Friday, 9 August 2013


Although I had already completed the complex modelling and texturing task with my seahorse model, I decided to have a go at the tree task anyway and found it increasingly difficult to complete using Mat's videos, as I over complicated most of the steps and twisted and rotated my tree far too much making the UV map difficult to create without overlapping and stretching. I then went onto trying to remodel the tree another two times, however the file then corrupted and I was unable to access the file to finish off the task. I did however look into other ways that trees can be created in Maya and now have a better understanding of where I went wrong and how I were to do it differently if given the chance to in the future.

Animated asset

For my animated asset in this game module, I thought it was important that my sushi bar spun around. At first I rotated the bar at the speed I wished it to be in the first 12 frames (half a second), and then extended this for a little longer to check I was happy. 

I then calculated how many more frames would be needed to allow the sushi bar to do a full rotation. Using key framing made the animation of the sushi bar reverse backwards and spin at unusual rates as it didn't do a full rotation in one direction and rotated the other way too! So to combat this I deleted the key frames and once I had worked out the length the rotation would take, I simply used the start rotation as 0 and finished at 360, ensuring that the animation would be rotating in the one direction (which worked!).

This then took me on to the graph editor, where I adjusted the easing, and made the points completely straight which allows the bar to spin at a constant speed.

When exporting the Maya project as an FBX file I checked that I wanted the animation to be baked, which meant that when imported into Unity the animation would be there and working, and I would not have to animate inside of Unity. I also made sure that once it was imported that I checked loop animation, meaning that the bar would keep spinning for the whole duration of the game.

Unity has it's issues

I had a difficult time transferring my Maya project into Unity for many reasons. To begin with it was mainly an issue with exporting the project file out as an FBX..

At first I thought nothing of it, but when I got my FBX into Unity, my seahorse models had stretched and none of the textures were linked.

And then an error code came up which scared me a little!

So I went back to the Maya file and went through and centred the pivot of each seahorse, grouped the added details to the body together as well as having them parented, and then lastly I deleted the history for each and froze their transformations. I previously hadn't frozen the transformations of the project as when I did that it would stop the sushi bar from being animated and would move my assets around so I chose against doing the whole project.

I then added the lighting, which I chose to use directional lighting for, and had difficulty with it being too bright due to my own scaling issues with the Maya project, so each light's intensity was changed and the direction was changed also.

Once I had done all of this I left to go home, to come back the next day to continue my work on the Unity on the Macs up in the studio, rather than the free version I downloaded down in AV, which in turn corrupted all my files, leaving it impossible to open unless I had a admin password. When searching for solutions I found this helpful blog post:
Luckily James from IT was in and was able to help by allowing me to download the free version I used in Unity, and luckily this allowed me to open the files!

I then has issues with finding how to change the settings of the particle emitter, and became very frustrated at myself for a good hour, trying to find any sort of tutorial online, and when I was about to give in Annabeth came in and managed to help me find it as the new layout was completely different and difficult to navigate.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

My own barrels and crates

Historic Barrel

Historic Crate


In honesty I struggled with this task as I felt under pressure to make something which is seemingly easy to model, look and feel different to ones already made whilst still being authentic.

Trends in the game industry 3/3 - Gamifying Education

I watched this really interesting video on how to 'Gamify' education, making it not just only more fun, but to make schooling more of a family and friendship orientated rather than a competitive environment, especially in younger teaching years.

As I have been teaching children recently under Saturday Art School, this method really fits with our ethos where everyone is equal, however I feel this method of teaching would work better in a schooling environment.

Trends in the game industry 2/3 - Game Addiction

One thing that is often associated with gaming is game addiction. As I have never really played games that often, or been allowed to much as a child, I find the idea of game addiction strange and a foreign land to me. However game addiction can be an extreme mental illness, with some people finding it easier to interact with others in the online world making their own persona of who they wish they could be, choosing to leave the real world behind them.

In my eyes this form of addiction to the virtual world can be shown in most of todays society, especially the younger generations, through the obsession with online social media. With Facebook for example, some users go great lengths to  ‘craft’ their perfect account, being careful of that pages they ‘like’ spending hours writing status’ which will get enough ‘likes’ to look popular, and taking hours to decide which picture to use for their display picture.

It is just that game addiction is more serious, as not only are they creating a persona, which they wish the online world to view them as, but also cutting out reality all together. Although I don't know much myself about this subject matter, these three links below all give really heartfelt accounts of what it is like to suffer from addiction and their route out of it.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Last Push!!

Today I wanted to finish compositing and do the finishing touches of my maya scene before importing it into Unity and adding the other finishing touches in there. 

First I started off with laying out the chop sticks on each table, making sure they are to the right hand side of each placing which is polite in Japanese etiquette. 

I then added seating to each position on the sushi bar, using the sushi models I had already created for the food on the bar.

The next step was to import the bubble blowers. When I first added one to the area it looked quite quiet and not really thought out, so I decided to experiment by duplicating the same model and spacing them around the bar between each rib, rotating the outside ones to look in.

The next thing I wanted to do was duplicate the sushi bar and all of the assets in and around it (including the water fountain) twice, making three eating areas. However when I tried to move the objects when only selected it started to spread the items rather than retain their original layout but changing the position. I did a quick search and couldn't find how to resolve this, but after a while I found this link:  which told me to group the objects I wished to move, which worked!!

I then had the issue of lighting to deal with. I imported the lantern models into this project file and started playing around with the heights of the lanterns giving a more random effect when looking at them inside the game. I then rotated them to give them all a slightly different positioning and hanging and checked that the texture glow was working.

Getting there....!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Sound sound sound sound sound...

Sound is such an important part of any moving image, whether it is animation, film or in this case gaming. For my game I wanted to have a mix of sounds to keep the game interesting but limit the amount of effects else it can easily become sloppy and messy.

Radio Station
I was hoping to have a specific ‘radio station’ in the background like they do in some shops and restaurants where the music links directly to the atmosphere they are hoping to create, matching what they are selling (an example of this is TKMaxx radio, or the music they play in Yo!Sushi).  

As it is a Japanese based game, I was hoping to find some authentic Japanese music, aiming towards the J-pop genre rather than J-rock music (as I feel J-pop is more fun and lively matching my game more), or traditional Japanese music (which again I am steering towards a modern Japan for my game).

To begin with I searched all the free music sites, for creative commons free music, but none matched what I was looking for, and had a far more serious tone than hoped.

As a lover of J-pop I have my own personal favorites, so decided as this game will not be sold and is only for educational purposes that I would use music I already relate to my game and if I were to sell this game then I would try and get permission to use this music or search for other songs, or even commission someone to make the game it's own music. Here is a link to a playlist I made on youtube of my favourite Japanese music.
Japanese playlist

From this I took this I chose which songs I wanted to use and put them in a folder on the computer together.

To create a more authentic radio station I wanted a piece of speech between two of the songs, so I used Google Translate to type in the English sentence I wished to be translated, and recorded the sound of the Japanese translation and pronunciation.

I then took all the songs I had saved and spent an hour choosing which songs to choose and the track order which flows smoothly, which I then added the pre-recorded Japanese radio speech in-between the first two songs. I then imported everything into Audacity to start editing it all together.

Once I had the order I listened through to the whole playlist and made a few slight changes, which were mainly adjusting the sound levels of a few of the overly quiet or overly loud songs, and trimming off some of the long pauses between songs or adding more.

Once everything was in place and how I wanted it to sound I exported the file out as both a WAV file and an MP3.

Sound Effects
Which then leads onto the other sounds needed in the game. As well as a constant background radio noise, I wanted more interactive noises which were triggered in certain areas of the game. The sounds I decided to search for was a mechanical sound for the Sushi bar going around, bubbles popping from the bubble blower and water splashing from the fountain.

I found that this website had the most relevant sounds for me, and I managed to find two free sound effects here, but had no luck trying to find a sushi track noise which was the least important effect I wanted. Thinking about it after spending a few hours for the 'perfect' sound effect for it, I was worried that it would be too loud and distracting so it is probably better off without it.

Bubble Blower

At first I wanted to model a koi fish to be the character, which blows out bubbles in the sushi bar, mainly because the koi is a known Japanese symbol. When modelling I found it increasingly difficult to make the koi sit upright in the position I wanted, this is due to the koi’s natural structure where it’s spine curves on the horizontal frame not vertically, which made my model look unnatural and awkward looking.
(below are images found on Google for reference for how to model the Koi fish)

When creating this model I noticed that it increasingly looked like a seahorse, and with a bit of tweaking it could be a really lovely model. I then had to decide the importance of using a koi or if I was able to adapt my designs to make it into a sea horse, and what the hidden connotations might be. As it was a Japanese sushi bar I really wanted to have elements of traditional Japanese culture and symbols, but I had already decided that my game was primarily about the modern day Japan, which meant that as long as I made the model fun and enjoyable to look at I would be fitting my design idea.
(below is an image I found on Google for reference for how to model a seahorse)

I decided to add a glow map to the seahorse model and use bright yellow colours to express joy and playfulness. The model itself has an interesting shape with a mix of smooth curves with blocky modelling in places, which I think adds to the playfulness. Below are some screen-shots to show the development of my initial model and how it developed into the finished thing.

Here is a screenshot of my first attempt of modelling (left) with a slightly more developed model (right), showing my development process. I decided that the head shape needed to be changed quite drastically as it still looked quite humanised, that it needed finns to look more like a seahorse, and that although I liked the bottom curve of the tail on the first model it definitely needed to be resized and shaped to look more realistic.

I then streamlined the face by making it a bit slimmer and elongated the nose. I also brought down the crown of the head and reshaped it slightly so it didn't look so large. I also disliked the spikes of the finn on it's back, so I decided to go back and smooth them into a more curved shape which felt more natural looking and joyful.

I then added a torus for a mouth, but rescaled it slightly, making it slightly more podgy and cuter looking, which fits more with my aesthetic style.

After this I made some final tweaks, mainly with the vector tool, before going onto UV mapping.

I decided to use planar mapping as I knew I wanted my model to have a symmetrical texture. I chose to take it from the side as this is where the most detailing will be, but also due to the curve in the tail that would be impossible to texture well if done from a different angle.

Here is a test I created to see if the texture stretched at all around the front and back and how to combat this. I decided to incorporate this into my design.

At first I decided to use a Blinn texture as I first wanted the model to have a shine to look like plastic, but I soon decided, even with tweaking of the presets, that a Lambert would look more natural and less shiny and off putting.

I looked into glow maps and decided to have a go myself, changing the alpha channels so that I can reimport the texture, much like when making a bump map. I was really happy with the result after dimming the effect slightly, but found out that unfortunately Unity doesn't support this sort of texturing.

I then added some small details to the face such as eyes and finns which are all textured and modelled separately, and the parented and grouped to the object.

And there we go! One seahorse!