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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:39 am 
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I'm redesigning and expanding a lot of this environment. I know it needs work and I want it to look better and be more "D'ni", which involves retexturing stuff with better textures, getting the color palette and designs right, adding in those mysterious little details that are distinctly D'ni (in architecture, art, writing, etc)

I'm making an honest effort to get this right, though I recognize that I don't have the talent or skill that the Cyan artists have. I'm going to apply for an FCAL from Cyan soon, we'll see how that goes.

I'm kind of a mess, and I've done some downright awful things in the Myst community, so I don't know how this will go...

I have a courtyard and a fountain in it. I think it could be one of the more realistic fountains in an Uru fan age, as I'm using RealFlow for 3d fluid simulation, then rendering that 3d liquid into flat animations and applying it as a UV texture map.

No clue how well that'll work yet, but it shows some promise.

Sadly, this is going slowly as it's one of seemingly countless projects I've got piled up. I tend to like having a variety of things to work on at any one time. Rotating between a list of projects keeps any one project from getting boring.

I'm also going to work on the story some more as I'm not happy with it and think that my own biases are adversely affecting it. I want to present a more sympathetic view of the Great Tree cult, I want to avoid caricaturing them or any other group. This project should have more depth, realism, and ambiguity.

It's hard for me to nail down what "Myst-like" is, exactly, in any case - as far as I'm concerned, part of the idea of Myst is that there are very few limits on what an age can be. That's kind of the point; each world and each place is different, and it's one of the things that makes these games so compelling.

I think if we had to nail down what Myst-like ages are, it'd be something along the lines of:

-Detailed and realistic.
-Aesthetically pleasing and visually interesting.
-Surreal, with juxtaposition of interesting elements.
-Infused with the D'ni culture and D'ni technology. (Though not always)

I'm trying to do that here, I'm trying to nail down what, exactly, the D'ni aesthetic is, and to redesign the environment accordingly, creating high levels of detail, visual appeal, and imagination.

This is something that's not easy to do and I doubt I'll be able to do it successfully, but I'll certainly try.

As for the problems with open source, no, UCC won't be consistently good. Some of it will actually be terrible and un-Myst-like. That's hard to avoid, and shard owners will have to decide individually how to deal with this. Do they stick to Cyan-only content and reject fan-created ages? Or include all the fan-created ages, or only the better ones - and if only some are included, how are those ones chosen?

There'll be some good fan-created worlds, I think, and as far as I'm concerned, getting to explore the good ones will be worth weeding through the bad. There are some fan-created ages like Breldur which are very promising.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hu6vvsum9W4

After seeing work like this, I'm increasingly convinced that our community will be able to create some ages for Uru that rival Cyan's in quality.

(And sadly, also a lot of ages with flat gray planes and hovering mistextured cubes.)

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:37 pm 
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I'm adding transparency maps, animated textures, etc. I'm remodeling and adding detail. I may add areas to this environment as I get them to the level of quality I want them to have.

I'm adding a lot of wear and tear and cracks and grungy bits. I think it should look more like a ruined place, since it is part of the destroyed D'ni city. I'm also redoing all the walls with more intricate designs and brown rock.

The original rock color didn't fit with what we've seen in D'ni. Nor did many pieces of this scene appear detailed enough, aged enough, or ornate enough to feel like they were D'ni.

I redid the leaves, they are made with transparency maps now and are very curved and organic-looking, with a little bit of an exotic alien look.

The first release (1.0) will only have several rooms, but they should be fairly detailed. Additional areas will be added over time, including a meeting room, courtyard and cavern areas.

The first version should be released by the end of August if I continue my progress at the current rate.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:20 pm 
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Here's an update render:

Image

Not that any of this is done, I'm still working on it. I redid the rock colors to make them more like the cavern rock we're used to seeing, added some cracks and damage, increased smoothness of the metal candleholders, added animated flames for them, and put in some transparency-mapped leaves.

I'm still tweaking things, but I feel like this is (mostly) heading in the right direction. :D

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:58 am 
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looking good! :D

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 7:34 pm 
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Looking good. Thank you for taking the time to keep at it.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 5:41 pm 
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Decided I wasn't happy with the tree, and wanted to stick closer to the concept art with the leaves, and have branches that looked better and less shoddy.

Image

Image

Still tweaking stuff. I submitted an FCAL application a while ago. No response from Cyan yet on whether it's approved, or denied with a "You have to change (list of things) before we will approve it."

Or just flat-out denied (no conditions given) because they don't like me or because my work isn't good enough/doesn't fit their mythology.

Which wouldn't be any surprise; I know I'm a pretty screwed-up person and that this project needs improvement.

I'll shut up about my offers to work for Cyan for free from now on, they wouldn't want me, I realize I'm not a good enough artist to work with them, even unpaid. Their work is just - well, it's brilliant, really. Cyan's artists are superb. There's a huge gap between Cyan Worlds artists and inexperienced fan artists like me.

It's why we all want official content and why my earlier suggestions of Cyan-led, semi-fan created projects really don't make sense. There'd be all sorts of issues involved in fans working with Cyan, and the final ages produced by fans volunteering to do some of the work probably wouldn't be as good as if Cyan had made them completely from start to finish.

I'll just keep making fan art instead. Let the fan work be fan work, and Cyan's work be Cyan's. It's better that way, I guess.

Fan art is fun anyways, there's creative freedom in designing things yourself, though it'd be kind of disappointing if this fan project never becomes a public age for FCAL reasons.

I'm still working on it anyway, even without Cyan's approval. I loaded it into my copy of Uru. The good news is that it runs.

The bad news is that the animated textures, like the candle flames, don't work. I need to do some irritating procedure for all of the animated textures, apparently, and they must be in Bink format. While GIFs work in Blender, and can be converted into Uru, they only work as still images. Looping semi-transparent GIFs lose their animation and transparency when exported to Uru from Blender. So I'm going to use Bink video, and do the animated texture procedure that the GoW has so helpfully explained in their wiki.

Also, a few pieces of geometry are showing up as black and I haven't solved that yet. I think it's because the normals are inverted and thus the unlit inside of those objects is what's getting baked when I do the texture baking. If that's what's happening, it should be easily fixable.

Other than that, it looks promising. Some of the textures seem a little low-res, though. I may split the UV-mapped sections of geometry into smaller sections with the same image resolution. Problem with making better texture resolution, though, is that between that, and expanding the geometry to include more areas, the framerate may suffer.

The whole temple environment, when completed, will likely have about 60,000 polys when done, and 60 MB of textures.
That puts it in the same range as the larger Uru ages Cyan has made.

I'm showing you the same area over and over, but there are other areas I'm working on in this model, which I'll show later on. In any case, what you're seeing in these renders is basically what it should look like in-game; radiosity lighting is baked into the textures, this is one of the techniques I'm seeing more and more in fan worlds lately.

In any case, the GoW is doing a great job at creating methods for doing Uru age stuff, like adding books to an age. (Which I will be doing - I'll add a book to this environment containing its history.)

I may also, after having completed this temple, start making two new ages, a crystalline lattice and a dark, dense jungle, and adding linking books to them in one of the temple rooms. This temple could then be a hub connected to other worlds. But that's not likely to happen until 2010, maybe 2011?

I don't know. This stuff takes a lot of time.

One thing for me to work on now? The banners. I need a better texture on these banners!

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 6:08 pm 
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Great Work, looks real good.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:18 am 
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Very pretty. Good work.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:56 pm 
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Methinks thar be skillz here.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 8:05 pm 
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Niiiccee!

I like the new tree very much!
My only suggestions are to make it look more "weathered" and to keep up the good work!!!


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 9:57 pm 
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It's getting better and better.

What were the costs associated with getting XNA running?

Is there a cost or license needed if one sells their game to the public? If they distribute for free?

Thnx

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 11:27 pm 
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XNA is freeware. It doesn't cost anything.

Look at: http://creators.xna.com/en-US/quickstart_main

In any case, this scene is not in XNA anymore, it's in Uru! :D

I just posted a Flash video of the environment running in Uru on one of my websites: http://www.triumphantartists.com/temple.html

The candle flames are gone temporarily until I can get the Bink animation to work.

The black surfaces now have working textures. The whole level is running, but framerates are pretty low. I'll try optimizing geometry and textures some more before attempting to add new areas onto it. I think I can reduce polycount in a few places without any visible loss of quality.

Running this scene in Uru reveals a lot of things that could use improvement. The light glows, for instance. But it's definitely a great feeling getting to explore it in the game engine for the first time.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 11:31 pm 
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Video looks good. I can't wait till I can explore this temple myself. Do you have any idea as to when you might release a version of the Temple to the public?

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 11:43 pm 
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I'll release a version when Cyan Worlds responds to the FCAL request I sent them a while back.

I sent a fairly large FCAL request document to them, which included concept art for this and two other ages, as well as the full story of the age(s), which goes beyond what's been posted in this thread to include some additional plot elements.

I'm going to keep creating new iterations of this and whatever version I have when they finally respond to the FCAL request, will be the first one I release publically.

I figure Cyan is too busy on their MagiQuest project right now to spend much time dealing with FCAL requests from Myst fans.

They're pretty shorthanded right now so it may take a while longer before anyone at Cyan replies to me.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:31 am 
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Excellent stuff here! It's great watching your learning curve. You've come a long way since your first post on this thread. I'm sure you're an inspiration for others attempting thier own ages. Keep up the good work!


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