Saturday, February 12, 2011

Welcome back!

Yessir...I've finally got back into this beast! Wowza! I have started doing all of my trim work around the windows, plus adding all of the hand rail supports. I've also started building up stuff inside the office cubes...well, at least one of them for the moment. Cheers!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Uh...two reels in almost one day? Holy nuggets Swiss chicken! What you're about to witness is the most epic epicness epic has ever seen. Part 3 of R&Q Products highlights some gameplay footage. I did the music too. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Howdy folks!

Like blood? Violence? Freaks of nature? Well, you're not gonna find Captain Spaulding here. All I got is part 2 of R&Q. This reel is a fly through of the level how it stood at the end of Capstone. I created the audio track too. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The first of the demo reels

As the title says... Here is a demo, it's mostly assets and sketches. The audio track is something I created. Other than that, things have been very slow lately...sigh...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Games are great!

I've graduated school for about a minute now...I finally get to play games again. Wow...I almost forgot how f!cking awesome they are. That's really not why I'm posting. The reason is this, I have been developing the internals for the "office" structures in the level. I've had a bit of down time due to some surgery I recently had, (long story) but, with this time, I've finally started to figure out what I want to create for the inside of the offices. They are not really going to be offices, more or less...labs. Off shoots of L&L Products internals. Being that most of these areas are spawn points, they need to have more cover. I want to make breakable windows, but possibly have one way doors. Just a thought for now. Anywho, when I get back home, (I'm in Texas right now, healing) I'll have access to my scanner. I will upload my drawings. Peace. Cheers!

Monday, September 14, 2009

"R & Q Products" Postmortem - part 1

This postmortem is going to contain my thoughts and views of my performance with R & Q Products. The R&Q, (for short) is a 3D multiplayer deathmatch factory level. It was created using the Unreal Tournament 2004 engine. The software that was used throughout this project is as follows: Unreal Ed, 3D Studio Max 2009, Photoshop CS3, SONY ACID Music Studio, and Free mp3/ogg Converter. Throughout my ten week course, I had a strict plan of milestones that needed to be hit in order to have a completely finished project.

Within the ten week period, I was to design and create a 3D multiplayer factory level. My intentions were to design a level that was different from the classic hallway & ramp theme. I was basing my work style off of UT2004 and Postal 2. Both of these games exhibit lower poly models and phenomenal picture-like texture work. Because I was "shooting" for game styles that are older, I realized that I'm going to be behind in the sense of next gen technology. I will not be using specular, bump, or normal maps. So, in light of that, I will use those games "lackings" to my advantage. I can devote more time to the design. As a level designer, I will focus on what's most important for my success. Form, function, jump heights, fall distances, nodes, nooks, crannies, weenies, paths, direction, shape, cost of failure, placement and flow.

I started with a nice Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout. I then began to dig through various level design books that I've been studying. Lynch: The Image of the City. Todd: Game Design, From Blue Sky to Green Light. Co: Level Design for Games, creating compelling game experiences. Bubsy, Parrish, Van Eenwyk: Mastering Unreal Technology, The Art of Level Design. I also thumbed through some of my older personal notes from previous level developments. I used snippets from every source. Everything boils down to the same

Design fun. That's the goal. It's not that easy. Fun can be difficult to design. For example, do you enjoy crocodile wrestling? Hey, that's fun for some. Basically, everybody has fun differently. To be able to design a level, (or game) that brings numerous people to one common ground to have fun is indeed a monumental task, and accomplishment. I believe that is one of the main reasons why games such as Mancala & WOW, are, and always, will be around. Even if there was only one person left on the planet...solitaire. No humans...animals will still play. Bottom line, we enjoy fun & I am to design it as R & Q Products.

We also tend to let others know when we are not having fun. As far as R&Q goes, the gameplay testing has not really begun. There has been a total of 4 players in the level engaged in combat for a moment. A time span of 3, and a short stint of 2. There is hardly any data on theorized gameplay principles, (hiding positions, battle stations, vantage points all of which are proposed at the moment). I know a few "hardcore" UT2004 players; they know how to exploit certain gameplay properties. I would like to see what they would do in this level...the benefits and defaults unforeseen. I would also like to post the level online, (once completed) as quite a few people still play UT2004 maps. I could ask them to speak their minds. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

My proposed solution was to have a completed level by the end of the ten week period. Everything modeled, textured, placed, all lighting polished, and everything wrapped up in an executable package. The time frames of work production were allocated in week increments. These "weeks" had modeling, level blockout, UVW unwrapping, texturing, lighting, and some extra time to apply some polish.

Is this realistic? Ten weeks ago, yes. Now, not so much. Honestly, I got really close. I feel that more time was necessary. This is a hell of a jump start on a serious portfolio piece though. Being a level designer is a difficult job. Especially if you' re doing it by yourself. You will come up with an awesome idea; you are the one who is going to "make" it. When you get started you say, "I don't have any assets to put into my sweet level...shit!" So, at that moment, you take on a few extra responsibilities, (other job titles) environment artist, texture artist, concept artist, and of course, level designer. Silence sucks, you'll want some music in their...boom, audio developer. These are all career paths on their own for a reason. It's a lot of f!cking work. For some odd reason, I felt that I could handle all of these positions and then some for a ten week four class senior term. I would have liked to have a ghost match of myself. A race. One doing it how I just did, and the other only working a forty hour week on the project. I think it would be interesting to see the rates of progression and the varying results.

The main plan was to utilize my time properly. I think I was pretty close. Most all of my milestones were hit on time. Some were hit ahead of time. Others were late. I think that my project plan could have been a bit more specific. I think it should have been broken down into days, (like AwesomTown) having the workflow set up that way is more threatening. The weekly plan is more like a "waterfall-sprint" effect. A deadline to be hit at the end of the week, yet in between there is no substantial solidity. Yeah, it's nice to say "you're modeling assets all this week." But how many? I should have scrummed it up and rocked agile. I did get a huge amount of work done though. I managed to model all of my ground floor assets. For the most part, I was on task. There was, towards the end, a slow-creep pile up of work that led to my time management demise.

As far as my production plan goes. I started with sketches and concepts. I took over eighty pictures at the L & L Products factory. I assembled a moodboard and began to create. I quickly moved into the editor. I wanted to block out the main weenies and get a sense of the facilities size. I blocked out the largest weenie, (the South Shaw) first. This is the largest and most prominent node in the level. With this development I began testing jump heights and fall distances. I wanted players to be able to jump off of the top of the South Shaw and not get hurt too bad when landing. However, if the health is low, falling the full distance is not advised. Next came the medium weenies, giant enclosed grinders with mixing tubes jutting skyward. All of these nodes are connected with multiple levels of catwalks. The fall distances between catwalks does not cause any damage, yet it takes just a bit longer...long enough for a Shock Rifle to vaporize you. Around this time I too began working in 3D Studio creating assets...I started with a classic box.

I worked in tandem with Unreal Ed and 3Ds Max, creating BSP cuts and 3D meshes, I was making all of the assets for the levels interior. The workflow was moving along swell. However, the all gray level was killing me. It was almost time to start UVW unwrapping and texturing. I jumped the gun and started a bit soon. I think this was my initial mistake. I shifted my time and focus away from the unfinished portion of modeling and blockouts. Texturing is just so fun though! So is modeling! It's easy to lose track of time and I loved it. I was having a blast!

This process continued. I was on the creation track and things were going well. The models and texture maps I created, I think, were some of my best works to date. I felt extremely comfortable unwrapping the models. It finally clicked. I was looking at some of my old unwraps and I was thinking, "what the hell were you thinking?"...funny.

I was then instructed to create some music for the level, pure silence is bland. I worked with my royalty free sound libraries and created a nice piece for the levels theme. I went kinda crazy on the tracks. It has stuff such as a stationary lawnmower running outside while being recorded from inside a house with the windows closed. I know...weird. I wanted to create some eerie mechanical drones with cascading highlights of flanged/phased sounding strings & keys. I created exactly what I was thinking. I do have to fix the loop transition, it makes a tiny click. The track is just over three minutes and works well with the still and vaguely ghost-like factory feel. I am happy with the audio. It would make for a nice Halloween backdrop when the kiddies and creatures come to collect their treats.

My solution was off. If I were playing horseshoes and hand grenades...I'd be "close." However, no cigar. I didn't hit the target. I could cry you a river of tears, but I can't. I am extremely proud of what I was able to accomplish in ten weeks, (not to mention what I did for my other projects). Quite possibly one of my best works yet. Out of all of my proposed academic projects, (the huge scope ones) this one is by far the closest I've ever come to a real finished product. The solution at the end of ten weeks is a playable demo. Almost everything is placed and textured. Small areas of the most recent construction are textured, just not correctly. In a perfect world, I would have been able to devote all of my time and effort towards this project.

I feel that I've come very close with grasping my scope of realistic work progression. I would like to see what my workflow is like when all I have to do is worry about one particular job. My personal evaluation, I give myself two pats on the back and a sloppy fart. Two pats for a "Cheers" and a good job. A sloppy fart for improper time management and falling short, again.

In future projects, I will strive to perfect my time management skills. Hone my beam of focus more; burn the hell out of my task at hand. I would also like to spend more time on paper. Way more time. Ten weeks is a short time frame. Taking time to hit the paper as much as I would like to would've involved another couple of months of class. I think other students and teachers would kill me. Tuition probably wouldn't mind though. Working the paper is still by far the best foundation for any development process. Paper. Love the paper.

Also for the future, I'm going to continually build and keep a library of environment assets. This way, when I build a level, I can bust into my sack of goodies, kit-bash, re-texture, re-save, export, and/or just re-populate. That will totally speed up the process. Maybe for future classes, I and others can supply the school/teachers with a package of pre-made environment assets. At least then, students can focus more so on level design itself. Yet at the same time, they are going to miss out on all the extra tool usage and knowledge! I guess it's a double edged sword. I'm very grateful for all of my learned skills. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am now. I thank everyone who has directly and indirectly helped me.

As far as plans for the level, I want to 3D model the main weenies. I want to design crazy twisted looking machines, crazy pipes and stuff. I want to go nuts. I knew I wouldn't have enough time in class to create what's in my head. I do have almost everything else I got that going for me! I will focus more on the fine details. Bring it to the "next level." I really want to sit down and put my heart and soul into it; not have a rushed interrupted piece of work. Listen to me, I sound like a huge ego artist. Non-sense! No noise...cut it! There is too much light in my studio! Smithers...close my blinds three quarters of a turn...upward! So, on that note. My work shall continue. Testing will continue. Iterations will continue. This level is just the beginning to a life long quest and love of level design, game production...& most of all, art.

And then there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Actually, it was the preloader screen for UT2004. I finally get to sit back and play my level. I feel that the Senior Project and Capstone classes were the best ones throughout my three years at school. They were the classes that were like, " know what to do now...go." Awesome. Truly awesome.

I have learned so much more in the past ten weeks by actually getting in there and gettin' my hands dirty, rather than just wiping the surface for two weeks. Smellin' what I'm steppin' in? The only regret I have is time. I wish I had more of it. And if I did...would it be enough? Who knows? I guess I'll just have to get better with utilizing the time that I already have.

To conclude this madness of type, I feel absolutely awesome about what I've created. Yet still disappointed because it's not where it's supposed to be. "Hey...what a ya gonna's tough." I can honestly say, "it's been real, it's been fun, and it's been real fun!" Thanks again to all of the people that have helped me. This has truly been a blast! Cheers!



Lynch: The Image of the City

Todd: Game Design, From Blue Sky to Green Light

Co: Level Design for Games, creating compelling game experiences

Bubsy, Parrish, Van Eenwyk: Mastering Unreal Technology, The Art of Level Design


Sunday, September 13, 2009

I know that...

I'm essentially "talking" to nobody right now, but, I have taken a nice break and now I'm back. I want to get my postmortem on here. It's eight pages long. I really don't feel like doin' the retype thing, so, I'm going to look for other alternatives. I will be updating this blog continuously. Until you see a title called "COMPLETION SATISFACTION!" this project will not be considered done.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Time's up.

I will have the GDD & Postmortem done for this Thursday. The demo reel will also be posted. I gotta get ready for school now. I'll post some other stuff later today.

Antiportals show below.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ok then...let's beat 'em up...

Bruce Lee - Chinese Connection...great movie. So, I will post all of my goodies Monday night, 8/24/09. Something to live by, if you ever are getting some sort of heart surgery, make sure you don't wake up and tell the Doctor to cut "the other one." You are not a Doctor. Long story.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A small....

...11 picture update. I have also composed a "music track" for the level. I " " because it's really not music. It's more of an ambient drone. It's kinda crazy sounding, (I went nuts on it though) in comparison to the style of the level; oddly enough it fits. When I put together the demo reel, I will use the track I created. I'll post the vid here and on youtube. I still have quite a bit to texture; placing stuff is almost done. I've started cutting back the light intensity too. It's much better, (still a ways to go). I'll probably stay up tonight and try to get as much done as possible, (I have a sh!tTon to do). Next week Tuesday, the timer will be up. I will be "done" working on the level. I have to write a good sized postmortem that's due the following Thursday. I have also been reworking some of my original sketches. Most of them were for my personal note, (hence the triangles and weird stuff) I am updating them for the Game Design Document. Yes, I'm behind...I know. Thank you for yelling at me. I'm going back to work. That's it for now. Cheers!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Big Apple, 3am

Antiportals are being put into place. That's nice.

I'm going to bed now...

Sunday, August 9, 2009


stale peeps

The area on top of the Red 6 machine is called the Forticus Tom. A request from the game testers. I have a bit more space to fill. This level "should" be completely populated by tomorrow evening, (that's my plan). Then I can focus more on textures, lighting, & asset placement. The countdown has begun...3 weeks left.