In my final year at University, I took part in a graphics module due to, once again my interesting in games. I thought an important part of what I would one day hope to do would be learning to perhaps create models of structures and also I’d get to learn more about what an artist would be thinking and considering in making a game, so if anything else, it gave me a wider perspective on challenges faced by others in a potential team.
The module was set in C++ and we were to use the OpenGL library in order to practice what we’d learnt about 3D graphics, not actually have to worry about how we were to draw and create items. The entirety of the module was based around this single project submission. As with any project we had to hit certain markers to determine how well we’d done, these included a strong demonstration of hierarchical modelling, viewpoint control, projection, lighting, texturing and finally animation. Other than that we could do and pick whatever we chose providing it showed those things, using that library in C++, we were able to set the scene – literally.
As can be, somewhat, seen from the image above I chose a roman villa-esque setting, with terracotta roof tiles, a forecourt with intricate hedging, pillars supporting the roof at the back, and also a firepit to give a warm glow to the scene during night.
I broke the scene down into pieces, the most major part of which was the main building with it’s 2 wings which flank the main forecourt. This was a crucial part of my vision of the scene, I felt it spoke to the typical image of a classic roman villa, the positioning was just as important as the actual pieces themselves. Texturally it needed a white-brick setting as is common with houses in hot-climates to this day to deal with heat from the sun, and equally important was the terracotta roof top tiles. Each wing of the building (including the main house), involved 10 shapes, the 6 typical shapes of any cuboid, 1-2 triangular shapes to ‘support’ the roof at the end of each short side, and the 2 sides of the roofing.
Quite possibly my favourite part of the scene was the creation of the pillars, they were a relatively small object, made up of smaller pieces (literally 2 cuboids and 3 cylinders) and given a marble texture. Something about the creation of them made me feel the scene was better than just being good, it made it great because it was such a small detail but done so well and so simply.
The scene also depicted 4 hedge’s which involved a large, tall outer hedge, a medium sized & height inner hedge, and a small and short inner hedge. Originally I had depicted the hedge being an entire maze, however due to time constraints it became an impossibility to create a solvable hedge that looked good as opposed to just confusing to have in a forecourt, so instead I made them frame the forecourt more than anything. Were I to do this project again, I would attempt if nothing else, to make a maze, and maybe give the scene a bit more of a ‘Tuscany’ idiom.
For the project I’d shown a great display of hierarchical modeling, I gave simple WASD commands to allow the user to ‘walk’ around the scene for viewpoint control, the camera had been set to give an orthographic perspective for projection, and the models had all been textured appropriately. All that left was lighting and animation, and due to outside factors I came up with the idea to combine the two with the creation of a brand new object for the scene, the fire pit.
My thinking was to create a day and night cycle, this would affect the lighting of the scene and also give some somewhat minor animation, but I didn’t want to leave it just there, it felt bare, and when the night-time did occur in my scene it was almost pitch-black, not dimly light by the stars and moon. This is how the fire pit came to be, instead of making the scene pitch black, the fire would in theory be stoked to give the grounds illumination so that they could be guarded, or for the purposes of cooking, whatever they might have needed such a device for. So as the scene became dark at night, the fire pit began to emit a stronger and stronger red to orange glow upon the forecourt. Again the animation was quite minor, but it was two light-cycles that worked in tandem which not just gave the ideal of a day and night, but also an idea that activities in the scene would also change based upon the time of day.
In terms of coding, the project wasn’t that intense, I found that more often than not I was working out mathematically how the building would match up, where in the scene the draw point needed to be, where it needed to zig and zag to give a full effect. At the end of my project I had a scene that I was more than pleased with, a rather large but easy to understand program, and a notebook absolutely crammed with workings out of which wall would go where and what that co-ordinate would have to be to keep things within scale.