Artix Krieger | Thursday, March 16, 2017
Following a life changing epiphany, we are improving our heroes. They are getting a bit older, a little more pleasant, yet determined. We are not done yet! But how about we do a little story time while I spam you with some random images? These are all works in progress-- which is the perfect time for you to check stuff out!
AdventureQuest 3D's OPEN BETA will undergo one final massive round of interface, character, and art improvements before going live on Friday the 13th, this October 2017. Today we revisited the faces. A major goal of the game is to make the characters as expressive as possible, with as much customization as possible on mobile devices. Our ultimate plan is for you to set your characters default idle stance, facial expression and have your character change expression in and out of battle. Our current alien-esque female faces have gotten us a lot of flak... and we really needed to improve them before undergoing the massive amount of work we are eager to put into this. After our first draft of the female face, those who saw it said, "OMG, the styles drifted apart... you need to change the male face too!" So...
We want AdventureQuest 3D's character art style to swing a bit more towards DragonFable. (So why I have original AdventureQuest art in the image above is as weird to you as it is to me!) To modernize our style, we want a little bit more of a jaw and a sturdy shape that can support faces that could be in 18 to 30+ years of age (when given facial hair, stubble, scars, etc.)
One of the tricky parts of making our 3D faces is that they look strikingly different from different angels, lighting, and even if you have different hair! So one of the things we like to do when reviewing is get rid of all the distraction and look at the simplest curves and form.
Fear not! We did decide to minimize the visibility of the nostrils. In the next image you can see the original face on the left and the new face turned around on the right. These are not in-game graphics... it is screenshots of Dage's Photoshop. The process by which we add faces to our game is a bit wonky and complicated. But he can paint in 3D directly from Photoshop and spin the model to get a pretty close estimation of what it will look like in game.
But... everything needs to be viewed in context. Look how different the photoshop texture looks vs. the actual in game head! Even simple things like the idle animation and game's depth of field dramatically change the way things.
So why change the face now? Great question. Weird answer! I have been becoming increasingly aware of how much of my brainpower is being wasted being mad at news articles and social media posts I read. I mean, in my spare time I would sit down on the couch, pull of Facebook, and rummage through my timeline. The things I tend to stop and read are always terrible click bait and depressing things about the world. Facebook logs and analyzes everything we do. So it sees me spending all this time looking at that stuff and goes, "Oh... he must really like it, send him more!" /Facepalm
So I thought, what if I replaced my Facebook time with doing something (anything) more productive and useful! I mean, back when I was creating DragonFable there was no Facebook yet. All of my brain power was focused on games and game related stuff. So..... the next time I went to open Facebook, I opened Deviant Art instead. After looking through the amazing work of tons of amazing fantasy artists, one with a certain style caught my eye. The next day I showed it to Dage & Thyton (who reminded me that I only liked it because it was very DragonFable-esque, LOL) -- and within minutes we were trying to figure out how learn and apply the techniques. Within 45 minutes every artist on AQ3D was sending in art concepts for our male hero model. (I smelled passion.)
That night, Dage, without being asked, stayed up until 2am doing concepts. The image below was the first one I saw in the morning.
He made a good point that if we really worked at it, we could build a model that would better match the seriousness of DragonFable, allowing us to bring all of our characters to life. I mean.. can you imagine Zhoom using our existing model?
I strongly feel that characters that are "out of combat" should have a friendly yet determined look. Some of the governing pillars of Artix Entertainment games is hope, friendliness, and giant vicious fanged man-eating monsters. We are still working on this... but getting closer.
You have seen some of our facial expressions in cutscenes. But we have access to our characters facial expressions at any time. Once AdventureQuest 3D version 1.4 is live (Oh, and the cosmetic equip feature was added for testing today!) the coders will be moving on to a much needed round of Bug Squishing. My goal is to steal one of the programmers to help us get some of the little life like details in.
Ready for a secret? Remember how we talked about using the "full head takeover" to do races like Dragonkind, etc? Well... because it is so hard to update the faces in order to test our changes, Xero modeled the face in the image above as a full head take over! O_O Yes. That is right. That is not what she looks like. SHE IS WEARING SOMEONE ELSE'S HEAD! Shhhhh! Shhhhh! And by she, I mean Artix... and, uh, can we not talk about this? #GameDev