Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Recovery, 3d learning, uncertainty.

Recovery so far has been a bit iffy. My health issues have improved, but things are not as normal as I'd hoped they might be. As a result I've found it a bit difficult to get my bearings. There's the constant feeling that I can't relax, and it's difficult to bring myself to focus on work. It's also not often that I feel as though I can commit to streaming (though I will still probably try soon). Inevitably, I end up working on things I just feel like working on that day. While part of the problem is certainly still physical, I need to find some way to get myself out of the rut I'm in.

These days, when I don't feel like working I've gravitated a lot towards learning 3d. I haven't posted in a while, so I figured I may as well go over some of the things I've worked on over the past year, any time I've worked on it.

3d stuff

Thus far, my goal when working on 3d has been to figure out what I would do if I were ever to make a 3d game. Learning the workflow, trying styles, and deciding what kind of projects I would work on. Because I would likely be working by myself, a 3d project would have to be viable for one person.

For many of my early tests, I attempted to stay low poly and minimize texture work. Though these rarely remain low poly and inevitably get more detailed.




Figured out how to do weapon trails in Blender, so that attacks can be animated with a preview. One of the reasons I prefer stylized is that the bar for animations is different. Things can be fairly snappy. Run animations clearly need more than 8 frames though. I tried a lazy one here, and it was too basic.








One of the things I would have to decide on with this sort of style is if the face is drawn, or modeled. Modeling the face is more time consuming, however it does allow you to use shape keys to animate it. With drawn textures, you would need to use some UV tricks.









Tried modeling some low poly armor in disconnected parts. Certainly got me thinking about Dark Souls.












I had recently played Demon Souls, which made me want to try making a mockup of an area. So I started thinking about how I would go about more "realistic" graphics.



I wasn't sure how I would be creating textures, so I looked into some different options. I began using software called Quixel, which allows you to generate textures using existing images, or from scratch.




I decided to try a more "realistic" looking character. 



I generated a texture for hair using Blender's particle hair system.


Using this texture on planes, you can make fairly convincing hair. Using a high enough resolution texture also probably matters a lot for alpha clipping transparency.


Rather than model the back of the head, I tried a method where I leave it blank, and shape the hair first. I think this method is the easiest way of creating hair, for me anyway.




While creating this model, I also realized that there is a fundamental difference between realism and stylized. The stylized method is usually to make things "the color that they are", and you use shadows to add some color. It looks like this,


Whereas if you make the color very dark, and use far higher light values, it looks like this. In general this is more realistic looking because you can use high light values.



Tried a common method wherein textures are automatically applied based on angle. It seems many games are textured like this as a base. It's a bit nuts what you can get away with using only 1-2 textures.






I realized that you can use Blender to generate height maps, using models. This can be used to generate height/displacement maps in Quixel. 





Because Quixel allows you to generate maps from images, I also began taking photos to use as resources. These can be used individually or be combined.






Was amused that using textures without the normal maps kinda looks like a 2000s PC game


I did a lot of tests using different levels of exposure. Seems like finding the right exposure and light settings is as important as many other aspects.






When doing these tests, part of the goal, (contrary to making an amazing looking scene), is to try and find what the minimum amount of work is to make a lazy area look "complete". Referencing AAA games, there are honestly a lot of games with sloppy texture/environment work. Not to say that you should make a game look bad, but it is at least a little reassuring to know that games you enjoyed a lot were far from perfect, and used a lot of the tricks that are available to you. 



Something I noticed when referencing AAA games, is that a common methodology is to model the environment as a trail, which is walled in. This allows you have something like a forest without having a million trees and bushes blocking your view. You put all the props on the sides. This design philosophy is also present in things like Dark Souls, despite those games having a lot of exploration.
















I started modeling an enemy with hard modeling (vert by vert). It seemed like it wasn't very intuitive to design detailed enemies while also modeling it and worrying about topology. There's also the issue of normal maps, since you need to generate the normal map from something.


So I looked into the sculpting workflow. Essentially you do an initial sculpt, auto retopo it into a low poly mesh, shrinkwrap it to the original high poly sculpt, and it leaves you with a low poly model you can bake the high poly sculpt to, retaining the sculpt details. 





After sculpting, I can certainly see why monsters tend to look the way they do in modern games. The sculpting work flow makes certain kinds of shapes very easy to produce. It's also easy to make a mess of shapes and simply see where it leads you. There are probably a lot of bad habits to fall into here.




Textures like this in the skin can be made with a brush and randomized rotation. This one is actually a brick texture being used as a brush. It seems like in general, one of the skills in sculpting is knowing when to use large details, and when to use small details, since it's not like the enemy will always be right next to the player, and they should read well at a distance.





And that's the most recent model I've worked on. Honestly, I've been kind of surprised how easy the workflow is. We're lucky to have some stupidly useful tools, like ones that generate maps from a single image, or auto retopo software etc. At this point, I'm not really sure what sort of style I would go for in an H game. Originally I figured there's no way I'd do modern/realism, but the workflow is actually pretty simple. Though ultimately it is still slower.

I'm also not sure when I will be working on 3d. If I eventually do bring myself to stream my work, perhaps I should set aside one day a weak for 3d, and stream the learning process too. Dunno yet.

Anyhow..that's all for now. Hopefully I will bring myself to get back to work, and stream it at some point. I need to do something to break up the state of things, though.

36 comments:

  1. It's good to hear that you got better than before, stay strong Kyrieru!

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  2. Well I can safely say if you did go 3D, id certainly look forward to it. Certainly looks like you are getting the hang of it.

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  3. well, i'd defenetly prefer for you to stick with pixel visuals, since you are one of the few people who does it well enough. But i'm interested in what will be like though. The problem is - I can't remember a single good looking 3D H game (at least not the one made by 1 or 2 persons, the is subverse but it had a big team working on it). But if it works for you then I'm fine, cause following people like you or yandere dev fo example is more about the journey and not destination. Anyway, good luck with everything you're doing

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    1. I don't think there's any real 3d action H game yet, at least that I've seen.

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    2. Well depends on how you want to define 3D action games. There's stuff like Guilty Hell which is essentially a 3D Action Metroidvania, Seed of the Dead which is 3D FPS, Dungeon of Revival a 3D Dungeon Crawler.

      IMO I think these games are good but most 3D suffers from a high barrier to entry due to the tech you need to learn as well as the uncanny valley barrier that needs to be crossed. This generally means that although it's often quicker and more efficient to create 3D works, I also think it takes a lot more effort and skill to make 3D look 'good' compared to 2D.



      I personally like these games

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    3. Guilty hell is prerendered 3d, in a 2d game.

      Those other games you've mentioned, I probably didn't play because they lacked actual H, or were made with stock assets. The only two real ones I know of are Succubus Heaven (also stock though), and one japanese monster girl game, which I have not played but so far looks like the only "real" 3d game so far.

      Most games use stock assets, which is why they always have styles that clash so much, and why the H animations are often so bad (stock animations, but none exist for sex). And a lot of people use Unity plugins for everything, which is why the controls and mechanics are so horrible. I've also yet to see people integrate H and grabs into gameplay properly, which is very frustrating because even non H games understand how to handle grabs.

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    4. The only decent 3d h game I can think of would be Sword x Hime.

      You could also argue that Skyrim is one, cuz oh boy do there be mods XD

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    5. No offense, but Sword Hime is...awful. It's just a mish mash of stock assets that amounts to an animation viewer. About the only good thing it does is the slight randomization it adds to it's H animations.

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    6. Very fair, you're right that the h game scene sucks.

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  4. Tripoteur_VentripotentJuly 6, 2021 at 3:46 PM

    Well, improvement is still good. Health has to be the primary concern.

    Looks like you're really pushing into 3D. I prefer pixel art too, but I have nothing against 3D. I've been playing My Time at Portia and not disliking the models even though they are overly cartoony and often have scary faces. 3D certainly provides a huge advantage in that once a model is created you can use and reuse it to make lots of content.

    Looking forward to see what you come up with. Still hoping for Noaika in the not-so-distant-future, too.

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    1. 3d has a lot of advantages for H, including re-using animations with different models, equipable clothing, character customization, pregnancy, surface effects, and a lot of other stuff.

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    2. And if it's stylised then you might be able to take advantage of effects and techiques that would just look strange with realism. Plus small procedural animations might run easier, like bits of armor only half broken off and hanging would really add to an action h game.

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  5. I've been watching this blog for years but this is the first time I've said posted a comment.

    I'll be honest, even though your midna project was quite nice, when I read " I've gravitated a lot towards learning 3d" I let out a little "Oh no...", as I've seen a few people go down that road and it tends to lead nowhere.
    However, upon reading the rest of the post, I can see that what you are doing looks very promising and my fears have faded.

    I'm looking forward to see more of this in future, working in 3D to is a huge, unique kind of adventure and I hope you enjoy it.

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    1. I think that it's easy to go wrong in 3d because it gives you so many opportunities to be lazy and thus never learn properly, if you're not careful.

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  6. Seems like you accomplished so much in so little time. Good luck, at this point I like seeing most of what you're working on.

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  7. I'm really getting into low poly ps1 style 3d models, check out this amazing one I found, https://twitter.com/OzegoDub/status/1353908482458587137 .

    So for me I much prefer your red and blue chibi-esque characters to the more realistic one, which I think looks boring.

    Anyhoo, glad you're in better health.

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    1. I'm still not sure about pixel art in 3d. On one hand, it's a given for me since I'm a pixel artist, and my initial ideal style was something like Megaman Legends. However, it limits you a bit in some regards, which gives me second thoughts. So I'm not sure if I would use pixel art or illustrated textures, with stylized models.

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  8. Hot damn, I don't hear from you for a while and you've already learned a completely new skillset with a near practical level mastery of it. Seriously, I'm blown away.

    I love your 3d chibi style, it hits some jrpg nostalgia vibes for me.

    And I think I have mentioned this before, but although I found your games for the h content, I enjoy them so much that I will continue to play them with or without it, just create what makes you happy.

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    1. Oh trust me, if I make a 3d game it would still be an H game.

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  9. That's very good. Congratulations !

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  10. Mamono Assault ForceJuly 8, 2021 at 4:46 PM

    I'd have to agree with Xiketicdark, your chibi style looks great. I wouldn't mind seeing a game revolving around it.

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  11. So, Noaika is cancelled?

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    1. How much has Noaika changed since we last saw it?

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    2. None of the graphics are the same other than some effects which were re-used. However it was different from the demo even years ago at this point.

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  12. Hey, glad to hear you're doing okay! The 3d looks promising.
    I think the biggest advantage for 3d h-games is the massive reduction in needed assets. Especially with animations (frankly, the ease of keyframing pre-rigged skeletons has me baffled as to why so many 3d erogames have such tame animations--especially with things like tentacles or non-humanoid monsters)
    If you do make something in 3d, I hope you'll take the route of more stylized than realistic. There's no shortage of "realistic" modeled games that suffer from substandard animations and poor lighting effects which make the models, regardless of sculpting finesse, look stiff and plastic. Hell, even AAA games struggle with "realistic" character designs.
    Going stylized means you don't have to address all the little nuances. Moreover, it allows the environment and character to have a matching art design, rather than jarringly placing high-res normal, pre-baked lighted, 4k textured stock environmental assets next to poorly normaled, dynamically lit, 2k home brew character models. Not that you don't see that in many 2d games (especially the stock RPGM assets)
    Regardless, you've dished out amazing work before, so you've already got a keen eye for what works and what doesn't.
    Just keep healthy and happy. Quality health brings quality performance!

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    1. I would not use the current indie landscape as a benchmark for what a game would look like. Especially when it comes to H games. Most lack the skills to make assets, and so use stock, or a lot of Unity plugins. I don't use stock assets in my games.

      Also, personally I would make a distinction between "real" and "semi-real". Realistic is something like Resident Evil remake 2, whereas semi-real is more like Resident evil 4, or Ninja Gaiden. I would use semi-real for something like Dark Souls, since it's good for games with a dark tone, fleshy monsters, etc. I would make a very Souls like game, if I went semi-real. I'm not really capable of realism anyway, when it comes to making characters.

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  13. If you ever do decide to work on a 3D game, I highly recommend you do not make it a solo project. Not to say it can't be done, or that 2D is "easier" to work on, but a 3D game with actual substance as a game is an entirely different beast. There's so much more than just modelling and animating to make sure things don't fall apart and I'm not necessarily just strictly talking about coding either. Working in an extra dimension changes so many things, you really do need to be able to have seperate people who can all keep track of their own things rather than holding it all yourself.

    I can think of very few 3D H games that actually feel like a solid experience (even fewer that are actually completed) and not many are made by a single dev even when they've had experience with 3D games development before.

    I'm actually studying 3D game dev myself so this isn't at all to discourage you (especially since you've got the hang of this pretty quickly) but I'll simply reuse a common yet undeniable piece of advice:
    Don't bite off more than you can chew.

    You seem to have things under control for the time being and I like seeing your learning progress, but still expect problems. Don't let them force you to give up of course but you've got to be smart about it if you do sit down and decide "Yes, I'm making a 3D game".

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    1. To be honest, I haven't really encountered anything in 3d that seems like a roadblock. I think most 3d H games are bad because the developers don't know how to make any of the assets, or program, and so they use stock. Then the animations are bad because it's the only part they had to do themselves.

      And then the game being bad....well, even tons of legit games are bad, so someone like that making a game is even more of a red flag.

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  14. Glad to see I'm not alone turning to 3D when I don't feel like working on my main stuff! There's just something relaxing about the change of workflow. xD

    Honestly, 3D opens a lot of possibilities as camera works goes, which is a huge plus, but semi-realistic styles and above have a ridiculously low bar when it comes to hitting any form of uncanny valley.
    The monsters on your post are the adaquate ammount of grotesque to be considered good, but the appeal already drops a lot compared to their 2D counterparts, when it comes to tossing them in ero situations.
    The low-poly one is already less of a problem.

    There's also the subject of animations and over all behaviors of characters. Don't be aifraid to experiment, there are techniques to apply animations principes like squish/stretch in 3D, they don't look out of place in more cartoonish styles.
    It's easier to "get shy" with more realistic styles compared to the more exaggerated pose you gave to the low poly characters during the "grab" picture.

    Semi low-poly stylized seems to be the perfect spot for you. You cranked up the polygon count for the controls of the character's face and can do the same to other parts while style remain still cartoonish.
    Keeping the right ammount of stylization is possible in hi-poly styles but expressive animations goes a way longer way to make things appealing.

    The fact your style is still recognizable is sign you got things right.

    The biggest challenge would be to find a good balance on the textures.
    Just because you're inspired by pixelart doesn't mean you have to go full flat. It's always better when people hint at pixelart techniques, rather than limiting themselves. But I'm pretty sure you already know that. ^^"

    (here's some random video, their re-imagining of the style in 3D was kinda neat)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tczLt0zWU4

    People still expect you to stick to 2D, that's what you're known for after all, but it would be interesting to see what a simple 3D demo would look like, as long as you don't drown in side-projects. xD

    ---

    I hope your recovery problems are just your body needing more time to adapt to your new situation. It often translate into that sensation of never being able to relax.
    I hope you the best.
    Aslo, as streaming goes the best way to start is to stick to a schedule. Even if you start with shorter streams, that's fine for a start.

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  15. Hope your health gets better! =D

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  17. the kyrieru Rule of Cute

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  18. so what about Kurovadis getting on Steam? will that take a backseat for a bit?

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