Alright, folks! This is your Art Director speaking.
This challenge was requested and we all thought it'd be a good idea. This month is a "real world" challenge, where we will have you guys and gals perform as if you were an artist in an actual game studio.
Now, obviously, studio life varies between studios, and I'm basing the rules on this challenge on my own experiences. When/if you get a studio job, your experience may vary, but should be fairly similar.
Tomorrow (Sept 1st) I'll post 3 or 4 concept images for you to use as the basis of your entry. You are not expected to match them, and I would even prefer you didn't. Your entry should feel as if it could work in the same location as the concept though. The same feel and overall "gist."
1) Your models do not have to match the drawings 100%. The main concern is to match the overall look and feel of what is conveyed in the drawing.
2) Texturing is required.
Final textures must be no larger than 512x512. Feel free to create them larger, but they'll need to be resized in the end. Transparancy/alpha maps are allowed. Normal mapping is allowed.
Characters are limited to 1 512x512 texture for the body, and 1 256x256 for the head, and, if needed, 1 additional 256x256 for miscellaneous stuff. Try avoid the 3rd if possible. This is referring to color maps. Each texture can have an alpha channel for transparancy.
There is no limit for environments, but the average is around 10 512s or so. Keep in mind what you are texturing when it comes to file sizes. For example, if texturing a sign post as its own texture, you could just do a 256 or maybe even smaller. Try to keep the texture sizes relative to the size of the object it is for.
If doing normal mapping (which allows for specular), you can have a normal map to correspond with each color map with specular alpha channels. Normal mapping is a new development in the game industry and it is not expected that you know how to use it, so don't worry about it if you don't.
Texture sizes are limited to the following: 512x512, 256x256, 128x128, 64x64, 32x32, 16x16. You can do a combo, such as 512x256.
3) There are poly limits, but they are not strict. Environments would be approximately 50,000 triangles. Characters approximately 1500 triangles. Characters do have a strict cap, however of 3000 triangles. Do not go over 3000. Environments do not have a strict cap, but don't go overboard. 1 million polys is a no-no.
4) While not enforced, if doing characters, you should be able to complete at least 2 within the given time frame.
5) Think of what type of game you are "developing" for. A first person shooter may have totally different model requirements than an over-head RPG.
For example: An overhead RPG (ala Dungeon Seige) doesn't give you the camera angle to see the bottoms of objects.... so no polys are needed! Also, you can't see the ceiling, so nothing needed there.
For a FPS, though, you have pretty free range of view, and can look up to see the ceiling, so keep that kind of thing in mind.
You can choose whatever type of genre of game you want. Make sure you specify what you choose in your thread. Some examples:
3D Platformer (Mario)
First Person Shooter (Doom 3, Metroid Prime)
Overhead RPG (Diablo II, Dungeon Seige)
Action RPG (Zelda)
3rd Person Action/Adventure (Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Solid)
6) Final renders should only be screen grabs! No actual rendering! A game doesn't have stuff like production quality anti-aliasing, 3D motion blur, etc! If you aren't able to have your alpha transparancy maps show up in a screen grab, you can provide both a screen, and a render to show the transparancy works. In such a case, just use a 3point light setup. No GI!
7) Final texture maps need to be displayed. To avoid possible cheating (someone nabbing another's texture) place a watermark on the image somewhere. Nothing to obstruct the image, but to also make it a real pain in the arse for someone to try to wipe that watermark out in order to not be caught using your texture somehow.
8) For environments, use 1 unit = 1 foot (or 3 units = 1 meter for the metric among us ) to help you with scale. Make sure entryways are at least 6 units (6 feet/2 meters) tall and 4 units (4 feet/1.3 meters) wide. Feel free to make them larger.
So, all in all, your final entry will be a beauty shot or two of your model, a wireframe, your texture maps used, and info regarding final polycounts, the spec of the "game" you're entry is designed for,etc.
Now, let me try to explain what it is exactly that I do at work (without breaking my vow of silence. ) and, thus what it is you'd be expected to do with this challenge topic.
When I recieve a concept for an environment, like perhaps an image of a village of some kind, I have approximately 3 weeks to create every single building that will be used in that environment, along with textures. By no means, am I to try to mimic the picture. I'm not creating the land, water, sky, trees, plants, etc etc... I'm creating ART ASSETS. I'm creating individual models that later on, using the level editing tools (kinda like the mod tools available for a lot of games) a level designer can grab my models and place them in the scene wherever he wants. Also, for "action" locations, such as the sci-fi military structure that is one of the concepts, I not only make the exterior, but also the interior structure. Keep in mind that you can create individual rooms which can be linked together in a chain, duplicated and rotated around for variety, so the making of the interior isn't quite the HUGE undertaking it sounds like. (although it's still quite a job!) All within 3 weeks.
You have 4 weeks (until end of the month).
Now, I totally understand that you guys don't have 10 hours a day to work on this like I do, so where I would be expected to create, for example, 5 different buildings, you should probably only try 2 or 3 (more if you can). The ENTIRE purpose of this challenge is not to find a winner amongst all of you, but to give you a taste of something that you REALLY would have to do in a REAL job!
Now, at the end, if you want to make a little scene for all your stuff, you're more than welcome to.
Feel free to post any questions here.
Matt will announce August winners at some point tomorrow.
These concept images were found by looking at the public, online galleries of professional concept artists. They are copyright of their respective artists OR the studio for which they made them for. Below each image is a brief synopsis of an example of what you'd be expected to do in a REAL job.
Artist: Feng Zhu
This would be an "action" location... a level where the player would more than likely be fighting some kind of baddies. Here's what you would have to do if you worked at my studio:
"Alright, I want you to model the exterior structure. Make sure there's at least 2 entry/exit points, one at ground level, one higher up so the player can run around on the roof. I also want you to make a series of at least 10 rooms, with corridors that the level designers can link together to form the interior 'dungeon.' Make sure you have right turns, stairs or elevators, etc."
Now, that's a lot of stuff! If you think you can do all that, great, go for it. However, just for this challenge, see if you can just get the exterior OR interior structure. If you've got time afterwards, knock yourself out with the other.
Artist: James Zhang
"OK, think 'barbarian hordes' with this guy. I need 2 or 3 different varients, using this kind of style. Two warriors, and one more-lanky support unit. Maybe make that one a female."
If you can do 2 character varients based on this, great! If not, just shoot for 1. Remember the rules!
Artist: Jason Manley
"The Level Designers are making this area of the map right now, so we need the structures soon! Make 4 or 5 tent/hutt varients, as well as fire pits, totems, torches, etc. Just anything you can think of."
This one is a bit more abstract then some concepts, and you need to be prepared to work with them. Without a real visual guideline as to what something looks like, in order to maintain the feeling and overall look, keep an eye on the color schemes used and such.These kinds of assignments are pretty free, though, so have fun with it. As before, you wouldn't be expected to be able to fullfill all the art asset requirements for this challenge, but at the very least, see if you can get a couple tents, and maybe some kind of totem. If you can do more, fantastic.
Artist: Feng Zhu
"We need a whole SWARM of these insect robots for the player to fight. See about making a good 5 or 6, and use some varient insect basis.... y'know, a moth one, a praying mantis, whatever."
Consider this a character, so his limit is 1500 tris. These should be a bit easier to do than a normal character, so I would expect a good 2 or 3 should be able to be made for this challenge.
Feel free to think of me as your Art Director this month, and ask any questions you want here.