Sunday, June 7, 2009

Boss of Bosses, Part 4

“My name is Enemigo Monstruoso. You killed my minions. Prepare to die.”

Well, that’s what the big boss seems to be saying in the picture to the right. It may look impressive, but I’ve found that from a modeling standpoint, this monster has a whole slew of new challenges to hurdle. The most obvious problem is the sheer size of the thing. Having a monster this large means that in combat, players will almost never see it in its entirety. To make it more visible, I lowered the height at which the creature hovers above the ground, but I can’t get it lower than fifteen to twenty feet without its appendages sinking below ground during its animation cycle. I could bring the mob to a more manageable size, but its background story would hardly make sense unless the creature is as large as possible without making it unplayable.

Another problem is that I may have made the creature’s collision spheres too large, because even at fifteen to twenty feet away, a player character can still hit it in melee. I’ll have to confer with the other core designers of Shattered Dreams to see if this is going to be an issue. I can always shrink the collision spheres if necessary, but that might mean having to make more of them to cover the parts of the creature that are exposed.

Another problem that I’ve had to deal with revolves around the limit that the NWN2 engine imposes on the number of bones a model may have. According to Jonny Ree, a single model may have no more than fifty-four bones, although there is a way to work around this limitation. Creatures with separate models for their tail and wings can have another set of fifty-four bones in each of them. I decided to model the creature’s tentacles as a separate wing model, something that I’ve never done before. (Considering that this is only the second or third model that I’ve had to animate from scratch, there’s really a lot that I don’t know about yet.)

I managed to get the tentacles to appear in the toolset as an animated wing attachment on the boss creature, but in the game, the tentacles were nowhere to be seen. For two days, I tinkered with the 2DA, GR2, and MDB files to try to get the tentacles to appear. After long hours of experimentation, I eventually discovered that the tentacles appeared in game when attached to creatures like humans, pit fiends, and mind flayers but not when attached to horses, dire boars, and One of Many. The salient difference between these two groups of creatures is that the first group has a head model that is separate from its body, but the latter does not. In other words, creatures from the first group are built from two or more MDB files, and those from the second group have all their meshes in one MDB. Because I had originally constructed the creature’s head and body as a single mesh, I had to make changes not only to my MDB files but also to my 2DA entries. Fortunately, that solved the problem.

I haven’t finished making all the animations that the big boss will need, but I expect that this task will be easy going from here on. Then again, I said something to that effect in my last blog post, so one never knows what surprises I may come across. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


palafoxx said...

I am really amazed about the ability you are showing to create this character. The texture of the body is now impressive. Maybe the mouth & tongue textures are of little detail in comparison. Taking into account that this will be the focus of most players, it might have a little more detail (perhaps greater roughness, for example)

In the other hand, I am very interested to know how the two mdb meshes work in a single character, and also how you've organized in linking all those bones.
There will be any tutorial about that? ;)


Frank Perez said...

Thanks for the feedback, Palafoxx. As a matter of fact, I'm planning to document the things I've learned, so I guess I'll be writing a tutorial soon on intermediate-level skeleton construction and animation for NWN2 creatures.

Chaos Wielder said...

What's that thing in his mouth? Is it supposed to be another eye or some sort of nefarious goopy evil?--it disturbs me, yet I cannot turn away.

Frank Perez said...

It's actually a sensing organ, like a hypersensitive tongue. It's so sensitive that it might as well be a third eye as far as sensing the presence of things is concerned. The creature can't sense color with its tongue-like organ, but at least it is immune to blindness. ;)

Nacaal said...

Each time I look at your creatures, I can't help being awed at your capabilities.

Also, I feel a slight discomfort: these monsters are bringing back to memory the unsettling uneasiness I experienced as a kid reading H.P. Lovecraft's cosmic horrors! :-)

Frank Perez said...

Thanks, Nacaal. The work of H.P. Lovecraft definitely inspired me, and I'm glad that his influence shows in my art.

Nacaal said...

That finally explains all your tentacles love!!! ;-)

BreakinBri said...

That is awesome work! I've been having a similar issue with my model not showing in game but it shows just fine in the toolset. I'm guessing it has something to do with my 2da file?