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Machinima Update: “The Complex”

August 30th, 2006 by Chris

The Complex Photo GalleryDevelopment on our Machinima show “The Complex” is moving forward in 2 fronts.  I am in the process of building out our first set map (the apartment building) and our programmers are researching in preparation for creating our live-performance mod.

So what is being worked on in the apartment right now?  Read the full post and find out! 

WARNING: Product contains images and language that are geeky in nature!

1:  Models
I am adding more models from the existing map packs, but I plan to start searching the development communities for models that other designers are sharing.  If you know of any good models that would fit the theme of this map, or any good resources, let me know!

AV Action News VanI am also re-skinning existing models to either make them better fit our map, or to give them a specific appearance.  For example, I just started re-skinning the “van” model from the new militia map.  The re-skin turns the old beat up van into the AV Action News Van.  This transformation will be made more complete with the addition of various antenna and satellite dish models that better fit the van. 

2: Textures
As the general structure of the map becomes more complete, I will be able to focus more attention on creating more custom textures, and refining some of my older textures. 

Filter Forge Crystal TextureOne tool that will be helping me create new textures is Filter Forge.  This new application (just out of beta) lets you create procedural textures using a linked node interface.  Simply drag and link the inputs/outputs on various nodes, and create any type of procedural texture you can imagine.  The application also generates specular and normal maps for your textures, which is incredibly handy for game texture design.  Click the crystal texture seen to the left of this paragraph to see an example of the normal maps, bump maps, diffuse maps, and specular maps that Filter Forge generates for your textures.  The examples are on the bottom of the linked page.   I plan to redo the stucco texture for the entire apartment with this application.

3: Lighting
New lighting stylesNow that the map is HDR enabled, I have a lot of lighting work to do.  The outdoor lights need to be redefined, the HDR settings need to be adjusted, and many indoor lights need to be adjusted/replaced.  One big challenge I have found is that designing this map on a LCD monitor gives me a false sense of environmental lighting.  Many environments that seem fine on this LCD monitor appear incredibly dark on a CRT.  That’s the curse of backlighting for you!  

4: Tweaking
Newly tweaked balconiesThere are many small things that need to be adjusted on the map right now.  WARNING: Geek Content!  One issue I have with the map right now relates to how cubemaps/specularity are handled when HDRI is enabled.  When running the map with HDRI disabled, and the normal cubemaps, everything looks fine.  When I run the map with HDRI enabled and build my new HDRI cubemaps, the map appears significantly darker until I reload the entire application.  Once I reload, the lighting in the map looks perfect, but the specularity on all surfaces is way too high.  Everything appears extremely shiny.  A good example would be this screenshot.  The stucco in this image is about 4 times as shiny as the same stucco texture when HDRI is disabled.  If anyone has run into this before and knows of a solution, please let me know!

So what’s next?

I’m in the process of editing a new walkthrough video (it’s all recorded now, just putting the pieces together and shortening it) which should be ready for release next week.  The video shows a lot of work-in-progress areas of the map, so it’s a bit of a behind-the-curtain look into the development process.  On that same note, I plan to start sharing more of the development process here on the blog.  As I start building new textures, adding structure to the map, lighting, adding models, etc., I will be posting updates here, so stay tuned!

And as always, feel free to post you ideas/suggestions/comments here or in our forums.

Seacrest out!


2 Responses to “Machinima Update: “The Complex””

  1. alphamonkey

    I hereby dub thee “Nerdicron”.

  2. Andy

    eh, i’ll take it :) seriously though i cannot wait to start rehearsing this show, this will be the most fun of all of our shows yet, which are all damn fun to do.