Current Progress on some design and concept blockouts so far for Project Bananas.
Note: Vehicles including tram are from default free asset site, trees from speed tree, intended to give off the vibe of the city I'm going for!
Screenshots: Maya: Hardware Fog, minimal point lights with low-quality shadows, ao, motion blur, and anti-aliasing.
Location: Coastline of Los Angeles, the fence barrier will have looming guard towers that watch over the citizens.
One building down; Next Up: Cyberpunk Favela and Noodle Shop!
Corey - Where Have You Been?
While this post will hopefully encompass both older projects that have been on the backburner for awhile, alot of the intention behind this blog post is to provide insight into some real struggles artists can face both in the industry and everyday life.
It was Fall of 2016 and I had just gone through a grinder of a semester at the Academy of Art University. I suffer from multiple autoimmune diseases from both genetics, but also majorly due to poor diet. Artists generally often work long hours and it becomes commonplace for silly habits like sleeping at your desk, the piles of soda cans and energy drinks, and the like. For me it became too routine and this really ended up spiraling into something that I as an artist had never experienced before. What it was like to work both professionally, personally, and on myself all while feeling the most alone I ever have. The word scared me, but after 6 months of denial, I really finally accepted that I was depressed.
Depression is a serious issue that plagues society, it's a feeling that sometimes has no feeling at all, and as an artist, at least in my case my imagination ran wild writing the scariest stories for me to make come true around every turn. This turned into doubt which turned into consistency at work, but of the wrong kind.
But with life comes multiple opportunities and I was very blessed while working at Insomniac Games to be inspired by just an awe of talent, and with that many rough days became better, and along with that there were times where my confidence did shine through and I feel I made some really quality art, but with this being my first professional job in the industry it was apparent to myself that my health and rate was something that was never sustainable. Between the cigarettes, energy drinks, sodas, 20 hr days (not work, just general insomnia), celiac and ibs, and moving to an entire new city after graduation where I really knew nothing, it was like I was staring at a night sky of stars and one by one each star went out, each opportunity I had worked so hard for, and the scariest part, at the time I really could care less...
Not because of my own immaturity, which of course in hindsight did play a part, but because with autoimmune diseases and my own refusal to truly address a real problem that at this point grew at an exponential rate. I was trapped in the La Brea Tar Pits basically, and even though I had a phenomenal support system at work and online in my time at AAU, I still truly felt all alone.
The scariest part of it all was I basically had felt like a turtle for so long retreating into my shell. Never truly allowing myself an opportunity to shine and grow, not because I didn't want to, that would be foolish, but because somewhere deep inside, for the first time I truly believe I wasn't worth all of those hundreds of thousands of hours of work I had poured in re-working the same pieces over and over.
My point with this story before I get to my art is that if you are an artist out there who is/was like me in 2016, this unquenchable forest fire of indomitable will, at the same time it IS important to protect your health, both mental and physical, to know it's okay to take breaks, even if days do seep into weeks, and for some or at least for me, it became a reality. But with the ebbs and flows of the ocean, the bad tide started to fade back out into the sea and I honestly could never remember why I would get so flustered I would shut down health-wise, artistically, mentally, the like. Mental health is important in this industry, and while I had all the resources I needed to succeed, much like I believe Eric Thomas says, at the time, my talent took me somewhere my work ethic was not ready to keep me. The weirdest thing of all was it was never laziness in work or towards my career, it was always towards my physical and mental health.
From there I decided to go back to school this past Spring 2017 after my amazing time at Insomniac Games. I truly learned so much and there's consistent little lessons that pop into my head each day and make me smile with pride that I was truly lucky and honored enough to even have the chance to work on Spider-Man. While my Celiac continued to spiral out of control throughout much of the semester, it was around April that I was rather lucky to find a significant other who really understood and supported my journey as an artist and person and where I wanted to go. For the first time, throughout my stubborn celiac fits, I was able to feel like I was truly listened to. Carrying this forward it became easier to really dial back into the artist I was and this brings me to my next point.
On a lighter note during the darker times the past year and a half health wise I really became a bit of a shut-in. I slowly began to delete works I felt weren't up to par, and while I was judging my current work with AAA industry standards I was seeing every day at work, it should have been more of a great goal to achieve look development wise instead of the consistent standard to hold myself to at such an early stage artistically in the industry. I've always been told even in interviews that I am far too hard on myself, but to really be grabbed by the collar by life and shown hey look what you did dummy, it was a rough lesson. I had deleted 3-4 works entirely from all my backups, off artstation, instagram, twitter, all of it, gone. At the time, through really brown tinted glasses I really put myself down so much so that I felt my art truly didn't belong on Artstation. So please, even backup your backups, save your screenshots to google drive, drop-box etc.
Beyond Human and Ghost in the Shell were two sci-fi art teases I always wanted to dip my foot into but never had the chance due to other obligations. With that as my base goal I currently have just finished isolating my milestone guidelines for the project as well as created 3 style inspiration boards for the project's look development.
Here's till next time, it's so good to be back on the art train again! Go get those art dream jobs kiddos!!
Thesis Progress update so far! Includes lots of placeholder props from a variety of work I did not do. E.g. trees from speed tree, rocks and some foliage from grasslands project. Overall it's starting to conceptually really achieve my vision and it's so exciting to see where this is going as it's far and away the largest project I've done!
Tonight's 90 minute session. Been pretty sick as of late so haven't been feeling up to working too much. Really excited to get some animation like the ceiling fan and some ambient animations idea tests like a mouse or cat in Judiths room stealing food from her marshall amp mini fridge. I think the next things to model are some of the stage lights and music props from Judith's musical photography career and then finish off her room! Phew! This has been such a refreshing experience just relaxing and developing story ideas and the 90 minute timed sessions have really helped me come up with some cool ideas. Hope you guys dig it!
Have a lovely Friday all!
"The story of a man's loss of identity from early onset Alzheimer's while on vacation wandering the streets of Tokyo. And his daughter’s attempt to help him relive his past glory while finding her own."
Overall Ambience Goal:
Overall Cinematic Quality Bar:
Audio Quality Bar:
Excellent Story Framing Resource:
-------------------------------------------------------------------Opening Cinematic: Detailed Breakdown----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Near the back stairs will exist a computer/photography workstation and a dim warm orange nightstand lamp.
Basis of camera movements in this shot primarily consists of lateral tracking movements. My primary reason for this opening cinematic
Is to reveal to the player in less than 3 minutes an idea of the story and emotions they will be experiencing.
On the computer workstation is an older model phone, it's violent ring pierces the air during the camera's lateral tracking.
Quick, but not immediately, the screen pans to the workstation on the third ring of the receiver. It's violent movement jars the desktop
Workstation to life and it is revealed to the player at the end of the cinematic tickets to tokyo.
Also on the workstation will be context clues like alzheimer's medication with Foster's name on them, with some of the medication knocked over For additional storytelling.
Lastly in the back of the loft where the loveseats and cushions are; this area will be repurposed to help tell the story of Judith, foster's 20 year
Old daughter who is the main character of this visual cinematic w some limited gameplay.
Most of the scene will tell a similar story to foster, however while foster was famous for his attunement with nature photography, we find
His daughter Judith is much more interested in the music/rock side of things.
A similar fade out occurs that happened in the beginning of the cinematic.
The next scene that opens will be a cinematic of judith smoking outside a japanese hospital. She puts her cigarette out,
Shuffles the camera around her neck, and the player is introduced to their first playable experience; Act I Sunsets and Streetlamps
-------------------------------------------------------------------Act One: Sunsets and Streetlamps----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The scene opens up to Judith currently not playable.
She steps out of a hospital and just as quickly as the warm light enveloped her shadow she is even quicker to be greeted by the Tokyo nightlife.
Judith is discernably a low poly character as will be many of the modular background ambient crowd. Most of the crowd much like Judith will be faceless with shapes alluding to faces and such.
Judith moves the lit cigarette from her mouth to the ground and stomps it out as the camera slowly pans out to reveal the first level.
The level consists of the Judith navigating various obstacles to take pictures around the city to bring back to her father.
The player will be prompted with usual pop ups; simple non invasive ui ones that will inform the player of quick mechanics once they encounter an obstacle;
Ex; Judith begins to walk around Tokyo, as a 2d side scroller and encounters her first photo opportunity; A Tokyo Market with a young kid playing with a low poly cat.
A text prompt will pop up and say," Oh that reminds me of my old cat Wi-fi". The player can then press an assigned button from the prompt and take a picture.
Judith's usual response after getting a photo will be "Dad's going to love this."
Judith continues onwards encountering her first obstacle. A fish truck that is clearing blocking the path of in the 2d side scrolling sense.
The player will quickly find out they can not navigate around as they can walk to the back of the fish truck, and a small overlay will make the truck swap with a lighter opacity material showing the player a dead-end.
Meanwhile low poly fish workers will be passively working unloading crates etc. The goal for the player is to close the truck lid and help these friends on their way.
But how does Judith do this?
Nearby, either before or after the player discovers the dead-end, there is a nearby box of fishes. Your goal is to walk by the fishes, think of the cat and the boy, and through a prompt realize the quest that needs to be done.
Once the quest is complete you will find the almighty millennial pick of destiny: THE SELFIE STICK;
While for the tone of the game a selfie stick seems quite silly, the payoff from a lot of the camera shots from your father will initially hopefully dissipate the silliness of the selfie stick.
With your new t-rex arm unlocked, you can pull down the moving truck door. The fish dock workers are really happy you helped and take another satisfying pick of Judith, and a few workers next to the fish truck.
I haven't decided on how I am going to control time of day mechanics but my plan is to do it through conversational prompt checks;
For example; we've now completed two quests; the time of day starts to shift to sunset. This also alludes to the title Sunsets and streetlamps and your final quest before heading back for the night to your father to show him your pictures in hopes of jogging his memory.
The final quest for your first night in Tokyo;
After the fish truck has been sent on it's way Judith can now move forward to the final sequence which is actually a bit misleading to the game overall because it sequences into 3d.
I will probably achieve this by doing a level load of another map with 3d capabilities.
Judith continues onwards and finds the gate to a nearby gorgeous japanese park blocked off by a park ranger
After a conversational prompt, there will be a warning informing the player of the switch to 3d.
Judith finds herself still her usual look but can now navigate the 3d space of a local japanese park. The goal is to quickly help 2 people;
A mom who is with her young child in a stroller and has lost their pet.
And an american guy on the bridge who is also blocking your path from the final shrine shot before heading home because he's having a breakdown.
The man's problem is that he's basically having a breakdown and his belongings are spread out across the bridge. Judith walks to the bridge and is at first offered a photo prompt;
The player tries to take a photo but the animation decides against it and asks the man if she can help.
The man stands up and leans on the bridge and so does Judith.
She tells a story basically helping pull the guy out of his sadness.
He thanks her and the screen fades out and back in to the guy having gone on his way.
The player can take two photo opportunities, the stream nearby where she helped the man, and the final shrine.
After taking the final pictures Judith says," It's getting late I wonder what dad's up to?"
Scene slowly fades out and into a hospital room for the final cinematic sequence
End credits roll.
Current progress in Maya:
If you've read this far and you're a cool kid;
Some excellent resources I've been using lately:
World of Level Design - My System for Setting Up Game Environment Projects for Maya LT/Maya, UE4 & Texturing
World of Level Design - Unreal Engine 4 Tutorials List
The thing that I truly enjoy about life is that it can take you on a million different paths. From school, to the industry, back to school. And all the while there's that deep voice inside shouting STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU IDIOT!?! Mixing in a slew of curse words so it matches my inner voice.
Making a decision to shift from continuing to progress in the game development industry to going back to school is one I have thought many long and hard nights about. There's always the voice telling me, oh you're 28 by the time you finish your master thesis man you're gonna be oooooold for the industry *pfft*. In the end, after a few nights of torturing myself, I ended up deciding to return to school and pursue one of my dream goals of teaching game art at the university level. Each time in my life I've stood on this weird precipice of fear and anixety and self-doubt. Often the garbs of an artist, let alone a normal human being, I think the scary part is just how exacerbated it is by social media itself. We log onto sites like Facebook and Instagram, and for some of us it's an advertising means or simply a way of staying connected with fellow artists. For some more than others, especially those in remote locations, social media and art websites can be a fantastic way of feeling connected to our industry, but there's also the other side that depicts pretty much the happiest moments of everyone's lives. The trips to cabo or hawaii, spring break in cancun, etc. We often only see the prettiest things and this is true for our art as well. Well what does this long spiel mean?
Absolute silence. Peace and relaxation for me. Teaching is something I have absolutely always loved doing, and a teacher is something I feel I am at my core both as an artist an person. So while I am returning to the Academy of Art in San Francisco with my end goal of becoming a professor at a university, it makes me happy once again to be a student, and this time around I am incredibly excited to make sure that I maintain that mentality of always learning and always trying to improve. The past year dealing with various serious health concerns while trying to deal with the industry grind has been an incredibly eye opening experience. My time at Insomniac was likely honestly the best experience all around I've had in my life. The passion and dedication that each and every employee had was inspiring and it made me realize that with my health concerns that I was no longer the Corey that I feel I used to be, both as an artist and person. So with that I did the scariest option imaginable.
I pressed the RESET button.
And so here we are, many long nights of isolated meditation and important decision making later.
A little older, and hopefully a little wiser, this time around I am excited to really pay proper attention to my physical health as well as my mental health as an artist because being an artist is already quite difficult.
So what's next? My Master thesis!
For a long time I've been very inspired by narrative driven gameplay and games that really take concepts outside of the box. Games like Inside are and have been a breath of fresh air, and more often than ever I feel a pretty great resurgence of entertaining narrative based gameplay. So for my thesis my focus is on cinematic quality driven assets and narrative. So while I start to flesh out some thesis designs and ideas I'd like to introduce a super basic page and basically an elevator pitch of my thesis and I hope you guys dig the idea!
Our story begins w a man named Foster. He's a simple man, in his mid 40s with a passion for wildlife photography. He was wildly successful in Seattle but has retired due to unknown health concerns. With Foster’s memory growing increasingly worse he feels the stress of a 30 year career has got to him and he decides to head on a vacation with his 20 year old daughter Judith to Japan to clear his thoughts. What happens next is an interesting character driven narrative. Foster is bedridden in a Japanese hospital, and his daughter Judith takes his camera and begins an exploratory side scrolling journey full of visual payoffs and vista views in order to bring back photographs to help her father remember.
As time progresses a heavier depth of field begins to take effect in the pictures judith brings her father when the cinematic camera scenes showcase fosters point of view as he begins to lose his memory from the rapid progression of memory loss. To enhance this some textures will be additionally Gaussian blurred in substance painter.
Hope you guys enjoy, have a wonderful Saturday!
For a long time, as an artist I was desperately afraid of failure, and I don't mean in the silly nonsense of stretched uv's or even the seriousness of missed deadlines at work. For me, my biggest fear was the failure of letting other art colleagues/friends down. A constant fear that had/has plagued me my entire life. This tornado of anxiety that if I took a step back, took a deep breath in through my nostrils...and exhaled that this small moment would have never become a giant tornado of desperation.
Letting others down is scary, it is. That pit of misery that basically feels like I chose to do this with the rest of my life and still it wasn't enough. But that's the cool thing guys, it's just one moment in a vast array of many, especially for those of us in which this career is both business and pleasure. It was not until recently, after newly adapting to my mentality of just letting go moments of anxiety and stress. It sounds like I am over-simplifying it, but since objectively taking my moments of stress and analyzing them I have been able to pin-point that most of the issue with me was that I was overcomplicating everything. Trying to remember each and every single facet of every process like I was Good Will Hunting.
Objectively speaking, after identifying my issues with communication and thought process I realized not only was my workflow cluttered but that it was leading to missteps in other areas, even though I knew the process of creation. Furthermore, I then started to identify a task list each morning after taking about 10 minutes to just sit quietly and think about what I needed to get done for the day and how I was currently feeling. All in all this objective analysis of myself helped lead to improvements in critiquing my work as well. I began to realize even before I was getting anxious when it was approaching and in those moments I now step away from the pc for a bit and either meditate again, watch tv, or just settle down. As this year progresses I want to respect my free time a bit more and explore other hobbies, but for now I'm a happy camper as this project begins to approach completion.
Final Presentation Plans:
Without further ado onto the screenshots ladies and gentlemen! Have a great week!
The past few days have basically been endless small tweaks that most people would never notice but in the end, generally, help set the scene, or at least the confidence for the artist to discuss it.
Quick Note: If you guys haven't yet be sure to find a way to send artstation your thanks. Much like the endless tweaks we all create as artists that never see the light of day, artstations work often goes unnoticed. The crew is phenomenal and to be able to have a platform where I can not only teach, but learn from others, it's a great blessing to have.
Segwaying into my next point ALWAYS POST YOUR WORK FOR FEEDBACK!
Short Story: A few days ago I had realized that I had been working tirelessly on this project for the past 7 weeks or so at about 12 hours a day, on top of moving, re-enrolling in school, apartment hunting and the like. You can see just how quickly a project, a person, and everything can quickly spiral out of control. I was really burnt out and had just heavily tweaked the lighting and it was U-G-L-Y man. It actually made me really dislike the project and I had to step away for a day. Although others seemed to like the piece, it was a situation of standards meeting expectations I believe. I had a creative vision for this cool project I had invested the last 7 weeks of my life into. Long story short, I was given some excellent critiques about how to better frame my piece compositionally. I was able to use those cool ideas to give me the confidence to steamroll into some small propping and then really adjust the lighting and big picture elements that I was frustrated at previously. Now, a few days later I am much happier with the current progress and feel that this piece finally for the first time in a very long while has risen to meet my standards as an artist currently. Of course, as with all experiences in life we can grow and improve our standards, and so I will continue to do so, but with that said, this is one happy kiddo.
Quick thanks to everyone who has been giving me fantastic feedback but specifically to my art friendos mike marra and brannon rogers. Both really helped me tweak a composition that I was desperately tired of looking at and really dial in and support my scene much more. Cheers you two! Without further ado onto some juicy screenshots! Happy Saturday all!
Many of us often have pieces that never see the light of day; a donkey kong like hoard, probably locked somewhere deep in our parent's attic of pieces of work that seem irrelevant now but further on down the line can save immense amounts of time.
Generally I keep a Hard-drive, a back-up drive, and a general separate drive of all my old props and work that I can pull from at any given moment.
As time goes on generally I stray away from the re-use of assets, however, past files, projects, and monthly downloadables from sites like speedtree can really help speed up the process. (pun intended >=) ).
Boy oh boy do I love telling stories in my work. Often when I find myself re-working scenes I would approach a scene from the viewpoint of how I could improve the experience overall. A full 360 experience that feels like the emotions we feel for our favorite characters. It IS important. At least to me =)
This time around I often would take a step back from my work, often when getting stressed, and meditate for a bit and place myself in my own environment. It sounds W-E-I-R-D I know, but hear me out. Generally I will pop up my own reference board of previous screenshots of my work. Really dive into the story and goal I was trying to accomplish, then toss on some quite ambient white noise like rain and really put myself in my environment. It's often like playing a video game, and the best part is that it's a video game that doesn't yet exist, but IT CAN!
All ideas and art starts out small, and knowing and recognizing that art, much like many experiences in life is a marathon and not a race, a pyramid in which we slowly add building blocks in hopes that our tower stretches farther than all the others and our pleas for attention go noticed. It's great when people think you've done something cool, and sometimes it even inspires others to get into the career themselves, so really what I am trying to say is that when broadcasting your art, no piece is a final piece and that you should never try to beat yourself up too much. Because you can always take the previous lessons and get back to work, often approaching it from a different angle, and with cool ideas from friends and colleagues.
Previously I took some small prop update shots so you guys didn't get too lost when I plopped a giant color and foliage and lighting update on y'all.
The scene was looking a quite a bit empty, so as previously mentioned I like to place myself in my scenes in an attempt to have it feel a bit more lived in, even with the dystopian/end of the world vibes.
So let's use this as a teaching moment, how are some ways to improve?
Generally, I have quite a bit of props in the scene currently that give the scene an overall heavy lean to the left.
One way I accomplish a lot of the heavy lifting is composition and framing. A long time ago, when my old merlin body participated in artstations first challenge I was inspired by peoples composition and rendering skills. Not only did their modeling, story-telling, and framing skills exceed mine, they did so much so in a way I realized I needed to improve. Those are great people to be around, befriend them and stick to them like glue without getting a restraining order or being a pest, use common sense.
Enjoy your Thursday, and happy early weekend all!