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Texturing in-game assets

Since we’re making an isometric game there’s always a constant struggle with readability of shapes and detail. Things get cluttered upon things upon things upon things and because isometric perspective lacks “lens depth” (the picture doesn’t get distorted) it’s bound to get chaotic. Thus we have to make sure that every model, silhouette, and texture of every in-game background and asset is clearly and immediately recognizable to the player.

Aside: Texture Frequencies

Think of a dirty wrinkled face on a smiling old man. Up close it has small specks of dirt which, once you start moving farther, start to meld into the face since the receptors of your eye do not distinguish them any more. At some point in the distance also the wrinkles disappear. In computer graphics we usually get problems at distances on which these kinds of repeating details start to disappear into noisy weird patterns. You might want to look up Nyquist Frequency if you are interested in more theory about this. – Irve

There’s also the added bonus of in-game camera at play, which basically means that all of the detail has to “work” at all levels of zoom ie. a radio and it’s texture has to look the same in the close ups and long shots. Woo!

Now with the “Why?” out of the way let’s talk about the “How?”. Our game has this painterly or as Robert likes to call it “Paintshading” look to it. All of our backgrounds are modelled and textured in 3d, then rendered, then painted over by Aleksander to give it that handmade feel. In-game assets are real time models used within our game engine, thus the applied texture to the them has to look painterly from the get-go. This in turn means painting directly onto our unwrapped UV layouts while trying to be as artsy as possible about it.

uv

Below you see a Villier Pepperbox, a complex gat for a complex man. Just to be clear – the model of the gun is the same throughout all three of the variations.

threesome

The first iteration had me painting a somewhat realistic version of the textures – the wood looks like wood, the metal looks like metal, and there’s a decent amount of added detail. As soon as I dropped it into the engine the problem became obvious – it didn’t fit with the visual style of our game. To add insult to injury, since the gun is such a small asset, it basically looked like a bunch overly detailed of noise in the grip of our main character.

The second iteration is a more stylized version of the previous – now the wood and metal feel like wood, instead of just looking like it. The texture is a lot more painterly and I also introduced a bold dab of green into the hand painted mix. Stylistically it wasn’t as much of an eye-sore in-game, but there were still some issues of readability.

The third iteration is a blend of both. Some of the details are exaggerated (ie. the finger rest and the grill) while others were removed entirely. Aleksander advised me to emphasize different parts of the gun by adding a stroke along the shorter axis. The firing mechanism and the round-barrel are a nice example of this while the long barrel received a painterly stroke along its longer axis to make it seem longer. I kept the dab of green and smoothed it out with some off-white milky blue to give the barrel a nice sheen.

This is now in-game and visible in one of our screenshots as well.

Mikk out.

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Press mentions

For this week’s second post we rounded up some of the articles that struck closest to our dainty little hearts. We are always good for all kinds of media interaction, so be sure to give us a ring.

Kill Screen

Our writers are in awe of how Maddi portrayed our world to the… world. Look, I’m not a writer, okay. She captured the atmosphere of our realm perfectly from snippets around our devblog and social media.

“Having gone through their share of uprisings, wars, and rebuildings, it’s no wonder such foundational commentary is coming out of Estonia. It couldn’t be more different from Fallout’s nuclear Americana.”

Orange Bison

Stephen contacted us through Facebook and very kindly sought after an interview. Being the awesome chaps we are, we let Robert do most of the talking while others were busy playing Journey in the studio. Nah, just kidding, we are always knee deep in 3D and never get to play anything. Ever.

“You’ve described the game as “neither fantasy or any kind of punk” i.e. not any recognisable genre and instead have called it “fantastic realism,” could you elaborate on that? Why avoid those genres?”

“The worldbuilding we’ve done is, honestly, beyond sane. We’ve been working on it since… 2001? When we were 15. First we started out with something I would maybe call bronze punk. Bronze age punk? Early history meets high fantasy stuff. Then, year after year, we started adding: classic era, renaissance era, industrial era elements. But we kept all the previous versions too, those became previous historical eras in the history of this world.

The last thing we put in was postmodernism. So now we have a history of ideas and technology spanning 6000 years of civilization. This means we’re not static. Not a comment on a specific era of human development, like for example high fantasy is for middle ages, but for… well, all of it.

I don’t much like to blabber on about it in interviews. The game is the best way to experience this world. So I’ll stop now. All I wanted to say is – I stand by our promise that the setting is something entirely new.”

Gamasutra

Wes, being a writer/designer himself, was fascinated with the premise and art style of our game. We had a fun and very detailed back and forth with him.

“I’ve seen interesting pitches about the game as an exploration of failure, which helps set it apart from the usual “Be an awesome hero!” sort of game. Did “reversing the epic RPG” drive this anti-hero approach?”

“Yes, but I wouldn’t call it an anti-hero approach. The anti-hero is still a hero, only cool. Most of us would actually like to be that, and not a Dirk Squarejaw straight up hero type. Instead of what we are, which is, let’s face it – varying degrees of failure. The person you wake up as in No Truce is not a cool, deranged anti-hero. He’s a failure.

Like you and I. Like the Soviet Union, or your first love. This person is catastrophic. Ruin is his rest state, it’s hard to steer him anywhere but. We expect actually solving the case and not ending up as an insane drunk to be the non-standard ending.

It’s about being a man, really.”

Puhata ja Mängida

The guys at P&M are local chaps running an awesome weekly podcast and Youtube channel. Their lair was small, cosy and with good company. A damn shame they didn’t offer any tea. Only in Estonian though, sorry!