Oculus Launch Pad Dev Week 9

Part I : Recap

Aaaaaand back at my computer. Pro tip: Don’t try to post anything to the Oculus forums from your phone, in my case, it will cut off anything beyond the first line break.

So, we’ve got 17 days and I’m loathe to write yet another incredibly long update since the last one just vanished into the aether, but I’m also verbose so we’ll see how this plays out

I just got done teaching game design for 2 weeks, and despite by aspirations, I wasn’t able to work on Oculus stuff at all. Each work day was basically 12 hours minimum and I would come home and collapse. I actually just got my teacher evaluations and I think something one of the students said really applies “Spent too much time on theory and all the work felt like it was rushed at the end.” What they don’t know is my program screwed up and didn’t order my supplies so I didn’t have any fabrication tools until halfway through – but still an astute criticism.

I do spend a lot of time on theory. It’s part of why I like teaching, and teaching a studio course in particular; I’m a much better director than creator. I’m insightful, critical, can generate many ideas and problem solve quickly, and I have a good eye. I really only make stuff because I have to. That I can draw or paint is really more about the fact that I have vision than skill. I know what looks bad, I know what feels bad, and I will keep working until my stuff meets my standards.

Similar to the situation in my class, where I’ve got to rely on theory because I don’t have what I need to make stuff, I have had to take meetings and jobs and things in order to be able to work on this Oculus project. I was homeless before the bootcamp, my mom and siblings became homeless shortly after, so it’s been a real struggle trying to get into a stable space, physically and mentally in order to be productive. I’ve found myself in this constant catch-22, I need money so i can work on Oculus, but in order to get money I can’t work on Oculus. It’s fairly ridiculous considering I only got a room so I’d be able to focus on this project. Oh well, no use harping on it. I only have 17 days left but they’re all mine; I can shut off my phone and not answer email ’cause my only obligation is to myself.

Speaking of which, I’m off Facebook. My whole feed was just black people dying day after day and the numerous discussions about that and I just couldn’t deal. Sorry to miss all the great stuff in the Launch Pad group but sanity is important.

Part II : Here and Now

Rather than spinning my wheels in an anxious fury, as I am wont to do, I’m just going through each day slowly and methodically. I have a concept, and if it were just about execution I wouldn’t be stressed. Manual labor takes time, but it’s easy to calculate and make adjustments. Mental labor, learning, thinking that stuff is what really slows the process down and I still have much to learn.

So now what I’m doing is dedicating a full day to each lesson, I spend the first half watching tutorials and learning a process, and the second half executing what I learned.

Monday was level design and setting up a scene. I looked at some techniques for building the kind of atmosphere I wanted, collected some reference images, did some sketches, then collected 3D models that would serve as good visual placeholders.

I played around with PixelSquid in Photoshop which is a neat little bit of software that allows you to work with flat 3D images. Which is to say, it’s a flat image, but it can be rotated to every angle. I’m guessing they’re using some kind of photogrammetry but maybe not. It’s cool, I think it’s particularly useful for concept art and I’m thinking it will be a way for me to basically set up a digital still life that I can trace over or reference when I’m making my own assets.

Oh, and I also got my video in the scene and built to the Gear – last time I was having trouble getting video to work on Android – problem solved.

Tuesday was texturing 3D models. I had tried this before but didn’t really understand the concept, or why the pig I painted in Maya turned out all weird and streaky. Now I have a better understanding of all my options, but I’m a little behind (as in, I don’t have a completely textured model) so I’ll be painting a model as soon as I’m done with this post.

I also learned more about shaders and what my options are going to be. Not totally sure how I’m going to handle this limitation, but it’s super important to at be aware of as I start making my own textures.

Wednesday (that’s today!) I’ve got to learn to rig a model.

and Thursday I’m scheduled to learn to animate that rig. That’s about as far ahead of myself as I’m willing to get. And of course while I’m occupied learning, my mind is continuing to work on the concept and figure out how to scale it based on time constraints.

I’ll keep posting here regularly to let folks know how it goes. I’ll add photo and video as it makes sense. I don’t want to take too much time from actually making the project to document the process — but I know walls of text are no fun.

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