This week we have an interview between syphus and Loebedoe our lead modeler.
S: Hello Loebedoe!
First of all thank you for taking time out to chat with us today.
Before starting this interview could you please introduce yourself to the community!
L: Ok my real name is Pieter, I'm 21 years old, I have been working with 3D Studio Max for 4/5 years now, (learned it all by myself and some internet tutorials) this year I got my degree in publicity and illustration, next year I'm going to study Digital art and entertainment. I joined the team in January, after a few weeks I became the lead modeler, now I'm lead character modeler
S: Ok, today I want to talk about player characters, since this is one of your main roles at the moment in the team; I would like to start by asking what is it like to develop a character for a game engine like UT3?
L: Well, first it was pretty hard because I never modeled any characters before, I had to learn how to rig them, how the weight system works and also had to keep in mind that some parts need to be able to move right.
So this is all new for me and pretty hard. Proto asked me when I joined the team if I would like to try some character modeling, that's how I started on it and now If I can choose between modeling a gun or a character I would choose a character, I'm really starting to like it and want to go deeper into it, I enjoy a challenge!
S: A big challenge for you I can imagine. Well it is an important job, the quality of the characters will have a big influence on the feel of the game.
L: I think so, its one of those things that make the game feel polished and high quality.
S: Do you have plans about the way the characters are going to look? More urban, or military, gender balance etc?
L: Well I would like to balance it a bit, I'm going try to make some different looking characters, (would be stupid to make almost the same looking characters, waste of time) from a police agent to a swat, maybe even undercover, I'm still brainstorming , sketching a bit how they will look like,
S: Sounds like we can expect a lot of variety in terms of choices wonderful! Will you take into consideration the characters size and style, as surely smaller characters would be a harder target to hit?
L: No, every character will be the same size, so its not that when you take a female you would run around with a character that's 10 or 15 cm smaller and you can hide more easily behind a box, it's not going be like that. The different characters styles are just for eye candy. Its not going to be an advantage to take a male , we are not going to make him stronger so you can carry more weapons, or a female that's smaller then the male.
S: Does this mean that players won't feel big differences between different characters in the game? For example in UT2004 some characters had small heads and were impossible to hit
L: Well every hit box is different for every character, but its going to be very small differences so when you play you wont notice.
S: How many characters will be present on the beta version? Do you have already an idea of how many will be in the final version of the game?
L: Well since at the moment we only have two people working on character models, it will take some time to make them, I think in the first beta we will only have 4 characters, SF male and female and TER male and female. For the full game we probably have about 10 - 12 characters you can choose. lets say +/- 10 characters
S: Are you also responsible for the development of the skins on each character? What influence does the skin have of the final look of the model?
L: Yes I'm responsible for how the skin will look, but I probably won't make them myself, I'm making the concept art of how I want it to look and I will give that to a texture artist, he will make a proper texture for the character. The texture itself is important, if it is done well you will hardly notice it but if it is done badly then it will defiantly show.
S: Ok, it seems like a big job, I guess that a process like this involves a lot of team coordination.
L: Yes definitely, the modeler has to communicate with the animator in particular. The model has to have certain properties and be modeled in a certain way to ensure that it is as easy as possible to animate it later on.
S: So what is the sort of workflow for creating a new character?
L: The whole process takes some time, first you need to have some ideas to start from, make a some drawings on paper, make a few different combinations, make a nice look for the character, for example, clothes, protection, mask/no mask, once this is done, you'll have a more clear look of what you need to model. Then you make a very low poly model in the shape you want and put all the small parts you would like on the model and than model the mesh you'll see in game, after that we make a very high poly model for the normal mapping
S: Creating a new character seems to be a lot of work indeed.
Could you show us some of examples of the character making process and tell us a bit about them.
L: Ok well like I mentioned before, I'm trying to make a wide selection of different looking characters, the character that I'm now working on is the 2nd SF character, the character looks a bit like a normal dressed person, not much extra equipment, a bit like a normal agent, no special clothing, just a bulletproof vest and some knee and arm protection and of course a helmet I'm still not sure about colors of the clothes, still trying some stuff out, trying how it looks like with long or short sleeve. It takes a lot of work, a lot of thinking to get a full good looking character.
S: Amazing work mate, I'm really impressed.
Loebedoe thankyou for taking time out to talk to us and to give our community a little view of the development behind the scenes. Good luck with the rest of the models.
L: No problem.