Sleep. Repeat.

3:00PM. Last 8 hours frantic game progamming, before that 6 lazy hours at work. Must submit my work tomorrow, but the result looks really bad. Perhaps it was a big mistake.

Now: sleep, get up at 7:30, eat, ciao to daughter&wife, go to the gym, go to work, work, eat, edit demo storyboard for a break, work, shop, go home, play with daughter, browse a bit, guitar a bit, eat, wife comes home after 12hrs of teaching, we're all tired, talk a bit, sleep. Repeat?




Not dead yet!

I'm not dead yet! :)

A pretty busy time it is. Real actual work at work (!), writing "storyboard" for our ImagineCup demo (required, deadline April 1st) and that game I'm working for as a contractor. I wish there were less jobs at the same time, right now I'd sacrifice the game work...

On the good side, looks like my demogroup has won the scene.org award for "breakthrough performance" (that means "best newcommer of the year" or something like that). I wasn't at the awards ceremony in Breakpoint'05, oh well. Maybe next time :)



Why the demoscene matters / Why we suck

GDC2005 is over now and everyone's crazy about Will Wright's Spore (see GameSpy or Gamasutra), it's procedural content generation etc. Heh, the demoscene still matters :)

On the other hand, we suck. Our to-be-done demo will have what: normal mapping, AO, shadowmaps, postprocessing fx; all the stuff that everyone and their grandmother has. It's like lens-flares and envmaps some years ago. We're as innovative as a coffee cup.

k, back to work...


Demo progress: I'm morphing into an "artist"

I'm slowly becoming a non-programmer. I'm UV-mapping the meshes, welding the vertices, exporting and importing back and forth and computing normal/AO maps. I'll probably even go and code some procedural material shaders in the next couple of days. That's weird, nobody's doing real programming at the moment; the code part is seriously lagging behind.

We should have had (is that proper English?) the wall fracture+physics by now and some of the interactive mode character controls (animation blending etc.). Alas, none of that right now.

In the picture there's a fragment of wall decorations and it's object space normal map (just to add more colors). The texture, gloss map and some real lighting isn't there yet.



Blender: first try; UV mapping

Tried Blender this weekend. Well, long story short: I'm totally impressed!

The long story is this: for our demo we need normal mapping, ambient occlusion and similar stuff. Now, these do need unique UV parametrization of the models. The sad facts are: 1) 3dsMax sucks at automatic UV unwrapping, 2) nVidia's Melody, which I use to compute normal maps, also didn't impress me with it's auto-UV calculation much, 3) our 1 and a half of the "artists" are really busy doing models and animations.

That leaves me, the humble programmer, at the task of calculating normal maps / ambient occlusion, with the "minor" task of getting good UV parametrization from wherever it's possible.

I knew that Blender has got LSCM unwrapping some time ago (does any of the "real" 3D packages has got it yet? Hellooo? :)) and decided to give it a try.

And I must say it rocks. 3dsMax keeps irritating me all the time (it's good that most of my tasks are/were writing exporters). Blender is small, slick and the workflow seems to be much more efficient.

Given my nearly non-existent "UV mapping skills" I've unwrapped a pretty tough character model (see images - mapping such fingers ain't easy) in something like 4 hours. I guess with a little practice, I could get that to 1-2 hours. This probably isn't impressive for a real artist, but hey, I've been doing nothing but writing keywords, identifiers and semicolons for the last 8 years :)



Ambient occlusion

Ambient occlusion is really cool. Yeah, precalculated occlusion for animating objects is fake, but with some hacks it's still very cool. Why I didn't use it before? :)

Here, a small shot comparing no-AO with AO (super small because it's still work-in-progress, I'm not sure if my teammates would be very happy with me showing big screens :)).

Ah, at the bottom there are "my" soft shadows that I've written about earlier, but nothing can be seen in such a small shot. Oh well; shadows will be the story for another day.