Reptile Zoo

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Odds and Ends and Moving Plants-

The game that we are in the process of developing, Reptile Zoo: The Sinister Mutation, contains quite a few art assets. This is an entire environment that must be populated with scenery, terrains, objects, foliage, buildings and wildlife. To make a 3D game like this requires a whole succession of various props to occupy the space in this virtual world, and most of those objects are pretty mundane.

As the person who is responsible for all of the art in the game, it's my job to design and create everything that will go into it. However, as you can imagine most of it is not really worth showing off. If you really think about it, most of the props that go into populating a world like this are not going to be particularly interesting to look at on their own. This is one of the reasons why I don't often show off a lot of the work that I do in these blogs. Basically I don't want to bore you with the latest ground/dirt texture that I just made. And so you can assume that that is the kind of thing that I'm up to when I'm not showing off some cooler stuff.

However, I do find these kinds of details to be very important. As you can see from some of the concept art that I've posted in some of the previous blogs, there's a very distinctive "feel" and look that I want for the game, and as with any video game, it's only going to be as good as the sum of its parts. If I want to capture a specific kind of aesthetic, it's important that all of the individual elements work together and that is why I like to try and put special care into everything and make sure that it all works well together stylistically.


Fortunately, I do have a couple of slightly more interesting things that I've done that I can show off now. The first is a somewhat weathered looking wooden bridge that will appear in the game. It is still in its modeling program and still needs some details added to it before it is truly complete. The second image is of a stone wall with a rusted iron fence which has been set in the larger game environment. It also doesn't have its complete texture mapping yet, and is therefore still a work in progress, but it gives you an idea of what we're up to (this blog is here to let you follow along with the game's development, after all).

Interactive Foliage

Speaking of which, the second person working on the game, its programmer, has also been making some steady progress on his end. Lately he's been working on a system that will allow the plant life to move and react to the player (or the A.I. monster) whenever a bush or similar object is bumped into. Basically we want the plants in the game to "rustle" whenever something bumps into them or brushes by them, the way that they would in real life.

This is a bit more complicated than you might initially think. This system has to be programmed to factor in things like the speed and force of the collision with the plant, as well as the direction of the collision relative to the plant, and of course how the plant will "react" to those things. And the system has to work with all of the different types of plants in the game. Many different factors and testing have to be put into this system in order for it to function correctly and look right.

Of course we're not just doing this because it looks cool; there is also a more serious gameplay element to this. If you recall, Reptile Zoo has a lot of stealth gameplay. The player must try to avoid the predatory creature and survive this frightening experience. Much of the game is going to occur in a series of large outdoor exhibits filled with plant-life. The plants will serve as a "giveaway" for both the player and the hunter. One wrong move will alert the creature to where the player is, and in turn the player will have a better idea of where the monster is, by seeing and hearing its movement among the foliage.

The plants will be able to work as cover to hide behind, but if you run into them they will also make noise and move, thus potentially giving away your position. The physical movement of the plants will be linked to the sound effects system, and it will all have to work in unison to create a realistic effect of the plants reacting as you move through them. Combine this with the additional programming of the A.I. having to respond to this sound and movement in an intelligent and realistic way, that's also fair to the player, and you have a whole lot of fairly complex, custom game programming going on here. I'm really hoping that you guys will enjoy the results (or at least be terrified by them, in the good way!).

- False Prophet

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