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What makes FF games look so good?

27 posts in this topic

Sorry if I posted this in the wrong area.

 

So my question is: What makes FF games so visually astounding?

 

Is it the game engine? Is there some secret animation technique that makes in-game graphics 1000% better?

I've been scouring the internet for so long and I havent found an answer.

Well... I guess what I really wanna know is: What factor determines a games graphic quality?

 

So for example -- hypothetically of course -- if I woke up one morning and decided to make a character or game with graphics like this:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LExLeRPaNWM

 

How would I go about programming a game to look like that?

Please and Thank You.

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Final Fantasy games don't skimp on art. They seem to have experienced artists to squeeze out every polygon, texture resolution, and lighting possible. Whereas with indies like us, we tend to focus on performance, framerate, and making our game run on a lot of different systems, at the cost of not making our game look like Crysis or Final Fantasy. We also don't have the staff.
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I was going to write longer but JB covered a lot of that ground.

 

Anyway the point is there are people who simply have the eye for visuals. They can process and analyze what they see and how it affects their emotions to extent that is well beyond the normal people that might know what looks good and what bad but couldn't tell why or how to fix it. If you want to make a visually appealing game you will need to have these skills or hire someone who does and listen to him. :)

 

Square Enix has an entire army of artists designing their content, look and feel. They have another armies implementing and striving for that design through textures, shaders, models, animation, sound etc. What makes a game look good? Ridiculous amount of man hours from some of the most skillful people in the field not excluding artists and graphic designers.

 

It could be argued that with latest titles they have shifted their weight too much towards the look and have forgotten about the importance of gameplay. FFXIII was very linear and one-dimensional gameplay-wise with low replay value. The title "Final Fantasy" has lost some of its shine in my eyes because of this trend, but I'll give them another chance with the series eventually.

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Oh man, you guys have been Immensely helpful. Thank you. As I said, I've been scouring the web for weeks to no avail. Its nice to finally have an answer, and one that I can understand, a bit lol. Now it seems rather impossible for one person to actually make an accurate Final Fantasy-ish character.  Thanks again ^_^

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Oh man, you guys have been Immensely helpful. Thank you. As I said, I've been scouring the web for weeks to no avail. Its nice to finally have an answer, and one that I can understand, a bit lol. Now it seems rather impossible for one person to actually make an accurate Final Fantasy-ish character. Thanks again ^_^

You might be able to come close to Final Fantasy art with several good artists. Although I'm not sure whether you can match the scale of a modern Final Fantasy game. You probably can make a Final Fantasy character with only one person, but don't expect to make it quite as fast as your average art asset.

Still, the software side of making games is improving all the time. I was told that if software never improved, that the number of people needed to make a modern game would be so great, that games would not be a profitable medium. So some day, maybe we will be able to make games like this Final Fantasy game. Something to think about.
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Oh man, you guys have been Immensely helpful. Thank you. As I said, I've been scouring the web for weeks to no avail. Its nice to finally have an answer, and one that I can understand, a bit lol. Now it seems rather impossible for one person to actually make an accurate Final Fantasy-ish character. Thanks again happy.png

You might be able to come close to Final Fantasy art with several good artists. Although I'm not sure whether you can match the scale of a modern Final Fantasy game. You probably can make a Final Fantasy character with only one person, but don't expect to make it quite as fast as your average art asset.

Still, the software side of making games is improving all the time. I was told that if software never improved, that the number of people needed to make a modern game would be so great, that games would not be a profitable medium. So some day, maybe we will be able to make games like this Final Fantasy game. Something to think about.

 

So if a single person were to attempt this how long do you think it would take? Making a FF quality character from scratch? Provided they have years upon years of experience.

Edited by AntiSocialPanda
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I think just a character, normalmaps, animation etc... could be done in a few days.  Of course, this assumes you have years of experience(which you said) and that you are working with software you already know well, and that you work full days, like 8 hours or more each day.  Also, this could be even longer if there are more animations than I'm guessing would be needed for this game.

 

But, this wouldn't include more textures, rather only just the one.

 

Lastly, remember that a single character like this is likely the least of your worries if you were to make a modern Final Fantasy game.  Any good RPG needs tons of environment variety, tons of different enemies, a good story, and most likely many nice videos to go with it.  This is on top of the engine programming, etc...  This is why a single person doesn't do this kind of project easily.  Even if you went with a simple 2d RPG, and even if you used RPGMaker to do it, if you make several hours of gameplay(and you care about quality) it will still likely take months for a single person, simply because even with simple sprited 2d art, there is simply too much of it to finish quickly.

 

EDIT***

 

I forgot to mention, I myself DO NOT have those years of experience, though I know my way around Blender and can handle making any model I need.  Someone else may know better than me just how long art assets like those take to make, but I don't think I'm that far off, though it depends on the software knowledge and experience of the individual.

 

I myself think if someone gave me concept art, I "might" be able to do such a model in a week, animations and all, working 8 hours a day.  I would have to give myself more time because I don't do all that much modeling, and don't have the practice other artists would.

Edited by kburkhart84
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So if a single person were to attempt this how long do you think it would take? Making a FF quality character from scratch? Provided they have years upon years of experience.


Probably 1-2 weeks. I agree with kburk though - if you make the character look great, you will probably also want to make the rest of the graphics look this good. And somewhere between all the levels and art assets needed, you realize the large amount of work that needs done. Then you have other things to worry about besides graphics, like making your game as complex as Final Fantasy. The character might take 1-2 weeks, but your entire game could take 3-5+ years :).
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So if a single person were to attempt this how long do you think it would take? Making a FF quality character from scratch? Provided they have years upon years of experience.


Probably 1-2 weeks. I agree with kburk though - if you make the character look great, you will probably also want to make the rest of the graphics look this good. And somewhere between all the levels and art assets needed, you realize the large amount of work that needs done. Then you have other things to worry about besides graphics, like making your game as complex as Final Fantasy. The character might take 1-2 weeks, but your entire game could take 3-5+ years smile.png.

 

Seriously?! Thats it?! 2, even 3 weeks, even a month is incredibly south of how long I thought it would take. I start school next semester for comp sci so I'm taking baby steps to learn programming. Like a lot of people I really wanna make a game but like many more people I have no where near the skillset required. So I was hoping to hire a few skilled artist to help. I recently inherited a bit of money you see and I was hoping to put it towards this project. Thank you again Shane, you've been helpful beyond words ^_^

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Yeah, a week or 2, but just for that one character, and no environment to put him/her in yet.

 

How much money are you talking about?  A character like that will likely cost anywhere from $250 to $2000, but I can't give exact numbers because I don't really know, though that amount sounds pretty close to me.  And I'm estimating a price like this for just the one character, forget the rest of the art, etc...

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Yeah, a week or 2, but just for that one character, and no environment to put him/her in yet.

 

How much money are you talking about?  A character like that will likely cost anywhere from $250 to $2000, but I can't give exact numbers because I don't really know, though that amount sounds pretty close to me.  And I'm estimating a price like this for just the one character, forget the rest of the art, etc...

Omg thats awesome!! I never realized it would be so cheap xD lol. I just looked it up and I saw prices around $250-$1000/SECOND!! Thats absurd. Who gets payed on a per second basis? I dont need a lot really. I just plan to have 2 playable characters vs 1 enemy in a room. I have a budget of about 100K.

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 So if a single person were to attempt this how long do you think it would take? Making a FF quality character from scratch? Provided they have years upon years of experience.

 

First let's establish the models and environment seen in FF non-gameplay trailers/cutscenes (pre-rendered CGI) are almost entirely totally different models from what's being used in the actual game that is rendered real time. They are much higher polycount and texture resolution models involving complex modelling/animation such as facial rigging and baked physics simulation (cloth, hair, etc).

 

 

 

 I think just a character, normalmaps, animation etc... could be done in a few days.

 

Probably 1-2 weeks.

 

 

I personally find the hours mentioned here way off if we are talking AAA quality models and animations. I don't want to repeat myself over what kind of credit list Square Enix has for single character and I don't want to question the expertise of some other people that made the evaluations.

 

I don't work for Square Enix and I don't know what kind of schedule they have but the actual character design process probably lasts for months before anybody starts modeling anything.

 

In a large game project such as FF "making" a character model with animations is process that last through the game development process. New animations / tweaking are needed almost on daily basis as cutscenes and game features are developed and the models need to play perfectly together in so many instances.

 

Omg thats awesome!! I never realized it would be so cheap xD lol. I just looked it up and I saw prices around $250-$1000/SECOND!! Thats absurd. Who gets payed on a per second basis?

 

 

Without citing the source it's hard to tell if you have misinterpreted something, but it is common for animators to charge per animation length. These rates aren't so absurd if we consider mastering one second of animation can take tens of hours of work especially if we're talking about animating an entire scene instead of one character.

 

If you are considering investing big bucks to get results comparable to FF / AAA titles you should probably do careful background work so you don't place your funds ill online. My advice:

- Make accurate plans on exactly what you need to get accurate time estimates from everyone you need to hire. "FF quality character" needs much further specifications such as detailed concept art, info on polycount / possible LOD, texture maps, texture resolution, rigging description, list of needed animations with descriptions... I could further expand on the details of each of these so ask if there's something you're interested. I've often needed to discuss the needs of client when agreeing on a price of an asset I'm making.

 

- Don't overlook the importance of actually designing the characters, reserve time and money for graphic design as well

 

- Good asset creation results require good coordination, which requires expertise on overall game development If you don't have it hire someone who does

 

- Throw away all these evaluations on what quality takes how long because only thing that counts are the offers and portfolios you are able to get from the professionals

Edited by ShadowFlar3
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Yeah, a week or 2, but just for that one character, and no environment to put him/her in yet.

 

How much money are you talking about?  A character like that will likely cost anywhere from $250 to $2000, but I can't give exact numbers because I don't really know, though that amount sounds pretty close to me.  And I'm estimating a price like this for just the one character, forget the rest of the art, etc...

 

i wouldn't expect to get 40-80 hours worth of work for $250 tbh, normal freelancer/outsourcing rates where i live sit at around $50-$300 / hour depending on their skill level and the size of the contract. (Small contracts tend to cost alot more per hour)

 

For larger projects you're best off hiring a full time artist or outsourcing it to a company in a low-cost country.

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You can get freelance artists for $20/hour. Some pretty good ones too, because a lot of people need money to pay the bills. However, for a Final Fantasy character, you will probably need to find someone really good and works in the game industry and pay them like $40/hour. The number of hours is kind of up to them, I guess, but I estimate you will probably need 50 hours work, which equals $2000 at $40/hour. There might be ways of cutting corners, but quality might suffer.

Source: I have some experience with the whole freelancing thing. Just not to this magnitude, I can only make estimates at this point.
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I agree that I underballed the amount some, though there are bound to be some artists that are willing to work for that cheap.  The final quality may be quite questionable, but you may come upon a gem student working cheaply, mostly interested in a portfolio.  So $250 may happen, but yes, it is much more likely to be higher, like $2000 or more.  I still don't have a source though, as I don't work in the field.

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Omg thats awesome!! I never realized it would be so cheap xD lol. I just looked it up and I saw prices around $250-$1000/SECOND!! Thats absurd. Who gets payed on a per second basis?

 
Without citing the source it's hard to tell if you have misinterpreted something, but it is common for animators to charge per animation length. These rates aren't so absurd if we consider mastering one second of animation can take tens of hours of work especially if we're talking about animating an entire scene instead of one character.
That's a good point - I once worked on a 45 second in-game cutscene, and if you add up the wages for everyone who worked on it, it's about $100000 total, which is over $2k per second of cutscene.
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I scoured the internet for a while looking for a good animator and I managed to find someone with a great portfolio named Pablo Hurtado. His estimate for a character with a 10K - 20K tris polycount is about $600. Which is great because i was planning to spend 1k/character.

 

Sculpt = $200

Character Retopo (?) = $150

UV = $40

Baking = $70

Texturing = $100

Total = $560

 

And yes, I would like the character to be comparable to a AAA game. But I'm not really planning to make anything huge. This whole thing is more so to show off mechanics, battle, and other elements. Then hopefully if people liked it I was planning to make a Kickstarter.

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I scoured the internet for a while looking for a good animator and I managed to find someone with a great portfolio named Pablo Hurtado. His estimate for a character with a 10K - 20K tris polycount is about $600. Which is great because i was planning to spend 1k/character.

 

Sculpt = $200

Character Retopo (?) = $150

UV = $40

Baking = $70

Texturing = $100

Total = $560

 

And yes, I would like the character to be comparable to a AAA game. But I'm not really planning to make anything huge. This whole thing is more so to show off mechanics, battle, and other elements. Then hopefully if people liked it I was planning to make a Kickstarter.

I don't see animation on there.....If you need animation, you'd have to add rigging and animation steps to the process, which also can create more than double the price depending on just how many animations you need.

 

Also, retopo is redoing topology to be better for game engine and animation.  Many artist make the initial model using sculpting techniques in zbrush or 3d coat or even mudbox or something else.  The geometry you get from a full sculpt like that tends to be very polygon heavy and very ugly.  So the retopo process is taking controlled geometry and applying it to the sculpted one, using a controlled amount of polys, and adding extra for joints(for better animation) and where else it needs it, keeping within your polygon budget.  Also, They can get nice face loops etc... that a sculpt can't get.  They likely keep the original sculpt around though, because they use it to bake a normal map onto the retopo final mesh.

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It really is all about quality assets. A good artist with an understanding of an engine's features and limitations will make art assets that make it shine, even if its behind the technology curve. Art can't fake everything, but it can go an astoundingly long way all on its own, and even further with even very rudimentary programmability in the rendering pipeline (e.g. Gamecube/Wii, D3D 8).

 

Technologically, its really all about lighting as far as realistic scenes go. When it comes down to it, just about every rendering trick in the book is about faking more light (hard vs soft shadows) or more bounces of light (raycasting->directional lighting->point-lights->indirect lighting->???->global illumination/raytracing). IIRC, the state-of-the-art unreal engine Citizen demo fakes just three bounces of light.

 

Lots of other frontiers exists -- animation being one. sound dynamics being another among many.

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I scoured the internet for a while looking for a good animator and I managed to find someone with a great portfolio named Pablo Hurtado. His estimate for a character with a 10K - 20K tris polycount is about $600. Which is great because i was planning to spend 1k/character.

 

Sculpt = $200

Character Retopo (?) = $150

UV = $40

Baking = $70

Texturing = $100

Total = $560

 

And yes, I would like the character to be comparable to a AAA game. But I'm not really planning to make anything huge. This whole thing is more so to show off mechanics, battle, and other elements. Then hopefully if people liked it I was planning to make a Kickstarter.

I don't see animation on there.....If you need animation, you'd have to add rigging and animation steps to the process, which also can create more than double the price depending on just how many animations you need.

 

Also, retopo is redoing topology to be better for game engine and animation.  Many artist make the initial model using sculpting techniques in zbrush or 3d coat or even mudbox or something else.  The geometry you get from a full sculpt like that tends to be very polygon heavy and very ugly.  So the retopo process is taking controlled geometry and applying it to the sculpted one, using a controlled amount of polys, and adding extra for joints(for better animation) and where else it needs it, keeping within your polygon budget.  Also, They can get nice face loops etc... that a sculpt can't get.  They likely keep the original sculpt around though, because they use it to bake a normal map onto the retopo final mesh.

 

 

This is accurate in my experience as well. This offer is for a character that is static and only prepared for rigging and animating.

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Oh man :(

So, does animating a finished charater take long?

I know it would depend on the movements so just off the top of my head:

 

Combat such as swinging a sword, blocking, and dodging.

Jumping.

Walking and running.

idle pose.

 

I know theres usually a lot more but for now this is all I think I need. (Its a demo)

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