Monday, February 22, 2010

Lets begin again!

Its been a long long time since my last post. I also haven't worked on my last project any since October. I bought a house in November and I have finally settled in. So lets get things going again!

My project "Lost Kingdoms" has pretty well stalled and for now I would consider it too ambitious so I'm going to put it on the back burner for now and after I complete a smaller more fun project I may either come back to it or cannibalize it for a better thought out project.

So what will I do instead? Glad you asked! I'm going to jump into a niche market and make a racing game! No not one of the thousands of NASCAR games or even anything with wheels. This racing game is going to be set a few hundred years in the future with hovering cars and races all over the solar system!

In my opinion there are a few good elements that make a good racing game. First obviously is the feel of the racer, it has to be responsive and fast! The second element I like is being able to buy upgrades, it makes wining more important because your after the prize money. Third is the game's graphical style, I'll have to whip out some fun and funky graphical elements and make sure I throw some awesome on it! Mmm yum, its awesome, and tasty!

Generally I am drawing some of my inspiration from what I would consider the best racing game ever made, "Star Wars Episode One Pod Racer" for the Nintendo 64. Sure there may be a couple newer games that are similar and passably better but I haven't played them myself. But some of the feel of a super fast race and the general idea that you can upgrade your racer are all I'm borrowing from it. And honestly I plan to expand upon the customization greatly.

The player will be starting out with a junky or old car and they will start their racing career in an amateur circuit. The player will have to race a bunch of races and a small tournament in order to progress to better races, possibly with better paying sponsors and more fame and riches. And they would have to upgrade their racers and buy better hovering cars in order to compete. That part is all pretty standard in a good racing game but there could be a lot more. Such as running around great cities finding black market dealers to buy more unique parts, or occasionally running a crazy delivery mission through the Volcanic regions of Io, one of Jupiter's moons. So I plan to make a few unique twists on an already interesting game idea.
Since the first phase of planning is done, I have actually been able to get some work done on real assets! Here are the pics for one of the racers. I still have yet to texture it however, but you can see what I started with and how it ended up.
Quick sketch of a Racing Ship

I started with a quick basic sketch just to get the general shape on paper. I made a bunch of these and only pick the ones I like to continue working on. I do all my drawing with a graphics tablet in "Easy Paint Tool SAI".

Refined drawing of a Racing Ship

After I pick a good sketch to work with I blow up the sketch and on a new layer I draw over it, refine the shape and edges, then add detail. Some of the ideas and detials I rethink by the time I make the model however.

Finished 3D model ready for texturing, or a paintjob.

And here is the finished model that just needs some paint slapped on it. This particular ship took about 12 hours to model, mostly because I had recently learned some new things about 3D modeling and I took the time to play around with my new knoweldge. Otherwise all the complicated shapes of the wings and fins took a lot of trial and error before I got them how I wanted them. This model was a lot of fun to make and I learned a lot from it. And best of all, the model is unsmoothed, I did it all by hand and didn't rely on subdivision to hide any blemeshes. After triangulation the model weighs in at approximately 5300 polygons. I even made all the movable parts like the rudders, landing gear hatches, and cockpit hatch fit into or on the model seamlessly. I plan to have all of those parts animated in the game, and also a lower poly character in the cockpit too. I will likely make several models before I decide how I want these painted though. I would like to offer the player some options such as color selction so I may make a few neat textures that only rely on 3 or 4 colors and alow the player to change the colors. So besides just a plain ship, the player could throw on a flame themed texture set on the ship, and change its color scheme too.