Friday, July 5, 2013

Injustice: God's Among Us - Entry IV - Damaging Your Super Heros

     This post covers some work I did on the damage feature of the game.I did not create or concept the characters below, but I was asked to tear chunks out of them and beat them up. This was a major change of pace.
     The damage textures were made by selecting a patch of the mesh and when the character takes enough damage, it swaps out that patch featuring a clean costume with a patch featuring the damaged costume. That is the short and sloppy explanation, there is a lot more in the process, but it would be tedious to go through.
     This whole process was made a bit smoother thanks to 3D artist Keith Beu. He built both Maya and Photoshop plugins that automated a lot of steps. In Photoshop layers of costume, skin, muscle and blood were in place and could be exposed by using masks. The general shape and design of the damage was made by selecting areas with a marquee tool then hitting a button. Then an artist would paint over the near final wound, adding a little more blood and bruise detail. Again, the short and sloppy version of the process.

     A very thin line of metal damage on the outside of the clothe tears enhances the quality of the damage. It is too thin to read as metal but still adds a touch of discoloration and scratching that makes things look a little nastier. It also gives the clothe some weight, making it look like the material is a little heftier than just plain cloth. This was particularly helpful with characters wearing a red suit. It helped define patches but creating some separation between the red of the blood and the red of the suit.

      There was a lot of back and forth during this process. The tools were new and my station did not have engine access. So I would review the work in Maya's HUD then send it to Keith for him to review in engine. Sometime I could stop by his station to look over his shoulder and critique the iteration. This provided a lot of productive collaboration. Discussions lead ways of making the process smoother, improving the quality and I could also pick his brain about the tools he created. It was a sudden shift into more of a Tech art position, but it was a fun challenge.

      I also got a chance to do more exciting damage concepts. I was asked to tear up Luthor for a cinematic sequence. My first passes on the damage focused on dents. burn marks and smaller pieces being broken. I was directed to really push it. The fact was that it was a quick sequence and it needed to have a lot more visual punch. So after some feedback and guidance from the leads, I began to rip the suit to pieces and look for particular parts of the armor that would create a more interesting image when torn off. For example, ripping the robot arm to the forearm exposed the human figures underneath. That little detail really exposes the vulnerability of the character and intensifies the level of destruction delivered to the suit.

      During my time at the studio I learned that painting details is helpful, but providing any further information to help illustrate the idea helps.  In this case I prepped a render that was color coded to show wear the breakable seams and pieces connected. Not sure how helpful the concept was in the end. Turned out the damage to his suit was never clearly shot during the cinematic sequences. So a 3D artist may have used some tricks to translate the damage rather than follow a specific map.

      This is unrelated to damage but just something extra. These were concepts for a little orb Luthor summons during battle. It floats around then eventually shoots a small, annoying laser at you. It does not real damage but does more to throw of timing and frustrate your opponent.
     I wanted to change up my pipeline and take advantage of my 3D capabilities. So I did all these concepts in ZBrush. They are quick renders that were painted over them in Photoshop. I put a good amount of time into the sculpts and although I can't say for sure, I think the concept sculpt was used almost as is for the in game asset. It looks as if it was re-topologized and sent on its' way. Personally I really like P1 and P2. I believe they went with P4.

Anyway, this is the very clumsy end to this entry.

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