Hi, I'm Nathan. I am a studying games developer since about December 2005. I have always had a passion for games, I have always played games, and have always dreamt of creating my own games one day and so now I am working towards that dream. Currently I work alone, and am studying just about all aspects of games development. I plan to keep working alone as long as possible until I am financially secure enough that I can start up a large studio and hire other team members to work on higher quality AAA titles. I am currently working towards creating a mod for the Cryengine which I won't disclose any details for just yet(Details to come when the mod is finished or near finished). The images on my profile may hint at what this project may be about however ;) And I really don't know what else to say without rambling.
diving into unknown waters: human/organic modelling.
Another blog post for those interested.
Lately (about 2 weeks ago), I decided to got off my depressed arse and take a new direction in my games development work.
I had been doing alot of static non-organic meshes such as weapons, equipment props..and of course the Colosseum, but I realised that the only reason I was doing those things was that they were easy and I didn't really have to learn anything new...so basically I was being lazy.
I realized that it's time I start working on a proof of concept instead of dreaming about the concept in my environments with my weapons/props etc.
A major part of creating the proof of concept for my project is creating realistic human models.
So at first, in order to get my hype up about getting to work, I looked online at DIY motion capture, and stumbled across many videos of people using the Kinect or Playstation Eyecams coupled with some paid software in order to create some really nice professional looking animations at a hell of alot lower price than setting up a full blown mo-cap studio.
I figured that before I go out and spend money doing all that, I should actually learn to make some human models, so I spent hours upon hours looking online for guides on how to get started, what you need and so on, only to feel too tired and bored to bother working on anything, so I went to bed.
Next day I gave it another try, and so ended up at gnomon. I purchased 2 DVD's there worth about $60 each, and sadly found out that they really weren't tutorials, but more so just workflow videos.
I felt ripped off, but I think i've picked up a few things from them.
After that I tried to learn some Zbrush basics, so checked online for Zbrush tutorials, I found some tutorials which were the most recommended, and downloaded them. They were quite good but found a few conflicts with the tutorials which made it difficult to learn, but I at least picked up a few things from those tutorials in the one sitting.
After some time off researching due to depression, I am now back at it again.
So the other day I decided to work through a gnomon video to create my base humanoid mesh which would serve as my canvas in Zbrush. I finished a very rough mesh which wasn't as good as I wanted it, but good enough for me to doodle around in Zbrush.
I decided this morning to jump into Zbrush and instead of being paranoid of the possibility of wasting time on a crappy model, I learnt that it completely OK just to doodle around and get a feel for things, and that is exactly what I did.
I took my mesh, imported it to Zbrush, and got cracking on my very first human sculpt.
I went in with the attitude of "I don't care if this looks crap, i'm learning" and it was the right attitude to have, because I really didn't care if I messed up, I didn't care if it looked crap, I tried different things, and learnt different things, which was great.
Not only that but the end result looks great in my eyes compared to the garbage I had done a while back in my earliest attempts at human modelling from within Maya alone.
Below is a link to the images of what I did in a few hours during the day. I really only worked on the torso, arms and back, not so much the legs and head as I really hadn't memorized any muscles from those areas.
I see pretty much everything there that needs working on (the entire thing! :P), so critique is not necessary.
I am now about to take some time out to study the human anatomy in a book that I purchased today called Strength Training Anatomy, which at a glimpse looks fantastic for what I'm doing without having to spend a ridiculous amount of money on courses and high profile books.
I should also note that on the weekend I did paintball for the first time ever, it was fantastic!
I also decided to just chill out and relax with a few alcoholic beverages, which I think really helped clear my mind of negative thoughts, so I feel really good now, especially seeing the work I could do on a human sculpt at such a newbie level of skill and training in organic mesh modelling.
Now I cannot wait to get stuck into anatomical research and making myself some human 3d models to work with for motion capture :)
I figure this blog is a good space for me to get things out that I feel I would like to get out to the public, even if the public do not read my blog, I know that when i'm rich and famous, this is something people may see in future to see the progression of a struggling independent developer into a hopefully successful one.
I hope that one day when I am successful in my goals (yes..WHEN, there are no IF's about me), and people do read this, that they take inspiration and push towards what they want to do, because that's what i'm doing despite the hardships I am currently going through.
Anyway, without further ado, I shall get to the point of this blog.
Firstly I still haven't announced what project I am working on, but clearly it is based in Roman times and has something to do with the Roman Colosseum ("HMMMM I wonder what it could be!?").
As people may already know, I have ATTEMPTED to recreate the Roman Colosseum on a 1:1 scale including the entire interior, however that has now come to a halt due to the design approach I took with the structure making it difficult to texture properly and a whole bunch of other issues which I won't get into.
I WAS going to continue creating environments and structures, as well as other in game assets, however I figure it's time to work on what's really important; Prototyping.
Right now, my project has no proof of concept, and it really does need one. So I need to make one.
In order to make a proof of concept, I will need to do alot of motion capture work (which I am really looking forward to doing!), but in order to do motion capture work, I need to create better human character models (because currently I am not so good at making organic models), and in order to create better human models, I need to learn the human anatomy, I need to learn how to draw the human anatomy, then I need to learn how to transfer my knowledge to a 3d modelling tool and 3d sculting tool (Zbrush) to create as true characters as I can.
I have started to learn the Human anatomy a few days ago, and have already started doing some pretty dodgy sketches, however I feel that good feeling when you start learning something and making progress, which is good.
Now....I mentioned earlier on about hurdles i'm facing, so i'm going to elaborate.
The hurdles that i'm facing all bundle together to create one massive hurdle, this hurdle is Depression.
And while it may not sound like i'm depressed in this blog (I don't like to be too much of a downer), I will say that this depression has quickly corrupted most of my positive thoughts and feelings, making me feel hopeless, helpless, tired, exhausted and basically just "dead" which most people describe depression as feeling.
I have had depression most of my life, and it has caused many problems, however before, I beat depression, and I will beat it again.
Beating depression requires action, it requires pushing through a barrier even at the point where you feel that you have nothing left, and that is what I will do, that is what i'm gathering my mental energy to do so that I can destroy this depression once again and become stronger.
I say "become stronger" because when you've beat depression, you do feel much stronger, albeit a bit colder than once before, but definately stronger and less sensitive.
I believe the cause of this latest depression is that I am trying to do too much with my life at once.
Unfortunately, I cannot stop doing what i'm doing, as everything I am doing supports everything else, and by taking something away from my life, I will most likely fall into a deeper depression (take away the leg from a tripod and it falls down).
This brings me to realise that perhaps I need something to change.
I believe the change I need is my job, or my game project.
Sadly though, where I live, there is not much opportunity, and in order to get a new job, I would basically be changing to another dead end job (not good), or I would have to move to a city (which would be depressing as I hate cities).
If I were to change job, the only other job I would be happy doing right now would be a games development one, as that would help motivate with my current games development work.
As for the game project, I could work towards something alot smaller than my current goal, but I really cannot begin to explain how much I want to keep working on this project.
So ....all in all, i'm working on a prototype for my game project which requires a huge amount of learning, but depression is gettting in the way of everything in my life which requires something to change. So now I need to work out what needs to change before I get stuck in the insanity loop hole "keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results".
For those who actually bothered to read this blog, you're awesome, and may my grammar in future be 500% better :P
For those looking at my profile, for those waiting on some news on the colosseum model, I thought I would update you all.
To put things simply, I had a month break from working on the Colosseum.
"WHY?" you ask...
Well, the reason why, is simply that lately there have been many life changes, especially with the inclusion of 2 ferrets into the household. Ferrets are like babies, they take up alot of time and require alot of attention, so I have been adjusting to that firstly.
However the main reason why, is that I just worked on the Colosseum nearly non stop since November last year until late February. That's 3 months of non stop, painstaking work on something HUGE and complex, while working a day job and trying to get fit and healthy (sounds much more simple than it is!).
It took 3 months, just to MODEL the colosseum. Most of that was taking steps back and forward, there was alot of trial and error, there was alot of frustration, heck, at several points, I was going to scrap the model and start again because it got so confusing and frustrating, but I pushed on.
By the end of the line, my brain was fried, I needed to stop and breathe, and that is what I did...for a month.
Now I have to texture the colosseum.
I am not an experienced texture artist. However from other models I have done, I can safely say that I do have enough creativity to create complex and detailed textures.
In the next few days I will start texturing the Colosseum. This will hopefully not take as long as modelling the Colosseum, but I do need to get the textures spot on, otherwise the entire colosseum may not look that good at all.
I also plan to do a video showing the full interior of the colosseum soon aswell, but since I reformatted my computer, I need to re-export everything out of maya and reimport back into the Cryengine again.
Finally, I wish to do weekly updates on the crymod forums at this thread here:
Stay tuned for more updates soon!
Well... after I made another mountain out of a molehill, i've sat myself down, cleared my mind, and taken a step back in development to make the colosseum into a better shape as my last "FAILED" attempt was too long and crappy looking.
I spent this weekend taking a different approach to the problem, and came out with a better outcome.
The shape is still not how I had originally wanted it to be (like the real colosseum), however this shape is pretty good, and nobody will really notice anyway.
I decided to do a little developers video showing a bit of bug hunting that I was doing last night in my attempt to iron out all geometric bugs in 1/4 of the colosseum before I duplicate it around to complete the entire model.
The colours in this video are fruity because that is how I have grouped objects. Each colour is a different object containing a set of about 4 different types of objects using the same texture space on what will most likely be a 4096x4096 texture.
(If/when I restart the colosseum to do it properly, I will make texturing a heck of alot easier).
Here is the video.
Ok, I don't know if I feel stupid or relieved.
But in either case, there is definately relief.
Yesterday's predicament is now a thing of the past, and all because I measured an angle out correctly. An angle which was previously causing unwanted problems.
This angle was causing a noticeable bulge on the end of the Ovoid (Polycentric curve) of the arena, however having changed this angle (I don't even know what I did...in fact, I barely remember anything I do...I just do it :S ), the bulge is still there, but it is almost non existant now. You really need to look for it, and I think that sometimes when we look for a minute detail in a large object...we often find it because our own imagination creates that detail even if it really isn't there.
Anyway, mindless blabbering aside, I can continue with my progress on the Colosseum without having to redo every single component or start again (I could start again if I was insane, but for such a minute detail that nobody will notice except for me? It'll be a waste of time. I would only restart it if I were paid to do so).
So on that note, the colosseum untextured model (it might be textured) should be expected to be finished before the end of February (I still have the Hypogeum (under the arena) section left to finish yet).
So yay!...and nobody reads these blogs so i'm talking to myself -_-
Well, this latest attempt at creating the Colosseum has been a really successful one, up until right near the end of completion.
I CAN finish the Colosseum as is, but the shape is off.
The ends of the Ovoid (Elliptical type shape) is incorrect; they bulge outwards slightly and the curve is not smooth.
This is not a very noticable problem. You can really only notice it when looking at the arena directly from above, so I could quite easily continue to create the Colosseum model.
HOWEVER, when I started this project, I wanted to make it as accurate as possible.
Unfortunately the only way to fix this bulge problem is to start over from scratch, OR, painstakingly re-adjust every single object to the right angle measurements.
Tomorrow(Today) I will try to cut down all the objects so that there is only one of everything, and attempt to adjust every piece of the colosseum according to the angles.
I will also try to adapt what I have now and make a compromise which could work without having to mess around heaps.
Lastly....I could start from scratch, now I have pretty much built the Colosseum already, including all interior sections. The reconstruction process should only take maybe 4 weeks tops to create an accurate representative (not 100% accurate, but accurate according to designs and blueprints that are currently out there on the internet, including photographic material of the destroyed colosseum).
However, I have already started the Colosseum 3 times, the 3rd time (this current time), I was almost successful....but at the expense of my mental and physical energy.
Attempting it yet again is both a really good idea as it will all be angled correctly (I know I said that before, but I didn't test the angles to begin with....I have with the new measurements, and they work great!), but a really bad idea as it will be extremely taxing on my me.
I do find myself torn between two decisions, yet find myself driven to create the most accurate representation...which means starting again.
There are many benefits, but there are many drawbacks.
I will probably post another blog later on tomorrow (today) when I have reached a decision.
Just thought i'd show a picture of my work in progress Colosseum for those interested.
It is close yet far away from completion.
I still have more detail under the seating area to finish off, I have the Hypogeum (underground) area to research and complete (might take a while getting research and materials for the underground area), I have the emperors box to finish, then the 2 main entry gates and a bunch of other details to complete such as the gallery area right up the very top of the colosseum where the screenshot was taken.
Earlier this year, when I was working on the Colosseum, I spent about 2 months only to get about 1/3 of the model done, but now I would say i'm about 85% after about 2 weeks!
The reason this model takes so long is because of all the intricate measurements required to make sure everything alligns properly and the model doesn't get out of proportion due to it's Elliptical shape. Also bare in mind that I have to make objects so that they can be textured proportionately aswell...this is not half life 2 where you can select a face and scale a tile texture on it. This is an actual in game object made up of a whole bunch of little objects, all with their own UV texture maps.
I COULD just leave the texture maps until some other time, but when it comes to running the map in game, the surface of the object flickers crazy because of lighting issues (the game doesn't know how to project shadows and lighting on a surface with a funky UV map...or no UV map at all!).
One more reason that the model takes so long is the amount of time it takes to improvise; Alot of resource material on the Colosseum is conflicting, and it's difficult to tell which is right and which is wrong. I have tried to rely on photo resources and it has helped with some details that otherwise wouldn't be seen. It has also helped me to try and understand scale and layout, however due to the colosseum being in RUINS...it's kinda difficult to gather photo information for certain sections/parts.
After everything is done, I will have to do minor tweaks to make sure that everything is alligned properly and that there are no open seams (gaps that you can see through...gaps which light could come through and cause strange lighting effects).
I estimate that the actual model will be finished within 2 weeks TOPS (If I get distracted or something).
Then, I can get to work on textures (I am foreseeing something horribly messy!).
Finally after the texturing, time to get to work on even bigger landmarks...such as the Circus Maximus; However I won't be doing the interior for that one, i've had enough of modelling interiors of round shaped buildings.
So that's that. I will provide in engine screenshots when it's all ready. (I am not going to show an untextured, unfinished model unless it's a dud model like the screenshots I have on my profile).
I want to keep this short and sweet, because I am excited about something great, something which I hadn't been able to work out for myself before, something which bugged me to the point where I rushed the work I was doing and ended up getting stuck half way after about 2 months of non stop work due to my lack of consideration of scale and measurement when working on a piece of real life architecture.
So now, if you don't know about the Colosseum I was working on, you can see what progress I made previously by looking at the images in my profile. Yes, it looks awesome, and no, nothing looks wrong with it (aside from it being half modelled and having no textures etc...).....but that was the result of guess work; Sure I gathered measurements of all sorts of specific things, but I didn't gather the measurements for THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.....the angles used in the creation process of the colosseum.
The colosseum is not just an oval shape, it is an Ellipsis or Ovoid, which uses a Polycentric curve.
What this means is that it's basically in the shape of an Oval but it has multiple pivot points to form the shape of the curve of the whole structure.
Firstly, this is the source of information, including one image which has given me the fuel to start on this giant mother of a structure again and get it done right this time.
It should describe what shape the Colosseum is.
But to put it straight. Get a blueprint view of the colosseum, then try and measure the angles between each pillar without looking at any images on google. That's what I did before, and while I was close, I wasn't close enough. And in turn, this cost me 2 months of solid work, only to find my model out of proportion.
So now work has begun again, and this time, i'm going to finish this sucker!
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