games


CGI coffee

New Unity 2019 2D sprite rigging and lighting tools

With the latest 2019.1 update Unity team have seriously upgraded the 2D tool-set of the editor:

Seems like a lot of those tools were inspired by the Rayman Legends engine. Something I was drooling over 5 years ago, hoping one day Unity would implement some of those. And they finally did!

It really makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, remembering how most of those automated 2D tools and thingies were not available when I was working on Run and Rock-it Kristie in the freeware version of Unity 4 (which back then lacked even the Sprite packaging functionality!) and had to be either developed from scratch or achieved with some cool Asset Store stuff you would need to purchase and integrate into your product.

memories

Oh, the tools... The tools...

IK and rigging with bone weighting? Check:

Manual sprite atlasing and set-up? Check (atlasing is vital for mesh batching and draw call reduction):

manual-atlasing

Sprite assembly and animation? Check:

Dynamic level-building tools? Check (via modded version of the Ferr2D asset):

Dynamic lighting? Check! — With up to 4 live vertex lights and camera-distance based light culling to make sure the game would run at stable 60 fps on iPhone 4 (heavily reliant on the amazing but now deprecated Core Framework asset by echoLogin):

It was... Fun!

You know what I also remember? I remember almost every day working on the game I felt excited and driven. It was FUN. Even when it was challenging to solve some technical issues (there were a lot of those, especially for a beginner) or work around Unity limitations or bugs, it felt truly rewarding and would give such a powerful motivation boost that I would continue working until the end.

Until the release.

manual-atlasing

But the "serious" CG movie stuff I'm doing now?.. Honestly? Meh. It's so slow and clunky compared to my previous game development experience. Everything needs to be either cached, or rendered... I'm also having some grave issues with hair simulation which I wasn't able to overcome for the last 6+ months, many operations in the "classic" world of 3D editors are still either single-threaded, unstable, or require some very specific knowledge or particular and elaborate set-up... It's almost no fun! No fun means much, much less motivation to continue.

It's a problem.

manual-atlasing

Therefore this July I will instead be checking out the latest Unity Engine and see whether most of what I'm doing right now could be ported into Unity. Starting with simulation and scene assembly and hopefully — ending up animating, rendering and applying post effects right within the Unity Editor where everything is real-time and fun! I miss the real-time aspect! Oh boy, do I miss the ability to tweak materials and see the more or less finalized render of the scene even during assembly. The ability to import assets and build "smart" prefabs (like Softimage Models, but with interactivity and intrinsic scene-aware scripting via MonoBehavior) e.t.c...

I miss you, Unity!

Run and Rock-it Kristie on the App Store: last chance

Last chance: grab your free full copy of action-packed Run and Rock-it Kristie on the App Store since the game will be leaving the store in two weeks.

Run and Rock-it Kristie app icon

Developing the game was a blast, watching people and journalists play and discuss it on the internet — priceless and the fact that Apple actually featured it on the EU App Store main page for two weeks was simply unbelievable.

Run and Rock-it Kristie screenshots

Thank you all for playing!

A Gem Of A Thousand Carats

Play.

This.

Game.

NieR: Automata poster

Questionable design of the Final Fantasy XV's female mechanic Cindy

I've been multitasking a bit lately: working on stages for the film, composing a soundtrack with a music producer and, with an artist – developing one of the main characters of the film who is (surprise-surprise!) a young attractive girl – a romantic interest of the other one who is male.

Girl character draft

(a very early design of The Girl)

While looking for references and such I decided to take a break a watched the latest episode of Conan O'Brien's "Clueless Gamer" where he played the latest game from the Final Fantasy series - Final Fantasy XV.

It was all fun and laughs for me until I saw the female mechanic character named Cindy:

Final Fantasy XV character

Yes, this is supposed to be a mechanic. Yes, they proudly display her on the game's website:

FFXV Cindy at FFXV website

And yes, this is the most uncomfortable, awkward and pathetic attempt at a "sexy" female character I've seen in a videogame for a looong time.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love the female form, especially when portrayed well, and especially sexy.

But this... This is just...

The height of just-too-muchery

I believe everything should have its time and place and be, well... logically sound. Even when it comes to entertainment products. With Cindy Square Enix clearly overdid it.

Consider the following:

You have a character that does this:

female mechanic photo

Looks like this:

open bra jean jacket

Talks like this:

trailer trash female

And strikes poses from the Victoria's Secret catalogue, like this one:

Cindy game pose

Really?.. Is that what a female mechanic is supposed to look like? A boobs- and panties-out, skimpy-clothed mess of a trailer-trash? I never knew that.

Maybe it was because at some point during development SE realized that they had a party of four metro-sexual men as main characters of the narrative and decided to compensate, I don't know. What I do know though is how female heroes were portrayed in the previous games. Although there were skimpy costumes for some of the characters they didn't seem to be out of place and were more of a fan service sort of thing for those who took their time to unlock or buy such clothing in-game. It was never such and awkward in your face presentation, especially not in the first hour of the game.

Final Fantasy female characters

And then as if to add insult to injury Director Hajime Tabata said that "Cindy was not meant to be an erotic character, but energetic and outgoing, and he didn't want to change the current concept. He talked about moderating the way she's presented, rather than covering her up".

Yeah. Riiight... I guess this is why there's a distinctly visible tan-line under her ultra-short shorts.

Cindy shorts butt tan-line

"Not meant to be an erotic character"? Are you kidding, Square Enix? =)

Or maybe instead of erotic you tried to make her sad and pathetic? Well done then! Well done, indeed. If you're trying to appeal to the male demographic just admit it and don't try to weasel your way out. SE. Have some dignity.

Final Fantasy isn't the first Japanese game to have overly-sexy characters, but I believe this is in fact the first AAA-title to do it so tastelessly and trying to cover it up with good intentions. Remember Dead or Alive game series? It sure had its share of overly-sexy character designs, but, first of all, they never tried to cover it up, openly discussing the physics of the breasts, and it's, well, meant to be hilarious and absurd with over-the-top character designs and nonsensical trivial story, it doesn't make you feel awkward and sorry for the developers who obviously had lots of fun making the game. And of course it's not an RPG which tries too much to be so serious and then trips on it's own shoelaces with pointlessly forced sexy characters, like FFXV does.

Well... Let's wrap up with another sexy mechanic – this Overwatch D.VA character fanart by Li Chunfu. It's well-done, on-character and most importantly, Mr. Li genuinely intends his females to appeal to male demographic, be attractive, and sometimes erotic and doesn't try to hide this fact which is what people with self-respect do.

D.VA Overwatch mechanic by LI CHUNFU

D.VA from Overwatch by LI CHUNFU

Well, enough of my rants and sexy mechanics ... Back to work!