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Update # 4: From Concept Art To In-Game Suit

MF

The Boar Studio
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Dec 8, 2002
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Location
Amsterdam
We’re long overdue for another development update, and while writing about everything that has been done since the last one, I thought it would be better to drip feed cool stuff instead of compiling a tome. I’ll keep this one short and sweet with some images and do another one sooner rather than later.

The game has a variety of (modular) space suits. Three are ready now. One of them is the Herschel suit. It's got a colloquial name in the setting which I'll reveal later. It's sort of The Jovian System's equivalent of Fallout's power armor. A little more hard sci-fi than that, of course, but it's beyond the technology level of other factions in the game.

It's a bit of a centerpiece and I was thinking of commissioning it because I didn't really feel up to the task. 3D modelling is something I only seriously took up when I started Titan Outpost's development, which means I learned along the way and I'm not quite at pro level in terms of pace and ultimate quality.

As some of you may know, MrBuzzKill has a thread where he offers his services as a modeler to Codexers. I took him up on that and he really delivered with something awesome. If you're looking for a 3D artist, highly recommended.

When I do a model myself, I often make a quick sketch coupled with some references and get to work in Blender until it matches what I have in mind, but in order to convey the concept of the model to Buzz I had to flesh it out a bit more.

I had already penciled a rough sketch as per usual.

1705743501914.png


Yes, I know it sucks ass. The most distinctive feature was the helmet and I got that idea down. Usually that’s all I need to proceed, but like I said I wanted to flesh it out a bit more this time. I’m one of those people who has to spend a lot of time on what would be a quick doodle for a gifted illustrator, so it’s an area of quickly diminishing returns for me. Fortunately we’ve entered a new age.

I digitized the image, turned it into cleaner line art in photoshop, colored it in and did some very rough shading. Last year I trained a LoRA on my own stuff (mostly from Titan Outpost) to speed things up with AI. After spending some time going back and forth between SD IMG2IMG and Photoshop I came up with the final concept art:
1705741353983.png


I followed the same process for the back, except I focused mostly on the helmet and the backpack. The rest was poorly drawn and caused some AI jank. I thought it was good enough to get the idea across. In hindsight I probably should have spent some more time on the back view to make Buzz’s work easier.

For the characters in the game I use a humanoid template with a defined armature so I can use the animation bones to scale parts of the model. For example, in the character generator if you increase the leg size, it uses a meta-element of the animation bone to morph the mesh. I sent this template to Buzz so he could rig his model to these specs.
Buzz got to work on it, we discussed the proportions, stylistic choices and materials, he turned the concept art into an awesome looking initial sculpt.

1705741290359.png

We had some more back and forth on the overall look. Some of the elements were in the 'looks cool' realm and had to pulled a little more into the 'looks functional' realm in order to work as a 3D model.
Buzz and a friend of his did some sketching over a few renders to spitball ideas. Most noticeably, the pauldrons were changed to more sensible shoulder pads.
1705742738119.png

The proposed change to more textile based materials is something I felt took away from the overall idea of the suit, however. In the lore, for those who've played Titan Outpost, the suit is made of Herschel polymers. When I mentioned that the plastic look of Stormtrooper armor is also a firmly '70s aesthetic, I think it clicked.
Then after a round of changes he polished up the high poly model so it looked crisp:
1705741435896.png


A lot of steps are involved after his (retopologizing, unwrapping, rigging, etc) but I don't have any WIP images of that.

Ultimately he sent me a zip file and giddy with anticipation I opened it to reveal the awesome result:

1705743263149.png

Yes! Amazing. To get it in the game, I still had to separate and make overlay textures for faction colors and such, as well as prepare the mesh for the character creator.
1705743313874.png
1705743338726.png

This is a tedious and technical process but when I was done I created an item and the necessary suit data in my editor. I added the item to the initial loadout, opened the gear selection screen and there it was. I think I must have spent ten minutes just looking at it in different colors.

1705743369630.png


As a cherry on top I wrote a shader to add a Cherenkov radiation effect to the backpack.

HerschelSuitToGif.gif

And here it is in action:

1705743435379.png


I hope that was an interesting glimpse into getting a model from idea to game-ready. I wanted to highlight this model in particular because I think it looks terrific and it was made by one of our own.

I'll try to do updates every other month from now on. Next time I'll dive into the character system a bit and be a bit more crunchy.
 

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