Our Character Editor! #1 - Development Update
Welcome back to our latest developer update, where we give you a peek behind the curtains of development! In the last months, we have been heavily focusing on the map builder as well as the character editor . Both of these topics are incredibly exciting for us to work on, and they both deserve a spot on their own in our developer updates.
For this update, however, we want to take a deeper look at our character editor . The reason for this is, that the work on the map builder has been strongly centered around optimization and improving our existing map asset pipeline: Technical essentials —that will enable us to make the most out of the players' hardware— which are, however, too technical for the moment (we will go into detail there, once the user-facing features are ready to be shown off as well!).
So, without further ado, thank you for your patience, and let's start with this developer update!
Whether it's crawling through a dungeon or dancing at the queen's ball...
...our adventurers want to be dressed for the occasion!
This was our highest priority when we set up our character art pipeline. We want to allow players to not only equip different prebuilt outfits but to actually mix and match different, individual clothing pieces !
Having this goal in mind we had to solve quite a lot of challenges. One of the biggest was defining a gorgeous-looking, visual artstyle for our characters, while at the same time meeting the strict performance goals that we have set up, to ensure a good performance for all our players.
So how did we do it? For the sake of readability, we broke down the results of our work into two main parts for you:
· #1 The visual art challenge: Bringing your heroes to life
· #2 The development & technical art challenge: Our clothing system
#1 Bringing your heroes to life - An insight into the artstyle of our characters
Initially, when we started on the concepts for our characters and their outfits, we spent a lot of time finding the right level of stylization and detail . We wanted our heroes to be the highlights of our fantasy worlds and yet perfectly fit into the style of the environments.
During the course of our conception phase, a wide variety of explorations and concept arts had to be created, in order to get many different variations for our internal testing. Through this testing, we succeeded in achieving a fantastic final art style that we are proud to show off to you.
So, let's accompany Dungeon Full Dive's barbarian outfit on its journey through our character pipeline from concept art to 3d !
2D - Exploration & Concept
The exploration phase is the first stage of conception, in which we wildly explore what is possible for the outfit. This is done before we actually decide on a certain design that we want to implement. The results here are far from the final detailed design, and more focused on the general elements that we want to have as well as the overall design . Things like the characters' silhouettes are also very important during this stage!
The first explorations are focused on finding the right clothing pieces and the overall design that we want to have.
After we decide on the final elements for the outfit, our concept artists proceed with creating a first rendered concept art:
A more youthful look and pants! You can also see some explorations and thoughts on clothes, materials, and different armor pieces.
The further we proceed with the pipeline and the more we transition from 2D concept art towards the 3D plane, the more we have to consider the details of the design. When making a 3D character something very crucial comes into play: technical limitations as well as the readability of the design .
That is why we must have an eye on things like the level of detail:
More is not always better!
3D - Sculpting, Modeling & Texturing
Next, based on the 2d concept, our 3D artists are able to sculpt a first model:
The first translation in 3d with simple colors, to help with the visualization
With a 3d model in place, we are able to texture the character. That means giving him color and bringing the materials to life!
We finally got a model we like! Nice! Unfortunately, we are not done yet. Now that we have the first version, we start on the details with lots of feedback from the other artists and developers.
Of course, during all of these steps, we also go through a feedback & polishing loop. The feedback & polishing is crucial for our artists, to reach our targeted visual goals ! This is one example of such a feedback loop for the barbarian outfit:
There is a lot of thought and work that has to go into the creation of our characters!
After we review and discuss the changes, we can work them in, and our barbarian looks like this:
Even more handsome, don't you think?
Now we can finalize the textures ...and add the final details!
And there you go: Our barbarian is ready for the character editor, awesome! ... But what happened to the boots? This is explained in our technical art insight post regarding the clothing system!
In summary, our outfits have to go through a lot of different stages before being ready for the game: from exploration to the concept , to sculpting , texturing , the feedback loop , and final polishing!
As you can see, the design of the barbarian can drastically improve from one step to the next! And there are even more steps that we have not shown here for the sake of simplicity (like retopologizing, uv-layout, etc.). Making video games can be a tough job!
I hope we were able to give you an insight and understanding into our work ! Keeping the length of this post and your reading pleasure in mind, we will have to continue the second part of this post in a separate community update. But worry not! It's already prepared and will be posted next week ;)
So, stay tuned for part 2 : 'The development & tech-art challenge: Our clothing system'
In the meantime, feel free to let us know in the comments: What do you think of the design? What is the next class that you want to see?
And as always: We are truly looking forward to seeing you inside DFD!
- Your TxK Gaming Team