This week has been more Off The Map oriented, since I’m back at university now. I tried to arrange a meeting with my team, since the ones with tutors seem to have just fallen through, but that one sort of went down the shitter as well. I’m starting to feel like our team dynamics are disintegrating a little, most notably due to the abundance of other things that have been dumped on us like presentations, essays, and re-doing projects. And though the end is finally in sight with this project, I’m actually starting to wonder if we’ll really get this done in time. Or if we’ll even end up submitting to the competition with all the extra work that entails (flythrough, documentation, more presentations).
The final asset on my asset list is the Mad Hatter’s Cottage, shown above, which is currently a WIP. I worked without a design for this, and just winged it. I’ve re-used textures from the other little cottages around the level that I made a few weeks ago. I hate it. The only bit I actually like at the moment is the wooden supports over the stream. It’s a combination of my failure of a stone texture and the general plain-ness of the house itself I think. Everything is too… flat, with the stone brick texture dominating the whole thing. I think what it needs is a plaster layer over the bricks, which is cracked and showing the stone underneath… but that’s not ‘Cotswold enough’. I tested a few different Cotswoldy stone textures too, but they all just look awful. I think I’m just going to try and prettify it with flowers and such, and move on.
At the start of the week I also put time into trying to up our pitiful frame rate, after Dom also did some optimisation work on it. Together we’ve got it up to an average of 20 FPS, fluctuating between 18 and 22. We talked to Mike Kelly, who told us the issue seems to be overdraw from all the alphas we have, namely the trees. So I went on a tree-culling rampage, which not only improved the frame rate, but made the forest easier on the eye and more scientifically sound. You would never get such a dense collection of massive trees like our forest was. We’re still pushing it a bit, but it’s a great improvement.
The billboard I made for the edge of our forest may or may not have helped, but either way it acts as a good way to make the boundaries of the level, and means we can use less trees. Initially this was also an alpha, but Mike made the suggestion to cut the geometry out to save on alphas, as UE4 is better at handling tris than textures. I think it will now be wise to go around our model LODs and massively cut the amount of alphas on the mid-level. I first went about the LODs thinking I just needed to cut tris, so I halved the tri-count without cutting the alphas themselves down, so they’re probably not reducing the FPS a lot.
I have a lot of work to do with going back to our level and trying to make it all work together. Currently it’s all a bit slapstick. Everything is just kinda plonked in the level, and ultimately I want everything to be within little scenes and compositions of their own, so nothing seems like it’s just been thrown in with no thought. I’m trying!
Not much development from my personal project because of OTM, but I did a bit of sculpting. I also tested my model in 3D Coat (to make sure nothing broke), and made sure I could tidy up all the hilarious messed up geometry that I hide round the back of my screenshots. I can. 🙂 Looks like retopologising in 3D Coat is pretty easy too, so now I have definite a goal ahead of me after I’ve finished sculpting. God knows when that’ll be; I could spend forever on this, so I need to make sure I don’t over work it, and then I can get on with making a nice albedo.
I had my presentation about birds today. It’s really strange. I’ve done loads of presentations this year, but as soon as I write myself a script to adhere to, I completely fail. I FORGOT TO BREATHE. It’s so stupid. Other than that though, it went fine. I remembered what I had to say and didn’t have any awkward pauses. Could have made more eye contact maybe, but I can’t remember because I was too busy forgetting to breathe. Now I can hand in my essay (which is finished!), finish OTM (definitely not finished), and have my life back (yeah right). Turns out we have a group presentation for OTM next week though so hold on to your hats, it’s not over yet. It’s never over.
I’m going to spend this weekend playing GTA, watching totally-not-pirated Game of Thrones, and doing personal project work. And sleeping. I’m so, so exhausted right now. Sleeping-at-desk exhausted.