Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Sorrows of Young Climatic

Since the release of Act 1, we've added a new class of visualization to KS, called "cutin CGs". They are basically images somewhere between sprites and CGs, not full screen CGs but also not a part of the bg + sprites system. Artists like doing small, focused pics and they are useful to stick here and there, where script describes an object of particular interest, or something apart from "two people talking to each other" happens.

However, the fascination with these small flavourful pictures has its downsides too. Just because something can be a cutin CG, it doesn't mean it should be. Sometimes the cutin CGs end up causing conflicts with script or direction. Sometimes they are too superfluous. And sometimes... producing art can just become an unexpectedly difficult task, truly the opposite of the nice and refreshing breather that they are supposed to be for the artists. To showcase, here's the woeful story of that one time when Suriko asked climatic to draw a cutin CG. Delta had made a note in the script of a scene where Hanako plays chess against Lilly that it could be nice to have the chessboard depicted, so Suriko goes to climatic for it.

"I note that the chessboard they're using has holes in the middle of each square and pegs on the bottom of the pieces, and has each dark square slightly raised."

That's the description, from game script. It's the kind of chessboard that makes playing easier for blind people, something you'd expect to find at Yamaku. Climatic says "yeah sure, I'll do it", the five words he regrets saying the most this year, and sets out to work. This task proves to less simple than what it would seem to be. In fact, turns out it's very complex, one could even describe the effort required to make a chessboard that meets climatic's own standards "colossal" or perhaps "gargantuan". First, climatic quickly models the board in 3d because the raised squares make its geometry a bitch at the angle he's drawing.

<climatic> asdfasdga
<climatic> agfakfhgadrgra

However, once he moves to the painting phase, every single one of those raised squares still has to be drawn individually, and despite having the model helping, it's excruciatingly detailed and exhausting work.

<climatic> AAAAAAA

After the board is complete, it needs the set of pieces. 32 pieces of 12 different kinds, each has to be drawn individually. And now, every single of those pieces and every single one of those raised squares needs to be lighted (individually) and shaded, you guessed it, individually.

<climatic> there is no end in sight
<climatic> for this fucing cg
<climatic> askdjkj

All in all completing the chessboard takes almost three months (mostly because massive lack of motivation, understandably), and it's only completed because climatic finally gets so frustrated that he refuses to finish it.

<climatic> goddamn
<climatic> ahsdd
<climatic> adsnkljlgf
<climatic> I do not care anymore

Luckily the board itself is fine by now and moekki quickly adds some effect layers on it to finalize it and it's ready to be inserted in the game. However! At this stage we find out that there's been several critical communication breaks and incomplete information relayed to climatic. Turns out delta has meanwhile directed the scene so that the cutin is not really needed, but never removed the request. Also, not only the chessboard doesn't fit the description (it's missing the holes) but also is heavily inconsistent with another pic of the same chessboard that already is in the game. So now climatic has spent three months drawing a picture that doesn't fit its description in the game and doesn't fit the second image of it in the game. Also it doesn't fit in the game. This hopefully teaches you to check and doublecheck with everyone involved before you even cough in the direction of game files.

<climatic> thank you for wasting several hours of my life, suriko
<climatic> I need to go stick my head in an oven

Not to worry! Moekki edits the second image of the chessboard to fit climatic's cutin CG (she has to redo it twice because she forgets to save), weee adds the holes in the cutin itself and delta tweaks the scene direction so that everything plays more or less together.

And the end result after all this blood, sweat and tears?

Wow! All that effort paid off tenfold. There's a bunch of other cut in CGs in the game, such as this cute plushie Hisao wins for Shizune at the school festival (I call it the Eggplant Cat)...

... or this mysterious box!

...I guess if development always went smoothly there would be nothing to blog about.

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