Sheffield FPS: Reprise

It has been way too long since I’ve worked on this, and a trip into the city centre had inspired me to pick up where I’d left off with the project: which insofar has been work on a few buildings, no actual gameplay implementation…yet.

Naturally, I will have to carefully consider the plot-line – masked protesters amidst a war within the city doesn’t feel dystopian anymore, it’s practically a reality.

This is a short video demonstrating the process used to import the base character from the Armory first-person template project into the 3D representation of the map.
Really, it’s a compilation of the past week or so’s screen recordings that I hadn’t done anything with.

And this is it working!

In between these two videos, I’d also done a calibration live-stream, in preparation for future development streams, in which I had one mystery viewer observing the whole show, and I have no idea who it was!

I haven’t embedded it here because it isn’t so integral to the story that it needs embedding, and if I were to episodify them all, this it would be a pilot episode, or a dress rehersal: feel free to have a watch, though.

A Tree and a Wiki

There are a lot of trees in Sheffield (we have had some controversy around this of late) – and thankfully we have groups like STAG (Sheffield Tree Action Group) who are doing wonderful things to help keep those numbers up, and prevent them from being unnecessarily felled by our council.

There’s a new addition to the top menu, Wiki.
This’ll be an explorable Wikipedia-a-like of the story-line of the game, and any future projects connected to this universe. It’s based on a series of stories I’ve written before, so the information available will fill up quickly, and will not detract from progress on the 3D modelling front.

I digress. The most obvious place to house afformentioned trees would be a building where a range of interesting plant life can be found, the Winter Gardens (you’ll be glad to know that in 2030, it still serves the same purpose)
But first, let’s have a look at this tree:

Sketchfab model

Winter Gardens foliage area

Tree generation

I’ve naturally tried to find a Blender plugin that would help with creating trees, and there are some available, but they are paid plugins.
If possible, I want to avoid this – keeping with the ethos of this site: a shoestring budget studio.

If there’s a resource out there for free that does some of the work for me, saving time and money – I’ll take that, thanks!
My search for a free Blender plugin turned out to be fruitless (pun intended!) and I look towards free, specialised software instead – and came across Abraro; and was suitably impressed.

Almost every aspect of the tree is customisable, so you can let the Charles Darwin within you loose, and create any kind of tree you can imagine like a mad scientist genetic botanist.
Once you have created your tree – click File -> Export and save it as an .obj file on your computer: you can then import it into Blender either as a new object, or straight into your scene.

When first importing the tree, it did put a strain on my (limited) graphics card, and I would get areas like this across the Blender application, which as you can imagine made it quite awkward to use:

I used the Decimate modifier on it to reduce its poly count from around 29,000 to 1,500.
Not only does this lessen system resources, it also makes it more
appropriate for a game asset.

I’ve only included this image because the crash makes it looks Vaporwave.

Not all models work, this is overly detailed and results in lots of rogue mesh, though you can see the actual shape of the tree in orange.

Below, I’ve modified the trunk and shape of a Black Tupelo so that it is shorter and more bush-like, and experimented with the leaves.

It turned out massive and soon after loading, Blender gave up and shut itself down: this’ll have to be something I branch into once I’ve upgraded to a higher spec PC.

Image result for black tupelo
A Black Tulepo

It looks very scientific (above)

The tree with its leaves enabled.

Some renders!

Some slight colour modification in GIMP, no changes to the actual content of the model.

These have been scaled down by your web browser to make it fit the screen on your device, but you can right click the image, and open it in a new tab to see it full size: mobile users can usually press and hold their finger down on the picture to open in a new tab, which will allow you to pinch and zoom around it.

Tonights render queue

Building: Corporation

After a bit of a festive hiatus, I’m back in the swing of things – I plan to get back to full regularity after the new year.
The only UV mapped portion of this is the logo, and the grey shutters – the rest is colour picked from a reference photo.

The foyer is slightly different, and the protruding signs aren’t there, but it’s a start and will need further refinement.

A Sheffield nightlife rite-of-passage, Corp.
Source: Wikimedia

Comparing the two, the logo on the side of the building is way too small, and I’m too tired to fiddle on with re-UV mapping it right now.

Edit: Apparantly I’m not too tired.

Insomnia edit

Building: Pearl Works

Not going to include any brands in this; I wanted to play with a few different styles. But first, a little breakdown of the model itself.

Colour picked the metal and brick, standard Armory Glass material for the window
The interior light an Emission texture (which distributes light) on a single face. At the moment, its parameter is low.

Mobile edit

Laptop died, and charging port is very finickity. That may be all for tonight…

The very next day…

Increased the intensity on the lighting, but I still don’t like the positioning of it, it’s too close to the window
Duplicated the roof face, brought it down a little and assigned an Emission texture to it to emanate light inside the entire building
Did the same thing with the floor, so that the floor of the building matches the exact shape of the building, and used an Array modifer to repeat it four times for the different floors.
Light is escaping out of the building through holes in the mesh.
For the porchway, it does give a satisfying effect

Being totally honest, I am really not keen on this model.
It’s ugly and feels like a bodge-job: the mesh is messy, and the topology around the doorway is all over the place.

I am pleased that I found a technique that works for ceiling lighting and floors though, so that’s something.

High sample, high resolution render.

Both the top and the bottom floors have lights on their ceiling.
For comparison, no lights have been added to the middle floors, but the light seeps through from the ceiling of the ground floor onto the first floor. Again, I’m OK with this for now.

Tried a more cartoonish texture for the grey and the brick colour.

The first floor looks as if it is made entirely of light, possibly because the Toon shader doesn’t absorb, bounce and disperse light in the same way a realism-based texture would.
Why would it? Its a cartoon texture!

Well, the sky’s a nice colour at least…
I still don’t like this model, and I’m thankful that tomorrow is a new day so I can start working on another building, and thinking about how to implement a controlled demolition into the storyline.

Building: Telephone House (Part 1)

Completed in 1972, and formerly occupied by BT until 2013, this building was used to manage Sheffield’s phone systems.

The building was sold in 2014, and is now luxury student appartments.
The more I work on this building, the more interesting it becomes – it has since had a change of colour scheme since BT departed, but I wanted to keep it in the original colours because I find them the most interesting

Telephone House, on Charter Row.

Working on the building has been equally interesting and confusing, and a little infuriating. The building you see to the left that looks like it adjoins to the tower actually goes underneath it – and it is now used as a car park.

Since the building was sold, its colour scheme was changed to some thing a little more modern and white, so it has lost a lot of its brutalist charm (and it’d look like just another unfinished building on my work-in-progress map!)

I’ve made the design decision to keep it in its original colours as much as possible.

Here’s a reference image:

Source: Geograph

Above we see the same building from the other side.
I’ve not wanted to go too much into the horizontal building in this post, there’s a bit more work to do on the vertical element of the building, shown in the renders as dark grey before I can start on the second building of Telephone House tomorrow.
Also, the foyer will need redoing, because currently it’s all windows and no doors.

For those who genuinely can’t wait, or are unfamiliar with the area… this is what I’m up against:

Source: Crosthwaite Commercial

Insomnia update:

I’ve (kind of) finished the upper building, there’s some tweaks to be made still, but I did record a silent screencast to show exact process I used.

Buildings: Sheffield High Street (continued)

If tonights buildings were branded, they would be Pizza Hut and Fone+

I’ve wanted to build these from just a single,good reference image side by side with the model: trying to find the most efficient method. I’ve not done any work with the logo – in an aid to speed up the modelling process.

I’ve applied basic textures to the walls, they are nothing more than diffuse colour textures – the black portions are glass textures.
To the left,we have lastnights buildings.

I like the oversized windows – they’re almost caricatures and will allow a lot of light into the interior scenes, and provide a great view from inside the building.

Now available on Github!

My project file (.blend) is now available on Github, feel free to download it and have a look around.
You’ll need to have git-lfs (Large File Support) installed because it’s bigger than the standard 50mb threshold, and will only get bigger!

Once you’ve installed it, you’ll be able to run from your command shell:
git clone to download the file, you’ll be able to open it in Blender as normal.
Alternatively, you can download the project as a zip file from the link above, or direct download from this website

You’ll need to have the Armory engine installed if you want to try and compile the game (which isn’t currently working) – but it’s not required if you just want to have a look around and render scenes and see how the file is organised.

Charles Street ‘The Cheesegrater’ / Genting Casino

No video tonight, I’m still not finished with this one – and since it’s technically two buildings, I’m allowing myself two days.

I’ll share some picture updates here:

Charles Street car park, with the windows to Genting to the right: to the left, the UV material is broken, so I’ve reset it and turned the material to a neutral grey while I model it.

Adjusted the colours in GIMP for a bit of a different feel

Foyer area and signpost is still incomplete, it’ll be a reasonably complex scene.
I’m not sure where the glow is coming from – it looks inviting enough though, doesn’t it? Once the windowframes are blocked out, I’ll be able to turn the windows into coloured glass (which didn’t quite turn out the green I was expecting) it should spill out into the street: adding some ambience.
For this, I’ll use an Armory glass material, Cycles glass material will not work.

Filmic colour management really handles the light more realistically than sRGB