Weekly Dev Update – May 22nd, 2015

Posted on May 22, 2015 (5 hours ago) by Daniel

This week has been another business and administration heavy week for everyone except Daniel, next week should have non-art updates aswell.


Greetings Skinjobs!

This week I’ve been working at getting the new hair finished and put in game. This included sculpting the hair, adjusting the low-res meshes, baking normal maps, and painting in some nifty alpha. The alpha channel (rgbA) is used to give the edge of the hair a nice and soft transition where it meets the head. This is done in order to avoid having a super sharp high contrast jagged polygonal line where the two surfaces meet. It’s not a very advanced solution but it does the job well enough for our needs.

Now, the remaining thing with the hair would be to make a custom shader since the specularity of hair doesn’t appear as the specularity of a regular surface would. Of course on an individual hair level it does but for bunches of a hundred thousand the very small detail and curvatures change how we perceive the composite specularity. Of course having it using a regular shader, while not realistic, looks pretty good. So we might want to stick with it for aesthetic values.

Hair WIP

Note: Apparently floating mannequin heads are not allowed to have eyeballs.

Weekly Dev Update – May 15th, 2015

Posted on May 15, 2015 by Adam


Hello Humans!

This week I’ve been doing various things. A bit of fixing UV’s, some behind the scenes work. added cracks to the types of moon features, and so on. Oh and I’ve been working on the hairstyles, after doing a pass over the clothes the hair stood out a bit much, in a bad way. So I decided it was time to do the same to them, so I’ve been sculpting hair quite a bit, but its not finished yet so theres nothing really to show you guys today. Maybe next week.


This week has been a torrent of business paperwork bullshit responsibilities, including payroll, immigration, banking and so on. As such, I’ve only had a little time to continue work on the existing tools from last week to help Daniel in his section integration work.

This weekend will be another round of build stabilization and maybe, if I’m lucky, I can continue working on connectors.

Weekly Dev Update – May 8th, 2015

Posted on May 8, 2015 by Adam


Greetings fellow Living Beings!

Today I come to you with a bag of animations. As I’ve previously mentioned we’re doing indie-style mocap. This means that I, using a Kinect and some super nifty software, record myself doing things (without having to wear a skintight suit with ping-pong balls glued on it, sadly) that then get interpreted, stabilized, cleaned, scrubbed, massaged and generally processed to get something that’s usable in-game.

Some examples of the animations in-engine

Now, this is actually more tricky than it first appears, not because of the different skills needed for the various software involved but for the fact that due to all that processing to get rid of jittering you end up losing a lot of the finer detail in the movement. Especially things like head movement, nodding, shaking, and so on gets near impossible to get through without exaggerating a lot.

Of course for our purposes, with the camera not really necessarily zoomed all the way in on a character this actually works out pretty nicely as the exaggerated motions read a lot better when at a distance than a realistic version would.

Once all the animations are recorded, you bring them into a software that interprets what you are doing, or more specifically what positions and rotations your limbs have, per frame. Once that has finished processing the data is pretty good but it still needs some fixes. For example, in occasions where the tracking drops the bones in question freak out and can go end up flipping around like crazy. Another thing, which actually is much more common, is when you rotate the pelvis it tends to while keeping the feet planted at the heels rotate the feet to face the same direction as the pelvis. Clearly both of these examples look pretty silly but are relatively easy to fix, so into an the animation software we go and fix those things and try to get rid of any remaining jittering or general wobbliness.

At this point you are ready to get it in-game. Which in Unity, using Mecanim’s retargeting, is pretty easy and straightforward.

And that’s the story of how we now have 200+ additional animations without having to hire an animator for half a year. Hopefully the quality is high enough to be acceptable.


This past week has been spent in tools mode once again. Since Daniel started using Unity 5 for his art integration and tweaked our lighting, we haven’t actually had a chance to integrate the new sections yet. So, I’ve been working to smoothen out the process of integrating everything into the game.

I’m also taking the opportunity to address some workflow issues we’ve had in that department in the past. Our current setup tends to break everything when Daniel reimports his models into Unity. So I needed to modify our approach to storing and loading rooms so this wouldn’t be an issue in the future. Luckily, the solution also comes with a nifty performance gain when loading rooms, which is a welcome bonus!


I dug into Adam’s new debug command console, and it’s fantastic! It allows me to implement features with complicated inputs before we have the GUI. For example, spawning procedurally generated items (with parameters) and equipping to individual characters with text console commands, which is needed for missions.

Weekly Dev Update – May 5th, 2015

Posted on May 5, 2015 by Adam

Hey everybody! Adam here. Sorry again for the delay on this update! I had a 48-hour game jam this weekend and it ate into my posting time on Friday and completely fried my brain for Monday. Now, oooon with the show!


Hello fellow humans!
This week I’ve actually spent with more behind the scenes boring stuff that isn’t very interesting so instead of that I’ll talk a bit about the character work I did the other week.

pbr_characters_wip_01Some examples of the updated characters

Now, there are two major parts to this work with a common goal. The goal was to update the materials to use the new Standard Shader (PBR) in Unity 5.

The first step in doing this was to expand the Substances (procedural textures) to not only output Metallic/Smoothness maps but also to add meaningful controls. The way the Substances for the characters work is that they take RGB-masks to define what area is what so the substance knows where and how to apply colors, extending this to the specular term (Metallic/Smoothness in this case).

Doing this allows setting for example the trousers to be made of shiny metal if we’d want to. Most of the time only details and trims are set to metal since, well, it looks a bit overpoweringly cheesy to be walking around in silver and gold clothes.

The second step is to add Normal maps, and extend the same type of control to them as the Albedo and Specular terms before it. Now I know, normal maps have been around for a long while and were supported prior to 5. The reason we’ve held back on adding them is that its a fair amount of work to add them.

While adding the technical side of it is pretty quick, the main chunk of work is in manually sculpting the clothes. This includes sculpting in seams, details, trims, folds, buttons, pleats, wrinkles of many kinds, and so on.

After the details are sculpted in they are baked out into a Normal map that then passes through the relevant Substance where we can control how much each part of the clothing is impacted by its sculpted details.


This past week was a short one for me. Between other commitments and the game jam, I only really had a chance to address part of the connector placement flow. I should have more to show on that in this week’s update, though!

Dev Update on Monday

Posted on May 1, 2015 by Adam

Hey there Astro-friends! We’ll be bringing you this week’s dev update next Monday. The team have been working their space-butts off!