Side by Side: Digital Art by Sam Denmark: Commissioner versus unnamed Agent test edit. Project Aella, InnerSanctum Games (2013).
As you might all already be aware, Sam Denmark is project's lead artist, and is responsible for converting content from the photo shoots to what might best be described as concept art. Pictured above is the Commissioner to the left (office backdrop), and an unnamed agent to the right (night club backdrop).
Concept art is a very important part of this project (especially in it's conception stages). I fully believe concepts are a visual representation of the mood, idea behind a game, setting, character/personalities e.t.c., and also serve as an inspiration to completing and fine tuning certain aspects of the proposed games story (the latter applies to this project in a huge way). Just by looking at a concept image, an observer begins to create different scenarios that might fit the character or mood being portrayed. In short, a good concept tells a good story.
An example is the low resolution photo of the commissioner in his office (pictured above). When I observe it, the following come to mind:
Anxious: Anxiously anticipating some news/person.
Focused: In deep thought.
Worried: Consequences of an action?
Reserved: Playing Devil's Advocate?
These are only but a few of the possible scenarios/moods that can be drawn by simple observation.
All this made possible by the skills, dedication and vision of Sam Denmark. Sam has demonstrated his ability to perfectly depict a character in the right setting(s). This is especially helpful during the story boarding and scene planning stages as further inspiration can be drawn from these concepts.
Sam is already hard at work on content from the second shoot. I simply can't wait to see the final pieces.
Carl has been working in Arts for over 30 years with his beginnings in Drama and Dance.
His career has seen him progress through theatre, Musicals, Shakespeare, Pantomime, Theatre in Education, teaching, television and film.
Of late, he has been concentrating on film and has completed several horror films in Italy, (Zombie Massacre, Wrath of the Crows, The Perfect Husband) and will be shooting later this year in the USA portraying the Captain in the Sci-Fi feature film Necrosis Colony 10.
He has also just landed the role of a murderer in a TV reconstruction series based upon real life stories.
As part of the Project Aella team, Carl welcomes the concept of this exciting approach to independent game development and cherishes the challenge of bringing his character to life.
It has been a pleasure working with Carl Wharton, as he forms the basis for a very exciting and controversial character in the proposed game world. I am privileged to have him on my team, and simply cannot wait to show the wonderful work he is doing.
Keep your eyes peeled for more updates.
For more information on Carl Wharton, please visit:
I came across an Open Source tool for creating 3D characters known as 'MakeHuman'. The official website touts its mesh licenses:
" We are proud to announce that MakeHuman has switched to the most liberal license available for output content! Content created with MakeHuman is licensed under the CC0 license, giving artists unprecedented freedom for using their MakeHuman creations in any way they can imagine.
The MakeHuman team hopes that this new license will allow more projects, both commercial and non-commercial, to make use of our application. This will give anyone access to high quality human models. As a short summary, with this change the MakeHuman team explicitly waives all of its rights to the works created with MakeHuman worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights. "
Pretty interesting. Bear in mind Autodesk Maya costs £3,795.00. As an independent developer, this is certainly something worth looking into. With the right combination of tools, a base 3D model created using this application can always be improved.
I decided to quickly investigate and determine its feasibility. The basic system specifications on the test machine were: Intel i7-3632QM at 2.2GHz, NVIDIA GeForce 710M, 8GB DDR3 Memory.
After installation, it took about 3-4 seconds to launch the application:
By just playing around with a few layers and pre-sets, I was able to come up with this, in 25 minutes. That's rather quick, and quite impressive usability already working in its favour.
I also noticed there were quite a few options I hadn't delved into, and I really wasn't meant to either seeing as the purpose of the test was just to have a better idea how the application worked.
Rest assured, I will be conducting a few more experiments to see how robust this open source offering really is.
Mr O. Shonibare
Project Lead and Designer
Rose is a character in the proposed game world with strong ties to the Aella. As the game progresses, players will experience certain developments between them, some of which will explore key events in the history of their relationship. She will also be a playable character, with unique gameplay mechanics that are essential to completing certain aspects of the game. Rose was conceptualized around the same time as Aella, and what I had in mind was a character that didn't fit into the crowd. A quirky individual with a clouded and mysterious past. I initially opted for a 'best friend' scenario with both characters knowing each other since their childhood days. However, as development progressed, the idea has transformed into a more interesting one.
The image at the top of this post is an unfinished rendition of what I wanted for Rose (she was meant to be a 'biker girl'). This unfinished concept has been reworked several times over, and the definitive concept for Rose is something I believe the potential audience will relate to in many ways. Consider her an alternative styled character.
I am excited about bringing Rose to life, and I simply can't wait to finish the modelling aspect of her character creation.
Keep your eyes peeled for more Spotlights!
Mr O. Shoinbare Project Lead and Designer Project Aella InnerSanctum Games
Choosing the right game engine proved to be a rather interesting and challenging task. For those of you unfamiliar with engines and game creation tools, a game engine can be defined as:
" A system designed for the creation and development of video games".
As an independent developer, there are two main factors (amongst many others) that influence the decision making process:
The costs associated with using an engine (e.g. upfront costs, team license extension, royalties e.t.c).
The available manpower (e.g. coders, level designers, composers e.t.c.).
With that in mind, I set out to find an engine that wasn't prohibitively priced, but allowed a small team of coders and designers produce a title that exceeded all expectations. I wanted something that wouldn't restrict the creative vision of the project.
For over a year, I have kept a very close eye on potential engines that meet those requirements. I have also been in touch with a few engine makers, got a lot of quotes, and even created a feature comparison chart.
The top three candidates that I had in mind were:
The UDK (Unreal Development Kit).
The CryEngine 3
I went ahead to test some of these
engines and even almost made a final decision, until I realized there
was an engine on that list that I had always known of, but seemingly ignored.
The Unity 4.0 engine hit the nail on the head on many levels, however, as an independent developer, the following features greatly reduce the cost and manpower burden significantly:
Ease of Use.
Multi-platform deployment. The Unity 4.0 is capable of publishing to the following platforms: PS3, XBOX360, PS4, XBOX ONE, WEB PLAYER, NINTENDO Wii, NINTENDO WII U, ANDROID, iOS, LINUX, WINDOWS, AND MAC. This automatically eliminates the issue of manpower (Imagine the development efforts involved with porting a title to all those platforms).
The Cost: Unity 4.0 costs € 1,140. The team license costs an additional € 380. Relatively speaking, that is very cheap (believe me when I say I got quotes that gave me a huge shock). Some console manufacturers might charge a fee for publishing your title to their respective platforms, but such costs are minute when all other factors are considered.
The popularity: As of when this post was written, Unity 4.0 ranks as one of the most popular engines on the market today. And that popularity is growing due to how well the engine balances the cost versus performance issue.
Potential: The videos below will look at independent titles created using the Unity 4.0 engine. This should give you a better idea of its capabilities.
The Unity 4.0: Capabilities The following titles were created using the Unity 4.0 engine:
Dreamfall Chapters: The longest Journey by Red Thread Games. "Dreamfall Chapters is the long awaited sequel to Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, and the next chapter in The Longest Journey saga. Dreamfall Chapters
is a 3D adventure game for PC, Mac and Linux, which follows three
characters across two worlds -- a cyberpunk vision of the future, and a
magical fantasy world -- as their stories and destinies intertwine."
Slender: The Arrival
" A few months ago, Mark Hadley (AgentParsec) created a game that captivated gamers around the world. Slender: The Eight Pages
was a short, experimental game that helped to breathe new life into
the horror genre through its use of pure, unadulterated fear. "
The team is looking forward to using the Unity 4.0 engine, and we are confident it is capable of helping us realize our vision.
Part of the character design process involves carefully selecting models, actors and actresses that fit the specification of an existing character concept. This concept is based on a profile that is designed to provide an insight into what the characters life entails, and their role in the proposed game world. Some of these characters will play a vital role in the planned animated shorts (exploring character biographies, back histories e.t.c.).
An example of one of these models is Rachael. Rachael is a part time student, model and actress. Rachael aspires to get involved in acting/performing full time, as well as work within a creative field.
Rachael was present at the 2nd Photo Shoot, and modelled as the basis for the creation of the 'ex-wife' (character name will remain disclosed for now).
The 'ex wife' will be directly connected to one of the main playable characters in the game, and will influence a lot of his decisions as the game progresses. The 'ex wife' will form the basis of troubled 'emotional link' to this character, and this relationship will be obvious through their interactions.
To capture such a personality, care must be taken to design the outfit, make-up, props, and even the poses with such a personality being the driving force behind these design choices. Even facial expressions are especially vital to capturing a solid base for the digital artist to work off.
Rachael being prepped at the 2nd shoot: Make Up Artist - Victoria Thomas.
The results exceeded my expectations.
In Rachael's words:
" I feel very privileged to be part of the Aella Project as it gives me the opportunity to progress in my career and also be part of something fun and exciting. Working with Mr Shonibare has been a really enjoyable experience. He is a true professional, and is an inspiration to all of us "