Update: What I've Been Up To Recently, as of July 9, 2021
Updated: Dec 21, 2022
So, it's been a little over half a year since I've posted anything to the ol' blog here (I can't believe it's been that long, my God where does the time go?), so I think it's high time I give another update to my doings and goings-on. In short: more teaching myself Unreal Engine and Blender.
"Kiki Banana 64"
Here's an exercise in low-res, low-poly, PS1-style graphics, which seem to be all the rage at the moment (and I can see why, it's stupid easy to do), using my own Kiki Banana character as a guinea pig. I call it "Kiki Banana 64" ... and no, the irony isn't lost on me.
I chose this over my previous, more dark attempt (see previous post), seeing as there's an over-saturation of horror games done in this style... as if the only games people remember from the original Play Station era were Resident Evil and Silent Hill. What about all the classic 3D platformers, like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, and... Croc: Legend of the Gobbos (the only one of these I played as a kid... on PC.).
I had already thought extensively about translating this goofy pirate girl character of mine (of which you will certainly see a lot more of in the near future... in comic form) into a 3D platformer collect-a-thon in the spirit of Banjo-Kazooie or even Donkey Kong 64 (the perfect genre for a greedy cartoon pirate I would think).
So here's my experimental attempt at doing just that.
She tackle... in the, uh, air!
She duck! (Like, the action, not the animal)
She find treasure!
She stare at big weird pineapple-things! ...?
...So, anyway, yeah, you get the idea. I think the brighter, cartoonier PS1 look is woefully underutilized, so this is my attempt at such. As you can probably tell, it's not entirely faithful to the PS1 look, as there's no vertex-shading or dithering or anything like that (though it does use vertex-quantization, that causes that weird warbly look), but I think as long as it's somewhat evocative of that look, then that's good enough for me.
[For the vertex-wobbliness, I used a material pack called "Oldskooler" that has a bunch of really cool retro-game visual effects. I'd definitely recommend it for achieving this look in UE4.]
Now, I've been pondering what exactly to do with this particular style of game. In my previous post, I revealed I had an idea for a 2D platformer called "The Voyage of Kiki Banana", and expressed some doubt as to whether or not it would be more feasible to do it in 3D instead. That game would be the "main line" one, assuming it ever gets made of course, and any others would be like spin-offs or side-stories or something. I don't know if I'd want my "main line" Kiki Banana games to be in this style, as it seems more like a novelty in the long run, possibly even a fad that'll burn out in due time.
Now a more up-to-date, higher-res 3D game could work...
...So I did up just such a 3D model of her... do pardon her nakedness, I haven't gotten around to modeling her clothes just yet (That's just how I model characters; body first, clothes later. Sorry).
This is probably my best 3D character model thus far. I was amazed I was even able to translate her design to 3D as well as I did, especially her three dreadlock antennae that tend to change based on how she's facing the "camera" when I draw her.
I can't believe I managed to make her hair look fine from both the front and the side without it getting too wonky.
I do love me some cel-shading, though, especially with those inverted-hull outlines. It's kind of amazing how much a 3D model can look like a drawing.
One thing I think that really helps achieve this look is the texturing. Notice the lines that indicate the likes of her collar bone, armpits, belly-button, pelvis, booty cleavage, etc., done in solid black outlines, that merge pretty seamlessly with her 3D outlines, and are roughly the same width.
Any fellow 90's kid Boomers out there remember when this kinda stuff was the pinnacle of graphics? Man, those were the days, weren't they?
Shadows of Wiccumshire
I showed this one off a bit last time from my story idea "Shadows of Wiccumshire", and I don't have a whole lot new to add, but here's a little bit.
First off, I figured out how to make large open worlds in Unreal Engine 4. All of that land that's visible, you can go there.
I switched Helrynega's cel-shading from a post-process based one to a material based one. It looks a whole lot better, the colors are nice and vibrant compared to the other one. Only downfall so far is that it doesn't react to other lights, but maybe I'll figure out a solution to that as I learn more about lighting and materials in Unreal Engine... ignore the N64-quality eldritch horror placeholder asset in the background.
It may not come across in a lot of these screenshots, but she can actually be quite expressive.
GRASS!!! And LOTS of it! EVERYWHERE!!!
This is her starting outfit, before she embarks on her adventure. She starts out as a meek, nervous village bumpkin, then soon finds herself face to face with the myriad horrors that lurk within the shadows of Wiccumshire (ooh, title drop!)... still as a meek nervous village bumpkin, though armed with some limited wiccan magick and a Language Elemental, a sapient semi-corporeal spell, as your guide.
You see, in this game, you're always very vulnerable, as is typical of horror games. Never do you get to a point where you're some badass slaughtering everything in your path. You may gather some knowledge about the world around you and develop a few magick tricks, but beyond that, you're always at risk. And not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically as well.
The primary mechanic of this game, that I think separates it from most others, is a kind of Anxiety Meter.
Since Horror is a very subjective genre, some things scare some people while others don't. If one were to hinge their horror game on how scary it is, it'll indefinitely be hit or miss. However, one way to guarantee some level of anxiety in the player is to make the character you're playing as anxious and fearful, and implement that as a mechanic. The theory here is that her fears become yours.
Helrynega, being the timid little thing that she is, naturally has anxiety issues, and being thrust into a world of unspeakable horrors (literally in some cases, as linguistics plays a major thematic role in the game's esoteric underpinnings) only makes that all the worse. The challenge comes from you, the Player, navigating this world in such a way that your character's fears do not hinder your quest.
At some point I'll write up a much more detailed description of this concept for an Adventure Horror game. I've been building this world in my head since the end of 2014 or so, and it's evolved into one of my most intricate story ideas, and I would love to share it with you.
As far as the preferred medium to tell it, video game obviously; but, as big and detailed as it is, it would require resources I currently don't have, so I might have to settle with a graphic novel, or even just plain-old novel... y'know, the one's without pictures? Then, perhaps at a later date when required resource fall into my possession, I could translate this graphic or non-graphic novel, whatever it ends up becoming, into a game.
Plans for the Immediate Future
As far as plans for the near future go, very little has changed from last time, so it's more or less the same. However, I do want to focus more on comics and animation. I'm really itching to bring Kiki to life via her own web comic series, possibly even doing little animated shorts with her as well. I've had her locked away in my brain since the end of 2016, it's high time I do something with her... other than use her to experiment with video game designing, that is.
Still want to do some YouTube video stuff too, particularly my "Culture DeOcculted" series (pop-culture analyzed through an occult, esoteric lens). Since it may still be a while before I launch this thing, let me give you a little taste of what to expect from this series. Here listed below are just a few examples of what to expect:
Can the dream-like weirdness of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, including Termina's death by Moon and the strange symbolism of Stone Tower, be understood utlilizing the esoteric traditions of Tarot and Kabballah?
How does the Pokemon Unown relate to the esoteric concept known as the Divine Logos, the Word of God?
Do the Eds from Ed, Edd n' Eddy correspond to the Holy Trinity? (...yes, really, but not in the way you might expect)
Does the proverbial "Chad" alpha-male meme-man have his origins in the ancient Nephilim, the giant human / alien hybrids that once walked the Earth?
Did the Gnostics understand the otherwise modern concept of the "NPC" meme through what they called the "hylic"?
Can the subversions of previous Zelda tropes in Breath of the Wild, right down to Link's new blue tunic, be explained via chromatic motifs related to the Chakras and Kundalini?
Is the Pascifist Run in Undertale really moral? What aspect of Natural Law does it seem to forget that would better our understanding of why it actually might not be?
Is the Five Nights at Freddy's series really just one big alegory for the dynamic of Satanism in our world?
As batshit crazy as some of this might seem, I can guarantee you I have pretty strong arguments to be made with each of these. And that's not even half of them, oh no. What might I have to say about these? You'll just have to wait and see...
Well, anyway, that's about it for now. Maybe next post won't take another half-year to come out. <:P|