Sunday, 24 June 2018

Switcheroo Jam 2018

Switcheroo Jam encourages participants to explore a role they are not familiar with.

For our jam entry I switched from programmer to 3D artist, and learnt a lot more than I was expecting! 

While I had experimented with the very basics of 3D modelling before, I had never made assets intended for use in a game and had always been put off unwrapping and painting textures for the apparent complexity of the process.

After designing the project as a team, I began making textureless models of the assets needed.

As all participants swapped roles for the jam and found we each hit problems early on. This lead to team members with experience in their discipline swapping advice and preferable ways of completing each task.

I had never given much thought to the technical specification of any models I had attempted in the past, and had quite a few elements of my models that went against best practice pointed out.
A very high vertex count, frequent use of non-quads, inverted normals and non-watertight models were the worst offenders. 
Having experienced peers give an explanation into the reasons behind the need for the industry standards helped allowed me to understand how I can improve my future models.

These explanations lead into a detailed tutorial of how to define seams, unwrap and texture a model - which had always seemed daunting tasks before, but having had guidance are now very enjoyable!

My first attempt at texturing a 3D model:

Being shown how to run physics simulations within the modelling software was very helpful for this project, and something I was unaware of before the jam.
In this case it allowed me to add cooled lava flows to the sides of the volcano more realistically.

On applying the painted textures to my models, I was surprised by just how much their appearance can be altered. Regardless of whether the model has large physical variation, a texture can dramatically enhance or eliminate the prominence of feature.

I spent a significant amount of time improving the structure of the models before texturing. For the simplistic art style we chose, I now know basic shapes with more time spent on textures would have been more effective.

Final assets produced

Switcheroo jam has been one of the most worthwhile jams I've taken part in. Rather than simply working with your opposites as usual, we all had the chance to experience the other perspective.

I gained valuable insight into the workflow of our counterparts and am confident that when working on future projects I'll have a better understanding of the designer's needs and how to communicate more appropriately as a programmer.

...Being able to help designers with programming issues I remember wrestling with myself, which now seem straightforward was also encouraging! Definitely made a lot of progress.

Try the game here: VolutionCano Evo 6

See the assets I created for the game here