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Sketchfab to Unity using 2D Toolkit

Hey there! This week we are gonna talk about our interactive dioramas, show how the 3D meshes mix with pixel art. Particularly we are going to talk about how we made them.

A little history

It all started at the time we were about to launch our  Greenlight campaign. We wanted to do something cool, and show little bit more of the game, but we knew that demos hurt sales, so we our first approach was to do some sort of teaser, something were you could feel how the 3D / 2D worked together, without showing too much gameplay. Not long we ended up with a few prototypes.

The first prototype was a sandbox-oriented single level. To test it, we reached out to a few people that had never played Okhlos before. Their response was not very good. They felt that the lack of objectives was very confusing. We iterated a bit more on this, but we always landed in similar places. Another problem was that were quite a lot of mechanics to learn and not that much chance to include a tutorial in a pickup-and-play single-level teaser.

ImagenSandbox

ideally, you could choose different units to test different mob configurations

So we discarded this prototype, and the sandbox approach, and we started exploring some more goal-oriented prototypes.

Not long after that we landed in a Colosseum mode, where the player would have to battle wave upon wave of enemies. This turned out to be pretty enjoyable, but we still had the problem of a lack of some kind of tutorial. We figured out that we couldn’t throw the user into the level without some basic concepts. Finally, we discarded this prototype as well. It was fun but far from perfect. In addition to this, we were concerned that some players may get the idea that the whole game was going to be that way, merely fighting endless waves of enemies.

Also, at that time, we ran into a new problem: Chrome dropped support of Unity’s web plug-in. The teaser had always been aimed to be played in a browser, so this was definitely a setback.

The bright side of this was that, due to the nature of the Colosseum mode, we had the chance to focus more on the combat mechanics. We learned more than one thing doing this and we took them to the main game. Yay us.

ImagenColiseo

This is an editor view of the combat area in the second teaser

So, the clock was ticking and we wanted to do at least something before launching our Greenlight campaign. That’s when we had the idea of using Sketchfab.

 

Why Sketchfab?

We really wanted to show how pixel art and 3D worked together, and there were few options to achieve this (making an .exe was almost out of the question. Nobody downloads tech demos).

Sketchfab, unlike Unity, runs with HTML5 (I think), so we had no browser compatibility problems. Also, you don’t need to install any plugins to view a Sketchfab model in your browser, it’s pretty straightforward. Finally, Sketchfab has Unity support, which was also a plus for us, since we could use everything we already had set up in Unity to build these scenes faster (as opposed to building them from scratch in 3DSMax).

Unity + Sketchfab

In order to do be able to upload a model to Sketchfab from Unity you first have to download the lastest unity package from the Asset Store.

Plugin

We installed the package in Okhlos’ main Unity project. We had a few compatibility problems with some things, but for the most part deactivating things did the trick. The main problem we had, was that we couldn’t make a windows standalone build if we had the package content in the directory. This was particularly annoying, but deleting the Sketchfab folder is literally one key down (and a left arrow key, and an enter). So it’s not so bad.

Once we installed the Sketchfab exporter we found out that, even though some things were cool, others were very annoying:

  • You CAN’T see how the model looks in Sketchfab until it is online.
  • Automatically, every model is made public for any user to browse. As an artist, I hate this.
  • There are lots of little problems with some textures and geometries.
  • If a shader you are using is not supported, your model will look like a Kandinsky.
  • The plugin is pretty basic, and there is almost no support on the web about using Unity + Sketchfab.
  • You have to set an awful amount of things in the Sketchfab web editor because the Unity Settings are not imported (billinear/point, alpha channel, etc).

Clearly, this tool is not designed specifically to export any unity object, and we are stretching what you can do with the platform, so is not like all of this is particularly Sketchfab’s fault.

 

So, how do we start?

Doing a Pixel Art Diorama

Starting is easy. You only have to put the pieces together. I suggest creating a prefab, so as not to lose information (Unity is notorious for not being that trustworthy with the scene information). Once you have the prefab, you have to select it in order to export it (alla “Export Selected” in max), but it will only export things in the scene, not in the project folder.

Seleccionado

I really don’t know the amount of polys Sketchfab supports, and because all our buildings are low poly, we didn’t have any problems with the poly count.

Another thing I recommend, is giving the model some context. In our case, because of the Diorama approach, we put a plinth to push the idea a little bit further. Basically you don’t have to do anything like this, you only have to do something pretty, and preferably not very big, the navigation in the Sketchfab viewer is not fantastic. It is not impossible, but I can’t imagine using the tool as a level navigator (but of course you can do something like that!).

Now that you selected the object, you have to export it with the Sketchfab window. There are not many options here.

ExporterSketchfab

Once uploaded, it will appear in your user models.

Subido

Then, you can edit a few things regarding the materials, annotations, camera, and post effects. All of these are easily tweakeable.

I would’ve loved if this was all you needed to know, but because we use 2D toolkit for the sprites, the process is quite more complex.

2Dtoolkit considerations

Exporting geometry is easy. Technically, the sprites in 2D toolkit are simple geometry as well (planes), but we had to do A LOT of experimentation to get it right.

First of all, as I said before, if Sketchfab doesn’t like your shader, it can turn your model into garbage.

monstrosity

Oh god! Kill him! Kill him!

You have to use (while you export at least) a basic shader. Also, keep in mind that every time you create an atlas in 2dtk, it will create a texture and a material (usually called Atlas0, because of reasons). So, if you have multiple atlases, all with different names, but you kept the default name for the materials and textures(Atlas0), Sketchfab will think that they are all the same material, and you will not be able to change them. A workaround for this is naming each material and texture differently. Don’t worry, this brings no trouble at all to the project, you will still be able to update your atlas and it will keep the new names.

atlas0

You should rename all of these.

Once you do this, you will be able to use multiple atlases for the model, using the same atlases that you are currently using in the project. You’ll need to set the alpha channel of each texture, which is a pain. Also, because of the pixel art nature, you’ll have to set all the textures into Nearest (Point in Unity) (they are usually in Billinear in both). This means that it will do no interpolation in the image, and will show every pixel as is.

settingmaterial

Take a look at the transparency configuration. Also, you should switch it to Point (Nearest)

These are mostly the considerations you have to know using 2DToolkit in Sketchfab. However, if you take a close look at the sprites, you’ll notice some imperfections. We couldn’t find a way to fix this, but because they only show in a few sprites we decided to live with them.

errores

Here, Aristotle had a harsh hair cut. And Plato lost his feet.

So there you have it! You can play with the model settings for cool post effects, lights, etc.

 

 

 

Hope you found this info useful!

 

A little disclaimer, I’m not affiliated to Sketchfab in any way (or to Unity, but that’s more obvious). I just liked the tool, and we had a few questions regarding how we made the dioramas.

 

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Non-game media coverage is amazingly funny

Hey there!

 

As you might already know, a few days ago Okhlos won the Best Gameplay award at the Brazil Independent Games Festival (mandatory weekly braggin). This was huge news for us. We spent almost a week in Brazil, São Paulo, and enjoyed the heck out of the festival. We are working on update about our whole experience there but that is not what I want to talk about today.

 

At around the same time we got back home, local newspapers picked up the news, which is also awesome. As expected, they gave a nationalistic twist to the news. “Argentina Wins Videogame Award”. So far, so good. The thing is that one the news outlets that posted about it is the second largest newspaper in the country, with a print-run in the hundred of thousands and over a million online followers. As you might expect, there were tons of comments everywhere.  We got lots of nice comments and words of encouragement, but, at the same time, some people started trash talking the game. And not just the game itself, but also pixel art and independent games in general.

 

Why the hate? You can argue that internet will always be full of trolls and haters, but on the subject of these comments, our friend @antennariagames said something that made a lot of sense: “[…]I want to emphasize (again) that the comments here are not criticism of the game, it is not about “you always get criticized” (which is true), but it’s about that there are too many people who think they know about videogames because they play them, but they don’t know about the existence of an independent movement, and they don’t know to evaluate it in terms of expression, only in terms of production. An independent game to them is garbage, and when it gains artistic relevance, and even economic relevance, it might seem so absurd to them that they end up banging their heads against the wall because they can’t cope with the idea that this movement exists and it is something real (get out of the tupperware effect)”. 

 

So, we are totally OK if you don’t like our game. We are totally cool if you hate pixel art and don’t even want to try the game. We don’t pretend to exercise a homogenized taste. And we deal with negative comments in the best possible ways. But some of the comments here were so ridiculous that we had to do something. So we took the best ones, and we put Monty Python characters in it.

 

Now, before reading the comments, keep in mind that:

A) We didn’t reply to any of these messages. We let the love flow.

B) This is not about taste or aesthetic choices.

C) The game is not available yet, so none of these people played the game. They only watched our (year old) trailer.

 

That being said, here are the comments’ highlights!

chiste_1

 

Chiste_2

Venture_COL_ScreenShot3

For the young ones, this is a screenshot of a colecovision game. As you can see the comparison is absurd. I don’t use so much magenta. Nor black.

 

chiste_3

 

chiste_4

 

 

chiste_5

 

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Brazil, here we go!

As some of you may have heard, this week  in  São Paulo, Brazil, the largest indie gaming event of all of South America is taking place:  Brazil Independent Games Festival. This is exciting news for any indie game developer in the region, but we are particularly excited because out of more than almost 700 entries, Okhlos was selected as one of the finalist, and is running for the Best Gameplay category!

 

a1

 

In this category, we are competing against these fine videogames:

 

A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build by Alan Hazelden & Benjamin Davis

 

Klang by Tinimations

 

Big Action Mega Fight! by Double Stallion Games

 

Circa Infinity by Kenny Sun

 

Most of the games haven’t been released yet (just like Okhlos) so we haven’t had the chance to play them yet. We are looking forward to give them a go at the festival. However, based on the trailers alone, you can already say it will be a very tight match!

Once again, thanks to the people of Big Festival for choosing Okhlos as a finalist! Wish us luck!

Brazil, here we go!

 

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Dragon ball Pixel Art tribute, Okhlos style

Hey there! It’s been a while since we did one of these posts! Last time, we did a tribute for the always amazing Discworld series, remembering the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett. Now, it’s time for a Dragon Ball tribute.

Most of us grew up with the show or manga alongside. We enjoyed a lot the wonderful adventure vibe of the first series, and the everlasting, sometimes boring, fights when they run out of scripts. With this humble tribute, I tried to capture the essence of the first part of the manga. That sense of awe and wonder, filled with mysteries and charismatic characters.

Here are two graphics, one in chronological order, and the other grouped by characters variations.

_08FinalAlt

Remember to click to enlarge them!

_08Final

 

So, this is it for this week! We have some great news that we will share with you soon, so stay tuned!

With love, @roketronz

 

 

PS: I’ve been spamming them all week in smaller chunks via Twitter/Facebook. The original sets are these:

_01

_02

_03

_04

_05Torneo

_06

_07

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A Matter of Morale!

Hey gang! How’re you fine folks doing today?

Welcome back to the fantastic, bleeding-edge, always on-time Okhlos dev-blog!
This week we want to talk about two little things: the Mob Mentality Meter and the Morale stat. They’re two elements of the game that you might’ve noticed by this point but that we’ve never really talked about or explained. We’re going to fix that today and tell you a little bit about how we’ve pared them down and combined them to make the game even better!

The Mob Mentality Meter!

You’ve definitely seen this one if you’ve been looking at our screenshots, watching the videos, or tuning in to the Let’s Plays! Also known as the ‘Mob Meter’ or the ‘Mood Meter’, the Mob Mentality Meter is the little bar at the top of the screen that denotes how much energy and furor your mob has:

coolparty

It was a cool pool party for the Cool Mobs at my school!

 

Depending on how many units you pick up, how many enemies you kill, and how much property you destroy, the meter will go up and down throughout play. The game starts you out at ‘Cool Mob’; from there the more chaotic and unruly and big the mob gets, the more the bar fills up, passing through Reckless Mob, Frenetic Mob!, and finally MEGA CHAOTIC MOB!

Originally the idea was that each of these stages would award you a small damage bonus and these would start adding up to make an important difference in the game. We haven’t gotten around to implementing that yet and the idea is still on the table – we’re unsure if it’ll make it in at all – but we do have a very tangible reward in the game for making it all the way MEGA CHAOTIC! :
You get to demolish and tear down buildings and just raze everything to the ground!

destruccion

We may have sunk a few hundred hours into Rampage as children. Can you tell?

Nothing is really quite as satisfying as that, don’t you think?

However – not everything is fun and games and destroying houses! You’ve also got to be careful your mob doesn’t get bored! A mob that hasn’t smashed anything in a while or found new recruits is likely to become a Depressing Mob, and as we all know – depressing mobs are no fun! No one wants to be part of a depressing mob. Units will slowly start leaving your mob if you’ve become Depressing, so you better find something to smash or a new recruit to liven up the place – and you better to do it quick!

 

depressingmob

Sure, misery loves company, but misery also likes going back home to curl up on the couch and binge on Netflix.

 

The Morale Stat
Now, unless you’ve been paying reaaalllllly close attention, you probably don’t know about this one. It’s one of the more obscure and hidden-away stats in the game, and compared to Attack, Defense, and HP, it’s harder to puzzle out what it does for your units.

Morale is the stat that determines how likely your unit is to abandon the mob when things get tough. When a big hulking enemy puts its foot down and tries to intimidate you, Morale is what determines whether a unit flees in terror or sticks it out to fight for you. When you’ve run off to the other side of the map and a unit has lagged behind, Morale determines whether it runs after you to catch up or whether it shrugs its shoulders and finds something easier to do.

(We also have a few hazards that deal with and affect morale… but we’re not quite ready to talk about those yet. Stay tuned in to our devblog for this juicy secret! ;p)

moraleStat

 

The Problem

So, nifty little systems you might say, right?

Right!

However, something was bugging us the other day. We were watching Sparrow’s excellent Let’s Play! of Okhlos’ Sparta level when we noticed something that made us rethink how these two mechanics work and interact together.

Let us explain:

It’s purposefully difficult to raise your Mob Mentality in Sparta – definitely harder than it is in Delphi. That’s part of the challenge of the stage, and Sparrow was struggling with it for a bit. His mob was getting depressed and he struggled to keep the meter up at ‘Cool Mob’.

Searching for a way to keep his people happy and motivated he came across ‘Parmendies’ in the game’s shop – a philosopher unit that raises your Morale by 25%. He made the obvious association: ‘Morale is what raises your Mob Mentality!’

We immediately slapped our foreheads.
1275389857_naked-gun-facepalm

Seeing it play out in front of us, that association makes complete sense! Morale is the word one would use to talk about one’s confidence and zeal in the face of hardship and opposition. If there were a stat that raised the Mob Mentality Meter it should totally be called Morale.

But there isn’t. And it’s not.

So Sparrow paid the hefty price for Parmenides thinking his Mob Mentality would boost up and he would be rid of his pesky problem, and then, well… nothing changed.

This was our fault. Our handy-dandy list will illustrate why:

  • The word ‘morale’ is confusing.
  • The stat isn’t intuitive to understand.
  • It’s used very little.

So, burdened by this great dilemma, we huddled together, talked it over, and put our brains to work on a solution.

The Solution!

Well, it was pretty easy actually. We figured Sparrow was actually kinda right. The Morale stat should totally boost the Mob Mentality Meter.

So now it does.

This not only gets rid of the meddlesome confusion and makes the game more intuitive, but it also adds functionality to a stat that wasn’t really seeing much use. That’s great! With a very simple change we actually improved the game on several fronts and reinforced our game mechanics by consolidating them!
Hurrah! Who ever said this game development thing was hard! 😀
(Just kidding – this stuff is terrifyingly hard and difficult and oh god there’s so much math and nothing is ever really done and we have to test and test and test and it takes ages and aaaaaaaaaah someone please save us! D:)

 

Well, this was our insightful, bleeding-edge, desperate plea for help this week! I hope you’ll join us next week for a bit more fun and misery! Meanwhile, check us out on Facebook and twitter, your likes and follows help us a lot! And please throw @pfque_ , our resident writer, editor, and translator some peanuts for penning this beautiful blog post while we were busy making games! (And not binge watching E3 pressers~ ;D)

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