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Mike Coluzzi

Workflow

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So I'm new to the whole game design area, I have always had an interest. At school we have Mac Pro's with Maya,Mudbox,Unity as well as PC's with UDK. What would you guys say is a good workflow for game development. I have always had the question, do you texture in maya/mudbox or with in the game engines. I'm just look for incite on where to start and where to go.

Thanks

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If you are looking to do "design" work, don't get bothered with the texturing of your models or even detailing them at all. Most design work can be done with nothing more than planes, cubes, wedges, cylinders and other simple shapes. For instance, when setting up a level/area and getting a general play through idea, most of the process starts with white rooming general layout. What I mean by this is you set down the ground and put a simple grid texture on it and get the grid lines to show up at say 1-5 meter intervals. With this, you have a reference for scale and you can start setting up things such as jump distances over items, general ideas of where to place mobs, hide items, etc. Use very simple geometry for walls, buildings, etc at first and just work on the play through and game play aspects. The reason to do this first is that once you start detailing things out with complex and potentially custom built geometry/texturing it takes a much higher degree of work to fix any game play/fun issues with the final geometry.

Avoiding the final artwork as long as possible keeps you from being hesitant to rip things apart and rebuild from scratch if it just doesn't feel good, flow correctly with surrounding areas, design idea's changed because of some cool idea someone had, etc etc. Also, before you start detailing geometry/textures, lighting is another very important item to get correct for continuity reasons. Indoor areas are not as touchy about lighting though the "feel" should usually be consistent with the intended, i.e. good even lighting in regular old buildings without battle damage, swinging gloomy lighting for damaged areas etc. You can get a pretty amazing level of quality just by using the simple geometry with good lighting. Once this is all happy, go nuts detailing things out and having artistic fun.

As to where to do final materials. It depends, if you have a programmer available as it is easy to duplicate most shader effects in Maya/Max so as long as the shaders are the same in the editor and the engine, there should be no reason to worry about there being too much difference. At a prior job we used Maya as basically the entire editor system, it hardly looked like Maya anymore. Even better, an artist would have the game engine running on a 360 and work in Maya detailing things out, they hit a single button and it shows up in the game engine locally. When happy, hit another button and it sends it to the build system which would do a more detailed conversion/optimization process and then everyone ends up seeing the new object replacing the proxy. It was a nice pipeline when it was all working.

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Ok thank you, as a Senior in high school I know I want to do Environment Design or Character Design for games but it is just overwhelming where to start for me. I have all the tools available to me, including Maya, Mudbox, and Vue xStream. But your advice helped because at least I wont worry about figure out textures when I can just model and worry about it later.

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Ok thank you, as a Senior in high school I know I want to do Environment Design or Character Design for games but it is just overwhelming where to start for me. I have all the tools available to me, including Maya, Mudbox, and Vue xStream. But your advice helped because at least I wont worry about figure out textures when I can just model and worry about it later.


Well, always keep in mind that those two disciplines are both fairly broad in the areas covered. An environment designer might be the top level "this area is in this shape and connects to the other areas in the game via xyz" while another guy may be making the concept art to give everyone an idea of the overall intention of the area. I.e. say it is an area with a lot of caves, well is that Grand Canyon like eroded caves or is it volcanic flows forming caves, very different look/feel to both. There are folks that take a small section and setup quests throughout the area, move general sign post notes around (describing the quest concepts), put in the stuff I mentioned above with rough shapes to make sure it "plays" correct etc. Finally when it all plays well, artists take over and light it, detail it, texture it etc.

Even in small companies it is rare that one person would do all the above. Folks tend to specialize in the various bits I outline and in reality there are more specializations involved.

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