when to expect it instead of popping in once a month.
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Offline ricardol

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Re: Flagship Designer (How will the process of art creation work?)
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2017, 05:09:13 AM »
Pretty cool, also interested in learning a specific date for this.

Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: Flagship Designer (How will the process of art creation work?)
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2017, 08:47:33 AM »
I would guess "After Early Access/most of the base models are finished", if only so you guys will have a good sense of the style of the rest of the ships in the game.

Offline x4000

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Re: Flagship Designer (How will the process of art creation work?)
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2017, 09:55:07 AM »
Right now my best guess would be August, but it just depends on exactly how the rest of Blue's schedule finishes out.  My goal is for you guys to be able to see EVERYTHING else that is in the game for 1.0, so that you can look at that and then see what you want to add to the pantheon, so to speak. ;)

We'll also be sure to coordinate between any of you that have ideas that might be overly similar if you wish to know about that sort of thing.  If you'd rather wait until later (aka a second round of custom art) so you can see what other people did, then that's also fine.  If you need to do something earlier because of a scheduling issue on your end, then we could probably accommodate a limited number of people in June and July if there's a need for it.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you need or want to wait until after 1.0 for some reason, we won't be just writing off your reward or something.  It would be nice to have everything tidied up prior to 1.0, but I understand that might not work for everyone for various reasons.

TLDR:
1. Expect us to start reaching out in August or September, roughly.  We'll be emailing you directly.
2. If that doesn't work well for you, then drop us a line and we'll see what we can figure out.

Cheers!
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