With the month of July coming to an end, it is time for a quick update on what is going on and what you will see going into August. We hope you enjoyed participating and earning the awards from this year’s July 4th event. Statistics from our weapon testing district are still coming in strong and of course we thank you all for providing feedback over the last few months as we get closer to the Unreal Update. With that said, we have some information to provide regarding some elements we will be adding to the main game, and others we will be removing.
Weapon Pick-up/Drop Mechanic
As most of you know, we implemented a weapon pick-up/drop system over the last few months, which was implemented with our previous season events as well as being used in our weapon test districts. We will still see it being used in the testing districts but as was commented previously that we would potentially be adding the drop mechanic to the main game. After reviewing all the feedback and comments provided, the decision to implement this mechanic into the main game has been shelved.
Engine Update Video
Many of you (if not all J) have been asking for some video footage to be shown of the latest update work being done to the game. We are happy to provide the first of a few videos highlighting the difference between the present APB and what it will look like running with the upgraded engine. Below is a video clip of the Social District where we reveal the differences between old and new. We are excited with the possibilities and feel you will appreciate them as well.
TTK Test District
During my vacation time, I reviewed most of the forum threads regarding the TTK in APB (those most recent and going back a few years). I will admit that I have been having in-office debates regarding this topic and with the present feedback, I feel it is time we give it a good old, once over review. We will therefore be setting up a TTK district to test out some numbers as well as provide you all with the chance to see how the game feels with some modified stats. I personally am pro increase of TTK, but I will add that I am also a fan of implementing a stamina system to coincide with any TTK changes. My view on adding stamina (if any) will be addressed at a later date following the results we acquire from this test district.
Since I am not married nor steadfast on the idea of adding a stamina mechanic, feel free to leave your feedback and comments as it will help decide if this is a good addition to the main game.
We are excited to try some new things with APB and the creation of new vehicles was a perfect start. We wanted to introduce not only new vehicles but to also prepare for the introduction of new lore, future content as well as allowing us with options for new gameplay elements. The aim is to have a more varied feel between each vehicle model, with very visible advantages and disadvantages between them. Moving forward we will attempt to create more mods as well as provide gameplay reasons for specific vehicles being used in relation to the tasks the players require to complete in mission.
Therefore, in the next few weeks we will be unveiling the first of two new auto manufactures and their vehicles. The first to be unveiled is the IO: GROWL, a new sports car to hit the streets of San Paro in a very long time. This will be the first, of hopefully many new models that the players can purchase, earn or unlock. With an opportunity for us to show something new, I figured a good way to promote this new addition would be to have (drum roll) BeardyD, the artist responsible for the GROWL to discuss the process of creating and implementing vehicles into the game.
Take it away BeardyD :-D
A BASIC OVERVIEW OF VEHICLE ART DEVELOPMENT IN APB: RELOADED
Hey there, my name is BeardyD, I am one of the artists at Reloaded Productions. With the IO: Growl now unveiled, we thought it might be interesting if we discussed some of the procedures involved with creating it.
DESIGN AND MOCK-UP
Our first step was coming up with the vehicle we wanted to create. When MoK came into the office and proclaimed “What we need is a new vehicle (arm stretched and finger pointing), that can allow us to create something different for the future” and then doing his “sales pitch” for what the new car(s) should be and why we needed them that way. My response was, “this guy is crazy” but he actually made sense.
Once we had decided on an initial design, we started with setting up a proxy for the new car. This consisted of a fully rigged asset that had a proxy mesh in place for each individual component. We started with this so we could test that the vehicle’s design would work within APB’s animation constraints, and also so that our design team could begin immediately on setting up some basic handling for the new car.
Before long we had a drivable asset in the game.
CREATING THE MAIN MESHES
After some initial testing and tweaks for the proxy, the next step was to create the main in-game asset (or LOD-0 as it’s referred to internally).
The LOD-0 started as an exterior shell, which was built as one mesh, smoothed out, optimized and then separated in to the various components required for the customization system. These components were then unwrapped and assigned a paint mask to support colour customization and decal projection. Anything that doesn’t support colour customization is mirrored to save on texture space, which is even more important in APB as our unwrap procedure differs from most as it needs to support our component mask system, which allows players to literally cut out and piece together various textures as custom components get added.
Smoothing groups are also set up to allow for a better normal map (which we’ll get to later).
After these new meshes have been imported in, the interior, base structure and wheels were then created in a similar manner.
HIGH POLY AND TEXTURE CREATION
With these meshes in and working as intended, the next step is to create the high poly mesh. We use a high poly mesh to generate normal and ambient occlusion maps (a procedure called “texture baking”). This helps smooth out surface shading and also provides the illusion of more texture detail.
With the base textures now generated, a final detail pass is done in Photoshop. It’s during this time that the specular map for the vehicle is also created.
With the main models now textured, the next step is to create the emissive maps and masks. The emissive maps are texture maps that are used to simulate lighting on the vehicle. We use one for the exterior (covering headlights, taillights, etc.) and one for the interior (covering interior lighting and dashboard panels). We also use masks for both so the lights can operate independently from one another.
LEVEL OF DETAIL
At this stage, the LOD0 model is now considered complete and it’s now time to move on to creating the LOD1 meshes. The LOD1 meshes are low detail meshes that are assigned to each of the car’s individual components. These appear when the player is a certain distance from the vehicle so that we can prioritize detail whilst cutting down render costs.
DAMAGE MORPHS AND TEXTURES
The final stage for the main vehicle is the creation of damage morphs. Damage morphs are meshes which each component of the main vehicle references when damage occurs. We use multiple directions for vehicle damage in APB (Front-Left, Front-Right, Side-Left, Side-Right, Back-Left, Back-Right and Top) so there are a lot of meshes to create. We also have to ensure that there is no clipping with the base structure of the vehicle and that certain components are still snapped together correctly.
This entire procedure then has to be repeated for the LOD1 meshes.
We also use an overlay normal map and scratch texture that becomes more visible as the vehicle takes more damage. A dirt mask is also applied for when the car gets dirty.
EXTRAS AND FINALISATION
With the main vehicle now ready to go, we then begin adding extras such as more components, or in the case of Enforcers, police lights. All of which have to go through the same processes as described before.
We have to be careful when adding these components that they don’t add too many restrictions for any future content. As an example, Enforcer light positions restrict any future kit design we may do in the future, as all new versions of a component now have to support them.
With these added, the art development for the IO: Growl is now complete.
I hope you enjoyed the write-up from BeardyD and I thank him for the insight he has provided here.
That is all I have for today folks, till next time citizens,
That is all I have for today folks, till next time citizens,