New (starter) universes: stages and characters

Creating new worlds is always challenging. It tells a story, functions as a plot device, allows or restricts movement and evokes feelings on the user. And the characters that live in that world have to make sense as well, as goombas and koopas have no place on the roads of Gran Turismo. And that’s before even starting to talk about themes and actions and movement and intention and woah… thankfully we’re only in week 2!

Setting the stage

Given the restrictions for today’s assignment, I’m not really that happy with the world I created. I realized how much I rely on Maya, not only as a creation and modeling tool of new assets, but also because its workflow feels much more comfortable for me. I missed the options for making mirrored copies, creating meshes with holes or simply replicating items a certain amount of times. At the same time, I had many problems with my computer, even losing a great part of another environment (which I was not happy with either, so it didn’t hurt as much); for the next assignments, I will definitely use some of the more powerful computers.

Glass platforms, floating gold discs and a panoramic view

Spiral staircase, bridge and slanted background structures

Panoramic view of the overall level

But there are things I definitely like about this environment. It manages to convey a huge sense of space and mystery. The eerie feeling is exacerbated by the crooked path on the background, and the repetition of “arches” delimit the space and give a strong contrast said background. The use of Exponential Height Fog tint the overall space without relying on post process filters. I will definitely use them in later stages, but I want to modify some aspects of the color and feeling without relying solely on that.

Designing the population

I am taking material from three games to create my characters: Journey, Furi and Child of Light. In the first two games, the movement of the protagonist is fundamental and characteristic, having elements that flow accordingly and that convey that level of importance. Furthermore, Furi relies on coordinated movements to dodge each of the bosses’ attacks, with increasing levels of difficulty tied with simple timing mechanics. On the other hand, Child of Light has a style that is dream-like and fairy tale-ish. It paints a picture on your mind about magic and adventures, everything in an unknown world where anything could happen. It is a land perfect for discoveries and exploration.

Bellow, you can see the moodboard for the character design.

With this in mind, I would create 4 characters: one male-coded, one female-coded and two androdynous characters. Each plays a role on their discovery, but only two go together on this adventure. They all have a sense of personal wanting they’ve been trying to fulfill. And in such uncanny spaces, where so many things stop making sense and things flow naturally, the freedom from that reality allows them to explore and move around following their hearts content.

One step closer to Andy Serkis

This lab was incredibly entertaining. I jumped on the opportunity of wearing the suit and did all the weird, fantastic and fun movements that occurred to me. And seeing my movements performed by a set of dots (and a faceless avatar) makes me want to analyze my movements even further.

The process to port the motion capture skeletal data is still unknown to us, and we had a hard time trying to send rigid bodies at the same time. But getting to track each skeleton is not hard at all. It’s just a matter of having patience and being thorough when placing the trackers on the actors’ bodies.

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