Making Game Assets for my Cartoonish Dogfight game

Hello here!

I always loved Blender, I started using it back when it could be saved on a floppy disk (1.4MB?). But then I went to university to learn do brain research and I did not do much 3d modelling for 8-10 years!

So here I am, I left research, started a part time job as a data analyst and start working on my own video game in the remaining time. To give some context, here a screenshot of the game:

I recently decided that I wanted to focus more on 3D art and spend less time programming. One of my goal is to learn to create stylised 3D assets to make more convincing, eye-catching and fun environments. In this project, I want to focus on creating a jungle environment with aztec/maya ruins, and maybe some machine carcasses.

Here is some image references that I have collected to give you (and myself) an idea of where I am trying to go (I hope it is okay to share, they are all publicly available from pinterest):

To be honest, I am not even sure that a dogfight game will actually be playable in such an environment :smiley: but I really want to upskill my 3D art with Blender. I start this thread because I think it will help me stay motivated (it is taking me so long to just make a tree at the moment!) and I hope I will succeed to maintain this thread and make it interesting for you as well.

Thank you for reading up to the end! I gonna make a different post for the first update :slight_smile: .

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Here is my current work on stones, where I am trying to find the right amount of cartoonish and realism that will match with the style of the planes in the game.

First study on stones. I was trying to get my head around sculpting, painting and projecting details to a decimated version of the stone in Blender:


On the left is the decimated model, on the right is the decimated model with normal maps. The results was not too bad, I think, but I thought the stone were a bit too smooth.

Here is a second study after I actually watched a tutorial on how to make stones with Blender on ArtStation :smiley: :

The results seems more convincing, but maybe I went to far in terms of details. I will have to test it out in game.

Here is where I’ve got last week. I basically blocked out my rock/stone assets. Not very sure whether I am taking the right approach in terms of modularity.

It looks like that I could make the complex assets (top row) by combining a set of simple assets. But I am also afraid to have obvious repetitions if I re-use too much of the simple assets.

So this week I will be sculpting these assets to add details.

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Hey there @Nodragem. Those look good, a few sculpts will help for sure - the same details can be added with textures or paint as well. Repetition in games environment assets are very common. Existing assets can be scaled, rotated, etc… to disguise the repetition.
If you are into podcasts Experience Points has some very good ones on this subject

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Wanted to say that your screenshot caught my eye. That looks fun. Is that all programmed and in-game or is that a mock-up concept? I was wondering if it was the same project when you started talking about the jungle environment… because I didn’t see how that would fit in to the aerial game. But sounds like you thought the same. You could just turn the planes so the ground would be beneath them and instead of doing loopy de loops they would be doing 360s. Then the camera would be looking straight down at the jungle. And the clouds might even still work.

It sounds like you have a vision for the style and that is always key to making it cohesive and unique. I think you have that spunk. Keep going! I like that you are drawing reference from pixel art.

That’s a strong cavity in last weeks update! Nice experiments with all the rock formations.

I was just working with rocks (I guess rocks are a common thing to work with).

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Hi @Daf57, after some reading, I realised that other artists would make much less assets than what I thought (e.g. 2 large, 3 medium and 3 small rocks) and then make sure they look different from different angles. So I am changing my plan now :slight_smile: thanks for the podcast I gonna listen to it while sculpting. In term of paint, my plan is to project the cavity map of the sculpt on the low poly model, then use that as a reference. I could have handpainted them but I am very curious to learn about Substance Painter and the Smart Masks.

Hello @Boder !
Yes this is all programmed already, even the online is working :slight_smile:
I am running a beta on Steam actually, here is the trailer, where you can see the different levels and the gameplay in action:


The main idea of the current game mode is that you can eliminate your opponent for a round if you use a bomb to destroy them.

The levels are hand painted and quite flat, I would like to go towards this style instead (from Brief Battles):

That is in 3D and with more depth.
I will keep the number of platforms low and prioritise large empty space to accommodate the planes. But the idea is to have traps in the levels, a bit like in spelunky; and also more animations (e.g. wind in the trees etc) to bring some life and character to the game. If it turns out that these new environments are too complicated to be navigated with with planes, it is ok, cause my next game will be a competitive platformer :smiley: so nothing lost !

In terms of the camera angle, I prefer to keep the side view as it allows to create interesting landscapes :slight_smile: and I like to drop bombs on other players!

See you around!

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Well congratulations on getting that far in developing the game. If the game is already that far along, and in the beta stage, maybe just gather the assets together for the next project. I kinda agree that the sideview looks best for a plane fighting game. :sunglasses: Now seeing the video, I see the clouds are not objects but just obscure the view. And overall there aren’t many obstacles, like you might find in a dense jungle. Were those clouds made in Blender? What parts were made in Blender (the ships)?

All the 3D assets were made with Blender: coins, diamonds, rubies, bombs, bullets, planes, prabbits, clouds! Even the icons that appear at the bottom of the screen when someone wants to purchase more ammo were rendered using Blender (using FreeStyle).

Then the background were painted using Procreate then retouched using Krita. The textures (for the coins and the prabbits) were painted directly in Blender or in conjunction with using Krita. The UI elements are made using Affinity Designer (I wanted to use Inkscape but the exporting process did not meet my needs). The game is programmed with C# and Unity.

Yes, depending on how far I go in making assets this month, I will decide whether I make some levels using them, or just start a new game altogether :slight_smile:

I’m trying different solutions for rendering the foliage of the trees :slight_smile:

On the left, the normals of the leaves are oriented according to their planes.
In the middle, the normals of the leaves are oriented towards a Sphere that contains the whole tree.
On the right, the normals of the leaves are oriented towards meshes that approximates the shape of their foliage cluster.

I am trying to reproduce the method used by Airborne Studio, here:


image
(The image below is their results)

I am not yet there, I am having difficulties with the alpha blending mode in Blender. I am going to try how it goes directly in Unity; to see if I get the same issues.

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Hello!

Here is my progress this week on the foliage! :slight_smile: (I am trying to make a tropical jungle)


I think I might need to tweak the material a bit more because it looks much more “plastiky” than I want overall. Also, I might have deviate from the overall style when experimenting with the “baobab” tree (on the left)!

The style I am aiming for his something like Crash Bandicoot 4 (their art is waw!). Any advice? I wish there was a “making of” of some kind. I’ve got the art book, but it focus mainly on the 2D concept art.

Anyway, I am learning a lot. It is kind of hard to stay motivated sometimes, because I zigzag between new technics and tools while progressing very slowly to the end product (an actual jungle level with Maya ruins!). But overall, it is a very exciting experiment :slight_smile:

Progress of today, I reworked the materials and textures so that the different trees fit more together (especially the baobab with the rest). also I remade some of the leaves (especially the palm trees).

Can’t wait to texture the trunks and add my rocks to the mix now!

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Good evening!

Here is how my assets look like once imported in Unity.
The default lighting was a bit disappointing, and the alpha of the foliage was glitchy on the palm trees.

Here is what I succeeded to reach with several tweaks in terms of ambient light and post-processing (especially by using a Color Filter) to prevent black shadow and pop up/warm up the lighting. I also rectified the palm tree materials so that they are Opaque (? not really intuitive I know) with an Alpha Clip.

Note that although I like the results, I was unable to reach the same feel/lighting as what I’ve grown used to in Blender/Eevee (see the previous post). Maybe, it is the Filmic tone mapping in Blender that gives part of this feel? I am not sure…

If you have any suggestion, I am happy to give it a quick try!

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