Every once in a while, the
gradual process of evolution gives way to a total shift in the landscape.
That's certainly the case with the new character model that has been drawn up
for my spectacular new boxing project! 2006 was spent making the most of the
old model, but 2007 is all about moving forward with brand new content - and
the best that I can muster. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce the
new-look model that you'll be seeing a lot of from now on (complete with a
reminder of how the previous one looked at this early stage)...
Face Of The Future
A new skull got us started,
and twice as many polygons were used to give it a more detailed shape than
ever before. Up until now, the head had been a blank canvas that relied on
texturing for its detail - but now there are visible contours as standard, and
texturing is just the icing on the cake! The only drawback now is that the face
models are so unique that we'll need multiple versions of them like the body
shapes, but it's a pleasant problem to have. Meanwhile, an equally detailed new
neck completes the overhaul. Not only does it look better (with a more refined
shape and better positioning at the back of the skull), but it even "works"
better too! Although it's not anatomically accurate, the neck bone here can move
in addition to the head itself - which allows for much more expressive
animations (see for yourself with this small
sample video). That should really
bring characters to life when they speak and gesture - not to mention when
having their heads knocked around in the fighting games!
Whether I like it or not, a new
head means new hairstyles too. Although that's a rather daunting task, it's
exciting that a change is finally going to come! Despite the texturing
improvements of recent games, the actual modelling has been left in the Dark
Ages for some years now. Not anymore though - as the the old plastic mops are
being replaced by detailed new creations. As you can see from this new default
cut, even the short styles enjoy a more irregular shape that scatters over the
head like it would in real life. Look closely and you'll even see that this
extends to locks of hair that nestle around the ears and produce sideburns!
And of course, there also has to be a new extension piece for
That's always been a troublesome addition to my rather plastic models, but
I've made the effort to make it as seamless as possible this time. Not only is
the new high resolution texture now carefully lined up to match its host, but
I've also made the hair longer and thicker so as to flow underneath the ears
and onto the shoulders! That makes it appear much more natural - as opposed to
a stiff lump stapled onto the back of the head...
Armed And Dangerous
The improved head is just a
formality. What really motivated me to make a new model was the chance to
introduce a muscular new physique for the boxers. Up until now, the muscular
look was an afterthought that had to be hastily squeezed out of a rather bland
default body - but now a hulk-like physique is the standard, and every effort
has been made to make it feel at home! A freshly puffed up chest has ensured
that there's a strong foundation, but it's the arms that complete the
transition. As you can see, there are now
bicep and tricep contours carved into the upper arm - and the forearms are equally detailed
with visible elbow and wrist grooves. Even the hands and
fingers have been redrawn from scratch and boast a little more detail should you
ever get close enough to see. And that's just the blank clay!
All of these structural improvements can expect to be accentuated by the latest
high resolution textures when the time comes...
Fist Of Fun
With a boxing game on the
horizon, these new and improved hands will be spending most of their time
tucked under a pair of gloves. But what a lovely pair of gloves they promise
to be though! The huge lumps from previous games have been replaced by a
carefully crafted material that actually folds into a fist. They're nicely
textured too - with a shiny red fabric on the outside that blends into a
stitched interior. There are even separate wrist pads that lie over the
forearm and offer a smooth connection to the fist...
upper body has been joined by an equally curvaceous pair of legs. From the hips
down to the feet, everything has been redrawn from scratch to include much
more detail. The legs, in particular, benefit from all manner of protruding
muscles and more visible knee joints (which make the previous legs
look shapeless and effeminate by comparison!). Most importantly, the model for
this game also features external shorts rather than those that are painted on by
texture. This obviously makes the clothing appear much baggier and more
realistic - with thighs that remain visible up towards the groin. It has
implications for costume design too, because the shorts and the legs are now
literally separate - so you'll be able to dress either as you choose! Having
dedicated short textures will ensure they always look perfect too...
All of which leaves us with a
model that's pretty much ready to be animated for a gaming debut! And now that
it's here, I'm pleased to reveal that the finished article weighs in at around
5'000 polygons (as opposed to the previous model's 4'000). That means it's
only 25% more demanding and looks TWICE as good! A project couldn't hope for a
better starting point, so here's hoping that this one ushers in a much-needed
new era of quality in 2007 and beyond...
Copyright © MDickie 2000 - 2007