What I’ve been upto..
Sorry for the lack of news guys.
I was holding off posting anything because i thought TresCom was going to run a story with a bunch of new-ish shots i sent them and i’m also waiting on another site that was going to run an article on the project, but they’ve gone quiet and i’m left wondering whats going on.
Anyway, ill post the Tech demo shots that TresCom was going to run and ill also post the shots from CE2 that the other site was going to run, then i’ll talk about what i’ve been working on recently, and post some more shots of that work too!
Its an image heavy update this one!
Here’s the new/old CE2 shots:
Here’s some new-ish tech demo shots:
Okay, so let me explain what i’ve been up to over the last month or two.
Recently i’ve been absorbed into the world of 3D modeling, trying to learn as much as i can about the latest techniques and tools while making some models from other games that interest me. I’ve also been doing a little bit of texturing, remaking some low res Doom textures and learning about shaders and what not.
I started by remaking some tiny 64×64 Doom64 textures into larger 512×512 versions, trying to keep them as authentic as possible, while adding some more detail. Then as a good starting point at learning 3DS Max, I imported them into 3DS Max, applied them to a flat subdivided plane, and transformed the vertices and edges to create 3D geometry out of them. I then rendered displacement maps from them for parallax occlusion mapping / relief mapping and made basic normal and specular maps using CrazyBump.
They turned out pretty good, but i kinda wish i made them at 1024×1024 to make them a bit more future proof, but for a game like Doom where there is often tonnes of enemies on screen, i think the performance / quality trade off is worth it.
I made a lot more than im showing here, i might show some more another time if anyone’s interested.
After making these, i thought i would have a go at making a more intricate model, a weapon, so i remade the Doom 64 chaingun:
The chaingun has a lot of polygons and is not suitable for real time use, but i could render a few frames (its seriously only 2 frames!) from it and it would make a perfect HD replacement for Doom or Doom64. The texturing on the chaingun is a bit lousy as its not UVunwrapped, it just has some basic Box or Planner “projection” style mapping. The same as Trespasser models, which by now, i’ve had a lot of experience with.
I decided after this that i would tackle a more organic model, something i could make using classic modeling techniques, rather than working from primitive shapes. I decided to make the demon head logo from Doom64:
Again this one was not UVunwrapped, and it has only some basic detail mapping and not a proper normal map, but its not too bad considering. At some stage i will update this model and make it into something really good, but that wont be for a while yet.
After the Demon head, i thought it was time i tried to make a complete organic character. The Pinky demon is considered the holy grail of Doom 3D models, with quite a few of them in circulation, but few of them capture the shape and character of the original sprite. Being a fan of Doom and Doom 64, i’ve tried to make the Pinky demon myself in the past, and had pretty good results, but these were using Lightwave and were not textured and were of particularly low detail. For this model, i wanted to make it a bit more detailed but not too detailed that it couldn’t be used in real-time in a Doom engine. I also wanted to make the updated Pinky from Doom64, as i feel its probably the best of the Doom64 designs and is a larger sprite than the original Doom pinky, making it a bit easier to use as a reference in Max.
Initially I was really surprised at how quickly it came together, Max is such a great program and light years ahead of the old version of Lightwave i was using, but some inconsistencies in height and proportions between the front and side reference sprites of the Pinky, slowed me down at the end and i had to make a lot of it up myself.
In the end, it turned out pretty good though and only took about a week off and on, which is not too bad considering its my first attempt at organic modeling in Max:
After Pinky, i decided to start doing some in-game testing of the textures, so i could learn how to produce good specular maps and get the best results from the normal and displacement maps. I decided a Quake 2 engine would be the best option, as they are usually more advanced than Doom engine ports, and the editors are designed with 3D geometry in mind, rather than Dooms 2D sectors. I tried a number of different engines, but the best of the bunch that was the most faithful to the original game, was an engine called Quake2XP.
Quake2XP has real time per pixel dynamic lighting, bloom and HDR lighting effects, decals, particles, and lots of other modern features and effects. The engine looks beautiful and runs super fast. During single player gameplay with everything maxed, it never dropped below 100fps and at times was hitting 200fps.
I recommend any Quake or Doom fans to check it out, as its a very good engine and will only get better.
Some extra files you will need:
I downloaded GTKRadiant and learnt how to make Quake maps again. Its been bloody ages since i made a Quake map, but it didn’t take long for it to all come back to me. I started by using just the standard Quake2 textures + HD packs, then once i got my test level looking good and got the hang of the engine, i made a new level with my own textures. I had a lot of trouble getting it to render properly though, with lots of lighting and rendering errors. I played around with it for about 3-4 days, not getting anywhere, when all of a sudden it fixed itself and looked great! But no sooner had the problem fixed itself, the problems returned and i was not able to figure out the cause or a fix.
This is how it was looking when it suddenly fixed itself:
Ignore the low fps here (64), this is only because every light is real time, casting dynamic shadows, with more lights casing stencil shadows (wire on floor) and even more lights for the computer terminals and to fill the room out a bit.
I got in contact with the author and offered to help make some new HD menu and hud GFX, and he was kind enough to send me the latest build, which immediately fixed all the problems and i was able to get on with testing. I haven’t got any newer pictures to show, as i’ve moved onto other things, but i will go back and make a complete level one day.
I got on with making some GFX for him, whipping up a new help screen:
This is just a small WIP preview. There are still a few things i want to add. The real version is about 2560×2560.
At about this time i started looking for ways to make Quake 2 look a bit better while i was using it, so i looked around for some model packs for enemies and weapons, but found little in the way of high quality stuff. Most model packs stray too far from the original designs, or they are simply not good enough to hold up to todays standards, so i got a little distracted and decided to try and make another weapon. This time the Quake 2 shotgun.
This would be the lower detail “g_” version of the model, the one you see spinning on the ground before you pick it up:
For this model, i decided i would use it to learn how to UVunwrap a model properly. I learnt how to UVunwrap many many years ago, back in the days of when i was actively modding and mapping Quake 2, but it was only a couple of times and using a very specific UV tool created by someone in the Q2 modding community. It was an awesome tool, and i hope he went on to make it into a fully fledged program, because it would be good even today. Edit: i googled for a while and found it. Npherno Skin tool😉
My previous attempts at UVunwrapping with Max have not been enjoyable, so i looked around for a really good dedicated UV program and came across a lot of people recommending a program called Unfold3D. Now Unfold3D is not the kind of program i would normally use, because it costs about a thousand dollars, but there were a few people on one forum that were talking about a feature in the demo version that effectively bypasses the demos save limitations. I wont go into detail about how you do it, its nothing illegal, its simply a feature left active by the developers by mistake. They fixed it for later versions, so you need a particular version which is very hard to find.
Unfold3D is amazing, and any modelers not familiar with it need to check it out. Within about half an hour i had learned enough to unwrap the shotgun model very professionally with minimal wasted space or distortion, but because the shotgun is a very angular hard surface model, i was too concerned with trying to keep the UV’s perfectly straight with no curves, so i ended up remaking it a number of times, spending way too much time on it. I eventually switched off my OCD brain and focused on coverage, resolution and low distortion, and made a really good UV in only a few minutes. I was so impressed i decided to unwrap my pinky demon model to see how quick i could unwrap an organic model. It only took about 20 minutes and was a really good result.
Getting a bit ahead of myself (and distracted again), i decided that because i was now all super talented and cool and could now make models and UVunwrap them, i would import one into MudBox and finally learn how to use that too.
I imported the freshly UV’d pinky demon model, and spent the next 6 hours straight learning MudBox and sculpting a high poly mesh:
You can probably imagine, after producing this i was pretty darn excited. I started cursing myself for not learning this stuff years ago, but i just didn’t have the time or motivation to do so. I’m really lucky i have an industry friend that hands-me-down a lot of good software, otherwise i would never have got the chance to use it. I also would never have got into 3D modeling in the first place. Its one of my big regrets in life that i got lured away from computers and games, and spent way too much time and money on my cars. I can only imagine what i would be doing today if i didn’t. But hey, i’d be a different person and life’s too short for regrets. Lets move on!
I immediately looked into the latest version of MudBox, watching videos on the latest features and improvements, and for the first time in a long time, i bought a brand new piece of software. MudBox 2014. Its not very often i buy a program so quickly after using it for such a short amount of time, let alone such an expensive one, but MudBox has blown me away, and i’m more than happy spending that kind of money on something i feel will be a good investment. I can not recommend it enough! It’s simply amazing.
Fueled with excitement, i got to work on my second sculpt. If my last one turned out so good and so easily, this next one would be epic.
Nope. It was an epic series of failures.
For this new sculpt i wanted to make another id software character, this time from Quake 2. The Strogg are a nice mix of organic and hard surface materials, so i thought they would be a good practice model. I chose the Infantry as he is a very cool character and is not an overly complicated design. I imported him into Max and cleaned up the mesh, mirroring it and deleting edges, converting as many triangles to quads as possible.
When the time came to import it into MudBox though, I had mesh smoothing problems, holes, and even subdivision distribution issues. These were caused by triangles on the models face, which were crossing the center axis. They were subdividing unevenly, and after a number of subdivisions, leaving more polys on one side of the face, which would result in uneven sculpting, even when mirroring was enabled. It took me a while to figure out what was causing all this, and luckily only seconds to fix. I think I restarted the sculpt about 3-4 times and was almost going to give up on it, but I managed to finally get a good base mesh sorted and started to get some work done.
It took about a week of work over a 2-3 week period, but im pretty happy with how he turned out:
Bigger version: https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3715/13207653143_c322a7696b_o.png
Bigger version: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7402/13237885023_3308c147f7_o.png
Bigger version: https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2717/13207825394_fd9716274a_o.png
Bigger version: https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2872/13207814334_4bac8a7c7a_o.png
Bigger version: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7108/13236233113_5c94662ef2_o.png
Bigger version: https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3711/13237314804_a87f0f595a_o.png
This model uses PTEX, which is a UV-less painting system, allowing you to paint on a model with no UV’s. You sculpt and paint your model in MudBox, and worry about UV’s later. The latest version of MudBox also has retopology options, so for the first time you can sculpt a model, retopologize a low poly mesh, transfer paint and normal maps over (bake), and you have a game ready model without needing to touch a 3D application. You will still need to create your own UV’s for the low poly mesh though, as I’m not sure how usable the UV’s created by MudBox are. Detail wise, the PTEX resolution im using here is equivalent to a 2048 texture.
I’ll probably return to this guy one day to fix a few things and add a bit more detail here and there, but for the time being he is finished and i’ve started work on a new sculpt.
My new sculpt is another id software character, this time its the Ogre from Quake 1.
Now before anyone gets their nickers in a twist and asks why im working on this stuff instead of Trespasser stuff.
A: I’m allowed to.
B: You don’t have a say in it.
and C: I want to be sure that when i start on dinosaurs that i’m 100% confident in my technique and the processes involved. I don’t want any mistakes or restarts.
I’m aiming for movie quality dinosaurs. As good, if not better than what was in the first two films.
Feathers? No, you can stick your feathers.
I’m remaking Trespasser dinosaurs, which were based on Jurassic Park’s movie dinosaurs. I don’t care what the current theories are, what size they were, what the movie raptors actually are, what colour, what sound, this that. They will be Jurassic Park Trespasser designs.
Raptors will have colour variations similar to that of the original game, based on a combination of the designs in the first two films and the slight changes made for the game version. The quality of the Raptor on the Trespasser box, is what i’m aiming for.
Dinosaurs may not be the first model i start work on, as there are a few more important objects that need to be made first. Yes, Anne is an important model, but im not concerned with making her asap. I’m also not concerned with how her breasts will look either, so don’t bother asking.
I’m actually really keen to make the Edgar Rice Burroughs statue. I think the weathered oxidized bronze and the little sculpt marks and scuffs will be really satisfying to create.
I’m not sure how long it will be before i start working on Tres stuff again, but i’m itching to start as it feels like its been bloody ages. I have no news from Seb to share with you. For the time being, i’m leaving him to investigate the engine and take his time learning what he needs to learn. There’s no rush and there’s plenty to be done elsewhere. He’s had the finished TechDemo level for a while now, so he might pop in and leave a few comments about what he thinks of it and what he’s been up to.
I will post another update when im finished with the Ogre and have started work on some Tres stuff.