Okay, this is going to be a very long post! I have not kept this blog updated over the holidays (and really wasn't very good at keeping things up to date prior to), so I'm going to start holding myself accountable for participating in #screenshotsaturday ! Part of the new found confidence to do so is that I've finally reached a point where development can happen rather quickly, and for the first time I can really see what a completed level will look like!
A few changes have been made so far, best ehibited using two seperate scenes. The first scene is our playground test scene from before which allows Faye to exhibit her movement, and a presently less full Modular Level Kit scene which better shows the aesthetic of the game, as well as how Radio Noize will be developed from this point onwards.
First, our Playground Test Scene. Taking into account feedback from my first playtester, I immediately took to add free camera control, and tune up Faye's movement to make controls feel tighter. I Backtracked on the layered animation and restructured her animations into more blend trees in order to allow her to move both in air and while "coasting" (rolling while hunched over after landing) virtually the same way she would while skating. My reasoning for doing so was that at this present time, Unity's Avatar Mask necessary for layering considers the full torso (both chest and abdomen) a single position. This led to some weird glitchy poses and negatively affected her jump. My reasoning for doing it was originally to avoid having to make variant directional coast and jump animations, but in the end that's the route I took.
The second scene is then our Modular Level Test Scene. I've adopted the practice of modular level kit building. This is to say, I've begun production of small repeatable assets that can be used to populate and build a level. On top of that, I've decided to make my first level Tier 0 as opposed to Tier 1. My reasoning for doing so being that Tier 1 is a city scape. A Massive city scape. And as much as a city scape can be a riot to maneuver, it still remains massive. Of course a kit would definitely be used to make a city scape as well, but it's a matter of wht assets need to exist to give off the feeling of a city, versus a smaller village/slum. What makes a city feel alive really boils down to how dense it is. But not just dense with buildings, but dense with cars, and people. Cars and people would be much more complex assets to create, being as they are animate and would be done justice with some base form of AI. Tier 0 on the otherhand would have less of such (infact no cars) and as much as it would still benefit from NPCs (non-player characters), it would still feel less weird without them than Tier 1. Tier 0 is also by the water, and water serves as a clear world boundary as well as player boundary - you can't swim in skates. Besides, Tier 0 is Faye's home, and as far as my Thesis and proof of concept build go, this really is about her no? I digress.
Back to our Modular Level Test Scene. I've begun laying out pieces, and playing with the different ways they can fit together. I first upload the FBX files while they are in their blockiest form, and then make prefabs that I arrange to form the level. This way when I update the fbx all instances automatically update to the current version. This allows for a smooth itterative process. This level will be playable without the need of finished assets.
In crafting itterative kit parts it's important to note that the object orientation, position, scale, and origin MUST remain consistent with the very first itteration. This is wha allows the seemless replacement of the previous in layed out positions in Unity. In Blender (or whichever 3D Suite you use) it would be wise to consider making a duplicate of your first blocky itteration of each asset for two reasons - 1, this way you always have a basis to return to should you not like the direction of development, and 2, if the asset will be walked upon or collided with, you can use the bloackier itteration as your mesh collider shape for smooth gliding along. A flat plane makes for smoother collision than a bumpy one, and is more in shape than trying to use box colliders.
Also noticably added to this scene (as well as to the previous scene, prefabs really are a wonderful thing) are a Skydome, Unity 5 Adanced Water, and an ever so slightly modified version (I will continue to make changes) of a lovely Toon shader made by Emil Rose Høeg & Michael Bjørn Nielsen as found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qBDTh9zWrQ .
My reasoning for using a skydome was that a skybox is harder to tile without skewing and/or seemlines, and that a skydome allows for more easily animated textures in the future (moving clouds is presently a pipedream). However, as I presently do not know how to achieve image based lighting and Unity does not natively support a skydome, I still added a (less than ideally tiled) skybox to the scene as well. This way the visual seen is the sky dome, though the lighting is still supplied by the skybox. Unity 5's water however works like a dream. It was almost too easy and just added so much.
Things are going to be a lot more visual from here on!