Dev Blog: Virtually Skinning Virtual Elephants

Dev Blog: Virtually Skinning Virtual Elephants

This is Albert Fung, and I’m responsible for generating the 3D models in the upcoming Quench game. I’d like to start with an overview of our 3D workflow. Generally speaking, I would receive concept sketches and pre-production specifications from our team members, and start building rough 3D models in Cinema4D, our choice of 3D production software. I would then add in lights and colors on the model (as seen in Fig.1) to enhance its appearance, and then import this model into our gaming engine, Unity3D.      Fig 1. Test renders made in Cinema4D – these will be hard to replicate in Unity3D   The problem is that the lights and colors do not necessarily translate across platforms. Cinema4D can produce fascinating renders on linear animations, which are based on complex calculations that simulate physical light in a virtual environment. These calculations, however, are too resource-intensive for real-time rendering – imagine having to simulate the light interaction between a herd of animated elephants and a vast terrain object, all at a rate of 60 frames per second. If we tried to do that, the game simulation would grind to a halt, gamers will experience lags, or in worst case scenarios a complete crash.      Fig 2. Flat 2D files that document the rendering/lighting data seen in Fig 1.   For that reason, I’m experimenting with baking textures, and importing them as flat 2D files into Unity3D. The intense calculations will be done in Cinema4D, and the finalized data will be taken into Unity3D. The game engine wouldn’t need to do the heavy-duty calculations, but our models will retain the high...
It’s Official: We’re Making Quench!

It’s Official: We’re Making Quench!

The team at Axon is excited to announce that we have finally, officially, for realsies started to develop Quench (that game we’ve probably talked your ear off about at the bar/ at that conference / on Twitter). What’s the Game About? Quench is a story-driven puzzle game set in a lo-fi, geometric landscape. You play as Shepherd, an avatar of nature, and you have the power to control the weather to guide herds of animals on a perilous journey. You must provide for your flock, open blocked paths, thwart enemies, and otherwise tend the land to make it lush and green again. Quench is inspired by uplifting and joyful classics such as The Lion King and Avatar: The Last Airbender and games like Journey and Okami. You will experience unique and wonderful environments, memorable characters, be awed by your own power, and be presented with a lesson: in order to make a better world, we must all do our part. Quench was first born at TOJam: The Sevening, inspired by the theme “The World Is Not Ending”. From a Flash prototype, we refined the concept several times as various student projects. In early 2014, we made a playable Unity demo that we showed at the Level Up Showcase and Gamercamp (via Humber College). People who played the game at those events enjoyed the concept and aesthetic, and frequently commented on how refreshing it was to play a game with a non-violent core gameplay mechanic. We are really grateful for the encouragement we’ve received to continue development over the last year. Who’s Working on Quench? In addition to Jeff, Tabby,...
A New Name, A New Home

A New Name, A New Home

As you may have noticed, a lot has happened around here lately! Today we’re re-launching our website and company with a brand-new name: Axon Interactive Inc. (yes, we’re incorporated now!) But the website and our name aren’t the only thing that’s changed. We also moved into our first office, which has been a long process that we’re eager to share. The Search Last April our friend Ryan Creighton generously offered us space to work, so we spent an amazing summer working in a gorgeous downtown space. Jeff and I were joined by three interns: James, Odin and Deanna (all game programming students at Humber College) and we had a good time making websites and watching The Legend of Korra. Unfortunately the end of the summer brought the end of steady contracts for us and the end of the lease for Ryan (boo) so we all moved out and resumed working at home (double boo). But by then Jeff and I had learned a lesson about working with other people: a lot more gets done when everyone is in the same place at the same time. We knew we’d need an office for the next summer, and earlier if possible. We started our search online – I really wanted a “brick-and-beam” space because I felt like cubicles and white walls might stifle creativity. I wanted big windows too. And cheap rent. So… I had a lot of requirements. Eventually we came across the Planet Storage building, which happens to be in our neighbourhood, the Junction. In December we came to look at spaces on a whim, knowing that was way...
Quench Trailer

Quench Trailer

March and April were spent bringing Quench up to snuff for the Level Up Showcase and the capstone presentation for Jeff and James. Check out our first trailer and opening scene! (For those interested, Jeff was also interviewed after Level Up, and you can read that interview...
Early Quench Footage

Early Quench Footage

The semester has drawn to a close and our first demonstration of Quench is up on YouTube. This is mostly a tech demo, but it shows off many of the core features we’re aiming to expand on to build out the major game mechanics, so I’m proud to have this out and in the public eye....
Starling and Feathers for Flash CS6 Mobile UI

Starling and Feathers for Flash CS6 Mobile UI

Recently I’ve been working on an iPad app at my second (third?) job, and I wanted to share some of the stuff I learned about Flash UI design, particularly for those working in Flash Professional CS6. Adobe hasn’t done the most excellent job with creating components or built-in classes for some really important UI standbys (scrollbars, I’m looking at you) so I went looking for some alternatives. What I ended up going with is a quite excellent open-source UI library called Feathers, which runs on the also open-source Starling framework. Unfortunately most of the documentation out there is for folks using Flex or Flash Develop, which are great tools, but I use Flash Professional at work (and before you ask, my work computer is a Mac so I can’t get Flash Develop). It took me a while to figure out even the simplest configuration in CS6 so I thought I’d make a short presentation/tutorial to pass the knowledge on and hopefully help someone out. As an aside, I should point out a few things that may have made this more difficult for me than it would for someone looking into Feathers for a new project. I’m a fairly advanced, but largely self-taught, Flash programmer. I don’t have much outside experience with programming so I do find some of the design patterns that Feathers uses new and confusing. If you are coming from a design background, this is going to be a bit of an uphill battle, but it’s totally doable. If you’re a pro programmer already (like Jeff!) than you’ll probably be just fine. The other problem was that...