Weekly Update – 5/12/2019 May 12 - TheFeelTrain
GameSyns didn't produce last week. This week either. This is unacceptable. We've terminated his contract. (Actually, we're pretty sure he has bird flu. If you see him out in public, run away as fast as you can. Well, faster than you normally would.) I'm taking the liberty of filling his shoes to keep this weekly tradition on life support. As you're reading this, please take a moment to send a personal message to GameSyns to politely encourage him to do his job. I've actually heard that going to great lengths to ridicule and tease someone in his position can do wonders to rid a man of his busyness. We'll see.
As we await the return of GameSyns, I'll try to give you an update on what's happened in Installation 01 this past
week month or so. In reality, we often literally don't have any news to update you with. That's just the harsh reality of working on a video game. But today, we actually have something sort of useful.
This Really Hits the Spot-ify
The man, the myth, the "Mexican Reprise of Marty O' Donnell" himself, Jafet Meza, has been spotted releasing an album to the musical streaming service known as Spotify. This is but the first of several Installation 01 soundtrack volumes that will be delivered to your earholes via the power of the modern internet (as opposed to the internet of the 90s).
On this super-extra-chill version of the soundtrack, you can find such classic songs as "Finish the Game" and "Deference For Dankness". But if those songs alone aren't enough to tickle your nether regions in just the right way, or if you don't have this newfangled Spotify thing, we also have this (somewhat) new track available over on Jafet's YouTube channel. Be sure to like, comment, and subscribe.
A Bittersweet Reunion
Speaking of men and myths, that guy who goes by the name BitterBones has returned from the land of 343 Industries to give us one final effort towards Installation 01. This comes in the form of a full breakdown of his first-born child, this remake of Beaver Creek called
Bitter Creek Frostbite. Here he is now.
BitterBones: "My name is Allen Wilson, I am currently a Campaign Level Designer over at 343 Industries working on Halo Infinite. Previously I was Design Director and a 3D environment artist for Installation 01 where I developed multiple maps alongside some very talented folks over at Soon Studios. Bean has called me back to talk about the first map I developed for i01."
BitterBones: "No doubt that if you are a Halo fan, you’re very familiar with this classic multiplayer level. Thinking back to some of my fondest memories, I could always remember some of the fun experiences I had while playing CTF with a bunch of my friends. When I first ended up joining the team to work on i01, I believe there was an initial attempt to bring Beaver Creek to the game in Soon Studio fashion. However, it was in the cut pile for reasons I never quite understood. So with that map already being considered previously, Bean gave me the go ahead to resurrect this task from the grave.
Huge Shout out to Praz for actually doing the initial block out work that laid down the foundation for me to go in and do a proper art pass."
BitterBones: "So Praz do you want to talk a bit about creating the block out for this map and why you chose an arctic theme?"
Praz: "I've been a lifelong Halo fan so having a chance at creating Beaver Creek was a dream come true. Most of my play time on this map was via Halo 1 (Battle Creek) and Halo 2 (Beaver Creek) and so I knew the map extremely well and I wanted to stay as close to the originals as possible.While creating this map I was living in Colorado at the time and so the name 'Boulder Creek' and overall style was very fitting as I was basically living in it while developing it. I hope the community enjoys it as much as I did creating the initial version!"
BitterBones: "Something that the initial block out sold me on was continuing the snowy theme of the map. We have never seen an icy version of Beaver Creek before in any of the official Halo titles. I thought this was a fantastic idea so I went ahead and rolled with it. Of course with every type of weather/outdoor environment as an artist you need to incorporate certain details in order to achieve the look you want. Whether that be dirt, sand, snow or water it’s the artist’s responsibility to leverage these elements into your designs and art pieces (textures, models, etc).
For this map in particular making sure all the models had snow coverage which was mostly done in the texturing process and that the Forerunner structures had some subtle frost/shine to them. Also taking those elements a step further by freezing over the river in the center of the map and creating snowy particle effects. All these things had to be done in order to really complete the map."
BitterBones: "The bases themselves underwent a lot of changes throughout development. I knew I had to retain some of what the original games offered but I also wanted to do my own take on those iconic Forerunner structures. I knew I also wanted to incorporate some glass elements on both bases as well."
BitterBones: "Keeping the models relatively low poly with large faces and bevels on all the hard edges was mainly the workflow I went with. Utilizing a med-poly workflow for most of my hard surface models that I did for i01, the Forerunner structures were no different. I knew most of my details would come from the Height map details in the texture process."
BitterBones: "Here is one example of a Forerunner Trim Sheet I did in Substance Designer that can be used to tile across the surface of the bases.
BitterBones: "The Dongrel was also kind enough to give me some roughness maps to throw on top of this Forerunner base to achieve a nice worn alien look. Thanks man ☺"
BitterBones: "I also took some notes from Halo: Reach’s Battle Canyon on some of their designs they had going for their interiors and exteriors. I liked how they incorporated some of their emissive trims into the bases, so I went ahead and created my own emissive trim to be used."
BitterBones: "A lot of this Trim detail was all done in Photoshop with Material ID’s and then I exported into Unity where I did some refinement to get the look I wanted."
BitterBones: "I spent a large amount of my time in Zbrush sculpting out rocks to be placed throughout the map and what would create the large surrounding rock structure that contains the map.I think one of the biggest challenges while developing this map was the center Arch piece. Mainly because it’s a very awkward shape but also since it’s a rock structure it needed to look the part and blend with the rest of the environment. It has a very unique silhouette to it that most Halo fans will recognize so I had to be sure I nailed that aspect."
BitterBones: "I did a low/hi poly modelling method for basically all the rocks within the map and then did my retopo in Maya as well as the UV unwraps. Textures done in Substance Painter, baked at 4k. Note: this is the only art piece in the map that contains a 4k texture. Mainly due to the fact it’s considered a Hero Prop, what that means is that it’s a one of a kind model in the level. It’s never repeated and its fairly large, the textures would lose some resolution because the UV’s are mapped to one single UV space so baking at 4k seemed like a reasonable solution for that problem."
BitterBones: "Obviously since we are going with an icy theme, all the textures need to have some type of snow and shininess to them."
BitterBones: "Once I accumulated the first couple of snowy/icy materials that I could use globally across the board on all my models this really helped streamline the rest of the process. It’s good to give a decent amount of time to your first handful of Smart Materials that you know you will be using more than once. This also helps things feel more cohesive in a scene together once you start placing your models next to each other.
Once a lot of the heavy lifting was done, it was mostly just importing stuff into Unity and creating the scene. Of course a lot of things would need to be iterated on and cleaned up to achieve performance costs. Also some of the art pieces implemented were cut and reworked to approval by the rest of the team. Overall, I am extremely happy with how this map turned out. This was the first time I really dove this deep into an environment in my career so I am excited to see it come to fruition. I can’t thank the team over at Soon Studios enough for giving me such an amazing opportunity to re-create one of the most iconic maps in the Halo franchise."
Thank you for taking the time to do this downright beautiful write-up, Mr. Bones. We will always remember you where it matters -- not in our minds, but in our hearts and general groin areas. Now please let us off your wild ride.
Join... or Die. Or Both.
Has your life been plagued by way too much free time mixed with way too much talent in the specific areas that would be relevant to game development? Do you long for the days where you worked long hours and got paid not in currency, but in exposure? It sounds like working on a fan game is the right career path for you, and I happen to have a game right here who needs more developers.
Click this button. You know you want to.
Bean is sailing away. He set an open course for the virgin sea. But that's okay, he really needs to be free. He's out there facing the life that's ahead of him. On board he's actually the captain. We had no idea Bean had ever even taken sailing lessons of any kind. Anyways, while Bean is searching for tomorrow on every shore, the rest of us will be here trying to carry on.
When Halo Reach and the MCC finally choose where they're dropping onto PC, it's every man, woman, and child for themselves. But until destiny arrives, we will continue to bring you these very timely updates about our game. There is actually something monumentally large coming to fruition behind the scenes. Just you wait. We hope you have a week that's better than the statistical average.