This semester, I spent my time between the art and design teams, though spread a bit more evenly this time around. As part of the art team, I began the semester by taking on the rework of the goo. As the main antagonistic force of the game, it was in desperate need of a redesign visually, as it was basically just a smoky expensive particle effect at that point.
I began my work on it thinking about it as a gooey sort of warbly mesh, spending my time focusing on the texture and mesh. However, this didn’t have quite the effect that I wanted…so I went deeper into it and started teaching myself shader code, so I could really experiment with the look of the mesh and hopefully achieve the effect I wanted. However, after teaching myself a good bit about these things, I got the feedback that it would be desirable to have a more cloudy style of goo rather than a gooey form. So I scrapped this first prototype and started over.
From this point, I taught myself the Unity particle system, Shuriken. I also experimented and learned about particle texturing and created my own texture. After a number of iterations, I finally created a two particle cloud system that looked excellent. From there, I worked hard to get it optimized, as we knew that a large number of these could be floating around a level at any given time. It was really interesting working on this, as I had to strike a very careful balance…the goo is meant to be an antagonist and frightening in its own way, acting as a force of nature that corrupts and destroys its surroundings. But at the same time, it is a resource, natural and mindless. Finding a balance between making it malignant but not malicious was a trick and one I found pretty fun to work with.
So I continued to work on the goo, but in a different capacity. On the design team, we decided that the goo needed an in depth design document. So I began work on this, integrating previous ideas for the goo into a single cohesive concept with well developed interactions and details. I laid out how each type of interaction worked, creating four different categories that fish and plants could fall into and how the goo would effect each. I laid out how the goo would operate on a global and zone level. About the time this was finished, we received news that Mermaids was nearing the end of it’s development. So we needed to focus down on what needed to be finished and bring it to a close. This is what got me started designing the deconstruction and desanctification spells. These were necessary as a way to undo the building and sanctifications, as otherwise we ran the risk of no longer being able to build, similar to a set of legos that never gets taken apart. I originally set up three different spells for this, but it was realized that we could simplify this down to two and it would work effectively.
Lastly, we realized that we’d need a new overworld. The old one just wasn’t conducive to the clan idea that we had of 5 different clans exploring a world. So I began work on a much, larger play space. I started by researching a bit about the ocean floor, examining the way in which terrain exists under the water. From there, I started on my first terrain, exploring the tools available to me. I was able to get a shape that worked with what was in my head…but it was far too small. So I made a larger one, putting in much greater detail and with a much more expansive feel. However, this one was too big…so we ended up scaling it down, as overall the shape and detail of it was something we wanting to retain. After this point, I created textures for the terrain and carefully painted on various ground types (mostly sand and rock). I cartoonized these to make them more in line with the overall art style of Mermaids. Following this, I painted on the different sea grasses we had, then began to populate the world. I carefully placed all the meshes around the world, crafting each area to give a different feel for each of the clans. In the end, it turned out to be a really cool overworld, and I am very proud to have it as part of my portfolio.