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Nova Villanueva

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About Nova Villanueva

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  1. yeah, I stream the game on Twitch. https://www.twitch.tv/novavillanueva
  2. Robot Sketches I started by making quick silhouettes sketches using Photoshop. I kept the drawings rough at this stage. I had developed other parts of the world-building of the game, therefore I had an idea of what the Robots needed to look like. Story The Robots assembled themselves by scavenging resources, making themselves larger and larger. These robots showcase in the game their evolution. As you encounter them, some can be hostile, scary or friendly. Environment Render Then, picking a few silhouettes I liked, I chose a few to create a full environment render. I this stage, I liked how they still have this abstracted looking aesthetics to them. 3D Model I started the 3D Model straight out of the silloutte, which was not ideal. I felt at this point, I was not completely sure about the details of the Robot and wanted to experiment with the look a bit. I think, keeping that sketchy abstracted look was the hardest to achieve. At this point I kept refering to the model as a Robot and not a Mech. The idea of turning the Large Robot into a mech had not cross my mind until near the end of the entire modeling of this asset. What prompted the idea of the robot becoming a Mech was simply feedback from potential players of the game. It was this wish that most of everyone had that the player (the human main character) would be able to go inside the robot and walk around the world with it. The large boxy design look in the middle seems to have added to people to think that you could be in there. The boxy design is inspired on the technology from the 1940s-50s as other assets from the game are. It was not always boxy though, for some reason, I made the middle area very cockpit looking. I took that out since I needed to keep the world building to be inspired from the same era and more importantly it did not match my original concept that people liked. The popular comment from people was, "How do I enter the Mech?" And still inpired from the 1950s, from the Mercedes Benz 300Sl, I decided Gullwing Doors would be perfect. 3D Rigging I decided to use a skeleton system in Maya but keeping the skin out of being Bind at least, for now, using constraints is working great. I think the main idea to take from all of this was to get feedback from different people to see what works. I was trying to make the robot look 'cool' and 'modern' at one point, but everyone was like, we like this abstracted looking boxy robot. I am continuing the development of the Mech and other characters. Feel free to check out the the rest of the development of my indie game, The Mills at:
  3. Nova Villanueva

    The Mills | Survival Game

    What is The Mills? The Mills is a despair survival game set in a bleak, post-apocalyptic world. As The Engineer, the lone human among robots, you scavenge for resources. Each of the robots is unique – some are kind, some frightening, and some aggressive. As you try to stay alive, you must constantly make choices: will you focus on your survival alone, or help the robots who come across your path? The Mills Development Live Stream at Twitch
  4. Coming up with a level design for a narrative driven survival game was not an easy thing. A lot of Survival Games are know for their procedural generated open world layouts such as Minecraft and Don't Starve. Then we have games such as Long Dark who have a certain level design around a narrative path. In the case of indie game, The Mills, I wanted to create an inbetween of a procedural generated open world setup and a narrative one. I decided first to make a demo level version of the full game. My resources and modular terrain pieces would be procedural in the future but I settle for putting things in place for right now. Here is my process and challenges thus far: Inspiration A beautiful junkyard of Classic Rolls Royce, Bentley and Jaguar parts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. First Level Design Sketch At first, I thought to do a linear narrative path. The large dark chunks of art illustrated below are representing broken pieces of large Robots. They where used to create wall systems to guide the player about. The player starts in the bottom of the layout and moves their way up. In my mind I thought maybe a player would still go back down thinking of the idea of an open world scenario. This was all an illusion in my mind - no chance at an open world level in this way. Second Level Design Attempt I read Architecture - Form, Space and Order by Francis Ching. Francis outlines the different types of layouts that are used for Architecture. One of them was a spiral design. I also discussed the level design challenge with NYU Game Center professor, Robert Young, who pointed out that a spiral design could work. A spiral design seemed promising as illustrated in my sketch below. The idea behind the spiral design, was to give players the feeling they could keep going (like an open world design) but making sure the player passed trough the narrative areas which ever path they took. Section A | Tutorial Area. Player learns they can pick up resources and craft. Robots can do the same. Section B | A new habitat is encountered by the player, robots are more hostile about the resources they need. Section C | The player and the robots are starting to run out of resources. Some robots are dying by losing their battery life. Section D | The robots died from a lack of getting resources such as batteries that keep them alive. Resources do not spawn back. The level is deadly. First Level Design Block Out I then made a quick block out level prototype to measure its effectiveness with playtesting. A bunch of things did not work from this design. The balancing when the player made it to interacting with Robot NPCs did not work correct based on using the exact dimensions from the sketch. I did make the interior of the rocks spread further out as I could not even get camera to properly see the starting of the game. Then, there was the challenge that playtesters felt confused that instead of going trough a spiral design smoothly at the beginning, it was as if they had to be the ones turning around to find where to go. Getting the camera to work correct was not helping. In this stage for some reason I decided on a 2D camera because I thought it would add an interesting effect and for the player to hit the key 'Q' or 'E' to rotate the camera around. The center spiral layout and in combination of the camera, completely lost playtesters. Not to mention that after a player left the center of the level, they where greeted by a wall of fog - making it hard to see their path. This gave a lot of player frustration. Player Visibility We quickly Incorporated a 3D camera to give players more visibility. The player could hover the mouse on the left or right side of the to move the camera. In this way, players had an easier time moving around the space. However, turns out visibility is not always good in a level design. What with this new camera, the player could now see everything beyond the rocks; all the resources and the enemies. The wall of fog was not enough and so was this layout. Creating Space A space between where the player started and the rest of the world had to be made. Also, this environment was suppose to be a bleak one. Therefore, the rocks (that where added to block the players view and path) had to go. They mainly cause too many issues with the camera. A future for them could work if a better plan was made. For now, adding a cliffs instead of rocks, seemed more feasible. For an update of the level's space, we decided we should work with modular cliff pieces. In the previous blockout, the entire piece was a solid model that made not efficient for level design. The image below illustrates a more boxy look achieved with only one modular cliff piece. The critical path for the players to navigate through is now cleaner and more effectively. There where additional changes made to from the original sketches to balance the timing when players interacted with NPCs as illustrated above. I also changed the camera to follow the player from their back instead of panning from left to right. This and a combination of giving the players an easier path out of their starting point, helped out. Art Board Final Thoughts This level design is great to achieve a demo version of the game. Everything so far will help us when a procedural level will be created. Different habitats would be spawn based on a critical path. About Me Hello, my name is Nova Villanueva. I am the Game Developer; Game Designer, 3D Artist, Programmer and Concept Artist for The Mills and in my other work life I’m the Game Design Adjunct Instructor of Pratt Institute, New York. Live Stream of the development for The Mills at: Twitch
  5. Nova Villanueva

    The Mills

    Concept Art for Indie Survival Game The Mills
  6. Survival Game | The Mills Hello! My Name is Nova Villanueva. I am the indie developer of the game, The Mills. Today I worked on integrating the cinematic animation for the intro of the game. I had embedded the intro animation for the teaser trailer within the actual game's scene. This was a horrible idea - every time I had to playtest the game, of course we had to watch the intro animation. Anyway, I moved over the intro of the animation to another scene that we can get through the Main Menu. Main Menu -> Intro Animation -> Game I am using Unity's Cinemachine for the cameras but using Maya for animation so there is a disconnect. Tomorrow or later today I'll try using the timeline of Cinemachine better to combine things. Bugs Fixed: The Navmesh (what lets players and robots know where they can walk) was acting up. I increase the Voxel in the advance settings back to .07. I dropped it too low before as I was trying to get a better response, but I went too over board with it. To Do - Things on my mind Add the Grenade for the player to be able to craft to the programming. The item can already be made to explode robots (to loot them). Use Zbrush to sculpt the main characters hair. Right now nobody know that its suppose to be a girl. Use Timeline for Cinemachine Check out if the entire scene will work better with ambient light. The robots right now are either too unlit or the 'specular' goes crazy when lit. Game Dev Log | Today's Screenshot Live Development Stream I am on twitch most days from 12-1PM (U.S.A Eastern Time) from New York at: Nova's Twitch
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