In 2011, I moved to Austin to continue my role at Ignition as the Technical Art Director for a new and unannounced FPS IP. I also served as the Lead Artist, Technical Director and Outsource Manager for the first 3 months until additional staff were hired. Our goal during preproduction was to establish Ignition’s new console studio in Austin, implement the development pipeline, and prototype as much of the new game design as possible. I modified the pipeline tools I created for Reich and implemented a new shader library, updated 3DSMAX tools for environment destruction, and created a robust one-button XBOX360 build distribution process for daily multiplayer tests.

Even with no programmers we had a working prototype of the key features in our game by the end of the preproduction phase, including transformable vehicles and weapons, special character abilities, 4 multiplayer levels, and a GDD with production schedule and staffing plan.

Materials

Created to allow the art team to quickly dial in the look for each level. Cloud textures, sky colors, painted backdrops and other variables can be tweaked artistically to achieve desired results. The sky light source is a texture (Sun, Moon, etc) that can be positioned anywhere in the sky and provides back-lighting for the clouds. Cloud panning speed and tiling amount can be adjusted per layer.

No effort was made to simulate actual cloud formation, behavior and dissipation. I feel doing so would have made the material unwieldy to artists and actually given them less control over the end result. It also would have been a lot more expensive and taken longer to develop!

Base Material Example

Base Material Example

Base Material Info Sheet

Base Material Info Sheet

Features

Used for nearly every environment object in the game, allowing for easy performance optimization and maintenance.

  • Static switches to enable features
  • 2 Layers with Diffuse\Spec\Normal
  • 1 Variation Layer
  • Reflection on Base Layer (blurry reflections with gloss map via tex2Dbias)
  • Emissive on Base Layer and Layer 2
  • Snow feature over all layers (sparkles)
  • Advanced vertex blending with mixmaps
  • Simplest variation is ~40 instructions
Terrain Material Info Sheet

Terrain Material Info Sheet

Features

  • Height-based blending using vertex R channel for height
  • 3 Layers (Bottom, Middle, Top)
  • Water Layer with procedural darkening, and ripples influenced by world wind actor
  • Heightmap-based water mixing for added detail
  • Snow feature over all layers (sparkles)
  • Precise blending with layer masks

A few VFX materials I created during pre-production. The meteors are a very simple particle system that drives the animation of the meteor trail material over time, controlling parameters for the fireball position, color, and smoke dissipation.

UI Particles uses a vertex material to offset the geometry of the particles from the player’s position along the impact vector, keeping their size constant relative to the screen.

Character Material

Character Material

Character Specs Excerpt

Character Specs Excerpt

Features

Despite the fact that our characters were stylized, the materials were full-featured and supported mesh and texture compositing for player-customized characters.

  • Custom SSS implementation.
  • Human skin specular.
  • Custom anisotropic hair.
  • Customizable clothing and skin in one material, using UV offsets.

 

Systems and Documentation

Below is a small sampling of key pipeline documentation I created during pre-production.