I quickly formed a new soldier design based on the last concept. The elongated helmet and 'stilts' were created in an attempt to form a unique silhouette. I also started to think about how these guys would navigate the games terrain.
Apart from the aesthetic appeal, the stilts have a practical purpose, allowing the soldiers to sprint faster, jump higher and navigate dense forests, deep sand or swamps. They are extendable/hideable and may have to be earned through gameplay.
The mountable rifle is also a mechanic in it's own right; the stock is attached to the armour on a hinge meaning that the weapon can be lifted and fired with only the right hand - leaving the left free to perform other duties such as climbing/holding, throwing grenades, using a sword/pistol, accessing equipment or opening doors/using machinery. Rather than collecting and carrying an armoury of weapons (classic shooter style) or being limited to only 2 (almost every game since Halo), you can obtain different weapon parts which can be mounted to the shoulder stock allowing for interesting combinations e.g. Assault rifle/grenade launcher, sniper rifle/grappling hook, gauss cannon/magnum etc.
Since these aren't your standard kinds of soldiers, fighting your standard types of enemy, I figured I have the opportunity to create some original kinds of weapon. Although I don't have any showable images just yet, I'm thinking extendable spears/lances which could be used to impale the giant enemies or to vault deep ravines, drills/saws used to dig through armour, harpoons and various kinds of incendiaries/explosives.
The combat armour is also an important feature of gameplay. Made up of panels of some future metal alloy, it is packed with nano-technology which serves a multitude of purposes:
The surface is coated with thousands of micro solar panels allowing it to constantly keep charged (no worrying about charging the suit i.e. Half-life - although this could ensure interesting mechanics during long indoor areas/night-time).
On-board computers monitor brain activity and muscle co-ordination in order to follow the users movements and control an sturdy exoskeleton. This allows the user to move with absolute ease and assists in tasks such as lifting or running - easing fatigue and providing the wearer with near super-human strength (so no getting tired = unlimited sprinting(?) and super strength could allow the possibility of interesting interaction with the environment such as the ability to throw large rocks or vehicles as weapons).
Constant health monitoring means the suit is cooled or warmed accordingly, filters in the helmet provide sufficient oxygen at all times and injuries are dealt with automatically (the soldier will be able to explore areas of extreme heat/cold allowing for interesting environments and the 'filter' + onboard air supply will allow for underwater/gas/vacuum exploration. Also again noting back to the famous orange H.E.V suit, the player will be offered a bit of reasoning as to why he doesn't die immediately after falling off a massive cliff or whatever as the armour automatically administers pain-killers and a concentrated injection of nano-bots to aid the body in speedy healing of fractures/cuts etc. Maybe it might be IMPOSSIBLE to die - that's not really what the game's about after all, so why not? It may increase the feeling of puzzle solving rather than all-out war!).
Sensors in the attached weapon send feedback to the computer regarding such information as ammunition, target range, approximated target health and importantly - the direction in which the weapon is being aimed, negating the need for sights or a scope. All information is visible through the visor which also has built in magnification and a 'scan' function (similar to Metroid) where the player can scan an area or enemy and receive or store information about it on a database. For the player this would all be visible as the on-screen HUD.
Customisable webbing would give the player the opportunity to juggle how much stuff they want to carry and where abouts on their person it would be located. Possibly, the more you carry, the slower you might be and the easier to reach items are, the quicker you might be able to use them eg. grenades on the right hip would be ideal whereas, the left shoulder would just be stupid. Similarly, the pistol on the left thigh would make for a quicker draw than if it were kept on your back.
Smart camouflage (MGS4 OctoCamo? =P ) gathers visual information about the surrounding environment and replicates it on the surface of the armour at the users desire allowing for highly accurate representations and efficient hiding!
...I think I've covered everything there?... =P
So onto Maya!
After showing Josh my first designs, we talked about altering them when moving into 3D in order to make best use of the screen size that they would be showed on. Obviously if I were making a game that was going to be played on a 50-inch HDTV, I would be trying to make the models as accurate and close to the concept drawings as possible, but since they are going to be displayed on a 4 inch PSP screen I will have to adjust them accordingly to make the most important parts more visible.
Also, I've got to keep the poly count down to a minimum and this has been my first real challenge using Maya. You would think it would be easier to make a simple blocky model but I personally found it instinctual to try and include ALL the detail and so ironing out all those curvy edges and protruding shapes has been quite a challenge. Since these guys are gonna be pretty tiny on the screen, I bulked them out a little and made sure both the back and the shoulders have quite large surface areas which I can draw detail into when I texture them. Other than that, it's been pretty much the standard arms, legs and head. Maybe when I move onto Zbrush I can think about modelling individual zips, scratches in the armour and dust on the visor =P
I also did a vehicle! XD
And if I'm honest, I designed it with the format at the front of my mind and as such it is a fairly simple shape. Although I'm yet to name it, this Tank/Bike is the personal one-man ride for these soldiers and would be used in game to cover huge open areas and reach lurking enemies. As mentioned in my last post, I still have this vision of being able to bring down such creatures with ropes ala Star Wars snow speeders.
Here I had a quick go at an environmental texture. Very simple flat square with some nice painting and grass/sand texture overlays. I've photoshopped it onto a lovely picture of a PSP GO and stuck the render of the unfinished soldier in too, to give an idea of what I'm aiming to show in April. Hopefully I can get a couple of animated soldier and a Vehicle navigating one or two small terrains and possibly display them as videos on an actual PSP!
and finally ...HELP!
I have come to mapping the Bike today and got as far as Planar mapping all the flat surfaces, leaving the wheels till last. I thought it would be a simple case of Cylindrical mapping, but whenever I try, it's projecting on the wrong axis (as shown in the screenshot). I can't seem to be able to find out how to adjust this even though I'm sure it's insanely easy. If anyone can help explain what I'm doing wrong, it would be much appreciated (I have scoured the net too, to no avail!)
Also, The vehicle is actually made up of 9 separate objects which have been parented up and so far I have mapped them all to a single UV map. It has only just occurred to me that when I go to apply the textures, Maya might be expecting me to drop a separate map onto each object - is that right? or can I do it all on one? Gah!
I have begun the process of creating my soldiers skeleton and weighting all the joints but I will leave that for another day and we can all laugh at the no doubt mind-bending results! =S
...until next time...