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The Last of Us

thelastofus1

So I’m absolutely loving The Last of Us. Naughty Dog always does amazing stuff, but I felt like Uncharted 3 was a step back from Uncharted 2. It looked amazing and had impressive set pieces and whatnot, but the gameplay was often frustrating and I felt like I was almost on rails a lot of the time. I didn’t feel in control at all for much of that game.

The Last of Us fixes most the complaints I had with Uncharted 3. It didn’t start out well, the opening sequence sets the stage really well, but once you get control of Joel in the game proper it takes a while before you get to really play. But once the game opened up with combat scenarios and such, I felt like I had more than enough freedom in how I approached enemy encounters. The stealth feels natural and just makes sense without any type of visibility gauges being necessary, and the combat just feels chaotic and clumsy, in a good way. Not once did I leave a fight feeling good about my badassness, it was always just a really tense and chaotic struggle to survive. The combat design really accomplishes that feeling of being vulnerable.

I can’t help thinking that I would pay good money to play a military shooter type game with these kinds of gameplay mechanics. It would be really interesting to actually be a vulnerable, overwhelmed very mortal person thrown into some crazy Call of Duty sh*t.

I finished it, and then started it again immediately on New Game + and finished that. I haven’t had a game make me want to do that since…Bastion I think. The enemy encounters are far less harrowing the second time through, which made it a bit less interesting though.

If I play it again, I’m definitely going through it on Survivor. On a lot of games, I won’t play on the harder difficulties because the game mechanics don’t really support it. It just becomes cheap and frustrating. But I feel like the mechanics of stealth and combat and straight up enemy avoidance in The Last of Us lends itself well to harder difficulties.

I spent some time with the multiplayer, and it’s definitely very interesting. It can be really slow paced, with smarter players who take their time sneaking and using listen mode completely blowing up the run and gunners. It’s a really nice change of pace from most multiplayer games these days.

The animation, voice acting, writing, art, lighting, it’s all a bloody marvel. What gets me is the subtlety, where small facial expressions and body language takes the place of what would have been clumsy and heavy handed exposition in other games.

I think Ellie is quite possibly one of my favourite characters in a videogame ever. Not only is she just a really well done character period, she’s a female character without an ounce of the retarded writing that plagues female characters in both games and film. She’s not a helpless victim, she’s not a man hating girl power chick, she’s not sexualized, she’s just an actual person, a foul mouthed teenage girl in a messed up situation.

I also love how the game for the most part isn’t trying to make you have fun. It makes you feel a lot of things and its engaging as hell, but most of it isn’t fun. That’s what art is supposed to do. At this stage in the industry, that’s still a pretty big deal when a AAA game tries to take you to places that are not “weeee power fantasy kabloom dieeee brraaaagh!”

All in all, I think The Last of Us absolutely deserves the praise its gotten. It’s one of the best games I have played in years (ever maybe? I don’t know, its up there).

The best reason for why Tom Cruise is awesome: No one runs quite like Tom Cruise!

Think what you like about Tom Cruise and his rather unfortunate choice of religion, but there is one thing no one can deny, Tom Cruise is the best runner in movie history!

Joseph Stoneheart – The Paladin (Part 2)

I had intended to make a nice composition with the finished paladin statue, however it didn’t happen. I guess I got distracted. Anyway I finally got around to doing a proper picture with him. I think it turned out quite nicely.

The Paladin is loosely inspired by the Paladins in Warcraft lore. Created using Zbrush, 3Ds Max, Photoshop and Xnormal. 12700 polygons, rendered in Max with standard shader and basic 3 point lighting. Uses diffuse, specular, and normal maps.

A turnaround video of the Paladin statue can be found here: http://youtu.be/Jh2grxX0_jk

Batman statue

I finished another personal project the other day, so I figured I should post something. Since these days have been very Batman heavy, what with the Dark knight Rises coming out and all. I rewatched all the Nolan Batman movies, and also played the Rocksteady Batman games, so I was inspired to take a crack at a Batman model myself.

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He was created using 3DS Max, Zbrush and Photoshop. Most of the work was done in Zbrush, only using Max to create the base geometry and the render to texture function for the normal maps.

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The whole model is 6880 polygons in all, counting the base I did for the statue.

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You can also find a turnaround video of the statue of the model here: http://youtu.be/Ci1yECfE9S8

 

Fall of Spartacus: WIP Update #1

I started modeling the character. I’m not doing a lot of modeling in Max, since for this project I’m just doing an image, and polycount is not an issue, so I will be importing a higher subdivision level into max for the final render. This means that I can just focus on creating the different mesh pieces with enough geometry in right places for the sculpt. The actual sculpting phase will create all the detail geometry for me, which I will then import back. No need to spend time fiddling around in max to model it there.

The model ended up being about 7400 polygons unoptimized, didn’t delete the insides of eqipment etc. I never do this until after the sculpt is done, because I believe it is important that everything has thickness in Zbrush. Usually I would do the sculpt and the UV’s, then optimize the mesh before rigging. No need to optimize  for this image though.

I’ve finished building the base mesh for the character itself. Didn’t start weapons and environment just yet. Will finish basic detail sculpting and preliminary posing of the character before I do that.

I’m not too far into the sculpting phase yet. I did most of the body sculpt (didn’t add small details yet, skin pores, wrinkles, scars etc), and I’m about to start the equipment.

Quick note about the environment. I’m thinking I’m just going to model the pile of bones he is standing on, not the background. The background can just be a plane with an image on it. I’ll do the pile of bones like a base, so it’s suitable for a turnaround, or even a 3d print.

-Nate

Genesis

Greetings,

Ok so I started a WIP blog. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do now for… 3 years? Something like that.

In any case, I’ll make a short introduction of myself:

The name is Peter (or Nate… honestly I prefer Nate, don’t know how it happened that everyone I know these days call me Peter).

I’m an artist. Or at least I like to think so. ^^

Let’s go with “aspiring game industry character artist and designer” for now.

I’m currently doing a master degree in Games Art, specializing in characters. Previously, I did 3D Film Production, focusing on animation, script writing and cinematography. I’d say I’m pretty well rounded in terms of skillset… aside from my crappy drawing that is. 😛 

Anyway, I came to where I am now simply because I discovered Zbrush. I honestly didn’t enjoy 3D that much when I started out, but I soldiered on because I wanted to one day work in the games industry. At the time, I found most 3d packages to be a bit of a pain in the ass. The process of creating wasn’t very organic, too many hoops to jump through,  too much technical crap between the artist and his creation.

All that changed when I first got my hands on Zbrush. I’ve always loved modeling in clay, working with shape and form. This just came naturally with Zbrush, I found a way to get my creativity to flow more naturally into my 3d work.

In any case, that was a long winded way of saying that while doing animation, I found myself spending all my time on modeling. I didn’t want to put it down. So shifting my focus from animation to modeling seemed the obvious direction. So I changed my direction from animation in film and games to modeling. I still do enoy character animation quite a bit, but more so in a Dr. Frankenstein way with my characters. It’s aliiive! Muahahaah!

So here I am, about halfway through my master degree. Nowadays I do mainly do concepts, modeling and texturing, as well as rigging and animation as more of a secondary skillset. I also dabble quite a bit in game design. Not technically my field, but I have ideas and I’m..opinionated. 🙂 

I’m not nearly as good a character artist as I wanted to be, or imagined I’d be by now, however I’m doing ok. I feel I have the natural feel for this type of work, and that I have potential in this field. Basically, I’m pretty sure I’m not wasting my time here and that I won’t finish a degree but end up working in a gas station or something, that’s what I’m trying to say… yeah.

Aaaanyways, why was I here? Oh yeah, WIP blog!

I’m starting  3 different projects these days, so I guess this is the perfect time to start my blog, since you know, I’ll actually have WIP stuff to talk about here.

So let’s go over what we’re gonna do over the next few months, in no particular order:

Warlock – personal work.

A friend of mine is putting together his own game. Ambitious! I like it! Anyhow he needs character models and stuff. He clearly did some sort of daring inception type stuff to me and kicked off an idea, because I spent days with just warlocks on my mind. So said I’d do a character. Mostly for personal work, practice and portfolio, but giving it to him to do whatever he wants with once it’s done.

Fall of Spartacus – Uni work.

My character studies module runs until christmas, and tasks us to do a Beauty Shot. Good stuff! My weak points is my presentation. I always feel like I create perfectly good models, but then I shoot myself in the foot with poor presentation. I’m terrible with shaders and rendering, so this will be the perfect opportunity to learn more about that and apply it to a project.

Trickster(development title) – Master Project.

The big one!  It’s not supposed to start until January, but good news it my Project Pre-Production module is designed to give me time to do pre-production for the project already.  I have grand plans for my master project. Basically my goal is to have enough material to pitch a game idea to a publisher. This means I will present a game design document, a story document, key assets (major characters, environments) along with a teaser trailer for the game. I’m about as good at programming as Shaq is at freethrows, so no game prototype, which is why I’m going for a teaser trailer instead.

I might be overambitious here, but we’ll see. Deadline is June 2011, so if I start now, and stay active and productive, I can get pretty close to what I want.

In any case, work in progress posts for these different projects will be going up some time in the near future. Stay tuned! ^_^

-Nate