Monday, March 7, 2011

Levels to Look Out For (March 2011)

These are WIP / in-progress levels or environments that look cool + some comments / analysis on my part.

Forbidden Place (Planet?) by Bram "Pericolos0" Eulaers and Anders Jansson
This is an amazing looking single player Source thing that's probably been dead for 2 years, but it looks positively stunning. I love the "had a lot of fun in zBrush" rock cliffs. I love the purple crystals. I love how seamless the skybox is. I love how it barely looks like the Source Engine. (Message to the authors who will find this blog post in their link referrers: "PLEASE PICK THIS UP AND FINISH IT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD")

> Untitled (Bachelor Pad) by Ryan "Loom" Bargiel
I'm a sucker for flat shaded anything. I'm not sure I'd actually want to live in this private orange hell, but gosh this blockout looks cool. (Note: All games should be vertex lit... forever. If it was good enough for Final Fantasy 7, it's good enough for everyone else.) It's also gotten me thinking about "composition" in scenes because I really like the floorplan here and all the shots seem well built.

However, I often see people post screenshots with people painting onto it treating it like a static 2D frame. Is that treatment of composition still valid in a freely-explored 3D space, where the player controls a camera and might spend the whole time staring at a wall or stare at enemies? Do leading lines actually "guide the eye" when we're playing? (I'm skeptical, to say the least.) I mean, yes, it's better portfolio presentation, but is is better game design? How does architecture handle the issue of scene composition?

Untitled Procedural FPS by Bram "Pericolos0" Eulaers
A Unity-powered FPS by the same guy who did Forbidden Place above. Originally I was looking at his portfolio because of this lovely work: a retro-ish, Marathon-esque browser game with procedurally generated levels. The pixel art style that's totally overdone in indie platformers feels incredibly fresh here. Make sure you visit his Mapcore thread for the latest version to playtest, which (at this current time of writing) is v.09 -- just wait for it, people; the indie FPS genre shall subsume everything.

WIP Rage Environment by Timothee "roosterMAP" Yeramian
(Note: the background buildings aren't his. Temp stuff from cgtextures?) This isn't anything special... yet. Rooster is a fantastic hard-surface modeler and his high-poly sculpts are always great, but he doesn't seem to finish a lot of his scenes -- like he'll do a blockout and make a few amazing assets!... and then suddenly stop updating his thread. If he keeps going with this Rage-inspired scene though, I imagine there'll be a lot to learn and admire from his process. Keep your eye on this one... Until it goes neglected for a month? (Though maybe I shouldn't talk.)

SIDE-RANT: I think the worst casualty of abandoning BSP for instanced static props is the lack of variety and cookie-cutter scaling of environments, most often buildings. Look at the ones that Rooster made, presumably the ones closer to the foreground -- is that pillar 32x32x256? Are those exterior wall sections 128x128? Or is this issue of uniform scale -- is it an issue at all?

And if you haven't been keeping up, check out previous entries of "Levels to Look Out For." (Note: I forgot in February. Oops.)