It’s Her Again… but UNREAL

Hello world! Yes I’m still alive would you believe it?

OtaconSpriteSo as I think of the little Otacon sprite from Metal Gear Solid 2 saying: “It’s the commandant again…” today I’d like to show you the updates and progress made to a character in the game I’m currently working on.

So, if you’ve been following my blog, you’ve seen her before… BUT WAIT! Don’t leave me!! Don’t quit the post! Something is indeed different!

So all the renders I’ve shown you up until now, have been composited inside the powerful PBR renderer: Marmoset Toolbag 2. However, today I would like to show you what she looks like inside Unreal Engine 4, the desired end-platform. As the character was built for usage within a video game, and although Marmoset Toolbag gives you a decent preview of what things would look like rendered in a PBR-based engine, the ultimate verdict was left to Unreal Engine 4.

Alright, enough blabbering… what is it you want to show??

You may recall from a previous post of mine, that the dream for me at the moment (and therefore effectively one of my milestones) is to get the character rendered and working inside UE4. For me personally, it’s something I’ve put off for quite a while whilst working on other aspects of the game as honestly; I’m quite intimidated by the mass scale and power of the engine. However, after snooping around on the forums, the brilliant AnswerHub and receiving personal-case responses from the dedicated engine staff at Epic Games, I’m happy to say this dream is now 50% realised! Please bear in mind this is still a work in progress and I anticipate visuals to improve before the final release!

001 001_grey 002002_grey 003 003_grey

For the time being, Alice is still very much static and is placed within the scene as a static mesh. The other half is yet to come, to get her ‘working’ requires her functioning and moving as the player character. Currently, I’m in the process of working with Epic Games’ ART tool plugin for Maya to ensure I can get this working in the near future. As a bonus from not posting so long, here’s a render displaying the concept of damage on the character with some explanations & breakdowns that might just give you a few hints about the game’s mechanics 🙂

alice_damage

As the model’s been drastically updated, here are a couple of Marmoset Renders allowing you a more detailed look into her mesh and textures:

alice_presentation aliceheads

So this leaves a question that might be on your mind…

Who’s doing the motion capture for the animation? (Not sure if you noticed, but I look nothing like the character, nor am I even… female for that matter…)

Who’s doing the voice for her? (Again, although I can manage some superb high-pitched squeals of sheer fright, that simply wouldn’t cut it here!)

The answer to these questions comes from a great friend who’s been more than willing to help and has been very supportive of the entire project. It was thanks to her that Alice is what she is today, from consultations about her clothing, to the building of her personality and even the words she would speak, she was essential to the design process and frankly; I’ve learnt a lot. For me, the process of motion and voice-capture will be the most exciting part of realising this dream. I’ve gotten to the stage before where I’ve made characters and have had them posed and rendered, but to actually see her move, have her eyes blink and a voice associated, that will definitely be a new benchmark for me to experience!

So exciting times to come!

On a seperate note, I wanted to sing the praises of the staff at Unreal and no; I’m not paid to do so, nor am I brown-nosing anyone; I’m being genuine here!

Many of you may remember that the project was designed to be built using Crytek’s CryEngine. After literal years of buying the books, scouring the forums and trying to get my questions / errors resolved and answered, I realised that this was the delaying factor to the game’s development. Asset’s would be made, textured and all sorts, mechanics would be decided upon and tweaked, but the buck stopped there simply because I had no idea how to implement these elements into CryEngine properly. 

It was quite common to come across quick fixes or console commands that would force the engine to do what it is you wanted but alas, a programmer with knowledge of how the source code could be amended was required; I was no such person. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to risk making a game where there would be a plethora of band-aid fixes to errors and features of the game, I wanted it hard-wired into it’s blueprint or coding to minimise the amount of potential bugs upon release.

So in short, I made the decision to switch to Epic Games’ alternative and began pouring over all the tutorial videos and resources, as well as the detailed documentation and already, in a space of a month; have managed to achieve something I struggled to obtain in CryEngine over years. I’m confident that this is because I simply didn’t know what I was doing in CryEngine, had I have known how to do the things I wanted, I’m sure sure the same effects and quality could’ve been achieved. However, this was not the case.

Primarily, it was thanks to the friendly community at Unreal, both staff and members that help me achieve something I could be proud of, to put Alice in a real-time, next-generation-ready engine in a fashion that doesn’t look too shoddy either! So, whether they read this or not, a major, major thank you to all those who helped teach me the working of Unreal so I could get this far!

As a parting gift! I leave you with a preview of what’s to come below! Ciao folks and as always, thanks for reading!

WIP1

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