Age to do List

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Age to do List

Postby Kyle N'orth » Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:11 pm

Hello again,
When it comes to age creation, I have never had trouble coming up with a satisfying layout map of an age. But after that I constantly get mixed up with what to do next, and how to do it.
This has usually led me to scrapping the idea, and giving up. I was wondering if anybody has a sort of "to do list" that they use or know of. I am a person who works better when I have a list of steps I need to do. If you have anything, please let me know.
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Re: Age to do List

Postby Tweek » Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:24 am

I don't really have a list of steps I follow.

I start with the initial seed of what inspires me ( a sketch, a texture, colours, whatever it is) and I build on that. Sometimes I do some quick concept sketches to flesh certain things out. Sometimes I don't have to because the idea comes fully formed.

Then I start considering the lore of the Age or area. I don't just mean storyline I mean the history of the Age, wildlife, natives, their social structures, religions, etc. I start then building up a basic structure in Blender of the Age, mostly untextured. Now at this point I have either already got a rough map of the Age drawn already or I am building it as I go in Blender (I like to work in a kind of organic way and let things evolve by themselves). Eventually I get to a point where I am happy to continue building and start texturing as well. Now at this point I will usually have a rough colour scheme in mind for the Age/area and what kind of lighting and atmospherics I want to implement. So I'll take a look at the texture library I've developed to see if I have what I need. If not then I will build it in Photoshop. This of course is not set in stone. I often texture an area then go "nope this isn't right" so I will revisit textures and switch them out for others or edit existing ones to make them say 20% more green or whatever.

Once texturing is done (although these days usually during the process of texturing) I'll vertex paint various shadows and coloured highlights for lighting effects.

Whilst I am doing this I am continuously saving the Age (in case of "whoops") and importing it in Uru to check to see how things look, what needs fixing be it lighting, collision issues, or even textures (one texture could be a little dark or a little too light so it doesn't sit right with everything else).

Once it's at a point I am happy with, I'll wire whatever needs wiring (journals, Linking Books) and sort out animations and sounds.

If it's ready for release I release it.

That's about it, I do spend a ridiculous amount of time fine tuning things trying to get them to look right/nice.
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Re: Age to do List

Postby tachzusamm » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:12 am

I fear there's no such thing like an Age to do list.
Age writing, when you do it alone, isn't like doing step by step and putting a check mark behind a task description after you've finished part of it. It is more like a cyclic workflow, you continuously walk through the same actions again. Imagine a flowchart with loops in it.

If you have a team of 10 or 15 developers working in parallel on an Age, the workflow would be a bit different; there would be a phase first where all collect ideas, then conceptual design, define if there should be puzzles, draw some concepts and write a backstory, then define how large the Age is together with creating a map, define how the puzzles should work, then part of the devs start with creating models, while others do script programming for puzzles and other machinery, and another person is doing the sounds and music. And there may be a person who is going outside to take lots of textures with his camera, or create them from scratch in a paint program - in case the team does not want to buy them elsewhere.

But we are usually alone, so it's better to cycle through the above mentioned list over and over again, and work on a part we're in a mood for. We don't get a feedback from others in our team, so doing a ready-to-use conceptual design in the first place is very hard. It works better if you let your Age grow while you are working on it. This gives you a feeling of success for each model you've build, and it keeps you interested.

To avoid giving up when you're stuck, understand Age writing as it is: It's writing. Working in Blender or Max is only the realization part. But basically, creating an Age is based on writing it.
So, if you're stuck, go write a backstory, or expand it. That story does not need necessarily be fully put in a book in your Age; you do this for yourself. It will give you ideas.
Or write short stories like journals, desribing what has happend in the Age or to the visitor some days ago. Like "we had a severe thunder and lightning event last week". This would imply for example a tree had been hit by a lightning flash, which in turn gives you the idea that you could add a broken tree somewhere. Then go build that tree, and if you feel you should now, texture it.

You could also make drawings or paintings of items you could imagine in your Age, something that is related to your story. Again, this has not to be added to a book, it's only for yourself primarily. So it does not matter if you're good in drawing or painting, just do it. If you're good, however, you have nice material to add in a book.

You've started somehow in the middle, by creating a map first. You're missing the story. So go cycle back to that part. And always cycle back, let it grow and expand.
It you're still stuck, go take some textures in nature or your town - this wil give you ideas as well. Or browse the web for photos, no matter what. Not textures, search for images of nice places in the world.
If still stuck, don't give up - just make a pause. Age writing isn't a job, it's a passion. Go back to your project when you're inspired again.
Take your time. I hope I'm not frightening you with this, but be prepared writing an Age will take many months, and it can take years.
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Re: Age to do List

Postby Kyle N'orth » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:30 pm

Wow, thank you.
Both of these responses help very much. I will use both of these options, and maybe I can finally finish one of the many ages I've been working on. :)
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Re: Age to do List

Postby Kyle N'orth » Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:23 am

Also I just thought of another question about this.
At what stage do I start designing puzzles for the ages that need them? Like should I design them at the same time as I make the age map? Or later once the age is near finished?
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Re: Age to do List

Postby dendwaler » Sat Jul 13, 2013 6:29 am

I do the puzzles later on when the fundamentals of an age are ready.
Age building is a time consuming process.
During the building i often change my ideas.
I found that designing puzzels is more complicated then i initially expected.
There are lots of handicaps you have to overcome.
First was, that i was not able to realize what i wanted because i did not have enough programming skills.
A next thing is that you often need a lot of animations which are difficult to tune on each other.
You need the proper sounds , with the exact lenght of the animation.
Different sounds for different actions.
The Physics are wacky in plasma, you have to learn to deal with subworlds, you fall through walls during the animations .etc.etc.
You have no hands on your avatar that can carry things around, therefore you can't use tools you find somewhere else in the age.
All together this makes the possibilities limited.
During building and during the literaly thousends of exports you will go to make, you get ideas and try them, until you find something that works and satifies you.
Building on your own, is learning by doing.
You cannot forsee which problems you will encounter.
When you have a practical and clear problem descryption, then ask.
Sometimes someone else found already a solution.
Again its not on a todo list , its all about creativity combined with skills.

When you have completed your age for 75% then you will have a todo list for sure.
It looks like this:

Area 1 Needs colliders,
area2 needs better lightning.
in area 3 there is a lot of lag, how can i reduce that.
In area 1 it seams all well, but now i noticed that i see no water when i am in first person.
The door opens to difficult in area 2. the handle is to high.
The stair has wrong dimentions for my avatar.
The trees have wrong transparencies on the textures.
My visual region " 1" pops up when i am in area 5 .
etc etc.

Then you can start working from a list to get all on its place to finish the age , before showing it to the explorers (public.)
Those wonderfull Worlds are called " Ages" , because that is what it takes to build one.

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