Now that the new forums are up and everybody has had some time to familiarize themselves with it, its time to start posting.
I’ll start by introducing myself. My name is Jan (I had a good laugh at the other team members attempts to pronounce it) and I’m one of the artists working on Infinity. I wasn’t very vocal on the old forums, I lurked more instead of pressing the post button. Some of the older community members know me as Stannum. For those who don’t know me hello and welcome!
I am a full pipeline artist but mostly I do concept work and r&d. I do have a model project running that will hopefully blow your mind when we launch the kickstarter. I repeatedly broke/break the editor with crazy materials and I did most of the investigative work and testing on working with physical based rendering for the artists.
This is going to be my first mini development blog post and it’s sort of going to be an overview of the art stuff.
Don’t recognise the new dev names? Check out this post: New Developer Usernames
The current engine has changed a lot compared to the 2010 tech demo. Over the years nearly every part of it has been upgraded. On the tools side we have replaced the old ase2bin tool with the I-Novae Editor. It has a node based material editor so artists can easily create complex materials without having to touch any code. And with the real time in engine preview we can immediately see any changes we make to the materials or textures.
Node based editor:
In engine preview:
The planets are sexier than ever. Flavien and Keith have implemented a lot of new technologies fixing issues we had with the old planet system and also adding a lot of new features. We have realistic atmosphere scattering and it looks gorgeous. A new texture blending method has been implemented and Kristian (spAce) applied some magic to reduce the tiling artifacts considerably. When I first received the new planet demo build I literally spent an hour flying around the planet. Keith posted two new shots which you can find here: Infinity Business Model - Better Community Involvement
The rendering changes have been immense but the most important change for the artists was the switch to a physical based rendering pipeline. With physical based rendering the time to author textures is lower and each asset will look correct in any environment. Instead of artists guessing what looks good and fine tuning from that, we now use real world values. I created a photoshop swatch pack so artists can easily pick the correct diffuse and specular reflection values for a material, as well as a surface shininess (roughness) value that fits the intended look.
We are now on our second shader model for physical based rendering. Lots of time has been spent on research, learning and understanding how to work with this system. This had to be done twice due to changing the shader model, which again took a lot of time. Right now the swatch values have been locked down and artists know the ins and outs of our physical based rendering model. The end result of all this are some very good looking spaceships.
You all know the Hellion, a 32m long SFC corvette class ship. The Hellion has been our test asset. Eugene has uv mapped it one too many times, spent countless hours baking and fixing the normal map and done a lot of work on fixing all the smoothing errors when importing models into the editor. Andre and Slobodan (AltFuture) have created many iterations of the texture while learning how to work with our physical based rendering model. When not working on the Hellion the concept artists are busy designing a series of core ships of all sizes.
In the coming weeks I am going to write more art related mini blogs using the materials we had ready for the art content update. We have a SFC Fighter/bomber to show off that’s pretty far along. I plan to write a blog showing the first concept sketches and how it transformed into what we have now. It will show the commitment the artists have to make the best looking ships we can. Not just mesh and texture wise but also great designs. A more in depth artists perspective on our physical based rendering model is also in the works and of course a better look at the latest Hellion.
Maybe some surprises too.
To compensate for the amount of words have some pictures:
An early capship doodle:
A fighter doodle:
A ship called othership:
Watch me draw the other ship:
An exploratory drawing of a SFC cargo ship:
Also in available in timelapse edition:
With the new forums we want to post more and have better community involvement. I would like your feedback on what you would want to see. Other than the planned posts I want do some more smaller impromptu posts. I have some ideas on what these can be but I’d like to hear what the community wants too.
Take care, and NEVER. STOP. POSTING.