This post mortem is an archive from my 2010 blog post on my previous site
As some of you might already know, Ragged Edge has won the phase one of the Samsung developer competition. YAY! we made the top ten of our category! ?
Now, it’s the tough part: we have to try our best for phase2! please everyone crosses a few fingers for us!
For those of you that don’t know Ragged Edge yet, let me present you the game (I posted some screenshots at the end of this post):
Ragged Edge is a space racing game, in which you pilot ships going on some loops-crazy tracks, at insane speeds (with the right power-up, you can reach 600 MPH).
The game plays really fast, and is a lot of fun so far! (more on the game itself in a few weeks, once the final product is released)
Ragged Edge is a long time project of French Coder, Christophe Kohler, at DK-Games. Christophe is a veteran Playstation/Playstation2 developer, turned cross-platform specialist.
He originally approached me to take care of the User Interface, and everything 2D in the game, and I offered him to give a shot at also creating the 3D assets. That was definitely a risky move, as I barely ever touched a 3D program in my life, aside the 14 years old modeler AMAPI (and now long gone and unsupported).
I will spare you the details of “learning” 3D Studio Max (although, it is definitely easier and more logical than I was expecting it to be – at least, for what I needed to do).
Let me just say I was happy it was a space-themed game, and not a pony-racing game, for example, as I can imagine that it is way easier to model spaceships from cubes than it would have been with any organic shape.
Indeed, the space elements were rather easy to model, once I understood the tricks. Most of the models are actually very simple combination and extrusions of 3D primitives, such as cubes, spheres, tubes and planes.
The Face extrusion tool was intensively used in the process, as well as Boolean combination, to arrive to the final shapes of each asset.
Each model has a very low poly count (albeit, not as low as a real 3D pro would have certainly achieved – I still need to learn the trade).
The next phase was the dreaded UVs unfolding. For someone that never really worked in any 3D package, it was quite something to engage.
Few trials and errors later, I was finally able to unfold my textures flat, and get ready for texture painting: that’s where the real fun begins! ?
If I learned one thing of importance in the whole process, it is how important is the texture painting. Some of my ships went through various texture tryouts, and I believe the later, final work really makes the simple models shine. A good texture allows you to bring much needed complexity and details in very simple shapes, and helps make them interesting on-screen.
Luckily, texture work is pure 2D work, which is something I know better ?
I approached the textures the same way I usually do with flat pixel work: a combination of photographic textures heavily edited, with a lot of little details baked within. I tried to also bake a lot of lighting in the textures, to help reveal the various volumes in game (even the ones that are purely baked in the textures, and not part of the model itself).
I know that this section is certainly very generic and boring for people that work with, and know, various 3D packages – but for me, it was a true discovery – and I enjoyed every minute of it (to a point I had to force myself to put the program down in order to get moving on other projects, etc)
3D is truly addictive, and I can see myself playing with it more in the future!
As I said previously, the game was a long-time project of Christophe, so he had a lot of ideas, and wish-list for the level design. Christophe built the levels using a custom MAX plugin he developed.
His original idea was to keep all the tracks in space, but have them built around visual landmarks. We decided that our first track would be built around a huge space station, and that the track would unwind thought various thematic sections, around the Station.
I made a quick “suggestion” mock-up in Max, and Christophe build the circuit, making sure that it was long enough to provide a significant racing experience, that the track would always go through, or around something visually interesting for the player, and that the various curves and loops stayed playable at high speed.
The final result is quite close to the original idea, and very fun to play.
Finalizing the track also meant having a few different road textures that make the road a true actor in the game, and always interesting to watch.
There again, like the ship textures, I used Photoshop to create various tracks, some of them “position-themed” (starting track, warning areas before tight curves, etc).
I also used a lot of different lighting effects, to give rhythm to the track, make it visually interesting, and enhance the sentiment of speed.
Creating the Splash screen
I wanted to have a very visual “splash screen” to set the mood of the game: an illustration that had a lot of energy, crazy angles and over-the-top action, to catch the player as soon as he/she starts the game.
Brandon Moore is a young, but extremely promising Illustrator. He studies at SCAD, and also work with me on various “portfolio” material projects (you will definitely see more of his work in this blog ? )
After receiving his brief, and some screenshots/models, Brandon provided some rough proposition thumbnails.
We agreed to pick the bottom right corner proposition for the final illustration, while adding the starting station (can’t help, I love that model :))
Brandon final illustration is extremely polished, and completely captures the essence of the game: I believe it’s a very good introduction asset to our product: Well played, Brandon!!!
And now, the screenshots!
These screens illustrate our first delivery to to competition. As we get closer to the final delivery, our product will be polished, more track will be added, etc.