Sunday, March 16, 2008

Long Busy Day

I usually don't play games all day, or sit on the computer all day that much anymore since we got a pair of dogs that get into everything. Today, I probably spent more time on my computer cumulatively than I have over the past 2 weeks.

I picked up Call of Duty 4 last night, because I have heard a great many good things about it, all of them warranted because it's incredible. Both the single player and multiplayer modes are fantastic. My last couple FPS purchases have been a little disappointing, so I'm really happy that I like this game.

Every once and a while I get the bug to work on FPS levels on my own time, but often just don't bother because the setup time is so long, the learning curve is steep, and I used to do level design as a job.

While i've found that I'm not entirely fond of Unreal Tournament 3 as far as a game goes, its game building tool in UnrealEd is great. As more and more game companies use the Unreal Engine to make their games, it only makes sense that I refamiliarize myself with it's tools. I have to admit, I haven't played with UnrealEd since it's first versions many many moons ago, and it has come a long way in terms of functionality and ease of use.

Just over the course of a few hours this afternoon, I had a couple rooms built with lights, stairs, weapons spawning and textured walls. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Some aspects of the tools in UnrealEd are not all that different than what we use to develop EverQuest 2. With EQ2, we have a slew of different tools for various tasks including population, zone art modification, scripting, and spell creation. They all integrate with each other in a different fashion, and it's a pretty steep learning curve to learn the nuances of each program as well. I think we have a great set of tools here at SOE though, thank god we have some talented programmers to make this stuff work. One of my favorite things that happened last year was the creation of our new population tool, which allows us to add creatures to the zones in real time and see them moving around. A task that used to take 10 to 20 minutes to add just a few creatures is reduced down to a minute or two tops. It's dope.

I guess sometimes, you don't realise how complicated your job is, until you try and learn a new skill or toolset. I was so daunted by the complexity of our tools when I first started on EQ2, but I am really well versed in them now, and think nothing of the pages and pages of tabs and functions available at my fingertips. It's all about exposure and practice. For you aspiring designers out there, use what is available to you and keep at it. The learning process is often painful, but pays off in the end as you get more and more comfortable with the tools out there. There are alot of similarities between an all in one package like UnrealEd and internal proprietary tools that a company uses. Alot of the terminology, and concepts are universal and translate into one another you will find.


KC said...


Thanks for the inside teaser on some of the In-house tools of SOE for environmental creation :)

Ive been tinkering myself in UT3 and just "LOVE" how they have inverted flight-controls for the Gizmo when you try to move it on 2 axis' at once (that doesnt make sense to me lol) (versus Max, maya or any other 3d package with regular non-inverted movement ^_^)

Like you said, I also love just going back to the basics and making FPS levels, it can be so exhilirating just to block out your thoughts in 3d, Ive been doing that with my Dreams lately actually, Makes for some pretty cool layouts...

(I keep a sketchpad by the bedside and try to wakeup and quickly sketch out any environments or things i see ^_^ Its REALLY great for conceptualizing things you'd never think of in your waking life hehe :))

PS. Would you say experience with UT3 is as valuable an asset as experience with a 3d package when job hunting in the Game Industry?

Ariel said...

The amusing part about this post is that you mention spending gobs of time playing the game, and really... you're playing w/ the designer tools!


Probably what I'd find myself spending hours doing too.