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  1. Visit to Rutland and Oakham

    Sunday, 24 February 2013

    Following on from what we all felt was a successful presentation of our initial ideas and consequently the first of our weekly meetings with our head of studies, Mike, as well as beginning to look into the building of our modular assets, we all felt strongly that one of our next steps would be to get out and begin to gather as much first hand reference as possible.

    There were a few ideas behind our reasoning for choosing this as our next step. Obviously we all believed that if our group were to gather as much first hand reference as possible it would only strengthen our project as a whole, adding value and substance to the final outcome of our project. We also knew that any reference gathered would not only aid in the further development of our visual work, concepting and paintings etc., but would also provide a solid base for creating our textures in the coming weeks. Finally, we all felt that being able to travel to a variety of different places in order to gather reference could potentially further our research in the historical context and strengthen the accuracy and realism we hope to achieve in our project.

    In Friday's meeting we all discussed a variety of places we would potentially like to visit, including Shakespeare's birthplace of Statford-upon-Avon, Oakham and Rutland and the Shambles in York.

    Daniel Peacock had the idea of visiting Rutland, and specifically Rutland County Museum as it houses the only surviving New Drop gallows in England, as well as a variety of other invaluable reference. So, yesterday a few members of our group, including myself (Joe Dempsey), Daniel Peacock and Luc Fontenoy took a drive over there, camera's at the ready. The museum was small but there was plenty of useful things to photograph. We were also pleased to find that the surrounding area in Oakham was also extremely useful for reference in which we found plenty of old streets, houses, cottages, a few churches and Chapel's and even small 17th century Market Cross with peculiar 5 hole stocks!

    Below is a small selection of photographs from yesterdays visit;

    Rutland County Museum visit Team Photo - Daniel Peacock,  Luc Fontenoy and Joe Dempsey
    Only New Drop Gallows in England

    Texture Reference

    Reference for potential props

    Reference for potential props

    Texture Reference

    Texture Reference


  2. Week 3 - Concepting and Presentations

    Thursday, 21 February 2013

    Last week we set ourselves the task of getting some concepts ready in the form of mood paintings, architectural designs and more detailed white boxes in the hope of moving swiftly onto the modelling stage.

    Tavern Concept - Chelsea Lindsay
    Street concept - Joe Dempsey
    Mood Paintin - Daniel Peacock
    Pudding Lane - Joe Dempsey
    Mood concept - Joe Dempsey
    Mood Painting - Luc Fontenoy
    We feel we've captured the mood we want to create really well in these pieces, a dark and gloomy representation of the narrow london streets, where everything is dirty and plague ridden. At the start of the week however we were all over the place with regards to what areas we were each concepting. The idea was to each cover one area of London and build up some ideas, but we realised that instead we should all focus our efforts onto one area at a time, blocking them out quickly and building up detail, then moving on until we have a substantial amount of 17th century London covered.

    Right now we're focusing our efforts on the area around Pudding Lane, and we'll branch out from there as we progress

    As a group, we were very happy with how the presentation went and the feedback we received, despite being slightly unprepared. We got out point across, and we feel our ideas, although ambitious, are very achievable.

    The plan for this week is to begin modelling and each have a modular asset completed by the end of the week, so we can start blocking out the street. We also need to delve into Cryengine a bit more and get our heads around it.

  3. Week 2 - Visit to the British Library

    Wednesday, 13 February 2013

     From left to right: Joe Dempsey, Dom Bell, Chelsea Lindsay, Luc Fontenoy, Dan Hargreaves and Dan Peacock

    Kickstarting the project, this week we took a trip to London to visit the British Library and were given a fascinating tour of the building and some of it's history.

    But best of all we got the chance to see some maps of London in the 1600's up-close!

    Above: We took hundreds of photographs of each of the maps to use as reference material

    We spent a great deal of time scanning and surveying the maps, gathering details about the scale, architecture and layout of the area we were interested in. Some of the maps offered us a new perspective (Literally, in some cases!) and inspired some great ideas from each of us.

    It was a particularly good time for us to communicate properly and really get a plan of what we can aim to achieve with our project, tossing ideas back and forth and using the maps in front of us to clarify our points.

    One point of discussion was the level of detail of the area we would make. The most sensible solution we came to was that we would prioritise detail in a sort of sphere of influence starting at Pudding Lane and working outwards. To elaborate, the streets of London are going to be the highest concentration of our efforts, as this area is the most important for telling our interpretation of the history. Lower priority would be the bridge and the tower, which we would make low detail versions made to be viewed as interesting features of the horizon.

    So today, we made an effort to set ourselves individual goals for next week.
    This week, the goals are primarily focused around getting ideas fleshed out into actual concepts and visualizations, which we will bring together to help establish plans for a consistent art style.

    We have some generalistic ideas so far about what we expect this to be; a gloomy, depressed pre-fire London, ridden with plague and filth and a sheet of misted pollution. However, we need to illustrate them to clarify exactly what different visual approaches we have towards them. 

    Lots of great concepts coming soon, so watch this space!

  4. Week 1 - Initial Ideas

    Monday, 11 February 2013

    After being assigned the brief for this huge project, each of the Pudding Lane group were overloaded with ideas about how we could begin.

    With so many different thoughts and plans buzzing about our heads, we established that the most productive use of time this week would be to each gather reference material and represent it through moodboards, concepts, 3d and written prose to lay down a scope of the ideas from us six artists, giving us a grounds to start the structured concepting stage next week.

    Here's some of our visually communicated ideas we produced!

    London Streets - Mood painting by Luc Fontenoy

    London was an incredibly dirty and plague ridden place to be in the 1600's. With this artwork, we can see how we could recreate this atmosphere through moody lighting, claustrophobic streets and lots of grimey accents.
    Modular/Generic Buildings - (Top) Luc Fontenoy (Bottom) Joe Dempsey

    In regards to modelling strategy, we have established that an efficient and effective way to mass produce non-landmark buildings would be to learn to build structures in a modular method, creating a variety of tier and texture options that would then theoretically mix and match in an infinite possibilty of combinations without having to build each of the many buildings uniquely.

    Basic white box of London - Chelsea Lindsay

    I produced a basic white box of the area of London we had considered to produce, which was useful in seeing exactly what we could potentially create. From this, we have first hand basic reference for a paintover/concept, as well as some idea of potential scale. Its also a good medium for communication, as we can navigate it and express thoughts and opinions to each other much quicker with something visual in front of us.

    On the non-concept art side, we have together been contributing to a growing library of reference images, links and articles, which will also be invaluable to use throughout the project.

    Next week we are planning to travel down to London to visit the British library and hopefully get some good reference material by seeing some detailed maps of the area at the time firsthand.

  5. Guidelines, Aims and Restrictions

    Friday, 8 February 2013

    Aims and Objectives

    The goal is to develop in 3D the area of London surrounding Pudding Lane. We shall use modular buildings for most of the environment, and each of us will be responsible for developing an equal amount of 3D assets such as buildings, or smaller objects like barrels, boxes, stocks, market stalls, plague carts and so on.
    The environment should be as varied as we can get it without disregarding the source material; with some large open areas and other small narrow streets. This will help to avoid repetition and add interest to the environment. some areas could include a church or guild hall, others could include marked houses etc.
    It’s unlikely that we will be able to implement animated NPC’s into the environment. However we do still want it to appear busy and overcrowded. Therefore, I suggest we use lots of props to clutter up the streets and make the narrower areas appear claustrophobic. The environment we produce needs to look historically accurate, therefore it is imperative that we research 17th century London as thoroughly as possible.
    We need to look at things like architecture, living conditions, and the social culture of that time period. We should also look into the historic events that were taking place in London at that time such as the Black Death and the Great Fire.

    Art Guide

    The design of our level should appear to be a realistic portrayal of 17th Century London. All textures and models should be photorealistic, with no stylization, and minimal Imagineering. Our level should show that we have researched 17th Century London thoroughly and thus have a firm understanding of said time period.For instance; we could include assets such as gallows, butchers with meat and poultry being hung outside, stocks, plague carts and so on to show our knowledge of 17th Century London.
    The atmosphere of the level should be dark and unsettling; it should portray just how unpleasant it would have been to live in London at that time. The colours used should- for the most part- be dark and cold. And I would suggest the use of particle effects such as fog/ smoke etc. to add to the sinister atmosphere. Below I have provided a few simple colour palettes taken from professional concept art to give everyone an idea of the sort of colours we should be using in our designs.

    Example Colour Swatches

    One key issue caused by following the source material so closely is that a lot of 17th century London looked very similar, as we have already discovered by building the whiteboxes. Of course, we still have to avoid Imagineering where possible, and so I propose that the best way to add variety to the different areas in our level, is to give each individual area it’s own individual colour scheme. Each area should have a separate colour palette as this will help the different areas stand out and portray a different feeling to the viewer. Below I have provided a Colour Guide which shows the prominent colour I suggest we use for the design of each area.

    A visual explanation of colour scheme suggestions
    I know it might seem like an impossible task to create varying colour schemes in an outdoor environment; considering that the main light source will be the sky, which will of course cast predominantly one colour of light. However, I suggest that in some areas such as the streets, we use chimney smoke and other particle effects to block out the sky light, so that we can then add artificial light sources without it’s interference.
    I also suggest that we disable the day night cycle, as this way we will be able to have more control over the lighting that is cast by the sky. I think it would be interesting if the time of day was late afternoon so that the sun is beginning to set; which would be visible from both the docks and the industrial area. Whereas in the open area; in which the horizon would be blocked on all sides by buildings, the visible portion of the sky would cast blue light.

    Art by Dennis Bjork
    Since Pudding Lane will have been full of butcher shops, I propose that a sensible colour scheme for that area would be predominantly red. Also, it would help accentuate Pudding Lane as one of the more significant landmarks in our level, as well as serve as a way to symbolise the fact that Pudding Lane is widely believed to be the origin of the Great Fire.

    Example of pathetic fallacy represented through rain and colour pallette
    Art by Ray Lederer (Skyrim)
    Dark muted blues seemed to be an obvious choice for the colour palette of Fish Street. As, naturally, there would have been lots of fish mongers in that area, and the fresh fish filling the market stalls as well as the discarded fish scattered across the pathway would reflect a green- bluish hue.

    Art by Adrien Deggan
    The Industrial area would have had a predominantly brown colour palette, as it would have been full of old wooden warehouses and wharves; used for collecting goods and duty (payment) from cargo ships. As I mentioned previously, The sunset would be visible from the industrial area, however, I think we should be able to block it out to some extent with the use of particle effects; I.e. chimney smoke, steam etc. This would allow the colour palette to be more muted; giving it a more sombre appearance.
    Art by Andy Walsh
    As I mentioned before, in the open area, the sky above will be fully visible. However the horizon will be blocked by buildings on all sides. Therefore, the area will be cast in a blue light. With this we can create a sinister, unsettling appearance. This would work well if we were to include stocks and a gallows in the open area; as it would help to emphasize and enforce the fact in the player’s mind that it was a place of death and punishment.

    Unknown artist, from the game Dear Esther
    I thought it would be a good idea to give the docks a warm, orange- red colour palette, so that it contrasts with the dank, dingy streets and the ominous blue of the open area. It would give the player a moment of relief from the significantly depressing tone portrayed by the other sections of the level. Which I think is important as we’re not trying to create a survival horror map; we’re trying to create a historically accurate portrayal of 17th century London, and the player needs to understand that.

    Art by Hiroshi Sakakibara
    17th Century London was cramped and unhygienic; we need to show this in the level. The layout of level should be determined predominantly by the gathered reference of the maps of 17th Century London. However there are other things we should include that aren’t shown in the maps. These things include; sewage in the streets, plague ridden corpses, Hung meat outside butcher shops, market stalls and other assets (refer to the page above) to make the area looked lived in, as well as add to the claustrophobic, cramped appearance.

    The plague was a devastating epidemic that occurred all over Europe throughout the 17th Century. London was one of the most affected areas in Britain at the time, and as such we need to portray this in our level. From the research I have done, I have discovered that when a person became infected, they would be sealed inside their houses, which would be bolted shut from the outside. The door of said house would then have a red cross painted on it, as well as the words “God have mercy”. When the infected died, their bodies would be thrown out onto the street, where their clothes and other possessions were often stolen by thieves. The bodies would then be collected by labourers who threw them into “death carts” and then moved them into “plague pits”; large holes dug into the earth, into which the deceased would be thrown.

    The buildings we design and model need to appear old and structurally unsound, as most of the buildings in London around the time of the 17th Century had already existed for a long time, and were in need of rebuilding. As such, we should focus on making the buildings appear wonky and misshapen; the beams should bend and bow, and the windows should and doors should look slanted. Details such as these will help hugely in creating a realistic, virtual portrayal of 17th century London.

     The textures we use for our models should also show signs of age and wear. They should look filthy and unhygienic, as this will not only add interest to the environment, but will also help to accentuate the poor living conditions in which the people of London were living during the 17th century. I suggest we create a few textures of grunge that we could add onto building walls to break up the texture, as well as add to the dank, dirty appearance we need to achieve.

    Technical Restrictions 

     The technical limitations will be for us to set as the project develops. The main technical outcome will be to have a fully textured and lit version of our level running at least 25 hertz (25 frames per second) on the university machines.We will build all of the geometry and author all of the textures. We are not to use content from the CryEngine SDK. The internet may be used for reference collection, but absolutely no downloaded textures or meshes are to be used.

    Suggested guidelines
    Cry Engine is extremely powerful, to the point that a tri budget almost (almost!) doesn’t matter. The things that will contribute significantly to making the frame rate drop are things like overlapping alpha’s, particle effects, and audio files. However, seeing as we will most likely be using alpha’s, particle effects and so on, I suggest we use the Technical Specifications below as a guideline when building our assets.
    • Each generic building is allowed a budget of 10000 tri’s.
    • Each generic building LOD is allowed a budget of 2000 tri’s.
    • Each large building (Such as churches, Hall’s and so on) will be allowed a budget of 13000.
    • Each large building LOD will be allowed a tri budget of 4000 tri’s.
    • Market stalls will be allowed a tri budget of 4000 tri’s. This includes any assets that may be used in conjunction with the market stalls such as fruits, vegetables, meats etc.
    • Small assets such as buckets, boxes, sacks, stocks and so on will be allowed a budget of 300 tri’s.
    • Carts and Death Carts will be allowed a budget of 6000 tri’s.
    • Gallows will be allowed a budget of 4000 tri’s.
    • Pub signs will be allowed a fairly high budget of 1000 tri’s to allow sufficient geometry for the supporting chains and poles.
    Plague corpses will be allowed a budget of 9000 tri’s.
    • Large Hanging carcasses (such as pigs) to be put outside butchers will be allowed a budget of 5000 tri’s each.
    • Small Hanging carcasses (such as poultry) will be allowed a budget of 2000 tri’s each.
    • Individual terrain segments will be allowed a budget of 2000 (subject to change) tri’s each.

    Texture List

    Dan H
    Black/dark grey roof tiles 512x512 Diffuse/Normal/Spec
    red roof tiles 512x512 Diffuse/Normal/Spec
    Red zigzag brickwork 512x512 Diffuse/Normal/Spec
    Grey straight brickwork 512x512 Diffuse/Normal/Spec
    Plaster 512x512 Diffuse/Normal/Spec

    Dan P
    10 Doors + metal 1024x1024 Diffuse/Normal/Spec
    4 Windows 512x512 Diffuse/Normal/Spec

    Dull/Old Wood 512x512 Diffuse/Normal/Spec
    Normal Wood 512x512 Diffuse/Normal/Spec
    Black Wood 512x512 Diffuse/Normal/Spec
    Rough Stone 512x512 Diffuse/Normal/Spec
    Suggested Misc Texture Guidelines
    • 2x 512 x 512 pub sign textures.
    • 1x 256x 256 general grunge texture.
    • 2x 512 x 512 textures for small assets such as boxes, buckets etc.
    • 2x 512 x 512 textures for larger assets such as market stalls, animal carcasses etc.
    • 1x 512 x 512 + 1x 256 x 256 Death Cart texture.
    • 2x 512x 512 cobble texture.
    • 2x 512x 512 dirt texture.
    • 2x 512x 512 paved road texture.
    • 2x 256x 256 moss texture.
    • 2x 512 x 512 plague corpse texture.

  6. Hello there!

    Thursday, 7 February 2013

    Hello and welcome to Pudding Lane's Off-The-Map project development blog!

    We are six Game Art Design students from De Montfort Unversity in Leicester who have collaborated together to enter Crytek and the British Library's 'Off the Map' contest.
    Here, we hope to chart our progress and development through the whole process, which we hope will be a very exciting and rewarding challenge.

    You can also view our Crydev team page here.