Monday, 16 May 2016

High -> Low

Saving polys is important, kids and non-kids. This is something I really need to remember when making props. 

This blog post is basically about how I took my bridge prop from being high poly to low poly in a grand total of about 5 minutes. The best thing about this is that the bridge still looks pretty much the same. Here's a comparison:

 This is the high poly version, with a total of 1.1k faces (I know, I know :( ). 

Then this is the low poly version, with a total of 191 faces:

Now other than the shape of the bridge's posts, its more or less the exact same shape. Realistically I should have ensured it was lower poly to begin with, but that's a lesson learned for the future! 

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Yo-Kai Watch

Something I felt needed a post of its own as it's pretty relevant to what I've been working on recently - Level 5's new* game, Yo-Kai Watch.

*I say new but it's been out in Japan for a while, though we only recently got the localised version in the UK

Yo-Kai Watch is a game in which the player befriends various 'Yokai' - spirits who cause trouble and various events within the real world while remaining unseen (for example hunger, negative emotions or embarassing tendencies). 

The reason I felt the need to write about Yo-Kai Watch is because of the way in which the inspiration is taken from the Japanese Folklore 'Yōkai' - "a class of supernatural monsters, spirits and demons in Japanese folklore. The word yōkai is made up of the kanji for "bewitching; attractive; calamity;" and "spectre; apparition; mystery; suspicious".[1] They can also be called ayakashi (), mononoke (物の怪?), or mamono (魔物?). Yōkai range eclectically from the malevolent to the mischievous, or occasionally bring good fortune to those who encounter them." (Thank you Wikipedia for that lovely description)

Here are some images of various Yokai, along with a trailer for the game:


Monday, 9 May 2016

UE4 Scene Development

With all props made and ready to go, it was time for me to start putting my UE4 scene together. How exciting! :D

I began by placing some trees into the scene (it's a forest so it made sense to start with them). I initially began doing this individually, so it took quite a while. It was then that I was introduced to UE4's foliage brush, and I honestly think my life has been changed forever.

What would have taken me a good hour took a matter of minutes (if that), and here's the result:

Not only is the foliage brush much faster, but it also provides a much more natural and 'organic' feel to the placement of trees. While I initially tried to make the placement as random as possible when placing them myself, there was still an obvious sense of organisation to the placement. The foliage brush is completely random and so eliminated that feeling completely.

It also allows you to decide on sizing variations. You input a minimum and a maximum size you want the meshes to be and the brush will spread out meshes between these sizes randomly, which is great for variation.

The foliage brush allows you to add multiple meshes, so I also did the same with both types of bushes that I made:

With trees and bushes placed, I then moved on to putting in other props - including a bridge.

I wanted the bridge to connect two pieces of the scene as it didn't make sense for it to just be in the middle of a pond. I made this happen by extending the scene out and having what is almost like a 'runway' up towards the Rock Family. The player has to cross the bridge in order to go and see them, so it isn't something they can just walk around or avoid - at least not if they wish to explore further!

Next I added various characters and dotted around some tree stumps which act as houses.

I wanted the rocks and little weeds to mingle so that the scene has a feeling of everything being united. I didn't want them to be separated, so I made sure to have parts in the scene where the two can be seen together, an example being in the treestumps above.

With these all placed it was time to start adding the finishing touches.

The scene itself felt a bit like it was floating in mid-air because outside of where the player walks, all that could be seen was sky. I used UE4's build terrain tool to create somewhat of a 'landscape' that I placed under my scene to give the illusion of mountains and more scenery heading off into the distance. This made the scene feel much more secluded and eliminated the feeling that it is floating in the air. 

The final change I made at this point was creating my own water shader (which you can read more about here) to try and tie the scene together some more. UE4's default water is nice but it contrasted greatly with the art style of my scene, so I had to change it. Here are some images of the updated water:

Then finally just to round things off, here are some final screenshots of my scene. :) 

I've also uploaded a video flythrough to Youtube if you'd like to have a look at the entire scene!


Though I hadn't originally planned on doing any Blueprinting for my UE4 scene (mainly because I hadn't touched it before and I found the idea of using them kinda scary...), I did actually end up using a couple of them in the end! This blog post is gonna go through what I used, how I did them and most importantly what they did. :)

The first blueprint I did is to do with my happy weed character. For those of you who missed my last blog post, this is him:

In my last blog post I also shared the link to a vine of him dancing (which can be found here), and in THIS blog post I'm going to explain how I made that happen. Here we go...

 Being surrounded by UE4 geniuses on a Games Design course is a useful thing, and along the way I've heard of various tips and techniques that can be used to bring a scene to life. One of these things being a 'SimpleGrassWind' which does exactly what it suggests - makes grass blow calmly in the wind within a scene. I tried this with my weed character, though for some reason it didn't work. Okay. Back to the drawing board.

So after watching some useful tutorials on Youtube I found another way to do it, and here it is:

Super simple! The 'Panner' and 'Sine' are used to decide which way I want my material to sway (on the X/Y axis, or both if needs be) and how much I want it to do so. Then I just connect it to 'World Position Offset' with my texture connected to 'Base Colour' and there we go! 

While it's obviously one of the simplest things to do in UE4, it's also my first time using blueprinting so I'm overly happy about it and the result created. I just can't get over the fact that my little character is swaying, it's great. :D 

The next blueprint I did is a little bit trickier - I made my own water shader.

I was originally just using UE4's default water for my scene as I didn't know how to make my own, but it really didn't fit with the art style of the rest of my assets and stuck out quite a bit. Here are some shots of the scene with default water so you can see what I mean:


It wasn't terrible but it wasn't great, so I needed to do something about it. I started by creating a tileable water texture to use, so here's that:

I kept it simple because I didn't want to end up spending a tonne of time on a texture that then didn't work and couldn't be used. I did have the intention of going back to work on it some more once I had made it work, but in the end I just kept it the way it was. I may go back and add some more to it at some point, but for now I'm satisfied with the results. Speaking of which, here they are:

I feel that this water works much better with my scene as it follows a similar style. The UE4 default isn't bad but it much better suited for realistic pieces - something my scene certainly isn't! 

Finally, here's the actual blueprint I created for it: 

As you can see it's a little bit more complicated than the previous blueprint, but the idea is similar. 

The two 'Texture Samples' are attached to 'Panner' nodes which make the texture pan on an X/Y axis. The 'TexCoord's are there to help resize each texture. By making both textures different sizes and having them pan in different directions, the illusion of moving water is created.

The 'DepthFade' and 'Fresnel' nodes are there to add the effect of water hitting another object - if you look at the rock character and its surrounding area in the picture above, you can see that the water looks different where it is hitting the rock mesh. This is because of those nodes - they make it so that the water texture reacts depending on whether or not it is hitting another mesh.  

I found creating these blueprints to be extremely useful for my scene and it certainly helped calm my nerves about using them quite a lot! I'd like to explore blueprinting some more in my next project to see how much I can bring a scene to life, so that's something I'll be considering. 

Overall I'm happy with how these turned out and I think I will forever be amused by my swaying weed friend. 

He's just having such a lovely time, it's great. <3

Sunday, 1 May 2016


Over the last few days I've been making strong progress on my scene. Included in that progress is the creation of a few assets, so I'm going to be talking about them in this blog post. :)

The first asset I made was this little guy:

There's an interactive model of him on Sketchfab if you'd like to take a closer look and see more sides to him! 

I'm quite happy with him as he remained fairly similar to the original concept piece I created. Here it is so that you can compare!:

Then finally for this little guy - and possibly one of my proudest achievements - I made him dance! Here's a little vine showing him in action if you'd like to see!

Next up is a bush I made for my scene. Here's an image of it:

And as always there's an interactive version on Sketchfab that can be viewed here

Completing these two assets means that I have enough to create a full scene now, so the next step I've been taking is making the actual scene. I have a lot of development to post for it so will be giving it a blog post of its own, so look out for that in the coming days if you're interested in seeing how it's going! 

Thank you so much for your time and have a lovely day. :)