Monday, 29 October 2018

The Art of Prop Making & Set Dressing

Good morning, backers!

OFF GRID is 78% funded right now!  THANK YOU!

We've got an update directly from Sophie, who works as an artist on OFF GRID.  She is fairly new to the team, but she's been doing a stellar job!  We hope you enjoy:

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Hi!  Soph here! 

I’m here to keep the art side of things rolling on smoothly.  Which mostly means asset creation, like props, but also set dressing.

Modular Props

Let's talk modular:  doing things this way allows you to have just a few meshes that you can make a lot of things out of.  For the Apostle level, I made a couple pieces of modular furniture to speed up asset creation.

Think of it like an Ikea range where you could buy a desk, drawers, cupboards, etc. that all fit together physically and look like part of a family.  Some of the pieces in that range will share exact parts, and some will have unique ones. This is the basics of modular building.

Modular desk components.
Modular desk components.
With these six pieces I can make six variations of desks.  Going beyond these, you could make a broken desk with only three legs that is being propped up with other assets, or you could scale the length of the straight desk-top as much as fits the space you want (since the textures are vertex-painted faces there’s no distortion).

Modular sofa components that can be put together in endless ways
Modular sofa components that can be put together in endless ways

Different from these desks, this four-piece sofa set is mostly one-off models (they all share the same feet).  Yet when placed in the scene, there is no real end to the possibilities you can make with it.  Make a snaking three mile long sofa if you so wish!

The modular sofas creating a comfy space in the Apostle level
The modular sofas creating a comfy space in the Apostle level

Set Dressing

Set dressing is pretty straight forward as a concept. You’re placing things around the world to make it feel like a more real lived-in environment.  It’s a little more than just throwing assets around the place (although that’s a lot of it), you need to think about each environment differently.

In the run up to the Kickstarter, I spent a lot of time in the Apostle offices discussing with the team what the general feel of the place is, and then looking room to room talking about what happens in these rooms in a gameplay sense.

The Apostle is being closed. There are boxes everywhere as stuff is being packed away to go elsewhere. These boxes are great for the stealth aspect of the game, but also tell the story of what is actually going on. Most of the larger offices are quite sparse, having already been packed up, but a few offices are still very much in use.

Set dressing has to work alongside the game in making the environments look more interesting but not distract from what the player needs to do. This means I can’t place new hackable devices around the place and not block the player’s path. But what I can do is direct the player to places of interest.

Set dressing is cleverly used to direct attention to this office in the Apostle level.
Set dressing is cleverly used to direct attention to this office in the Apostle level.
For instance, most of the offices don’t have much in them that the player needs to notice, these are kept very sparse and all packed up. But there is a particular journalist's office that is a key place in the Apostle level, and it’s one of the few offices that’s still in use.  There’s things scattered around the desk, a coat that’s been left on a hanger, a board with all the bits of information that the journalist has been working with.

Fun with set dressing - a DIY standing desk.
Fun with set dressing - a DIY standing desk.
There were a few other places less important to the player that I was able to just have fun with. Such as this office where it’s being packed away. A friend of mine wanted a standing desk but her work wouldn’t give her one so she stacked things up to make her own one. I made a little desk in honour of her here. I bet it really annoys the person on the opposite desk!

A secret corner for slacking off!
A secret corner for slacking off!
Here the occupants of this office have used the fact the office is moving as an excuse to move furniture around and create them a secret coffee corner for slacking off.

Hope you've enjoyed!

Help OFF GRID succeed!

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The Off Grid Team

p.s.  Did you read the last update?!  BIG NEWS coming Tuesday! 

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