Bigtruck's pages

Updated July 10, 2005



3d Artist: Daniel Delgado

When I joined RAS I was finishing my university degree in Technical and Artistic Architecture and I liked playing with programs such as 3DS4. I also used to be not too bad in drawing and knew one of the guys in Rebel who asked me if I wanted to try to perform a trial to enter Rebel and I tried and I entered. That was about 4 years ago, in October 1996.

Click to enlarge! In the screenshot I am working in one of the Kinematic scenes in the game. We have been adapting all of them so that they look right for every character in the game, giving each of them their own distinct personality, and style of moving and behaving during these scenes. This is one of the beginnings to a level.

Blue lines mark the trajectory of any of the objects we want to have marked. In this case it is showing the motion of the centre (main node) of the character. Each of the red boxes means a point in which the centre has a position keyframe and is exactly positioned in the point through which the centre has to pass. We have developed a plug-in to convert the architecture of the maps made by the level designers to a 3DS-Max mesh so that we can create these scenes and make the characters respond to the real architecture of the place in which the scene happens.

I have actually modelled three or four enemies in the game. I have created the troll (design and model), the lich (design and model), the "little thing" (that is totally mine, I suggested to the MC actor how to move, and I cleaned the animations for it. Only the design is by Jose Luis) and the golem which is the first one I made and has some new skins made by Luismi.

The first one was the most difficult because it was the first and all of the problems that can happen when modelling happened on it and it was the first time I faced them. I have been very miserly about polygons when modelling and I wanted that my meshes have as few as possible so that the enemies that I created could appear in groups of a higher number and be more fun, so that was the challenge I imposed to myself.

Getting them to be functional was the greater difficulty I found. The little thing for example has no more than 400 polygons and has its mouth articulated. The problems are very similar for all of the meshes. Maybe the difficulty stands more on the texturing than on the modelling. The troll may be the one that made me work harder to get what you can see.

As for which ones I enjoyed working on the most, I guess that's like asking 'Who do you love best, your mother or father?!' Both, no other way to answer, though there are things that sometimes make me wish I was working on the other thing. Modelling usually is more interesting because it involves combining different techniques (to work, that is). We draw with pencil first; we discuss it with our artist boss; we model the mesh and then work with a photo editor to make the texture. Then again turn to Max to apply this texture. Its more diverse and changing from one thing to another is nice. Animation on the hand is more difficult and requires more attention that gives it an exciting taste, a higher challenge, but its more repetitive and even routine sometimes. High polygon modelling is great fun too, maybe the best, or not... well, I like 3D the most.

The characters come about mostly by the combination of one idea by Jose Luis and development by Luismi (some are exclusively by Luismi). Some of them (the skeleton for example) were created and developed by a modeller and designer who is not here and works in Pyro Studios now. Some are mine in combination with that guy. The "little thing" is, as I said, design of Jose Luis and my development.

There are many techniques to model a character and I am not a fanatic for any of them, I like to get from each of the techniques the good things they have to solve the different problems that can be found when modelling a low poly mesh. There are parts of the body that get their shape from a primitive extruding, moving vertices and tessellating faces until the shape shows; others can be more easily done by having previous images of the front and side of the object to model and creating vertices from zero and then building the faces that they form.

This mixed technique has the problem of joining the parts once done that have to be sawed carefully so that the mesh looks right. Any modelling has to be started by having the most exact possible image of the model we want. That means drawings, notes, etc. not only for the general things but for all of the details of the models, belts, scars, rags they may wear...

This is the normal sequence of events in developing a model:

Design drawings, sketches, all that may be needed for a complete definition of it. Sometimes related and based on the behaviour that is expected to develop that char.

Mesh: work on Max 3 days modelling and definition of stretchable faces and pivots for the animation.

Texture: 1-2 weeks creation and applying of it. We have developed little tricks for developing skins using the tools in Max and Photoshop so that some of the actions that at first we had to do manually and without precision can be precise and mechanized so that the work is finer and more easy. We could write a book telling the different and implausible tricks we have tried.
The multiplayer game will consist of different skins for the main characters but there is the possibility of adding enemies to the list later once the game is out. Anyway I can assure you will like the skins and they will be very different.

Definition of helpers and dummies so that the character has the capacity to inflict damage with his hands and feet, how to grab his weapons, where to gather them at the back, point of view, collision model etc. Time varies.

Motion Capture: made with an optical system has been carried out during three or four visits of 1 or 2 weeks to the studio for all of the characters.

Adapting the MC files created from a human to the human (but different from the actor) meshes we have (not too difficult) and to the non human ones... (you can guess not so easy). We have our own MC importer and the meshes stretch in a different way than Character Studio.

Creating a database of information for the biped system so that the engine knows for each of the 1500 animations we have when the character is leaning its weight on one foot or the other, when it releases the weight, when it starts an attack, so that damage is activated only during the attacks, when to release an object that is being thrown away or dropped and many many others. This means we have to write lots of lines of never-ending script files. You can see this is not our favourite job.

One of the versions of the amazon had a moving pig-tail but changes had to be done, the design of the amazon changed and we had to keep a coherence of pivots skeleton for the four playing characters with the same number and structure of pieces. The one you can see now (in the video) has a "compact" hair and if it moves its because one of its "edges" is (let's say) linked to the body, and the other to the head so the faces in between get stretched whenever the head moves relatively to the body.

That is the same thing that happens to the knight's tunic in the early scene in the video; one "edge" related to the waist and the other divided into both legs so the faces follow the relative movement dragged by their "edges". It is a little more complicated but the essence is that. The meshes have over 1000 polys but not many more. That is a game sequence and uses the standard Knight.

I was asked if when you are in the middle of combat and perform a combo and get hit by an enemy, does the animation sequence (playing out the combo) stop. Yes, that is the way it works, and personally I hate it when going to get a MegaCombo I get hit and lose it. I prefer when I do it myself to an enemy or other player!

When you advance a level and get a new combo it appears noted in the Travel Book, so I recommend taking a look at it from time to time. It tells you how to make the combo. You have to try it to get it.

At the moment here what we do is "what is needed to the game". Generally I work on animations, but they have just finished and now we have to touch up little things that may look weird sometimes, look for small mistakes in the database, make any test that is needed by programmers to work right etc. As a background work we are creating the intro and outro and making renders of the characters for the magazines and marketing.