Saturday, 25 January 2014

Project Underway!

Usually the hardest thing with a large scale project such as this FMP is, where to start?! Luckily, I've had a bit of practice during the previous two and a half years on the Game Art course, believe it or not, most of the time our tutors know what they're talking about! So, my answer to the question? Im going to go with Whiteboxing! 

One thing I didn't know until now though is that the term white box actually comes from PC's that don't have a brand name, hence, a white box! A little trivia for you there.

As I have a pretty decent idea of the overall layout of my level I decided I can pretty much get stuck into this quite quickly. Because, I have a feeling that once I've got the bulk of the main features of the level in place it may still look quite open and empty, so the sooner I have my level white boxed, the sooner I can begin to look at which areas need more attention, and use the whitebox to design some more concepts with more focus on the finer details.

I began by modifying the track diagram I had designed in Photoshop by roughly dividing the track itself using a simple grid, simply for me to follow inside 3DS Max;

I did this, as I decided the best way to model the circuit itself was to use a Spline as this would enable me to follow the track precisely and give me the most flexibility with the mesh density whilst the circuit itself is quite twisty and obviously is wider at some points and narrower at other.

To ensure the white box was to scale I applied the track diagram to a plane within my 3DS Max scene, if you look closely at the diagram you can see a scale indicator (bottom right) of 20m. I simply created a 20m box within the scene and then scaled the plane until the circuit diagram matched the box.

Spline tool (shown in blue) used to model the circuit
Just modelling the track itself took ages! much longer than I though it would. I assume that this wont be the final mesh used so I couldn't decide how many tri's would be reasonable for it. To help me with this I thought about what features of the track itself, (bare in mind I am only talking about the tarmac part now!) should have the highest priority. At the end of the day its a fairly flat open thing, but on the other hand it is the focal point of my whole level. So, keeping it simple for now I decided that, with the main layout of the track modeled, I should concentrate on;

-the corners, to ensure that each corner has enough geometry, consistent with the rest of the circuit to ensure they flow without looking too 'jaggedy' as they can in older racing games, even on PS2 and Xbox. 

-track banking, in real life even the roads are banked (also referred to as the angle of camber), where the road turns or angles, usually towards the inside of the corner. I decided that this needed to be included in my level for realism, but I also have a feeling that this will aid in the play-ability of the level, making easier for the player to turn the vehicle at each corner, (although this is just a theory!). 

For now, as you can see from the images below, I divided the track quite generously, and have kept it ever so slightly higher in the middle all the way around. I have a feeling though, that I may come back to it and reduce how many times I have divided the track, all depending on how the final level build performs. Apart from the track, I've only managed to get a few of the main buildings in place, again using my 'to scale' map as well as some placeholder tyre walls along one part of the circuit, but for now I think this will do. 

I dont really want to spend any more time in 3DS Max at this point and think it would be best to get this stuff straight into the Cry ENGINE to finish the whiteboxing stage, as the terrain surrounding the complex and the track itself will all be done using the terrain paint tool within CryENGINE.

NEXT JOB - install the latest Cry ENGINE and familiarize myself again with the basic layout and tools. Then begin importing this weeks white box models and develop the whitebox from there!

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