Friday 6 July 2012

MiniChe - The Importance of an Art Pipeline

Two months ago, myself and two buddies entered a game hackathon in which we worked on a concept game idea we've been bouncing around called MiniChe.

In case you don't know I'm Egyptian and we've been going through a revolutionary period in our countries history, so we figured, wouldn't it be cool, if you played the role of Che Gueverra and went around the world causing revolutions?

We'll we thought it would be awesome and thanks to the help of the wonderfully talented DinoAhmed and Rez we managed to get together a prototype going.

Initially we planned on continuing the momentum from the hackathon and releasing the game within 2 weeks. However, interestingly enough, that didn't happen. Working remotely is a big challenge when it comes to coordination and dedication. When you're hacking something together with your buddies, it's pretty easy to point and say, wrong, right, do it this way. When you're working remotely off an undefined pipeline where a perceived understanding is assumed, problems occur.

Here's probably the top three biggest time vacuums we ran into.

A lot of art assets (sprites and 3d models) seem to have varying origin points.

To combat this issue, just manually edit the sprites yourself (it's a headache, it's gruntwork, but sometimes it's the quickest thing to do to get the job done). For 3d models, calculate the width, depth and height of an object and re-center them in code.

Poly Counts
Sometimes for some reasons, the models provided go over the agreed poly counts, which leads to inflated loading and rendering times.

To combat this issue, we tend to look at the asset, if it's worth keeping, we have to re-iterate and reduce the poly count. If it doesn't really look good and the process is taking too long. Just drop it.

Naming Conventions
Sometimes you tend to get filenames that go against the agreed naming convention.

To combat this issue, if it's just a one off hit, be a man, rename it yourself, it's a losing war trying to teach people basic skills.

Well, after 2 months of hiatus, I'm happy to announce that we're finally hitting ALPHA on the project with all the required* art assets complete.

*The best part of producing your own game is that it's a lot easier to scale down the requirements.

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