Designing (and Redesigning) the Rockets

When I posted last week's blog entry on Facebook, this was the cover image I used for the post. Making the player's rocket not look noticeably... phallic, was always going to be a concern, but I didn't think I'd done too bad a job, and Phil didn't say anything, so I figured I'd run with it. The comments on the post were exclusively pointing out that I'd failed at this, however, and I guess I saw it coming. So, I went back to the drawing board:

My concept art process for the game has been pretty minimal, amounting to a selection of small pencil sketches to get the silhouette right, while the majority of the fine tweaks happen during the modelling process. I went with the rightmost design, and the final rocket looks like this:

While I'm here, I figured I'd go into the process of creating the rockets for the game, which admittedly hasn't been hugely labour-intensive. I'm making everything in Blender, in which the base rocket model looks like this:

My intention for the art of the game, when I started working on it, was for everything to be outlined and glowing, reminiscent of a 70's vector arcade game (Asteroids or Battlezone), so we initially looked into drawing outlines using post-processing. This didn't give us the control we wanted without a great deal of effort, however, so we ended up using an old-fashioned technique: Create a larger second model, encompassing the first, and invert the normals of the faces. Unreal doesn't draw the backfaces, so you end up seeing the insides of the outer shell, like this:

Assigning an emissive material to this outline, and a completely black material to the base rocket gives us this:

All of the rockets are made this way, and I made sure the outline was thick enough they're all readable even on Phil's iPhone 4. You can see the Small enemy rockets in the first screenshot of this post; the Large variation is basically the same model, but made wider around the middle. These are going to be shielded, and still need an effect for this.

I initially wanted the Splitter rockets to be a kind of shell that broke apart to reveal small missiles, but it was hard to make that readable. I ended up with this spherical design with rings that rotate around the outside of it:

Finally, the Mega rocket is considerably larger than the rest, and needed to be more imposing. I didn't want it to be too visually busy, however, so I ended up with the following design. We're currently working on a system of weak points that you need to hit correctly to destroy it.

Posted on June 17, 2015 .